Less bank help desk fraud in 2023

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Netherlands – The financial damage and the number of registrations of bank helpdesk fraud have decreased in 2023. This is evident from the annual figures of the Dutch Banking Association (NVB) and the police. The average amount that fraudsters steal from a victim has fallen significantly. “It seems that our joint measures are starting to pay off,” says fraud portfolio holder Theo van der Plas.

Bank helpdesk fraud is when criminals pose as bank employees and trick a victim into believing that the money in his or her bank account is no longer safe. Once convinced, the victims must ‘temporarily’ secure their money (with or without ‘help’) in a so-called safe account. This money then ends up with the criminals. This form of fraud has increased significantly in recent years. While the police registered several dozen cases of bank helpdesk fraud in 2019, this was 7,458 in 2022. The number of registrations in 2023 (6,970) shows a slight decrease for the first time.

The extent of financial damage is decreasing

The extent of the financial damage from bank helpdesk fraud reported in tax returns is also decreasing; from 56.1 million euros in 2022 to 33.7 million in 2023. In addition, the average amount of damage reported by victims will decrease from an average of 13,770 euros in 2020 to 6,771 euros in 2023.

“For the first time, we are seeing a cautious change in this phenomenon,” responds Theo van der Plas, program director for Digitalization and Cybercrime. ‘In recent years, the police have made significant efforts to track down perpetrators and inform citizens. It looks like this is starting to pay off. We work closely with the banks on this. They also contributed to this result with various interventions. For example, the banks have lowered daily limits for transferring large sums of money and time slots have been built in so that they are not transferred to another account at the touch of a button.’ Banks also monitor suspicious transactions more closely and report them to the police.

Young perpetrators, older victims

From 2019 to 2023, the police conducted 167 (minor and major) investigations in which bank helpdesk fraud played a role. Based on the investigations and registrations, a total of 1,878 unique suspects were arrested. “It mainly concerns young perpetrators who target older victims,” ​​says Van der Plas. ‘Our figures show that more than 80 percent of suspects are younger than 40 years old, while almost 80 percent of the victims are older than 60. The criminals are specifically looking for this vulnerable group of victims in order to steal as much money as possible. That is why it remains so important to inform people preventively. We also do this together with the banks, Ministries of J&V and, for example, EZK, but also with elderly organizations. In addition, it is important that victims report the incident.’

Many people do not report crime out of shame or because they think there is no point. But reporting the crime is important because it not only makes investigation possible, but also helps to prevent further victimization. Not always through detection, but also because fraudulent bank accounts and websites are then blocked or taken down sooner. ‘We continue to call for reporting of these types of crimes, because the victim’s information is part of the larger puzzle or may be the missing piece of the puzzle.’

National approach

Since 2022, the police have had a national approach under the name Operation Centurion, which ensures increased follow-up of reports of online crime. Reports are clustered and picked up in the unit where the suspects live. In addition, the police work together with banks, the telecom sector, the Public Prosecution Service and municipalities in the integrated approach to online fraud, to broadly combat bank helpdesk fraud and other forms of online crime. In this approach, the police are focusing more than ever on public-private partnerships, which, for example, makes it easier to block bank accounts and/or take down malicious sites. For example, the telecom sector, banks and the police were successful in combating spoofing of bank telephone numbers.

Information source: Politie.nl

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