Phishing still has a bright future ahead of it. Even people who consider themselves prudent and knowledgeable, who use Facebook several times a day, still fall into the trap. And the consequences are dire for the 60-year-old resident of Ganshoren, who “collapsed” by ending a phone call she will never forget.
Despite the many testimonies that we mention, despite the proliferation of prevention campaigns by the authorities, many people continue to be scammed online. This is why we spoke with Christine, 60, from Ganshoren, in order to drive the point home.
Via Facebook, she had her bank accounts emptied by crooks, according to a fairly well-established modus operandi. “I lost 10,300 euros“, she told us recently, via the orange button Alert us.
A piece of furniture at 25 euros
Christine’s ordeal began at the end of 2020. In December, she tried to sell a piece of furniture on Facebook, via the Market Place platform set up a few years ago by the largest social network in the world.
“I tried to sell a small nightstand for 25 euros“, explains this 60-year-old resident of Ganshoren. She knows Facebook well.”I go over it several times a day. And the Market Place, I use it regularly to sell somethingShe therefore considers herself a reasonable and prudent person on social networks.
So when she saw that “the same day, a lady who says her name is Marianne Jamotte on Facebook came forward“she did as usual.”I took a look at his profile, he looked quite normal, even comforting“.
Christine and the con artist who claims to be called Marianne communicate through Facebook’s instant messaging tool, the popular Messenger. “She spoke good French, there was nothing suspicious. At the end of the transaction, when I wanted to call her, she said that she could not answer, then that she had lost her mobile phone.“.
The classic “DPD account” scam
The sale of Christine’s small piece of furniture for 25 euros takes a suspicious turn when the crook, “who lives in Mouscron, as his Facebook account indicates“, Offer him “to send the payment via DPD express“.
This is the classic pattern, but Christine was unaware of everything, from the “DPD account” scam (or DHL, UPS, FedEx, etc… all the names of the delivery companies were used).
“I replied that I did not know this method, but that I wanted to try. She told me that she had made the payment to DPD Express, and that they were going to collect the package, and give me the money. But since I didn’t have an account yet, she told me that I would receive an email to open an account. I received it in the next minute“.
This email is here:
Christine “then think that it comes from DPD Express”, despite the sender’s address (@ gmail.com). “The email tells me that I have received 25 euros, and that I must open an account by clicking on the link”.
“Alarm bells every time, which I have bypassed”
Afterwards, Christine recognizes him, “and that’s what really traumatized me“: she has had “alarm bells every time“during this transaction, but she”exceeded them“.
For her, the first alarm, “this is the site to which the link pointed: it was not very clean, it was blurry, the colors were difficult to read“. On this site, “I had to enter my ING account number, and my customer number” :
At the same time, she is contacted by phone. Supposedly, it’s DPD Express, which asks Christine to bring her card reader and her bank card, “to confirm the account“At that point, another red flag,”I ticked a bit because the gentleman on the phone with a strong African accent“, Chrisitine made reference to the phenomenon of grazers from French-speaking Africa (originally in Ivory Coast) which she knew existed.
But she said to herself “that there are many workers of foreign origin in transport companies“, and that therefore, it is ultimately normal.
“I didn’t stop, I don’t understand why”
The crooks have succeeded. In the following minutes, Christine will lose more than 10,000 euros. “He told me to put my card in my reader, press Identify, and give me the code. Then he asked me several times for codes. He was telling me not to open my ING banking application. , because that could pose problems in the transaction “.
After three codes transmitted, Christine goes “all the same see on the ING application, and I see movements on my account, which are strange”. Over the phone, she says: “Sir, you are busy emptying my account!”. The crook replies: “No, madam, trust me, don’t worry, stay calm, I will reimburse you for this amount, it is because there is a problem with the transaction “.
The crook asks her once again to put her card in the reader, and Christine reacts: “I tell him who if he has to pay me, I don’t have to sign. He tells me to trust him or else I will lose my money. And I signed once again, and he debited me at that time twice 3650 €“.
Our witness from Ganshoren was sure it was a scam when the scammer asked him for his credit card details. She hung up, in shock as she realized what had just happened. “I feel like I have been hypnotized. I don’t understand why: I was reacting well by telling my interlocutor that he was emptying my accounts, and saying that I should not sign, but I did not stop. Hanging up I collapsed“.
She hopes to get some back, but time is on her side: “I have no more money”
Beyond the emotional damage of such a scam, Christine immediately called the police (“very sympathetic and understanding”), who took his deposition.
She also contacted her bank. “A fraud file has been opened with ING. They told me that they would try to recover the amounts. Some had gone to PayPal accounts in Singapore, they told me it was going to be difficult. But the last two large amounts went to an account in France, and they were trying to get them back because the regulations are the same as in Belgium“.
Alas, a month later, “I do not have any news“, deplores Christine. Banks never give details about the cancellation of such transactions, but we have already gathered testimonies of people who have managed to cancel transfers. And usually, it’s a matter of minutes or hours, between the start of the transaction and its finalization. So time does not work in Christine’s favor. “I asked ING about the insurance, but they told me it was phishing, not an online purchase, and therefore she couldn’t play“.
The consequences are heavy for our 60-year-old resident of Ganshoren. “These 10,300 euros are the savings I made for a year. I had two halves last year, so I knew I was going to have a tax adjustment. There, I have no more money, and my two accounts are in negative. It is clear that for the moment, we are depriving ourselves“.
Figures not very reassuring
Febelfin, the Belgian federation of the financial sector, maintains a page giving advice and figures related to phishing in Belgium. 12.234 Belgians fell into the phishing trap in 2019, more than 30 people per day. Total amounts embezzled (of which we are aware): 7.5 million euros in 2019.
Phishing is also on the rise at the level of the Federal Police. From 1,318 complaints in 2018, we went to 2,365 files in 2019 (+ 80%). By the way, it should be noted that only 20% of phishing victims contact the police. Figures for 2020 are not yet available.
For his part, Facebook, who reminds us that he is only an intermediary putting two people in touch, told us that “fake Market Place accounts are treated the same as fake Facebook accounts in general“. We talked about it extensively in this recent article. As a reminder, despite its new detection tools, Facebook believes that 5% 2.6 billion accounts are fake. Unfortunately, this represents 130 million potential crooks …