Phishing in Germany makes millions for COVID

Phishing: Authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia, a province in western Germany, have lost tens of millions of euros after failing to create a secure emergency funding distribution site for COVID 19.

The money was lost after a classic cyber attack (phishing).


The cybercriminals managed to create a copy of the official website operated by the Ministry of Finance for the distribution of financial assistance due to unemployment with COVID-19.

Scammers started advertising the Phishing campaign via email, and apparently lured several users. They then applied for state aid from the actual users, but replaced the bank account to which the money was to be sent.

The program lasted from mid-March until April 9, when the Ministry of Finance realized the fraud, suspended payments and downloaded its website.

Before the page went down, NRW police said they had received 576 official fraud reports for this scam, according to German new technology website Heise this week.

The German newspaper Handelsblatt Reported also that the government had received more than 380.000 requests for state aid due to the coronavirus, agreeing to make payments in 360.000 cases.

NRW authorities said between 3.500 and 4.000 funding applications had been submitted, German television station Tagesschau reported on Wednesday.

Payments ranged from 9.000 euros for self-employed professionals to up to 25.000 euros for companies with more than 50 employees who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

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According to a rough estimate, the NRW authorities believe that they have lost from this phishing attack from 31,5 million euros up to 100 million, from money that was sent to wrong accounts.

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