Europe is in the worst energy crisis of the century since Russia kinked the nozzle that supplied them with natural gas. Every European government is buttoning up to try and blunt the dire effects that the continent could go through in the approaching winter season when energy prices and electricity bills could skyrocket. Well, as the pipes from Russia run dry after Vladmir Putin ordered a sudden cut-off, eyes have turned to the European Union for help.
The war has caused a global energy crisis, as well as a meltdown in the economy after great turbulence in the supply chains. While everyone looks for their survival means in such tough times, energy scams are spreading like wildfire in Europe, not only sucking the leftover pennies from Europeans but also offering false hope. The scammers have upped their game too, by “proving” their authenticity, which makes it very hard for commoners to tell their heinous schemes immediately.
The scammers will only try to counterfeit government policies against the energy crisis or come up with something that looks very convincing.
The German Scam Trend
After the cost of living in Germany surged and people struggled to clear their ever-high bills, the government came to their rescue by funding a policy that would add 300 euros to every German worker’s account. The news sounded good to everyone including fraudsters who thought of making use of the opportunity by sending people emails that prompted people to apply for the money.
The emails appeared legit and many people fell prey to the scheme, giving out private information. Unlike in previous schemes where the emails came in with way too many grammatical errors, or conflicting dates, the texts were written in fluent German with little to no errors. This is why many Germans were lured into clicking the links, visiting fraudulent websites, and freely giving their money inadvertently.
The Consumer Center North Rhine-Westphalia has been receiving reports days on end for a straight two weeks about these malicious scammers who also send short messages to people’s cell phones and links that prompt them to log in to the websites. After the login, the scammers promise to send the relief money to your account. The fraudsters use names of big German banks (such as Raiffeisen, Sparkasse, and Volksbank) with their logos or send text under the name of the Federal Ministry of Finance.
“In order to be able to establish your identity and right to payment, we require confirmation of the data already provided when creating a checking account at the branch.” Such a message can drain all the money out of your account if you don’t remain vigilant.
The Consumer Credit sent a warning against such malicious tricksters, saying that your bank that already has your personal details domiciled would not need to ask for them at all. Instead, you’d just receive the relief money along with your salary, just like it happens every month. In the event of clicking the link, reach out to the police and your bank immediately.
“Don’t let this trick fool you. Banks and savings banks do not need to check data for payments. Payments are made through wages or salaries,” said the Consumer Advice Center in a statement.
Text scams have been around for years but only gotten worse when life took a tougher turn in recent years. The scammers would unabashedly coin ways to get quick money from innocent Europeans during the COVID-19 lockdowns. The narrative has only worsened this time when people have fears over the high cost of living.
Impersonating texts in the UK
There’s an ongoing malady in the UK where people are receiving impersonating texts. The text goes like this, “GOV.UK: We have identified you as eligible for a discounted energy bill under the Energy Bills Support Scheme.” Then follows a link that prompts you to apply for the “sweet deal” and before you know it, your hard-earned money is all gone. This is why you want to remain vigilant and avoid anything that asks for personal information. If the government is offering energy discounts, the information will be conveyed to the public. Anything besides that is a scam and should not take your attention.
Vigilance in Australia
Residents of Western Australia have been wound up by scammers who’re trying to exploit them amid the high electricity bills. This became evident when they started receiving texts with grammatical errors claiming that they would experience a power outage. The text was incomplete without stating the date of the resumption of power. It also had a few errors. Vigilant residents took to social media to blow the whistle thinking that the text that came in the name of Western Power (a power company) was a scam.
However, after the word came to the attention of the power company, it came out clear that that was just a miscommunication, and what people believed was a scam was actually true. This was the best reaction for the residents since their fears were addressed immediately. Hence, in case of any doubts, start by airing out your doubts so that they are addressed before making any other move.
To be safe from these malicious thieves, ignore any messages that prompt you to provide private information. Be hawk-eyed about government funds as well. If you are asked to provide personal information, contact your bank and the police as soon as possible.