Suspect arrested for selling personal data for WhatsApp fraud

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West Utrecht – On Tuesday, March 5, a 38-year-old man from Zoetermeer was arrested in an investigation into trading in data used to commit WhatsApp fraud.

The investigation and the Cybercrime Team of the Central Netherlands police unit tracked down the man through a previous arrest in 2023. An observant hotel owner in West Utrecht then reported a suspicious situation, because several laptops were found during cleaning of one of the hotel rooms. , with taped cameras, were found. The alert hotel owner did not trust the situation and called the police. Through research into the laptops and telephones found in the hotel, the suspect from Zoetermeer came to the attention of the police.

Data used for fraud

The man is suspected of selling lists of telephone numbers to scammers who then commit WhatsApp fraud. He would automatically retrieve profile photos from WhatsApp and then compile them into lists and divide telephone numbers by gender and age, among other things.

In WhatsApp fraud, a scammer pretends to be the victim’s son or daughter, for example, who has a new telephone number. By pretending that a bill needs to be paid urgently, while they are temporarily unable to access their internet banking, victims are persuaded to transfer money. By using WhatsApp profile photos to select elderly people, for example, the scammers increase their chance of success and thus their information position about the victim.

Avoid scams

Many people do not realize that their WhatsApp profile photo is visible to everyone. In the WhatsApp settings you can indicate that you only want to show certain information from your profile to your contacts. This way you can prevent your profile photo from being used for other purposes. In addition, no agency or organization will ask for your personal data, PIN codes or come to collect your personal items. Don’t trust it? Call your loved ones to check the story or call the organization in question.

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