Two men from Deventer have been jailed for 2.5 and 3 years respectively for conning people out of money via social media messaging service Whatsapp.
The two pretended to be relatives in urgent need of money using photographs lifted off the internet to prove their identity. The money was then transferred to the account of an accomplice and taken out of a cash machine as soon as it arrived.
Most victims were conned out of a couple of hundred euros but one lost as much as €12,500.
The judge in the case said the two had been abusing people’s trust ‘deviously and ruthlessly’, and ordered them to pay back the money.
Scams on WhatApp in particular are getting more sophisticated so people fall for them,’ Marloes Kolthof of fraud monitoring body Fraudehelpdesk told broadcaster NOS.
‘The fraudsters do their homework. They look at social media to see who is friends with whom and use that information. In some cases they also have the right phone number, which makes it even more difficult to identify a request as fraud.’
Instances of Whatsapp fraud went up sharply during the coronavirus crisis because people were spending more time at home and communicated more via the service, Kolthof said.