Dutch scammer sentenced to 4.5 years in prison

The court in the Northern Netherlands sentenced a man on Thursday for large-scale digital fraud. According to the  Public Prosecution Service, it is a scammer “from the top layer of the phishing world. The 22-year-old man from Groningen has been sentenced to 4.5 years in prison.

The cybercriminal himself was not present at the hearing. He was on the run but has since been arrested again.

The ruling concludes an investigation for which the detectives tapped De Groninger between September 2, 2020, and September 20, 2020. During those days, he sent almost 130,000 text messages from a device, supposedly from PostNL.

Big fish in the phishing world

The prosecutor emphasized that the man was not only carrying out phishing scams. “He can program and also compiled or improved the source code of the panels himself. The investigation also revealed that he advised others on setting up phishing panels. The suspect thus functioned as a criminal helpdesk,” the officer stated during the substantive hearing on 4 November.

The officer concluded from this that Groninger was not just one of the many scammers. It had to be someone from the top layer of the phishing world. “There seem to be only a few people in the Northern Netherlands who commit cybercrime crimes such as phishing on this scale. Because phishing pages are often discovered and closed, the large-scale deployment of phishing tools is an act that is especially successful if you can program yourself. Without being dependent on others”.

The scale of the scams staggering

The Public Prosecution Service has by no means investigated all of the man’s devices and scams. For example, several computers were seized during a search. However, the criminal offences found on the two laptops were not included in the criminal investigation file, because such a large amount of cases had already emerged from other devices.

One of the seized laptops already contained more than 1.1 million hacked accounts. To give an idea of ​​how large the group of victims is here: if only 0.1% of victims had made a report and wanted to be present at the hearing, 1,100 seats should have been available.

The criminal also carried out phishing scams via SMS. His phone showed 130,000 text messages resulting in 60,000 casualties.

Phishing Methods

The scammer not only used multiple devices, but also multiple scamming methods. Most of the scams took place via Marktplaats and fake text messages.

In the marketplace fraud, Groninger used third-party marketplace accounts. This concern accounts for those whose passwords were once stolen during a data breach, for example. He would then ask sellers of goods to transfer one euro cent to ‘check their identity.

The payment environment he linked these sellers to was fake. When someone entered their bank details on this phishing page, Groninger gained access to all this data.

The second modus operandi was sending text messages, supposedly in the name of the tax authorities, PostNL, UPS or Digi-D. This contained a request to pay a bill via a link.

Victims also ended up on a phishing website, which gave the criminal access to all bank details. Moreover, he was able to channel these large amounts of looted money away. He used, among other things, online debit cards, Wertkarten and gift vouchers.

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