Online banking fraud at all-time high in Germany

Victims of internet password fraud rose significantly in the last year, with so-called online "phishing" up by 25 percent, the German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM) reported on Tuesday.

Online banking fraud at all-time high in Germany
Photo: DPA

Fraudsters skimmed €19 million from internet bank account users in more than 4,100 incidents last year.

“Password theft has reached an unsurpassed high point due to ever-more sophisticated fraud techniques,” said BITKOM chairman Dieter Kempf.

But numbers for 2008 may allow for a trend reversal. “The data for the first part of the year lead us to expect that the number of victims will fall considerably,” he said.

BITKOM reports that fraud methods have gotten more efficient. Internet imposters forgoing typical phishing emails that lead to false bank websites – the organization estimates that now at least three of four crimes stem from Trojan horse programs sent via email. These programs record passwords and secretly forward the information to the hackers.

Another method secretly transfers an online bank user to a false website, BITKOM said.

BITKOM represents more than 1,200 technology, telecommunications and new media companies in Germany.


101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

A 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard on Monday once again denied being complicit in war crimes during the Holocaust as his trial drew to a close in Germany.

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

Josef Schütz, the oldest person so far to face trial over Nazi crimes during World War II, is accused of involvement in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, has pleaded innocent throughout the trial, saying he did “absolutely nothing” and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.

“I don’t know why I am here,” he said again at the close of the proceedings, his voice wavering.

Dressed in a grey shirt and pyjama bottoms and sitting in a wheelchair, Schütz insisted he had had nothing to do with the atrocities and was “telling the truth”.

READ ALSO: Ex-Nazi death camp secretary who fled trial to face court in Germany

Prosecutors say he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the crimes as a guard at the camp and are seeking to punish him with five years behind bars.

But Schütz’s lawyer, Stefan Waterkamp, said that since there were no photographs of him wearing an SS uniform, the case was based on “hints” of his possible involvement.

“As early as 1973, investigators had information about him but did not pursue him. At the time, witnesses could have been heard but now they are all dead or no longer able to speak,” Waterkamp said.

Former Nazi guard

The 101-year-old former Nazi guard covers his face at the Neuruppin courthouse. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

It would be a mistake for the court to try to “make up for the mistakes of a previous generation of judges”, the lawyer said.

Antoine Grumbach, 80, whose father died in Sachsenhausen, told AFP Schuetz “does not want to remember”, calling it “a form of defence”.

The trial was not just about “putting a centenarian in prison”, he said. It had also produced evidence that Sachsenhausen was an “experimental extermination camp”.

“All the cruellest methods were invented there and then exported,” Grumbach said.

READ ALSO: Trials of aging Nazis a ‘reminder for the present’, says German prosecutor