‘Victims of cybercrime too often left to their own devices’

People who are the victims of online crime often feel left out. They are already victims of fraud and are often also condemned by those around them that they have been tricked. The impact of this form of crime is often underestimated.

Online crime on the rise

The share of cybercrime is increasing day by day. Social developments such as the increasing digitization of society, the fact that people are increasingly working from home and we are increasingly making our purchases online have ensured that criminals have shifted their field of activity. Traditional forms of crime such as burglary, mugging, robbery and theft are increasingly fading into the background. Instead, people are increasingly being scammed online.

New figures show this well. Up to and including November, the police received 13,000 reports of cybercrime. That is an increase of almost 20 per cent compared to 2020 when almost 11,000 declarations came in throughout 2020. The number of (online) fraud cases is expected to increase further.

A well-known form of cybercrime is WhatsApp fraud. Although the share of this friend-in-emergency fraud or help request fraud decreased slightly over the past year, the police received an average of almost 100 reports per day. The total damage from WhatsApp fraud in 2021 is estimated by experts at 13 million euros.

Victim twice

The impact of cybercrime is too often underestimated. Victim Support emphasizes that the consequences can be significant, both financially and emotionally. Some victims are tens of thousands of euros lighter after being approached by cybercriminals. Victims are often ashamed of what has happened to them and lose faith in their fellow man.

Not all victims of internet scams report to the police out of shame and guilt. According to Jolise Stol, cybercrime expert at Victim Support Netherlands, the police figures are probably just the tip of the iceberg.

According to Stol, victims of cybercrime are often condemned by their environment when they tell about it. Victims are therefore twice the victims. “People often say, ‘How can you be so stupid? You do understand that such a thing is not a good idea, don’t you?’ You have already been scammed and lost a lot of money, and if you are also condemned by your environment, you are a victim again,” said Stol.

Cybercrime gets more attention from the police

What makes it even sourer is that the chance of being caught by cybercriminals is low. Because cybercrime takes place on a large scale and research costs a lot of time and energy, it is virtually impossible for the police to trace the perpetrators.

Although the police do everything they can to make it as difficult as possible for cybercriminals, it seems like a drop in the ocean. The focus is currently on disrupting the way cybercriminals work. In September last year, the police launched the campaign ‘My scam, your problem!’ to reduce the number of money mules.

For the coming year, the police want to increase cooperation with banks and the business community. In addition, more time and attention is being devoted to improving the digital skills of agents. Finally, the police will take more preventive measures to prevent the growth of new, young offenders.

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