Greeks probe 200 tax cases after UBS raid

Greek prosecutors are investigating around 200 cases of alleged tax fraud and money laundering after raiding an Athens office of Swiss bank UBS, a judicial source said on Tuesday.

Greeks probe 200 tax cases after UBS raid
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Investigators acting on a list of account holders with sizeable foreign-based deposits provided by Germany swooped on the bank and examined hard drives containing their account details.
The source said the account holders had been summoned to report to judicial authorities to clarify their situation and avoid potential prosecution.
The clampdown on deposits as large as €12 million ($13.1 million) could net the Greek treasury an estimated €2 billion, the national ANA news agency reported.

Berlin last month passed on details of those under suspicion and holding deposits totalling some four billion Swiss francs ($3.7 billion) on receiving some 10,000 sets of data on accounts held by companies and private individuals from the German state government of North Rhine Westphalia.

“We are carefully going to analyze the data and if need be ask Switzerland for further information,” Greek deputy minister of finance, Trifon Alexiadis, said at the time.
Other similar lists of alleged tax evaders have emerged in recent years in Greece — notably in 2010, when IMF head Christine Lagarde furnished Athens with one.
That list appeared after former HSBC employee Hervé Falciani blew the whistle on tax evaders, leaking the details of some 130,000 people with Swiss bank accounts, notably held with HSBC's private Swiss subsidiary.
Included on the list were the details of some 2,000 Greeks, including several politicians.
Lagarde passed the details on to Athens but the Greek authorities did not launch an investigation into tax fraud, which remains a political hot potato despite the government's promises to crack down on the practice as a condition of landing its most recent EU bailout.

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How to avoid the most common online scams in Switzerland

Swiss authorities are warning the public against the most common current online, telephone and postal scams and issuing useful advice on how to avoid these shady schemes.

How to avoid the most common online scams in Switzerland
Beware of scams circulating in Switzerland. Photo by Greg Baker / AFP

The number of attempts to extort money from unsuspecting individuals is on the rise in Switzerland, and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), as well as other authorities, are advising the public to be vigilant of any scheme asking for bank account or credit card numbers.

These are some of the most common scams that should ring alarm bells:

Tax arrears

Geneva officials have alerted taxpayers not to fall victim to telephone scams where the callers identify themselves as employees of the cantonal tax office. The person is told that he or she owes money for unpaid taxes, and callers demand the number of the bank account to withdraw the amount owed.

In case the taxpayer refuses, fake employees threaten the victim with a 200,000-franc fine. If the person is elderly — often the most vulnerable victim — the scammers exert pressure by saying their social security payments will be suspended until payment is made.   

Geneva authorities urge the public to inform the police if they receive such a phone call.

READ MORE: Switzerland: Zug residents receive fake letters telling them to quarantine

Package delivery against payment

You may receive an email, supposedly from well-known parcel delivery services, notifying you that a package addressed to you will be delivered once payment is made.

The parcel notification email contains a link to a page asking for credit card details or to activate a service on the mobile phone by sending a text message.

IT support

A caller pretending to be an employee of Microsoft or another IT company tells you that your computer is infected with a virus and new software has to be installed.

The aim of these cyber-attackers is to trick you into downloading a program that will give them access to your computer. 

In most cases, the callers will also try to sell you software licence or another service by asking for your credit card information.

Competitions and prizes

You may get emails, allegedly from well-known Swiss retailers, promising you vouchers for expensive prizes. But in order to receive them, personal data such as credit card details, name, email address, and mobile phone number have to be entered on a fake website.

The fee is immediately charged to your credit card and, unbeknownst to you, you will take out an expensive long-term subscription to a product or service you may or may not get.

The list of all the current scams in Switzerland is here.

If you receive any of the above or similar messages by post, email or phone, the NCSC advises to:

  • Ignore these messages by hanging up the phone and / or deleting emails, moving them to the Spam folder
  • Never give out your credit card number or bank account information to people you don’t know
  • If you did give your card number, contact your credit card company immediately to have the card blocked. Likewise, if you gave out your banking details, get in touch with your bank.
  • In the event of financial loss, the NCSC recommends filing a criminal complaint with the cantonal prosecution authorities. You can search for police stations in your area and their telephone numbers on the Police website.

A good rule to remember is that if an offer or a deal sound too good to be true, or if threats and pressure are involved, they are more than likely scams.

READ MORE: Swiss public warned about fake emails sent from banks and police