Explosive rise in scams by rogue webshops

Black Friday and other discount promotions that are currently going on are causing many victims. The police have already received more than five times as many reports of internet fraud compared to the whole of 2019. With the holidays in their sights, it is obvious that the number of victims will increase further in the coming period.

Although the month of November is not over yet, the police have received a total of 15,732 reports of people who have been scammed by a webshop. In comparison: in the whole of 2019, there were about 3,000 reports of online scams. More than half of the reports (8,743) were made against webshops that do not exist at all.

The scammers are savvy They set up a website that looks professional. In this way they try to convince visitors that it is a legitimate online store. They then place various products on it with very high discounts. They pay the money, but then nothing is delivered. When they try to contact the web store, it turns out that it has left with the Noorderzon.

For example, the webshop Koffiekeuzes.nl offered a Philips espresso machine for 59 euros. Normally you pay 675 euros for this in the store. Visitors to the website thought they were making a nice deal, but nothing could be further from the truth. Some buyers were told that a pricing error had been made and therefore not all orders could be delivered.

In one weekend, the police received more than six hundred reports of this so-called discount campaign. She then had the internet address blocked. Due to the intervention of the police, many payments to the company could be frozen and the victims received their money back. According to Gijs van der Linden of the Landelijk Meldpunt Internet Fraud (LMIO), the victims are people who are normally alert to online scams. “They don’t pay attention for a while or are sometimes too trusting and then things go wrong,” says Van der Linden.

Due to the explosive increase in the number of reports of internet scams, a team is working day and night to detect fraudulent online stores. If the site operates from the Netherlands, it is relatively easy to take a site off the air. Agents, on the other hand, have their hands full with web stores that are hosted from abroad. And with Sinterklaas and the holidays just around the corner, scammers will try to take even more money out of the pockets of gullible visitors.

The police warn people to be careful when doing business with a small, unknown webshop. First of all, do good research on the web store and see if other users have left a review. You quickly notice whether a webshop can be trusted or not. You can check whether an online store exists or not in the register of the Chamber of Commerce (KvK). You can check whether a shop is affiliated with the Thuiswinkel Waarborg via the member list of Thuiswinkel.org.

“But the best tip remains: if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is,” Van der Linden told the AD.

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