Online scams: “We say it will make victims more vigilant and make it harder for fraudsters. But unfortunately it’s not like that”

Society more and more victims

The Ombudsfin received 8,371 requests in 2023, an increase of 7.3% compared to 2022, the service said in a press release. “This 7% increase is lower than what we have seen in previous years. It is not a year where we observe an explosion of cases, nor a year where we observe a new theme to explain the increase. This increase comes from the number of fraud complaints that are constantly increasing” says ombudsman Jean Cattaruzza. Of these complaints, 2,260 were deemed admissible. For this to happen, complaints must be included in the matters handled by the Ombudsfin and must first be addressed to a consumer or commercial bank before being sent to the mediation service.

Of the more than two thousand files processed and closed in 2023, 27 concerned companies. “We receive more and more requests from companies. The problem is that they often concern things that we are unfortunately not competent to act on,” regrets Jean Cattaruzza. These matters mainly relate to online fraud and the termination of corporate banking relationships and must be considered by the Ombudsfin as “inadmissible“. He adds that these SMEs cannot currently turn to other intermediary services. “We will need to develop our expertise to be able to meet the needs of businesses. The goal is not for a multinational company to turn to us, but for us to be able to meet the requirements of small and medium-sized businesses.

“Cybercrime is the most successful industry. It’s better than drugs or car theft.”

On the consumer side, the vast majority of these files relate to phishing attempts (a fraudulent technique designed to lure internet users into providing personal information), with 861 complaints deemed admissible, while fraud was the subject of 149 admissible complaints. 59 cases related to investment fraud were also detected. “We see scammers becoming more professional. They imitate company logos much better, they no longer make grammatical mistakes or even use very persuasive devices,” notes Jean Cattaruzza, adding that these online scams affect everyone. “Every year we say that deceived consumers will be more vigilant and that this will make it more difficult for fraudsters. But unfortunately, that is not the case.

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