In the last few years, with the rise of the Internet and the multiplication of the media, harassment and abuse have also multiplied.
And even if we think that this kind of thing only happens to others, no one is immune to these situations. The imagination of fraudsters is endless and sometimes difficult to detect and deal with.
It is in this context that the Belgian association NENIU, created in 2014, steps in. The aim of this association is to help and assist with all the means at its disposal the victims of harassment, fraud or abuse committed through new technologies.
Today its founders Hélène and Mary Ann share their experience and thanks to them we have all the information we need to keep you safe from fraud!
How do you know if you are a victim of fraud or swindling?
You met someone on the Internet, he sent you an invitation through a social network (Facebook, Whatsapp, HangOut, Netlog…), in a discussion forum or on a dating website… You get along. The person is nice and makes you think he wants you to be okay. He is temporarily abroad for work reasons, but he promises to come and visit you soon. The scammer claims to be a widower, sometimes divorced and often with a ten-year-old child, or it’s a young orphan who needs your help to get his inheritance back. You receive documents (copies of passports, notarial deeds, lawyers’ papers, official documents from the authorities of the country where the fraudster is located…) even if you have not asked for anything. The fraudster insists a lot on his honesty.
When a relationship of trust is established, the interlocutor will ask you for financial help, a loan. At that moment there will be all kind of excuses: he has had an accident, he is hospitalized and there are expenses to pay; he has been a victim of the theft of his credit card and cannot pay his hotel; he must pay customs expenses; he proposes you to start a business that will be lucrative, but he needs a starting fee…
Everything he says is very convincing and once the contact is established, he won’t give up easily. It’s always an emergency, so it doesn’t leave you time to think about it. A payment will always be followed by a new request for money with promises that will not be kept.
The scammer often insists that you don’t discuss these transactions with those around you, carry them out through money transfer agencies, and destroy the evidence of the payment.
There are many variations, but the elements mentioned above are the most recurrent in most cases. The manipulation of the fraudster causes enormous mental pressure on the victim and that is what is difficult to make understand to people who have never faced a situation of fraud or abuse of trust.
What can you do if you have been the victim of a scam, breach of trust…?
The second step would be to report online that you have been the victim of a scam, fraud or abuse on https://pointdecontact.belgique.be for example in Belgium. Once on the website, you choose the scenario that corresponds to your situation and follow the different steps to report the problem to the relevant departments.
Point de Contact will advise you on the best way to proceed to defend your interests. However, it will not solve your personal problem.
Apart from the two points mentioned above, it is also advisable to check the security settings of your computer and perform an additional analysis to make sure that there are no “malware” (viruses, Trojans…) hidden somewhere. If you need it, you can ask a professional for help.
Why is it important to report the facts?
It is important to report the facts by lodging a complaint or by filling in the document of Point de Contact online, as any report will enable the competent authorities to have an overview of suspicious practices against Internet users in Belgium and to take action.
The competent authorities have legal means and cooperate, in Belgium and in Europe, with other supervisory authorities.
Within the framework of the mass fraud coordination platform, constructive discussions are regularly held on how best to tackle fraudulent practices. This platform brings together, among others, police services and representatives of judicial authorities.
By informing the police and reporting your scam through Point de Contact, you will help prevent others from falling into the trap.
How is your data processed?
It is important to note that all information received is confidential. Volunteers must respect the code of ethics established by our association.
The first contact is made by telephone. The people who consult us tell us their stories. This allows us to guide the following questions and the process. If the oral information provided is a scam or a breach of trust, we invite individuals to provide us, by email, with all known names, email addresses, phone numbers and photos they have received.
This information is carefully studied, collated and verified in the databases available to us. The results are communicated to the person concerned by e-mail or during a meeting. The course of action is then decided jointly.
If the victim so wishes, we can help him or her to prepare his file and we can even accompany him in the presentation of a complaint or in any other administrative procedure.
In addition, we also offer support through our presence and/or attentive listening, because victims need to be able to count on someone and often do not dare to talk about it with their relatives out of shame or fear of not being understood.
The association’s volunteers advise victims as best they can, on a case-by-case basis, on the basis of the information provided, their experience and knowledge in this field.
Anne, victim of an Internet scam and attended by NENIU, agreed to give us her testimony:
“For some time I had been in contact with a man who said he was in love with me. He traveled a lot for business. Shortly before coming to Belgium, he had money problems and asked me to help him by making payments through the bank and then through money transfer agencies. He promised to pay me back everything with interest. After contacting a Moneytrans office for one of these transactions, Mr. Stevens from the compliance department contacted me. He asked me questions about my money transfers and, after my answers, advised me to contact a Belgian law association, NENIU asbl, which has experience in accompanying victims of Internet scams, in order to determine whether or not it had been scammed.
I followed his advice, contacted the association and made an appointment with a consultant. I told him my story, he studied the documents in my possession and explained how he came to the conclusion that my “lover” was really a fraud. Together we have taken the necessary steps with various authorities. The NENIU consultant listened to me and supported me during this difficult period.
I thank Mr. Stevens of Moneytrans for contacting me and inviting me to speak with this association. Thanks to them, I opened my eyes and avoided losing even more money while they were with me through these difficult times”.
Thanks to the collaboration between Moneytrans and Neniu, several people realized that they were dealing with scammers and stopped making those payments to them. The files have been forwarded to the competent authorities so that they know the extent of the phenomenon and we hope that this will lead them to take steps to inform and warn the public in the future.
So you too, learn, react and disseminate this information to as many people as possible! As we all know, unity is strength. 😉
At Moneytrans, we work every day to contribute to the well-being of our customers: their money transfers are tracked and the data stored on secure servers and respecting the GRPD law. We continually invest in technology to ensure the security of your money transfers.