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11 Jan 2018
Investment fraud, business identity theft and Microsoft phone scams on the rise

In 2017, considerable more reports about investment scams came in to Fraud Help Desk.

Total losses reported by duped investors amounted to € 6.1 million, up from € 1.4 million the year before. In total, Fraud Help Desk received 147 reports relating to investment fraud (compared with 76 in 2016). As many as 98 victims lost money (up from 34 last year).

The victims fell for the practice known as boiler room scams, which involves fake investment firms cold-calling people with offers of an alleged lucrative investment. Often, victims first make a small investment which gives them a nice return. Next, they are challenged to invest a larger amount, which they will never see again.

Hijacked business information
In2017, the Dutch business community had to contend with a increasing number of conmen using the names of companies or entrepreneurs. This involved unsolicited (online) sales, manipulation of payment transactions between companies and CEO impersonation fraud.

Fraud Help Desk received 521 reports, out of which 118 companies actually lost money. The total damage resulting from this fraud amounted to € 2,863,092. By comparison, in 2016, there were 400 reports about business identity theft, 75 fell victim to it and the damage was around € 1.5 million.

Microsoft phone scammers
Also on the rise is the damage caused by callers claiming to be Microsoft tech support. This trick, which involves a caller posing as a helpdesk employee offering to solve urgent computer problems, has been around for years. Yet, 2017 appears to be a year in which these con artists managed to make more money than ever before.

In 2016, € 204,000 worth of damage was reported by victims of these Microsoft phone scams. The figure went up to a staggering € 724.500 last year. The number of victims also increased considerably: 229 in 2017, up from 102 in 2016.

The increase is mainly caused by the fact that these fraudsters have been using more and more sophisticated methods. Previously, the scammers asked for a fee for the services provided. This meant the callers were dependent on what their victims were willing to pay. Now, though, they make sure that they get access to their victim’s PC. As soon as they are logged into their online banking account, the plundering starts.

The whole year 2017
Total damage reported to the Fraud Help Desk as a result of fraud has also increased considerably. This is for a large part caused by the increase in investment fraud. In 2017, total losses caused by fraud ran up to € 15,854,000, more than double the figure for 2016; that was € 7,254,000.