Now that we’re halfway through the year, it’s time to take stock of fraud activity in the Netherlands during the past six months. Here’s an updated Top 5 of the biggest scam threats:
1. Microsoft phone scams
This type of fraud, involving cold calls from crooks posing as Microsoft tech support, tops our list, with 1262 reports coming in to Fraud Help Desk in the first half of 2017.
Microsoft phone scams are an old trick, but apparently still effective. And lucrative, with a record € 140,000 euros in losses reported during the month of June.
More about Microsoft phone scams
Ransomware, or hostage malware, is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. Major ransomware attacks were reported in recent weeks, hitting both companies and individuals worldwide.
You can avoid ransomware infection by making regular backups of your files and by using an effective anti-virus programme and keeping it up to date.
Read more on our special ransomware page.
3.Online shopping fraud
In this type of fraud, people shopping on the internet pay for goods and services, but these are never delivered. Victims of online shopping scams hardly ever get their money back, according to a report by Dutch public broadcaster NOS.
So far, 608 victims have reported scams involving web stores or other online trading sites to Fraud Help Desk. The losses may generally not be so great, but the number of victims remains very high.
There are several things you can do to avoid falling victim to online shopping fraud. These include checking commercial sites like Marktplaats how long the seller has been actively trading on the site before purchasing anything. Never pay in advance, pay cash on delivery. And don’t pay through anonymous payment services like Western Union or MoneyGram.
More on online shopping fraud
4. Identity theft
Identity fraud is when stolen or forged identity papers are used to commit crimes under the innocent victim’s name. The overall losses are on the increase: in the first six months of this year, nearly 1.5 million euros were stolen from victims accounts, compared with € 1.726.933 in the whole of 2016.
To avoid identity theft, you may want to be stingy about giving out a copy of your ID, be careful when giving out information about yourself, particularly online, and always keep your important documents in a safe place.
More on identity theft
5. Advance-fee fraud
Advance-fee fraud is a type of scam in which con artists offer something valuable to the victim. This can be goods, services or a large sum of money. Before receiving this, the victim must first pay a (relatively) small fee up front. Next, the fraudsters will ask more, increasing amounts of money until the victim has lost everything they have or pulls out. At that stage, there won’t be any trace of the scammers.
Advance-fee fraud comes in many varieties, ranging from dating and inheritance fraud to lottery and sweepstake scams. They usually affect may victims and the damage they inflict is often quite substantial, both financially and emotionally.