Lawyer for fraud cases and fraud law


Malicious emails, scam calls, supposedly reputable investment platforms or dubious sweepstake notifications: Fraud cases continue to increase. This also applies to a large extent to the Internet as a means of committing crimes.

According to BKA statistics, fraud and theft are among the most common crimes in Germany.

Perhaps you have already been personally affected by fraud or an attempted fraud. Most likely, there is someone in your circle of relatives or acquaintances who has been harmed by fraud in the past.

Topics in our legal advice

In order to protect yourself as a consumer against this type of crime, the only thing you can often do is to obtain information on a regular basis. This is because the perpetrators are as inventive as they are unscrupulous when it comes to developing new fraud schemes. They deliberately exploit the trust of their potential victims and stir up fears.

For this very reason, our lawyers regularly report on current and recurring fraud methods.

Table of contents

  1. Legal help for victims of fraud
  2. What is fraud? Penalty – Statute of limitations – Application offence
  3. Computer fraud in the Criminal Code
  4. Types of fraud
  5. What should victims of fraud do?

Fraud: Legal support and representation of injured parties

The Herfurtner law firm represents both private individuals and companies who have suffered financial loss as a result of fraud.

We use all civil and criminal law means to pursue the perpetrators, work closely with the investigating authorities and try to recover your money or enforce your claims for damages.

Our law firm represents victims of fraud in Germany and other German-speaking countries.

Our services for people who have been harmed by fraud

  1. Comprehensive examination of all documents relating to your concluded legal transactions or investments and subsequent assessment of your case with regard to civil law claims and criminal law relevance.
  2. Research to trace the perpetrator or perpetrators
  3. Detection of the perpetrator(s) if they are still unknown.
  4. As a basic step, filing a criminal complaint for fraud and money laundering with the competent investigating authorities in Germany and, if applicable, abroad.
  5. Close cooperation with domestic law enforcement agencies such as public prosecutors and criminal police to coordinate further measures.
  6. Enquiry with your legal expenses insurance to clarify to what extent legal fees and/or court costs will be covered.
  7. Cooperation with our long-standing contacts of the respective local authorities, foreign prosecution authorities and law firms abroad in cases with cross-border implications.
  8. Complaints to the relevant supervisory authorities for capital investments and stock exchange transactions in Germany and – if applicable – also abroad.
  9. Exhaustion of all possibilities to recover your funds. Including, for example:
    • Contacting your house bank, your credit card company and the recipient banks to clarify the liability issue as well as reversing the transfers.
    • Correspondence with the crypto exchanges, investment platforms and payment service providers involved, if applicable.
    • Possibly filing a lawsuit and claiming damages to enforce your claims.

What is fraud?

Fraud as an offence is one of the oldest crimes in human history. Fraud involves deceiving another person with the intention of obtaining a pecuniary advantage. § Section 263 (1) StGB

The offence of fraud is regulated in § 263 of the Criminal Code (StGB). Section 263a of the Criminal Code additionally standardises the special offence of computer fraud.
The objective elements of a fraud offence can be divided into:

1. deception = the fraudster deceives the victim about a fact.
2. the deception leads to an error = the deception creates or perpetuates an error in the victim.
3. the error results in a misappropriation of property. In case law, there is a connection between error and damage caused by the victim through the disposal of his or her own or another person’s assets in a way that reduces their assets. 4.
4. this results in a pecuniary loss = the pecuniary loss resulting from the victim’s deception.

The most common types of fraud include gang membership or profiteering, pecuniary loss of great magnitude, and the pretence of an insurance claim.

Our firm represents clients who have been the victim of these or other types of fraud. We have also represented individuals victimised by online trading scams for many years.

Behind most of these frighteningly sophisticated fraud schemes are excellently organised groups of perpetrators – often from abroad – who have the necessary know-how and financial resources to carry out the deception almost to perfection.

How is fraud punished?

Even attempted fraud is punishable, as regulated by section 263 (2) of the Criminal Code. But what is attempted fraud?

Attempted fraud is characterised by the intention to defraud – i.e. the subjective requirements. However, it lacks the existence of an objective element of the offence.

For the question of criminal liability, however, the completion of the fraud is usually irrelevant. Just as a later payment of the sum at stake in the (attempted) fraud does not lead to the elimination of the offence.

From attempted fraud we return to fraud: In terms of punishment, a distinction must be made here between “light” and particularly serious fraud.

The penalty for simple fraud can range from a fine to five years’ imprisonment.

For particularly serious fraud, the legislator provides for a prison sentence of between six months and up to ten years in accordance with section 263, paragraph 3, sentence 1 of the Criminal Code.

Now you are certainly asking yourself what a particularly serious case of fraud is. This is described in the Criminal Code § 263 para. 3 p. 2 StGB:

  • Commercial fraud: The offender acts commercially, i.e. repeatedly committing the offence and not only temporarily earning some income, or as a member of a gang. If the fraud is committed in a gang and on a commercial basis, the convicted offender faces a prison sentence of between one and ten years. In less serious cases, between six months and five years – section 263 (5) StGB.
  • The extent of the loss caused is great or a large number of people were deliberately put at risk of losing their assets through the continued commission of fraud.
  • The perpetrator faked an insurance claim, for example by setting fire to something of significant value or by sinking a ship.
  • Another person suffered economic hardship as a result of the perpetrator.
  • The perpetrator abused his powers or his position as a public official or as a European public official.

These are so-called standard examples. Even if the characteristics of such a standard example are present, a particularly serious case does not always have to exist. There is only a so-called circumstantial effect.

Statute of limitations in the area of fraud

Fraud under section 263 of the Criminal Code is subject to a limitation period of 5 years. This can be read in § 78 III No. 4 StGB. But when exactly does the statute of limitations begin?

In general, the following applies: From completion, i.e. termination of the act of fraud. However, the statute of limitations can be interrupted by various events.

For example, by the opening of proceedings, the time of the questioning of the accused person(s) or the issuing of a penalty order. Detailed information on the subject of the statute of limitations can also be found here.

Is fraud always an application offence?

As a rule, an act of fraud in Germany must be reported by the injured party himself by filing a criminal complaint. At least if the pecuniary loss is considered minor.

The situation is different if the public prosecutor’s office assumes that there is a public or social interest in prosecuting the perpetrator(s). Then it has the possibility to initiate and carry out investigations, even without the criminal complaint of an individual injured by the fraud.

In these cases, it is said that intervention is required ex officio.

Computer fraud in the Criminal Code

The internet has become an indispensable part of modern life. Both large areas of private and business life take place here. The virtual world is extremely attractive for fraudsters.

They can move around there largely anonymously and obtain sensitive data and money by eliciting trust or the technically necessary knowledge, for example through hacking or phishing.

It is not only the general number of fraud cases that is constantly increasing. Computer fraud, internet fraud and cybercrime are also affecting more and more private individuals and companies. To take this into account, § 263a exists in the Criminal Code. This refers exclusively to fraud with the means of the crime computer.

“Whoever, with the intention of obtaining an unlawful pecuniary advantage for himself or a third party, damages the property of another by influencing the result of a data processing operation by incorrect design of the program, by use of incorrect or incomplete data, by unauthorised use of data or otherwise by unauthorised influence on the course of events, shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than five years or with a fine.”

This also includes developing, distributing, disseminating and making available PC programs to carry out computer fraud. This also includes programmes such as malware, viruses and Trojans.

Types of fraud that most frequently affect our clients

Fraud affects both private individuals and companies.
Accordingly, the examples below show which forms of fraud our law firm comes into contact with time and again:

– Investment fraud and capital investment fraud
– Internet fraud and computer fraud
– Bitcoin fraud
– Fraud in Crypto Trading, Forex Trading or CFD Trading

However, a large number of people who are affected by other types of fraud also instruct our law firm.

Fraud types Examples

In the following chapter we will give you an overview of the methods used by fraudsters. For a detailed description, please visit our pages on the legal field of fraud or contact our lawyers without obligation and free of charge.

Investment fraud, bitcoin fraud and online trading fraud

Through the establishment of questionable investment and brokerage companies, investors are often fooled by various methods and tricks in investment fraud.

Nowadays, those who want to invest their money profitably hardly like traditional savings products because of the low prospects of returns.
Alternative products, such as bitcoin, energies or e-growing, often entice with higher profits, but usually also harbour immense risks.

The scammers promise investments with high profits, such as real estate, cryptocurrencies, shares, cars, gold and foreign exchange, while in reality it is not uncommon for the capital invested to be lost completely.

Especially in cases of investment fraud, many aggrieved parties turn to us. We examine the facts of the case and take the necessary measures to help the injured parties to get their rights.

In doing so, we are in close contact with investigating and prosecuting authorities throughout Europe and parts of Asia.

Recovery Scam

The recovery scam is a scam that follows the investment scam. In most cases, the same perpetrators are behind it. The procedure is always the same: the investor is contacted and lured with the promise that after paying a fee, their investments will be recovered and transferred back.

Telephone scams

Telephone scammers are extremely creative in their approach. At almost regular intervals, they change their scam. What remains the same is that they mainly target money and valuables of elderly people. But younger people are not safe from telephone fraud either.

The perpetrators usually deliberately call very early in the morning or late in the evening so that their potential victims are tired and mentally not quite clear. In some scams, which are carried out with a phone call, trust is built up right at the beginning of the conversation.

In other cases, the perpetrators stir up fear right at the beginning and do not even shy away from blackmail.

Europol call? Beware of scams

A highly topical telephone scam at the moment are fake calls from Europol, Interpol, the FBI or a similarly known investigating authority. You can read all about this extortionate method of fraud via telephone and how you can protect yourself against it on our page Telephone fraud.

Telephone scam fake doctors

In this scam, fraudsters pretend to be doctors on the phone. To extort money from their victims, they use a false shock story to catch them off guard. Their relative urgently needs a costly treatment, operation or medication.

For this, however, the transfer of a considerable sum of money would be needed immediately – because that is, after all, what the scam is all about. The strategy of the perpetrators is designed to shock, confuse, overwhelm and frighten the victims in order to be able to steal from them more easily.

Marriage scams and romance scams: Tinder scams and Romance Scam

The marriage scam is one of the oldest types of fraud. The victim is fooled by a person into believing that he or she has affection for him or her until marriage takes place and the perpetrator gains access to the spouse’s assets.

In times of the internet, fraud methods such as Romance Scam via Tinder, WhatsApp or social media are on the rise.

Invoice fraud

The fact that nowadays many invoices are sent by e-mail plays into the fraudsters’ hands. Through illegal information gathering, hacker attacks or phishing attacks, the perpetrators receive information about services they have used. They then claim the sums they have determined from the customer by means of fake invoices.

Sweepstake scams and subscription traps

Congratulations, you have won! This is often how a lottery scam begins. The promised prize is followed by the information that it can only be paid out if the winner pays a fee in advance.

You should be sceptical if you have no recollection of having taken part in a competition or prize draw.

Subscription traps are treacherous and illegal. Consumers take out subscriptions completely unintentionally because the obligation to pay is not indicated or is very hidden.

Grandchild trick and WhatsApp scam

With the grandchild trick, fraudsters pretend to be a grandchild, a child or a close relative of the victim. The perpetrators resort to a wide variety of stories in which it is supposedly an emergency and therefore a sum of money has to be paid quickly.

A modern variant of the grandchild trick is the scam via WhatsApp. A message from the scammers, supposedly from the child or grandchild to the parents or grandparents, is aimed at obtaining a transfer in real time. Here, too, a “story in distress” is served up.

You can find all the details and tips on how to protect yourself against the WhatsApp scam 2022 here.

Types of fraud on the internet: Cybercrime

Frauds carried out via the internet are usually very complex. The perpetrators use the anonymity of the World Wide Web. All fraud schemes of the cyber criminals are based on gaining the trust of the potential fraud victims and, by exploiting their needs and desires, defrauding them of as much capital as possible.

Phishing and identity theft via email or spam SMS

Malicious links in e-mails, social media messages, messengers or spam SMS are on the increase. Private households are affected just as much as companies, and bank customers are also being targeted time and again. One click on the phishing link and the perpetrators obtain your sensitive data and/or money. It is not uncommon for your personal data to be exploited for identity theft.

Hangouts scam

Many people have already fallen for scammers on the Google Hangouts communication platform. We tell you how the Hangouts scam works, what it has to do with romance scamming and what you can do to prevent it.

Internet fraud, cybercrime, scams and scamming

Cyberattacks and various forms of cybercrime and scamming are unfortunately affecting more and more people. There seems to be no limit to the creativity and unscrupulousness of fraudsters.

It is therefore all the more important to keep up to date with fraud methods and to take legal action against Internet fraud.

Paypal Friends and Family Fraud and Triangle Fraud

Classified ads on Ebay or similar sales portals are often used and tempting for consumers. However, there are secure and insecure payment methods. One payment option that is considered insecure is the Paypal Friends and Family feature. You should never use this with strangers. We tell you why.

Triangular fraud is also widespread and is also often used via Ebay and similar online sales portals. In the end, the victim of fraud is left without money and goods. Protect yourself by reading up on it.

AnyDesk scam

Remote access to your PC is always a great danger and should only be allowed with extreme caution. Is your online broker urging you to set up a customer account for yourself or to make transfers via remote access on your computer?

Prevent this at all costs! No reputable broker will ever make this suggestion. Our lawyers explain the AnyDesk scam in detail.

NFT Scam

A lot of hype surrounds the topic of NFT – Non-Fungible Tokens. But in the rapid way the cryptocurrency market is growing, the number of scammers is also increasing. Anyone who wants to participate in NFTs should urgently inform themselves in advance about scams in the field of non-fungible tokens.

Credit Fraud & Credit Card Fraud – Online Banking Fraud – NFC Fraud Scam

Credit card holders are at risk when it comes to credit fraud and credit card scams. Credit fraud involves arranging fake loans. Credit card fraud, on the other hand, comes from the theft of credit card information.

There are also a large number of fraud cases in online banking. The same applies to payments with NFC cash cards. Read our information on online banking fraud and the NFC fraud scam.

What should people affected by fraud do?

The overriding feelings of people who have been harmed by fraud are fear and shame. They often blame themselves for having trusted the perpetrator or for having acted carelessly for a moment. For this reason, many consumers decide to let the “matter” rest.

However, victims of fraud should defend themselves. Far too often, fraudsters get away with their psychologically sophisticated crimes. The victim is not to blame and in many cases there is reason for hope.

There is a multitude of possibilities to enforce claims for damages and to recover money that was thought to have been lost. Especially in cases of fraud in the field of online trading, our investigations – in cooperation with domestic and foreign authorities – are successful time and again.

Therefore, it is advisable to contact a lawyer to protect your own interests. The lawyers of the Herfurtner law firm have already been consulted in many cases of fraud.

Our fraud lawyers will advise you quickly, discreetly and competently. From our many years of experience, we know how you feel. Would you like to discuss a case of fraud with us? Then you can go directly to our contact area here.

You can find further information, for example, on our pages Cybercrime, Internet Crime and Online Trading.

Lawyer Wolfgang Herfurtner Germany

Wolfgang Herfurtner | Lawyer | Managing Director | Shareholder

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