Significant increase again in CySARs on property offences

Keywords: Network crime

Press Release, fedpol, 26.03.2015

Bern. The Cybercrime Coordination Unit (CYCO) at the Federal Office of Police (fedpol) received 10,214 suspicious activity reports on cybercrime (CySARs) from the public in 2014. This represents an increase of approximately 11% over 2013. Sixty-seven percent of these CySARs concerned property offences, a continuing trend from the previous reporting years.

The majority of reports in 2014 concerned property offences, at 67% of total reporting volume (6,837 CySARs). With 3,106 CySARs, the sub-category fraud made up 30.4% of total reporting volume.

Increase in CySARs relating to fraud on auction and classified advertising websites

The types of fraud reported to CYCO in 2014 were numerous. As in previous years, many CySARs concerned attempted fraud against both buyers and sellers on auction and classified advertisement websites. Fraudsters attempted to lure buyers with cheap offers for premium goods, such as smartphones or certain types of car, and then trick their victims into making advance payment without dispatching the goods.

Fraudsters increasingly targeted small and medium sized businesses too, going to considerable lengths to obtain information on companies’ payment methods. First, they gathered information on employees who had regular contact to fiduciaries or banks. Then, through phishing, they obtained e-mail access data, which they used to gain information on payment methods and outstanding transfers. With this knowledge, the fraudsters then sent forged e-mails ‒ supposedly from the company ‒ to the bank or fiduciary ordering payments to their own account. The sums involved in the cases reported to CYCO ranged from a few hundred to several thousands of Swiss francs. The total sum of money obtained in Switzerland in 2014 through this type of fraud was estimated at several million Swiss francs.

Repeated fall in reports on offences against sexual integrity

For the second consecutive year, there was a significant fall of 58.8% in the number of reports on offences against sexual integrity, from 1,414 CySARs in 2013, to 758 CySARs in 2014. The decline is due both to processing “worst websites” lists more efficiently and to better co-operation with internet services providers and INTERPOL. However, the fall in reports from this category could also be a result of the trend observed since 2012 in sharing illegal pornographic images over private P2P networks and the Darknet, which are less visible to the public.

The decrease in reports relating to offences against sexual integrity in no way reflects a decline in the volume of illegal images on the internet. The recent seizure in Canada of 1.2 petabytes of child pornography clearly shows that ever-larger quantities of unlawful material are available, albeit not openly, and shared online. In future, law enforcement authorities will face not only technical and logistical challenges, but also the challenge of evaluating the mammoth quantities of data and sharing it with the countries concerned within a useful timeframe. This is important so that these countries, in co-operation with internet services providers, can carry out investigations on the offenders within the data’s legal storage period.

Fighting paedophile crime

Besides handling online cybercrime reports from the public, CYCO conducted its own search for suspect content on the internet. As a result of this preventive monitoring, 396 crime reports were submitted to the competent law enforcement authorities for follow-up action. For the first time, the majority of these crime reports resulted not from monitoring open source P2P networks (86 crime reports), but from covert investigations in private communities. (307 crime reports).

CYCO conducted 27 undercover operations in chat rooms or on closed-source P2P file-sharing sites. The investigations led to the arrest of two paedophile criminals when they turned up for a meeting with the minors they had been grooming. In another case, CYCO sent a crime report to the competent cantonal authority after a man switched on a webcam and involved the undercover agent, who was posing as an underage girl, in his sexual activities. Most cantons now have their own statutory provisions allowing the cantonal authorities to conduct independent investigations in children’s chat rooms. CYCO therefore concentrates its resources on undercover investigations in closed source P2P sites and the Darknet.

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