The police have arrested a 23-year-old man from Amsterdam. He pretended to be an association and tried to convince members that their membership fees had not yet been paid. The suspect is believed to have stolen thousands of euros from his victims.
The Public Prosecution Service (OM) reports this in a press release. It is the third phishing suspect arrested this year.
This is what you need to know about phishing
Phishing is a form of internet crime that is becoming increasingly common in the Netherlands. Scammers try to obtain as much personal information from victims as possible in various ways, for example via email, WhatsApp or SMS.
For example, the internet criminals pose as a helpful bank employee who wants to prevent the victim from losing all his savings. In order to secure his money, it has to be temporarily placed in a ‘vault account’. However, this type of account does not exist and the money ends up in the scammer’s bank account.
They can also pretend to be a helpdesk employee who tells someone that someone has malware on their computer. He needs access to his PC to remove the malware. In reality, he steals stored passwords and other personal information.
This is how the suspect proceeded
In this case, the suspect from Amsterdam pretended to be an unnamed association with members. Since the beginning of 2021, he has been sending false e-mails on behalf of this association. The subject line contained descriptions such as ‘Failed charge, ‘Reminder’, or ‘Your membership is about to expire’.
The emails contain a malicious URL. Whoever clicked on it was redirected to a phishing site. Via this page victims could supposedly transfer their overdue membership money. In this way, the man collected the login details of bank accounts.
The money that came into the suspect’s account was transferred to accounts of cat-catchers. These are people – often vulnerable young people – who make their bank accounts available to scammers. In return, they receive a share of the proceeds. The suspect probably earned thousands of euros in this way.
Sentence against suspect unknown
The police cybercrime team discovered that the fake sites were running on a server in Germany. To pay for the hosting services, the suspect used a credit card in someone else’s name. This form of fraud is also known as credit card fraud. When the credit card company found out, it reported computer intrusion, fraud and manipulation of computer data.
The 23-year-old suspect was in restriction as it is called until last week. The chamber of the court in Amsterdam ruled on Monday that the Amsterdam citizen’s pre-trial detention will be extended by three months. The prosecutor has not yet announced a sentence.
Multiple phishing suspects arrested
The man from our capital is not the first suspect the police have arrested for phishing this year. In February, the police arrested a 23-year-old man from Amsterdam. He sent phishing emails and text messages in which he pretended to be housing corporation WoningNet. He said the recipients’ registration was about to expire. For example, the man hoped to send his victims to a rogue payment page with a payment link. At least 80 men fell for the scam. With that, the suspect would have earned at least 25,000 euros.
A few weeks later, a 24-year-old man from Uithoorn was arrested. He was suspected of sending large amounts of phishing messages and maintaining multiple phishing sites. During the search, the police seized 5,000 euros in cash, watches with a value of 65,000 euros, expensive designer clothes and a Mercedes. The police also seized a collection of Pokémon cards with a value of 11,000 euros and a gold-coloured replica of a Kalashnikov.
At the end of April, the Rotterdam court convicted three men from Amsterdam and Amstelveen for phishing. The men sent fake emails and text messages to victims. They pretended to be a telecom company, bank or credit card company. In the fake messages, they referred victims to a counterfeit payment page. On the phishing site, they could enter their bank login details. With the money they bought brand new iPhones, which were delivered to the addresses of cat-catchers.
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