On December 24, a cybercriminal managed to take an amount of 5,000 euros from a 68-year-old woman from Arnhem. After he was confronted by the police with his action, he repented and transferred the amount back to the woman’s bank account. The victim was obviously very happy with the news.
That writes the Hardenberg police in a message on Facebook.
The Arnhem woman was approached on December 24 via WhatsApp by someone who claimed to be her daughter. In reality, it was a fraudster who surreptitiously convinced the victim to transfer 5,000 euros to his bank account.
Because the money ended up directly in the suspect’s bank account, the police were able to quickly identify the perpetrator. That same day, officers escorted him to the police station in Hardenberg for questioning. The police took his statement there.
It soon became apparent that the man had earned quite a bit of pocket money with his scams, which we also call WhatsApp fraud or friend-in-emergency fraud. However, during the police interrogation, the suspect repented. “The suspect indicated that he would like to reimburse the amount of the damage. During the interrogation, he transferred the amount of almost 5,000 euros to the victim and indicated that he regretted what happened,” the Hardenberg police wrote on Facebook.
When the detective called the 68-year-old woman to say that her money had been refunded, she was “of course very emotional and also very happy,” the police said. Whether the scammer regrets his action over the Christmas season, or because the police caught him in the act, we’ll probably never know why the perpetrator refunded the money to the victim’s account. What is clear is that the woman from Arnhem has received an unexpected ‘Christmas present’.
Unfortunately, it does not end this way for most, according to the Hardenberg police. “Unfortunately this is not the case in many cases and the victims can ‘whistle for their money. That is why we again ask for attention to clicking on links, passing on your codes, etc. It might be good to broach this topic again during the Christmas dinner because prevention is better than…”
WhatsApp fraud is a social problem that is becoming more and more common. The number of reports of this form of fraud increased by a factor of four in the past year compared to 2019. We are talking about more than 11,000 reports on an annual basis. According to the most recent police figures, WhatsApp fraud is reported on average 100 times a day, which is also known as friend-in-emergency fraud or help request fraud. The total financial damage is estimated at 13 million euros.
The Public Prosecution Service and judges also see that more and more people are becoming victims of WhatsApp fraud. That is why the judiciary is cracking down on the perpetrators. Thus, the court sentenced Arnhem earlier this year a 28-year-old man with a prison sentence of two years, including six months probation. He was also told that he must repay his victims more than 14,000 euros.
Awareness of the societal, economic and social impact of WhatsApp fraud has also penetrated The Hague. At the end of last year, outgoing Minister of Justice and Security Ferd Grapperhaus introduced a bill to impose higher penalties on cybercriminals who defraud unsuspecting victims via WhatsApp.
Since the beginning of this year, a victimized account holder can, under certain conditions, request the name, address and residence details of the fraudster from the banks in order to recover damages from the perpetrators through civil proceedings. The banks contact the perpetrator with a request to transfer the amount back to the victim’s bank account. If they do not do this, the victim can start legal proceedings through the courts to reclaim the amount of the damage.
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