More than 5,000 people have reported a scam in which they were called by someone in English, claiming to be from the ‘national police’ or ‘Dutch supreme court’ and asking for payment.
The Fraudehelpdesk, the Dutch national anti-fraud hotline, has put out an alert, warning people to be suspicious of unexpected calls and never to give out any banking details, download anything or transfer money.
According to a press release, the majority of people who have so far lost money were English speakers.
Some callers were told that their BSN social security number was being misused, that there was an arrest warrant against them or that they were suspected of criminal activities such as drug dealing or money laundering, on a recorded message.
The calls then asked them to punch in the figure ‘1’ to be connected to an agent, they were asked to identify themselves, and to transfer money to an account. Some were asked to download software that would then access their bank accounts.
A spokeswoman from the Fraudehelpdesk told DutchNews.nl that they were warning people to be alert to any calls from an unrecognised number, since some of the calls appeared to come from a Dutch mobile number or even the Dutch supreme court.
‘If in doubt, check the police website, for instance, and call back on the number there,’ she said. ‘We say you should always be alert with numbers that you don’t know. In principle, the Dutch government never calls in English with a strong accent.’
The first reports of calls began in April and May this year, but the vast majority were reported in October. It is not known where the scammers got contact details or whether any criminals have been identified. Victims need to make a separate report to police.
The fraud helpline advises people to hang up if they hear a pre-recorded English message on an unknown telephone number, and never to transfer money on the basis of a telephone call. Anyone who has downloaded any kind of program onto their mobile or computer as a result of a call should have it inspected by an expert.
One Dutch resident, who had been targeted by the scam, said she was called repeatedly by different Dutch mobile numbers one afternoon until she picked up and heard a recorded message: ‘I thought it was funny because there isn’t really a Dutch supreme court,’ she said. ‘I did not press 1.’
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