Phishing e-mails and fraud scams on the rise: Tax authorities are fighting cybercrime
Cybercriminals are increasingly trying to steal money by pretending to be from official Tax Authorities, using phishing e-mails, apps, and text messages. The number of fraud reports has risen exponentially since the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Security Operations Center (SOC) of the Tax and Customs Administration in Apeldoorn.
This year, tax authorities have already received 150,000 reports about fraudulent phishing e-mails. “That’s more than four times the 35,000 received in 2019, and it is only November,” says Jan Polkerman, chief technology officer of the Tax and Customs Administration.
The steep increase in claims of fraudulent e-mails corresponds with the SOC’s findings, says director Karl Lovink. “Phishing messages are becoming more and more sophisticated. Cybercriminals nowadays are well trained and often invest a lot of money in such phishing operations,” he says.
Moreover, the e-mail addresses of millions of Dutch people are becoming more readily available on the ‘dark web’ nowadays. In combination with other personal data, cybercriminals are increasingly able to write highly personalized e-mails.
According to the Tax Authority, “Dutch people are now used to phishing e-mails pretending to be from banks, which is why criminals are increasingly using names of other organization, of which the tax authorities are a prominent one.”
Fake messages in the name of collection agencies are also becoming more frequent. The Central Judicial Collection Agency (CJIB) is commonly used to scare people in phishing scams.
Cybercriminals know how to respond effectively to current events. In current times, the Covid pandemic is used to incite fear. The Tax Authority announced that “from March-April, we suddenly saw countless corona-related phishing e-mails popping up.”
The Tax and Customs Administration ensure that they would never threaten to confiscate property through an e-mail, text message, or WhatsApp message. “We would also never ask for payment by telephone,” says Jan Polkerman.