Suspect arrested for stealing €1.1 million through phishing SMS

Designer clothes seized from a 21-year-old Groningen man suspected of a large number of phishing scams, 18 May 2020
Designer clothes seized from a 21-year-old Groningen man suspected of a large number of phishing scams, 18 May 2020PolitiePolitie

The police arrested a 21-year-old man from Groningen on Monday morning on suspicion of various cases of online payment fraud. Among other things, he is suspected of scamming a Noord-Holland man out of 1.1 million euros with a phishing SMS last year. 

According to the police, the suspect approached his victims via Marktplaats or SMS and lured them to fake websites, where they were tricked into leaving their payment information. From there he used the victims' online banking to withdraw money from their accounts or buy things online. The suspect was "extremely agile with the full arsenal of digital scams, from payment link fraud to sending fake payment reminders via a so-called SMS bomb," the police said.

The young man was caught "red handed", according to the police. When the arrest team arrived at his home, they found a laptop on which a 'dashboard' ran all kinds of digital scams.

According to the police, the suspect owned a whole lot of expensive items without having any source of legal income. He particularly spent a lot on expensive designer clothing. After the arrest, the police seized a large number of luxury goods, including three pairs of shoes that cost almost a thousand euros each, and a jacket with a retail value of 1,050 euros. Mobile phones and computer equipment were also seized for further investigation. 

The Noord-Holland victim had 1.1 million euros stolen from him in one night after he clicked on a link he received by SMS. The money was transferred in parts to the bank accounts of 140 money mules spread across the country. "In terms of financial damage, it is the largest case ever of SMS phishing, with the largest number of money mules in one case," the police said.

Various of these money mules have been arrested, and the police are still arresting others "with some regularity". "Police units across the country have received a so-called 'face book' from the Public Prosecutor Noord-Nederland of suspects who were film while withdrawing the stolen money. That face book regularly leads to the recognition of suspects, who are arrested," the police said.

The 21-year-old Groningen man was arraigned and remanded into custody for 14 days.