Boom in cybercrime

Economic crime Boom in cybercrime

Published on 02.08.2021 by Dr Claudia Valérie Brunner, lawyer, responsible for the field of study Economic Crime at the Institute of Financial Services Zug

Technological developments are not only increasingly changing our everyday lives, they are also having an impact on the development of crime. With growing levels of professionalism among criminals and a lack of awareness among their victims, cybercrime is seeing a real boom.

Whereas in the last millennium the classic case of investment fraud (in German) in particular was the hallmark of white-collar criminal behaviour, there has in recent times been an increasing shift of economic crime into the digital sphere. According to police crime statistics (in German), a total of 24,398 criminal offences that had a digital component were registered in 2020, of which 84.2 percent were due to white-collar crime. Some 16,395 offences – around two thirds of crimes with a digital aspect – involve cyberfraud, a specific form of economic crime. This includes among other things fraudulent activities in connection with online shops. But other white-collar crimes, such as data corruption or money laundering, are also increasingly being committed online. Judging by the numbers, it would appear to be easy to part people from their money in the digital sphere. But what is actually behind this phenomenon?

Not infrequently, criminal acts in the digital sphere are committed by organized crime groups, which spare neither the time nor the resources required to prepare and monitor the intended setting, such as a case of online investment fraud, in a highly professional manner. With their psychological subtlety, use of technological resources and highly adaptable approach, it is becoming increasingly difficult for potential victims to smoke out these fraudsters before it’s too late. The price fluctuations of the various cryptocurrencies on the fake trading platforms are purportedly adjusted in real time, the information required for investors is set out nice and neatly, and the advice given is highly elaborate, professional and confidence-inspiring. So why not fall into line with the rest of the world at a time like this and invest a small amount to get a share of the spoils? And once on board, it’s often no bother at all for the advisor to induce investors to make further investments. The mostly fairytale profits, which investors are fooled into believing in by manipulated software, are just too tempting. As a rule, the fraud is only detected when the profits that have supposedly been generated are not paid out, and a great deal of creativity instead goes into giving investors the runaround or urging them to make further payments. In most cases, the website disappears from the network shortly thereafter and the advisor can no longer be reached. And along with the trading platform, the investors’ money has also vanished into thin air.

In this or similar ways, criminal organizations succeed time and again in conning people out of their assets. Given this highly professional approach, potential victims require solid expertise and a high degree of caution if they are to identify black sheep. Be that as it may, the risk of falling victim to cybercrime can be significantly reduced by careful online research on potential business partners. Nevertheless, the boom in cybercrime as a whole can only be countered through awareness-raising, targeted training and consistent criminal prosecution.


Due to the current situation, Connecta Bern will again be held as a digital event in 2021. Connecta is renowned for shining a light on the diverse nature of digitization and this year will be no different with content presented across the three formats of Connecta Blog, Connecta TV and Connecta Talk. Find out more here:


Dr Claudia Valérie Brunner

Lawyer Dr Claudia V. Brunner is a lecturer, project manager and the person responsible for the Economic Crime field of study at the Institute of Financial Services Zug at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, and a partner at Jositsch Brunner Rechtsanwälte.

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