AMSTERDAM - More entrepreneurs in the Netherlands are facing threats and extortion, Omroep WNL program Het Misdaadbureau reported based on figures from the Confidential Extortion Hotline. The hotline specifically noted dodgy lenders targeting small and medium-sized family businesses. “Be wary of offers that are too good to be true and know who you are doing business with,” Confidential Extortion Hotline director Axel van Pel told the program.
Last year, the hotline received 188 calls from entrepreneurs, 55 more than the year before and the highest number since it started tracking this figure in 2019. In 33 cases, the hotline called in the police, compared to 24 in 2021. Criminals threaten to harm entrepreneurs’ families or employees, or place explosives at their businesses, if they don’t pay them money, according to the radio program.
Criminals seem to be taking advantage of the tough times to target entrepreneurs struggling financially due to the high energy and raw material costs. They lend entrepreneurs money and then extort them. Especially small- and medium-sized daily businesses seem to be susceptible to dodgy lenders, according to the hotline.
“Entrepreneurs are more vulnerable to working with the wrong types who make them an attractive offer. The thought is enticing. Entrepreneurs think that the money will help them get out of trouble in one go, but that is not the case,” Van Pel said. “Criminals mainly try to get their foot in the door at family businesses in the SME sector. For those entrepreneurs, the company is their life. They go to great lengths to keep it running.”