Fraud cases decrease slightly, but the fight against cybercrime continues

12 June 2019 - 5 min Reading time

1,189: that's the number of times someone fell victim to fraud through online banking during the first three months of this year. Compared to the previous year, there was a 12.9% decrease in the number of people affected. The decline in the fraud amount captured is even more pronounced: -62.3% compared to the first three months of 2018.


However, this does not mean that the battle against online banking fraud is won. Fraud cases often follow a cyclical pattern: sometimes there is an increase, followed by a decrease. Furthermore, every case of fraud is one too many. That's why the financial sector continues to focus on raising awareness.


Number of fraud cases decreases


During the first three months of 2019, there were 1,189 cases of online banking fraud, resulting in a total fraud amount of 734,970 euros.

Although these numbers remain relatively high, there was a decrease of 12.6% in the number of fraud cases and 62.3% in the fraud amount compared to the previous year.

These fraud statistics cover online and mobile banking fraud. When looking at the portion related to phishing, only bank phishing is included: phishing where the name of a bank is misused.

However, this good news does not mean that the financial sector can rest on its laurels. History has shown that the number of fraud cases tends to rise and fall in a cyclical pattern: there may be a few quarters of decline, followed by an increase, and vice versa.

A constant in the story is that fraudsters usually employ phishing tactics. They attempt to obtain bank codes (such as a PIN code or codes for online banking) by impersonating a bank, the police, a telecom operator, an interested buyer, and more.

Fraudsters often do not steal very large sums of money. On the contrary, they opt for numerous smaller amounts, but in the end, they accumulate a significant haul.


Fraudsters are active via email and all other possible channels


The modus operandi of phishing fraudsters remains consistent: they send a message on behalf of a bank or another well-known organization (police, a telecom operator, etc.). In that message, there is a link that leads to a fake website and requests for banking codes.

These codes could be the ones used for logging into online banking or the PIN code of your bank card. They could also be the numerical codes generated by your card reader, which you use to authorize your payments.

With these codes, fraudsters make fraudulent payments on behalf of their victims, resulting in a depleted bank account.

However, the era when fraudsters only targeted email inboxes is over. They also try to obtain bank codes through phone calls, SMS, WhatsApp, and messages on social media.

Second-hand websites are also a favoured channel for fraud. Fraudsters pose as interested buyers and then ask sellers to transfer them 1 euro cent, supposedly to verify the correct name and account number. The payment link they subsequently send leads the seller to a fake website where they are asked to enter their bank details.

Recently, Febelfin warned that an innocent Google search could lead to an empty bank account. When using a search engine to find specific customer services (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook), users sometimes find a fake phone number instead of the genuine service's contact information. When you call that number, you are deceived. Fraudsters take control of your PC and demand a small payment. The outcome is easy to predict.


You can protect yourself against phishing


The following action plan is foolproof for safeguarding against phishing:

  • Never provide your PIN code or internet banking codes via email, social media, SMS, or phone.
  • Disregard any message that directs you to the (fake!) payment site or app of your bank through a link. It may look like the real website or app, but it's fraudulent.
  • Always manually enter your bank's website address in your browser or open your bank's app yourself. Do not visit it through a link.

If you believe you have received a phishing message, forward it to your bank at (or .com) and to, the reporting point of the Center for Cybersecurity Belgium (CCB).

By reporting these messages, the bank and/or the CCB can block phishing websites and prevent others from falling into the trap.

If you have indeed become a victim of online banking fraud, it's best to contact your bank and Card Stop (via the number 078 170 170) as soon as possible to block your bank card and/or account.

Unless in cases of fraud, gross negligence, or intent, consumers are reimbursed after an investigation, in accordance with legal protection.