"Fraudulent Friends": "He lost everything"

An awareness campaign has been launched highlighting the dangers of "fraudulent friends".  "Fraudulent friends" are created by fraudsters or conmen eager to con you on the internet.  It starts out seemingly innocent, but once a bond of friendship has been established these fraudsters ask for money.

Fraudsters try to create a bond of friendship or even love.  The reasons these fraudsters put forward for asking money vary: maybe they need to travel to Belgium, they need new clothes, their daughter requires an operation or funds are needed to release a legacy.  As soon as money has been transferred there's only silence...  In real life the friend never existed.  He or she was a conman.

The consumer affairs minister Kris Peeters says there have been 382 reports of "fraudulent friends".  The real figure is believed to be much higher.  The real figure is thought to be around 10,000.  Many people, who were duped, never report anything.  In the cases known to the authorities nearly 4 million euros were transferred.

The campaign urges members of the public to check the veracity of profiles, not to trust everybody, to be wary of sad stories and to keep your wallet closed.

VRT spoke with the relative of a victim.  She said: "My brother-in-law started transferring cash.  He even took out a loan for 20,000 euros.  He kept on making transfers, 100,000 euros in all.  He lost everything”.