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21 Jan 2014
Sharp increase in online fraud

The number of reports involving cybercrime has increased significantly. Last year, nearly 28,000 people in the Netherlands reported (attempted) internet scams to the Fraud Help Desk, up from 9000 the year before.

Most reports were about phishing, the act of angling for the login data or personal details of computer users. As many as 22,000 people reported this type of cybercrime.

It seems, however, that awareness about online fraud has grown among the Dutch population; no more than 1 to 2 percent of the recipients of phishing emails now fall for the scam and lose money. These sums range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of euros.

Advance-fee fraud
The remaining 6,000 reports were about advance-fee scams. These are confidence frauds which hold out the promise of large rewards such as lucrative business deals or a lottery prizes. First, though, some ‘administrative fees’ have to be paid in advance so that the transfer can be made.

Various types of advance-fee fraud claim a much higher percentage of victims. The same applies to the sums of money involved. In some cases, those duped lost hundreds of thousands of euros.

110 out of the 1400 people (8 percent) who reported these scams were conned out of their cash. The total: 3.8 million euros. This amounts to an average of 35,000 euros per victim.

The ‘lucrative’ business proposal is the most common type of advance-fee fraud. Via email and cold calls, con artists hold out the prospect of huge profits, provided a certain investment is made first.

Last year, 726 of these cases were reported to the Fraud Help Desk. Most seriously duped was an estate agent from the east of the Netherlands who lost 86,000 euros in a ‘multi-million-euro project’ in South Africa, which he visited twice.

Lottery fraud
Lottery fraud was the subject of 572 reports. In this type of scam, the criminals involved congratulate you on winning a large sum of money. But in order to receive the prize, up-front payments have to be made. These can run up to thousands of euros.

Betting fraud claims many victims too: 374 cases were reported by people who were roped into online gambling sites who took their money but never paid them if they won.

Another 327 people were lured by offers of low-interest loans and failed to check the Central Credit Registration Office (BKR) beforehand. After paying administrative fees in advance, no loan was given – the work of con artists.

Only an estimated 10 percent of all online fraud cases are reported to the Fraud Help Desk. Most people don’t contact the desk because they feel embarrassed or because the amount of money they lost is comparatively small.