Successful Limburg approach against payment fraud at Marktplaats

In two years time, the number of fraud cases due to malicious payment requests on Marktplaats has decreased by more than three-quarters (76.5%). At the beginning of 2021, according to police estimates, an average of five to eight tons were still captured with this form of fraud, it is now ‘only’ between 125,000 and 200,000, according to new police estimates. This success can be attributed to a Limburg approach. Two years ago, the police in this province were asked to find a solution to the problem of payment request fraud.

90 percent of payment request fraud went through Marktplaats

After a thorough inventory of the problem and the working methods of cybercriminals, the Limburg police set to work with this assignment. It showed that 90 percent of the fraud cases took place via Marktplaats.

Users of the sales site often fell victim to payment fraud after they clicked on a fraudulent, phishing, payment link, allegedly verifying a buyer’s or seller’s payment information. The recipient of the payment request had to transfer 1 cent via such a link. In reality, the bank and payment details of the user in question were stolen in this way and the criminals could ’empty’ the bank account.

The police have been warning against this form of fraud for years. Fortunately, as can also be seen from the successes achieved over the past two years, the number of victims who fall for this form of scam is now falling with great strides.

Close cooperation with Marktplaats

Subsequently, the Limburg police started working closely with Marktplaats to reduce this form of fraud. “With the cybercrime team, we not only investigate, but we also put a lot of effort into preventing and disrupting the criminal process. An important part of the latter two aspects is cooperation with the business community. We cannot fight cybercrime alone. By entering into smart alliances, we want to prevent and disrupt cybercriminals from making victims. It was therefore a logical step for us to contact this party via the Marktplaats trading platform when we noticed an increase in the phenomenon of payment request fraud.” said Sylvia Laurensse of the Limburg police cybercrime team.

Marktplaats then started a campaign in which users of the platform were warned not to respond to such payment requests. The site also made it more difficult for users to connect with other users outside of the platform. For example, the telephone numbers were better protected. This made it more difficult to send the fraudulent phishing links via SMS or WhatsApp to the intended victims.

“Following the insights of the team, we have, among other things, implemented technical measures on the platform, as a result of which, for example, telephone numbers of private users were no longer automatically visible when placing a new advertisement. Users of the platform now have to consciously choose to make the telephone number visible. “and we are required to go through an information text about this form of fraud. In addition, we have informed millions of users about this form of fraud via user emails and notifications. We once again worked closely with the team for the content of this campaign,” says Maaike Veeling, Marketplace spokesperson.

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