The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), together with telecom providers, has withdrawn a hundred telephone numbers that were used for fake helpdesks, the ACM writes on Wednesday. The numbers were used to scam people, or help desk fraud.
Help desk fraud is a form of scam where a victim comes into contact with someone who poses as a help desk employee, for example of a large company such as Microsoft or Apple. The scammer tries to convince the victim by telephone to give him remote access to the computer, after which money is stolen.
In the case of the fake helpdesks, the ACM cooperates with the Public Prosecution Service, the police and telecom providers, among others. If it is clear that a Dutch number is being used for help desk fraud, the ACM will block that number in cooperation with telecom providers. The ACM can only do this with Dutch telephone numbers: the ACM has no authority over foreign numbers.
"We want to prevent criminals from using numbers to scam people," says Martijn Snoep, chairman of the ACM board. "That is why we had the numbers used for the fake helpdesks removed from the air. In this way we together prevent abuse and damage for the consumer."
The regulator advises people to be alert. Companies like McAfee and Microsoft never call people at home to offer help with computer problems, the ACM writes. Even if contact with the help desk is via a Dutch telephone number, criminals can be behind it.
Banks report 5.3 million euros in damage in two years due to help desk fraud
ABN AMRO, ING, Rabobank and de Volksbank have received reports of almost 5.3 million euros in help desk fraud in the past two years, according to figures that the OM shared with NU.nl.
In 2018, according to the four banks, at least 1,732 people were victims of this form of fraud. The total damage amounted to almost 2.4 million euros. The number of victims increased to 3,099 in the past year. They were scammed for around 2.9 million euros.