Friday, September 29, 2023

A new scam spreads in Walloon Brabant: criminals disguise themselves as explorers and abuse elderly people thanks to… boxes of chocolates

Specifically, scammers show up at the homes of elderly or isolated people, posing as representatives of the scouts. They would even wear a scarf typical of these youth movements. For this reason, they put boxes of chocolates on sale, which are of poor quality and more expensive than they really are, for the benefit of explorers.

If pretending to be someone else is already reprehensible, scamming comes second. Once the victim is ready to buy, the scammers say they do not accept cash but only card payments. During the transaction they find several excuses such as the card not passing or a connection problem, to be able to carry out the transaction several times. According to the websites of several police areas in Walloon Brabant, there is also talk of replacing cards, exchanging them for fake ones.

Roofing work: resurgence of scams in Walloon Brabant

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So far neither the police nor the courts have wanted to inform us about the exact number of victims and the amounts stolen. But several files are being investigated. The phenomenon still has enough to alert the authorities, who broadcast it on their website or on social networks. Several areas of the province, however, tell us that they have not yet identified cases in their territory. This is the case of Waterloo, Braine-l’Alleud and Wavre, but the three areas say they are alert because, in this type of scam, the perpetrators are organized and travel.

In the police zone of East Walloon Brabant, where the phenomenon would be most widespread, Commissioner Stéphane Vandroogenbroeck recalls that this is not the first time that fraudulent polls have occurred in the province. And boxes of chocolates are just one of the many variants of fake sellers of carpets, wines, etc. Among others, there are also fake mosquito removers, which offer roof cleaning at exorbitant prices, taking advantage of the lack of knowledge of current rates. Not to mention the fake police officers and their variants of the SWDE, Ores, etc. They take the opportunity to break into homes to steal objects and money.

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A “Clever Granny” campaign to fight fraud in Walloon Brabant

More and more scams (online)

In Walloon Brabant, cases of fraud have been increasing in recent years, going from 1,198 cases registered in 2018 to 1,237 in 2020, 1,516 in 2021 and 1,807 in 2022. Compared to other types of crimes, fraud has not decreased during the confinement period. Furthermore, last June, in our columns, the president of Braine-l’Alleud, Stéphane Vanhaeren, and mayor Vincent Scourneau (MR) announced the transfer of crime from the streets to the Internet.

2907 crimes, 544 people deprived of liberty, etc. Braine-l’Alleud presents its 2022 police statistics

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More specifically, police statistics differentiate between online scams and those offline (including attempts). These have tended to decrease in recent years, 416 in 2018, 351 in 2019, 258 in 2020 and 283 in 2021. A resurgence has appeared for the year 2022 with 401 cases listed.

The “smart granny” watches

”Today scammers are becoming more and more inventive, they are diversifying their methods and techniques. It is nothing more than a fraud of sentiments,” reports Commissioner Vandroogeenbroeck. To this end, the Governor of the province, the King’s Prosecutor and the Director of the Federal Police launched the “Mamie cunning” campaign to raise people’s awareness about fraudulent surveys. Advice and announcements can be found on the governor’s website and on social media.

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