A warning was issued on Monday by the National Chamber of Bailiffs (NKGB) to alert people that fake emails have been sent during the past two weeks from hacked bailiff offices' accounts saying that goods will be seized if outstanding sums aren't paid.
The NKGB put a warning on its website after fraudsters hacked into several email addresses and sent emails from accounts belonging to the Flemish Government, FPS Finance, and several bailiff offices (including Colex, Agerant or Modero), asking people to transfer a sum of money to an account number and to send the proof of payment to a false email address.
"We advise citizens who have received such a false email not to pay. This is a blatant attempt to defraud," an NKGB press release warned, adding that payment requests would never be sent via email.
"We also ask to report it to the national hotline and/or file a complaint with the police," it added.
The NKGB also warned that fraudsters are posing as bailiffs and are going door to door to collect non-existent debts.
The fake email is usually written in Dutch, however, one similar French-language email has been sent that mentions a non-existent Dutch bailiff office, and can be recognised by the following recurring paragraph, which includes several grammatical errors:
"Since the amount has still not been paid despite previous summonses, I would like to inform you personally with this message, i.e. warn you of the consequences and procedures that will start on Monday (or another day)."
"Both our principal and the attachment judge decided at the end of last week not to give you any more postponement of payment. Because you have not paid, we are forced to start these legal proceedings, in which goods such as your household contents, income and/or home can be seized," it reads.
The Chamber has provided some rules of thumb to help people analyse the authenticity of emails they receive, including information on who should contact you to collect a debt, and a list of fraudulent emails and letters of which it is aware.