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Internet ‘phishing’ increasing in Germany amid financial crisis

Internet users beware - hucksters are taking advantage of the global financial crisis with an ever-rising number of frightening spam emails in Germany designed to get you to reveal your private information.

Internet 'phishing' increasing in Germany amid financial crisis
Photo: DPA

Internet criminals are profiting from the financial crisis, hitting up bank customers running scared over plummeting share values and currency fluctuations, according to a report in the Saturday edition of Munich daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

German internet security firm G-Data told the paper that tricksters have been sending out an increased number of phishing and spam messages in recent weeks, trying to con individuals into revealing their private banking information.

According to G-Data, the number of such mails has been on the rise, and the subject lines have grown increasingly alarmist.

“Beginning tomorrow, €100 will only be worth €9.33” was one subject, while others ask whether shares in Deutsche Bank or Allianz insurance company will be worth anything by the next day.

An unsuspecting individual watching the plummeting share market could be inclined to subscribe to a newsletter for an answer – but a newsletter that requires the revelation of private data, Ralf Benzmüller of G-Data said.

He said the company, which manufactures anti-virus and anti-spam software, had been catching a steadily rising number of such e-mails in their spam filters.

Federal officials have also been warning of racketeers, who lure individuals to seemingly legitimate websites before getting them to reveal their account numbers, passwords and other personal information.

Officials said consumers should never respond to such queries, report them to authorities and keep their virus software up to date. A bank, for instance, would contact them through official channels such as by letter and not via e-mail.

CRIME

Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year jail sentence

A German court on Tuesday handed a five-year jail sentence to a 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard, the oldest person so far to go on trial for complicity in war crimes during the Holocaust.

Former Nazi camp guard, 101, gets five-year jail sentence

Josef S. was found guilty of being an accessory to murder while working as a prison guard at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945, presiding judge Udo Lechtermann said.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, had pleaded innocent, 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 at the close of his trial on Monday.

But prosecutors said he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the camp and called for him to be punished with five years behind bars.

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

More than 200,000 people, including Jews, Roma, regime opponents and gay people, were detained at the Sachsenhausen camp between 1936 and 1945.

Tens of thousands of inmates died from forced labour, murder, medical experiments, hunger or disease before the camp was liberated by Soviet troops, according to the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum.

Prosecutors said the man had aided and abetted the “execution by firing squad of Soviet prisoners of war in 1942” and the murder of prisoners “using the poisonous gas Zyklon B”.

He was 21 years old at the time.

Contradictory statements

During the trial, S. made several inconsistent statements about his past, complaining that his head was getting “mixed up”.

At one point, the centenarian said he had worked as an agricultural labourer in Germany for most of World War II, a claim contradicted by several historical documents bearing his name, date and place of birth.

After the war, the man was transferred to a prison camp in Russia before returning to Germany, where he worked as a farmer and a locksmith.

He remained at liberty during the trial, which began in 2021 but has been delayed several times because of his health.

Despite his conviction, he is highly unlikely to be put behind bars, given his age.

His lawyer Stefan Waterkamp told AFP ahead of the verdict that if found guilty, he would appeal.

More than seven decades after World War II, German prosecutors are racing to bring the last surviving Nazi perpetrators to justice.

The 2011 conviction of former guard John Demjanjuk, on the basis that he served as part of Hitler’s killing machine, set a legal precedent and paved the way for several of these twilight justice cases.

Since then, courts have handed down several guilty verdicts on those grounds rather than for murders or atrocities directly linked to the individual accused.

By David COURBET

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