How Shanali, Sjoerd and Tessa were scammed with fake phone calls

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NOS News

  • Nando Kasteleijn

    editor Tech

  • Nando Kasteleijn

    editor Tech

NOS spoke to three people who reported to the Fraud Helpdesk and lost money. In this article you can read how well prepared the criminals seem to be based on their experience, which answers many points.

The victims are telling their stories to warn others, but only want their first names published. The amount they lost and their stories have been corroborated by police reports and bank statements.

Criminal activities

Shanali, Sjoerd and Tessa seem to have nothing in common. Shanali is a foreign student studying at a Dutch university; Sjoerd is a co-owner of a business; and Tessa has lived in Sweden for several years. But the message they get when they are called is the same: their social security number is linked to criminal activities.

Shanali lost 2600 euros due to the fraud. She tells how it went and wants to warn people about it:

Scammed over the phone

So it all starts with a phone call. Sjoerd (who lost 66,000 euros) is called by the ‘federal police’, Shanali (2,600 euros) and Tessa (2,000 euros) are called by the ‘Ministry of Justice’. Shanali is on the phone with a man who introduces himself as John Smith. “He told me to stay in my room and not leave the house for 24 hours. I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone.”

All three are told that their money must be ‘secured’. “All in all it was a three to four hour process, very strange,” says Sjoerd. “I got so involved in it. I thought they were doing their best for me.”

If he resists the conversation, there is a threat of legal action. “It is all manipulation in such a sophisticated way that I have never experienced it before and hope never to experience it again.”

While this was happening they had control of my phone so I couldn’t really alert anyone. They wanted to isolate me.

Shanali about the conversation with the criminals

Tessa is at work when she gets a call. Like Shanali and Sjoerd, she is asked if she can install a program, AnyDesk, so they can see. The criminals perform all the actions. “I just logged in,” Shanali says. “While this was happening, they had control of my phone. I can’t alert anyone. They wanted to isolate me.”

Tessa is unable to install the software on her laptop and is asked to go home for her own laptop. “Then he said, ‘Tell your supervisor you have to go home in an emergency and if you can take the rest of the day off,'” she says.

When I realized this I more or less woke up from a kind of hypnosis, I had already transferred money from my business account twice.

Sjoerd about the end of the conversation

Shanali, Sjoerd and Tessa are all told that the connection should not be broken. If this happens, a callback will be made. Even on the bike home, the criminals want Tessa to stay on the line.

In the end, they all make money. “It was all a smokescreen,” says Sjoerd about the criminals’ strategy. “When I realized this, I kind of woke up from a kind of hypnosis, I had already transferred money from my business account twice.”

Call the bank and submit a report

Realizing what has happened, Sjoerd tries to call his bank’s fraud line. It doesn’t work, so he decides to go to the local office. Correspondence in the hands of NOS shows that, after an investigation, the bank informs him that it cannot do anything for him. He also reports, but the police let him know that they can’t do anything for him either.

Shanali also makes a report but gets the same reaction. Tessa has not submitted a review.

The impact of the event is great on all three. “That day I felt really sick, really nauseous. 2000 euros is a lot of money, but it’s mainly a matter of principle,” says Tessa. “I just feel psychologically abused. The stupid thing is: you sometimes hear about it, but you always think: I will never fall for that.”

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