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27 Feb 2018
Three classic tricks in email scams

In the past few months, con artists have used various tricks to tempt people to disclose their user credentials or other personal information. Here are the three tricks most frequently used.

  1. Congratulations!

Railway day tickets, an IKEA voucher, a Volkswagen Polo – these are some of the prizes you have won in recent weeks, at least if you’re to believe the messages in your mailbox. Unfortunately, these are all fake prizes in fake competitions, organised by companies trying to collect people’s personal data.

These rogue advertising agencies try to persuade people to give out data by promising them a prize. Of course, the ‘winners’ will never receive this prize, as they’ll find out after they’ve disclosed their name, email address and telephone number to parties sending out unwanted advertisements.

  1. Log in quickly, because ..

Whether it’s a bank account, clothing store, telephone subscription or music service, you can create an online account for all these products nowadays. Scammers would love to be able to log into your account, because this would give them access to your personal information. And this information is a money-earner for them. These con artists always come up with new tricks and excuses to get hold of your user credentials. This practice is known as phishing.

Usually these scammers use scare tactics, hoping that their urgent, commandeering tone with make you log in on a fake website immediately. The information you then disclose on this site will go straight to the scammers.

Here are some examples from the last few weeks:

“Your account has been temporarily blocked”

‘Confirmation of your email address’

“Verify your account”

‘Important information about your world card’

‘We have observed unusual activities’

Our advice: keep calm. Don’t let the tone of such email messages send you into a panic. If there’s something wrong with your online account, then just visit the website and log in. Make sure you don’t use the link given in the email. When in doubt, contact the company’s customer service.

  1. Your very last chance to pay a fine …

We are almost overwhelmed by the flood of scam email messages purporting to come from the CJIB, the Centraal Justitieel Incassobureau or Central Fine Collection Agency – an executive agency of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice. Almost all these messages are about a traffic fine that hasn’t been paid yet. Recipients are told they are now given a final chance to pay, or face a few days in prison.

We post an alert about such scam emails on our website almost every day. The sender’s intention is clear and simple: to make some quick money. The scammers send out the emails in large quantities, knowing that there will always be people who believe their story and send them money. The bank account number given in the emails is always different. This enables the scammers to continue their practices when their account is closed.

Here’s an example of a scam CJIB message (click to enlarge):

In total, Fraud Help Desk received 822,820 scam emails in 2017 on In addition to the type of scams described here, there were quite a few messages about a failed parcel delivery.