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White collar crime on the rise in Germany

Staff Writer | June 13, 2018
Incidences of economic and financial misdemeanors, also known as "white collar" crime, are on the rise in Germany, figures published by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) show.
White collar crime
Europe   New and diverse opportunities for crimes
According to BKA, the number of cases registered by authorities in 2017 reached the highest level in five years at a total of 74,070 nationwide incidences of white collar crime.

The Wiesbaden-based agency highlighted that the figure marked an increase of 28.7 percent compared to the previous year. At the same time, the total value of damage created by economic and financial misdemeanors also rose by nearly 25 percent to 3.74 billion euros.

The BKA largely attributed the worrying development to "new and diverse opportunities for crimes" created by the internet. For example, so-called "social bots" were increasingly used to create fake identities and information in order to manipulate online purchasing decisions.

Another type of scheme commonly encountered by German authorities in 2017 involved dubious online finance platforms, many of which focused on the buoyant trade in cryptocurrencies and lured investors with the promise of high returns. "There is a danger for investors that the invested capital is not being used as advertised but rather for the purpose of illegal profit maximization," the BKA warned.

Nevertheless, the official study noted the annual surge in white collar crime experienced by German authorities was partially accounted for by just one unusually large and complex case. Prosecutors launched investigations into Dresden-based financial services provider Infinus between 2016 and 2017 on suspicion of serious commercial- and investment fraud, leading to the filing of independent charges against the company.

State prosecutors have since accused the founder and former managers of Infinus' of having defrauded at least 20,000 investors of around 150 million euros by creating an illicit Ponzi scheme. The case is currently still ongoing at the Dresden Higher Regional Court.

The BKA further noted that it had recorded a fall in some categories of economic and financial misdemeanors in 2017, including cases of "chief executive officer (CEO) fraud" in which fraudsters posing as corporate managers contact the accountants of companies and order the transfer of funds abroad.

Thanks to better international cooperation between judicial authorities, the incidence of this specific type of crime in Germany nearly halved from 439 in 2016 to 262 in 2017.