The court of Arnhem has convicted a 28-year-old man for scamming via WhatsApp. He pretended to be someone else to ask for money from his victims in this capacity. Given the seriousness of the crimes, the court imposed a prison term of two years, of which six months were suspended. In addition, he must repay his victims more than 14,000 euros.
The court of Arnhem has determined this, as we read in a press release about the ruling.
This is how WhatsApp fraud works
WhatsApp fraud is a form of internet crime that is claiming more and more victims. It goes like this. A scammer poses as a friend, acquaintance, colleague or family member with an acute money problem. To make the scam more believable, he uses a name and profile picture of someone the victim knows. If the recipient starts talking about the different phone numbers, the fraudster uses an excuse: for example, that his phone has been stolen, he has lost his SIM card and therefore has a new number.
After the scammer gains the trust of his victim, he makes his intentions known: he is supposedly in financial difficulties and needs money immediately. If not, this has serious consequences for him: the bailiff confiscates his household effects, the electricity is cut off, or he cannot leave the country where he is supposedly on holiday at that moment.
Unsuspecting victims believe the scammer’s fabrications and are willing to transfer money. The fraudster sends a Tikkie and the recipient transfers the amount. At that point, they don’t know that they are actually transferring money to the scammer’s bank account. They often only find out when the damage has already been done. Victims can whistle for their money.
Victims transferred large amounts of money to scammer
Many think ‘that won’t happen to me’, but the numbers show a different picture. The number of WhatsApp fraud reports increased by a factor of four last year compared to 2019. We are talking about more than 11,000 reports. 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.
So WhatsApp fraud is a big problem. Judges are therefore taking strong action against the phenomenon. The Arnhem court convicted a 28-year-old man from the Gelderland capital this week for committing fraud via WhatsApp. As described above, he pretended to be someone else, in this case as someone’s son or daughter. He said he was having financial problems and needed money right away. Victims who were unaware transferred large amounts of money to his account. The scammer was ready at an ATM to withdraw the deposited money immediately. He did this every time within a time frame of six minutes.
In one case, the Arnhem scammer pretended to be an employee of the ING bank. The victim transferred large amounts of money, which the man later withdrew in cash. The man did this in February, August and November of last year.
Court speaks of ‘planned approach’ and ‘intensive cooperation’
In court, the 28-year-old man stated that he acted as an intermediary and carried out all debit card transactions on behalf of someone else. He said he had no idea that the money had been obtained through scams and that there were so many victims. The judge found the man’s statement implausible. According to the judge, the fact that he withdrew the money transferred within a few minutes is proof that the suspect knew what he was doing. The scammer also indicated that he knew that the money he had to withdraw was ‘not pure coffee’. The judge, therefore, considers fraud proven.
“This way of defrauding requires a planned approach, intensive cooperation and clear coordination between the people involved,” the court concluded. “With regard to the debit card that the suspect had available and used in a number of cases to debit the money, the court finds the receipt of the debit card and the theft of the money proven. According to the court, it has not become plausible that the owner of this pass voluntarily surrendered his pass and was involved in the fraud cases.
The court considers it legally and convincingly proven that the man was also involved in two other fraud cases. This would emerge from conversations between the man’s former partner and the man himself, and between the man’s ex-partner and a person whose account was used for the scam. The suspect denied knowing anything about this.
Fraudster sentenced to two years in prison and fine
All in all, the court ruled that the 28-year-old man was guilty of fraud via WhatsApp, theft in combination with a false key and receiving stolen goods. Given the seriousness of the crimes, the judge finds that a prison sentence of two, of which six months is conditional, is appropriate. In doing so, the court passed the demand of the public prosecutor, who had asked for a lesser sentence.
In addition to the prison sentence, the man must also pay compensation to his victims. It concerns a sum of more than 14,000 euros. The judge granted the majority of the victims’ claims.
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