More and more victims of online crime

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Netherlands – The number of victims of cybercrime is increasing, but the number of convicted perpetrators is lagging behind. This is evident from research by the WODC, which published research figures on online crime for the period 2018 and 2020. Although the findings from the study are useful, the police have made significant improvements in tackling cybercrime since 2020.

In the report ‘Entry and flow of online crime into the criminal justice chain’, the Scientific Research and Data Center (WODC) states that there are more and more victims of online crime, but that the number of convictions is lagging behind. The WODC cites the low willingness of victims to report crimes, the complexity of cyber cases, and the fact that the justice system is insufficiently equipped to deal with cyber cases effectively as reasons for this. The researchers further state that the police and the judiciary do not properly register online crime, which means there is limited insight into the phenomenon.

Broad approach

“Developments in the field of online crime are happening very quickly and this also applies to the approach to it,” says Theo van der Plas, cybercrime portfolio holder at the police. The WODC bases itself on figures between 2018 and 2020, but since then much has improved in our approach to cybercrime. For example, we have bundled cybercrime reports and there is now a national approach to cybercrime investigations. We use the broad approach to online crime that the police are now using not only in investigation and prosecution, but also in other interventions, such as disrupting criminal processes.’

Recently, the Dutch Police, Europol and police services from 10 countries – in a major disruption campaign – took down 34 servers of the ransomware group LockBit. In the Netherlands alone, 13 important servers were taken offline. This has seriously disrupted and affected the group’s criminal activities. And in 2023, more than 5 million people checked their email address on checkjehack, after an international online trading place for identity data was shut down.

The police do a lot of work in tackling online crime. Nevertheless, improvements are possible in the coming years. Van der Plas: ‘With online crime it is often more difficult to get to a suspect than with traditional crime. Contact with the victim usually only takes place digitally, which means that additional investigative actions are required to find the perpetrator. That asks a lot of us as police, also in the coming years, in addition to the other police work that is necessary. Tackling cybercrime is a broad social task, involving citizens, companies and the government.’

Puzzle piece

Victims of cybercrime are not quick to report it. The police see that the victim often has a great sense of shame in these types of crimes, so they prefer to keep it quiet, even from friends and family. “A possible cause is the low damage amounts,” Van der Plas thinks. ‘There is also the idea that the police cannot do anything with a single report. However, we continue to call on people to report these types of crimes. That information from the victim can be just the missing piece of the puzzle to find the perpetrator. By reporting the crime, you also help prevent others from becoming victims. With tax return information we can eliminate fraudulent bank accounts and websites.’ Only together will we be able to combat cybercrime effectively, and we are working hard on that.’

Information source: Politie.nl

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