People in Switzerland urged to be cautious after scam ‘text message attack’

Smartphone users in Switzerland have been warned after millions of text messages containing fake web links were sent out by fraudsters.

A woman looks at her mobile phone.
A woman looks at her mobile phone. Illustration photo by on Unsplash

The messages, written in German, ask the recipient to click on a link in order to read or listen to a multi-media message or to stop receiving further messages.

The aim of the hackers is to infect the user’s phone with malware – short for malicious software – to steal any passwords and personal information it contains.

The scope of this scam “is unheard of in Switzerland”, according to a Geneva daily newspaper, Le Temps, which reported the “massive wave of SMS attacks”.

All the links are unique and the messages are almost always sent from Swiss phone numbers although some may come from an Austrian number, Le Temps reports. The messaging app Signal has also reportedly been targeted. 

According to Le Temps Android phones are more vulnerable than iOS phones if the links are clicked on. The malware can even start sending out messages from your phone to people in your address book.

So if you receive a message from a friend with a strange link, don’t click it.

READ ALSO: The most common online scams in Switzerland and how to avoid them

The advice to smartphone users is simple: don’t click on the messages or any links within them.

Simply delete the messages as soon as they are received. 

Blocking the numbers won’t be effective as the messages are sent from different numbers. 

If you have received messages of this nature, report it to your network provider. 

Authorities in Switzerland reported a similar wave of scam text messages being sent in June

Phone operator Swisscom says it reports the messages systematically to the National Centre fo Cyber Security (NCSC).

The NCSC’s basic advice for people is: “Never install a program from a website via a link sent to you by text or email. Install only necessary programs and applications and always download them from the producer’s site or an official download platform.”

More information on how to avoid text message scams is available at the following government link

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Swiss woman indicted over ‘jihadist knife attack’ in department store

Swiss prosecutors said Wednesday they had indicted a woman for attempted murder on behalf of the Islamic State (IS) group over a brutal knife attack in November 2020.

Swiss woman indicted over 'jihadist knife attack' in department store

The 29-year-old unnamed woman allegedly attacked two women in a department store in the southern city of Lugano.

She has been charged with attempted murder and violating laws against association with Al-Qaeda, IS and related groups, according to the indictment.

She was also charged with unlawful prostitution.

EXPLAINED: Does Switzerland face a threat from terrorism?

The attorney general’s office said the indictment related to a “jihadist knife attack” and the alleged assailant, a Swiss citizen, “intended to kill her victims and to commit a terrorist act on behalf of IS.”

“The suspect acted wilfully and with particular ruthlessness. She brutally attacked her randomly-selected victims with a knife, with the aim of killing them and thereby spreading terror throughout the population on behalf of the ‘Islamic State’,” it said.

One of the two victims sustained serious neck injuries while the second victim, with help from others at the scene, managed to overpower her attacker and hold her until police arrived.

The attacker was arrested and detained. Police quickly discovered she had been linked to a 2017 jihadism investigation.

The woman had formed a relationship on social media with a jihadist fighter in Syria and attempted to travel to the war-torn country to meet him, police alleged at the time.

She was stopped by Turkish authorities at the Syrian border and sent back to Switzerland, they said, adding that the woman had suffered from mental health problems and been admitted to a psychiatric clinic.