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Scam and Cons

Be aware of scams and cons and know how to avoid them

 

Read some helpful advice provided by the Police of Cyber Crime.

 

November 2021

 

The Fundraising Regulator, the Charity Commission for England and Wales, National Trading Standards and Action Fraud are joining forces to call on the public to give safely when donating online.

Data from Action Fraud reveals that £1.6m of the public’s money was lost to online charity fraud over the past year.

The fraud captured by this data includes asks for donations for non-existent charities and the fraudulent collection of funds from genuine charities. Action Fraud’s data shows that the £1.6m loss to fraud is up by 16% on the figure reported in the previous year.

The call for the public to give safely this Christmas is being co-ordinated by the Fundraising Regulator – the body which oversees charitable fundraising in the UK. It is encouraging the public to take steps to protect themselves online, particularly as the nation approaches the festive period, during which appeals for charitable donations increase.

The campaign is urging members of the public to conduct some simple checks before giving to charity, to make sure their donations reach the intended recipient. This includes:

  • Check the charity name and its registration number on the Charity Commission website to find out whether the charity is legitimate.
  • Use the Fundraising Regulator’s online Directory to find out whether a charity has registered with it and committed to excellent fundraising.
  • Look out for the Fundraising Badge on charity marketing materials – when people see it, they can have confidence in charity’s fundraising.
  • Ask questions about the cause – if people are still unsure about giving, they should always ask for more information. Legitimate causes will be happy to respond.

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A convincing WhatsApp scam where criminals pose as a friend or family member in need has cost users almost £50,000 in three months.

New data from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, reveals a new emerging threat where victims are being targeted on WhatsApp by criminals pretending to be someone they know.

The scam has been reported to Action Fraud 25 times between August and October 2021 and has cost users a total of £48,356.

Criminals will typically claim to be a family member and will usually begin the conversation with “Hello Mum” or “Hello Dad”. They will say that they are texting from a new mobile number as their phone was lost or damaged and will go on to ask for money to purchase a new phone, or claim that they need money urgently to pay a bill.

The criminal will supply their bank details for payment, with some coming back with further demands for money. Criminals are successful in their approach as they are exploiting the emotional vulnerability of the public in an attempt to deceive victims 

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Online shopping scams cost shoppers £15.4 million over the Christmas period last year.

New data from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, reveals that 28,049 shoppers were conned out of their money when shopping online over the Christmas period last year – an increase of almost two thirds (61 per cent) when compared to the same period in the previous year.

Ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Action Fraud is warning the public to take extra care when shopping online as reports of online shopping fraud have continued to surge. Here are some simple tips to help you and your family enjoy a secure online shopping experience this festive season.

Where to shop
Buying from an online store you haven’t used before? Carry out some research first, or ask a friend or family member if they’ve used the site and about their experiences before completing the purchase.

Your information
Only create an account if necessary or to save you effort if you’re going to use that site a lot in the future. Be cautious if the website asks you for details that are not required for your purchase, such as your mother’s maiden name or the name of your primary school.

Payment method
When it's time to pay for your items, check there's a 'closed padlock' icon in the browser's address bar. Use a credit card when shopping online, if you have one. Most major credit card providers protect online purchases.

Phishing
Some of the messages you receive about amazing offers may contain links to fake websites. If you’re unsure about a link, don’t use the it – go separately to the website. Report suspicious emails you receive by forwarding them to: report@phishing.gov.uk. Report suspicious text messages by forwarding them to: 7726.

Email accounts:
Make sure that your really important accounts (such as your email account or online shopping accounts) are protected by strong passwords that you don't use anywhere else.

Need help changing your email account password? You can use these links to find step by step instructions: Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Outlook, BT, AOL Mail

If things go wrong
If you've lost money to an online shopping scam, tell your bank and report it as a crime to Action Fraud (for England, Wales and Northern Ireland) . By doing this, you'll be helping to prevent others becoming victims of cyber crime.

For more of the government’s latest advice on how to stay secure online, visit the Cyber Aware website: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/cyberaware

 

It could be you: Lottery fraud reports reach highest levels in two years

New data from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, reveals almost £1 million has been lost to lottery fraud in the past seven months.

What is lottery fraud?

Criminals will contact unsuspecting victims informing them they have won a lottery or prize draw. The victim is then informed that they will need to pay an advance fee in order to receive their winnings. In reality, the winnings are non-existent and it is an attempt to steal the victims money, personal or financial information.

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Craig Mullish, from the City of London Police, said:

“Criminals are experts at impersonating organisations and will mimic a number of well-known prize draws to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

“Remember, you can’t win a draw that you haven’t entered so if you’re contacted out of the blue claiming you’ve won a prize draw but can only access these winnings by paying an advance fee: stop and think as it’s likely to be a scam. This could protect you and your money.”

Between April and October 2021, Action Fraud received 629 reports of lottery fraud, with 89 per cent of reports mentioning well-known prize draws. Impersonation of People’s Postcode Lottery accounted for almost half (49 per cent) of all reports.

Almost three quarters of victims (70 per cent) were aged over 50, with those aged over 65 accounting for 40 per cent of reports.

Over half of the reports (59 per cent) mentioned being contacted via telephone. Other methods of contact reported by victims included email (21 per cent) and postal letter (10 per cent).

Almost have of victims (41 per cent) said they were asked to pay the advance fee to release the alleged winnings by purchasing gift cards and relaying codes to the fraudster.

Fraudsters use gift cards as a form of payment as they can be easily redeemed and sold on. These criminals also don’t need the physical card to redeem the value and instead get victims to share the serial code on the back of the card with them.

In other instances, victims reported being asked for personal and financial information in order to obtain their alleged winnings. Some victims reported providing their bank details thinking they would be sent a small payment to verify the account. In reality, criminals will use these details to steal the victims money.

Read More ....

 

October 2021

 

The National Economic Crime Centre has launched a campaign aimed at raising awareness of payment diversion fraud (PDF).

Working with partners in the National Crime Agency, City of London Police, UK Finance and Cifas, the multi-agency campaign aims to help small and medium sized businesses and home-buyers protect themselves.

PDF, also known as Business Email Compromise or Mandate Fraud, involves criminals impersonating others, creating or amending invoices and diverting payments to bank accounts under their own control. This can target both businesses and individuals.

Unlike some indiscriminate scams, PDF involves criminals deliberately targeting a specific individual. As a result, individual losses can be significantly higher than for many other types of fraud.

In the year to September 2021 there have been 4,600 cases reported to Action Fraud, with individual losses averaging around £30,000.

Businesses are particularly impacted with annual spikes in these frauds occurring in March and November, timed with financial year-ends.

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Action Fraud is warning the public to remain vigilant when making investments, as criminals cheat hundreds of millions of pounds out of victims through cryptocurrency fraud.

Data from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, reveals a staggering £146,222,332 has been lost to cryptocurrency fraud since the start of this year – which is almost a third more (30 per cent) than  was lost throughout the whole of 2020.

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Craig Mullish, from the City of London Police, said:

“Reports of cryptocurrency fraud have increased significantly over the past few years, which is unsurprising given everyone is spending more time online. Being online more means criminals have a greater opportunity to approach unsuspecting victims with fraudulent investment opportunities.

“We would encourage anyone thinking about making an investment to do their research first and to stop and think before making an investment as it could protect you and your money.”

Since the start of this year, Action Fraud has received 7,118 reports of cryptocurrency fraud, with an average loss per victim of just over £20,500.

18 to 25 year olds accounted for the highest percentage of reports (11 per cent) and over half (52 per cent) of victims were aged 18 to 45 years old.

One common tactic used to defraud victims is the use of celebrity endorsements. Criminals will present professional and credible looking online adverts, send emails and create websites to advertise fake investment opportunities, including cryptocurrency. Often, fake testimonials are accompanied with a picture of a well-known figure to help the investment seem legitimate. Between April 2020 and March 2021, Action Fraud received 558 investment fraud reports which made reference to a bogus celebrity endorsement – with over three quarters (79 per cent) of reports mentioning cryptocurrency as the commodity they invested in.

What is cryptocurrency fraud?

Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency designed to work as a medium of exchange. Cryptocurrencies are known for their market volatility so the value of investor’s assets go up and down quickly. As more people have invested their money in cryptocurrencies, criminals have capitalised on this as an opportunity to commit fraud.

Criminals advertise schemes promising, in some cases, high returns through cryptocurrency investing or mining. Frequently advertised on social media, criminals try to lure you in with adverts offering easy money quickly in order to obtain your money or personal information.

Read More ...

 

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September 2021

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Action Fraud is warning the public to protect their loved ones as criminals cheat older and vulnerable victims out of cash and high value items through courier fraud.

 

Data from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, reveals that £10,325,133 has been lost by victims to courier fraud since the start of this year – an increase of almost two thirds (63 per cent) compared to the same period last year.

What is courier fraud?

Courier fraud is when victims receive a phone call from a criminal who is pretending to be a police officer or bank official. Typically, victims are told to withdraw a sum of money and someone is sent to their home address to collect it.

Criminals may also convince the victim to transfer money to a ‘secure’ bank account, hand over their bank cards or give the criminals high value items, such as jewellery, watches and gold (coins or bullion).

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Craig Mullish, from the City of London Police, said:

“This is a dreadful crime in which fraudsters specifically target older and vulnerable people, by exploiting their trust. Courier fraud can have devastating consequences on victims, both financially and emotionally, which is why we’re asking the public to remain vigilant and follow some simple steps to help protect themselves and their loved ones.

“Remember, just because someone claims to know a few basic details about you, such as your name and your address, it does not mean they are genuine.”

Read More .....

 

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HMRC is warning university students to be wary of potential scams, especially if they have a part-time job and are new to interacting with the department.

 

University students taking part-time jobs are at increased risk of falling victim to scams, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is warning.

Higher numbers of students going to university this year means more young people may choose to take on part-time work. Being new to interacting with HMRC and unfamiliar with genuine contact from the department could make them vulnerable to scams.

In the past year almost one million people reported scams to HMRC.

Nearly half of all tax scams offer fake tax refunds, which HMRC does not offer by SMS or email. The criminals involved are usually trying to steal money or personal information to sell on to others. HMRC is a familiar brand, which scammers abuse to add credibility to their scams.

Links or files in emails or texts can also download dangerous software onto a computer or phone. This can then gather personal data or lock the recipient’s machine until they pay a ransom.

Between April and May this year, 18 to 24-year olds reported more than 5,000 phone scams to HMRC.

Read More : 

 

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August 2021

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Alert for Facebook Market Sellers following a number of Fraud Reports.

We are urging those selling high value electrical items online, particularly on Facebook Marketplace, to be vigilant following a number of reports where people pretending to be ‘buyers’ have walked away with the goods after convincing the seller they have paid via bank transfer.

There have been a total of 21 incidents since August 14 across Hampshire.

Laptops, mobile phones, tablets, games consoles, a drone and a watch are amongst the items stolen, ranging in price from £370 to £3400.

Those pretending to be ‘buyers’ have answered a seller’s advert quickly and when they have turned up to collect the items, they have then convinced the buyer they have transferred the money by showing them the transfer on a banking app. When the sellers have said they can’t see the money in their account, the ‘buyers’ have convinced them it will appear soon and have left with the goods.

On some occasions, the ‘buyers’ have taken a photo of the seller on their doorstep and asked them to produce ID.

We know online buying and selling sites are really popular and are a great way to trade second hand items, however we want to remind people to please be vigilant when selling items in this way.

Our advice would be:
• Always check and be completely satisfied the money is in your bank account before you hand over the goods. Genuine buyers will accept that this is correct practice
• Have someone with you at home when prospective buyers attend, or arrange to meet them in a public place
• You do not need to show anyone ID. There should be no reason to pass over your personal details / ID to a prospective buyer
• If you believe someone has attempted to scam you in this way, please try and note down a description of the people involved or vehicle they travelled in and make a report.
• Report any suspicious activity via our online reporting tool https://www.hampshire.police.uk/ro/report/fo/v1/fraud/

 

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Action Fraud is reminding animal lovers to take extra care when buying a pet online, as new figures show more than £2.5 million has been lost to criminals through fake pet adverts.

 

Data from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, reveals that £2,638,323 was lost by prospective pet owners in the 2020/21 financial year, after they put down deposits for pets they saw advertised online – an increase of over 20 per cent  compared to the previous financial year.

Capitalising on the rise in people getting pets due to the national lockdowns caused by coronavirus, criminals have been posting fake adverts on social media, online marketplaces and specific pet-selling platforms.

Unsuspecting victims will be asked to pay a deposit for the pet without seeing it in person first, with many criminals using the restrictions caused by the pandemic as a reason why they cannot see the animal. After the initial payment is made, more and more funds will be requested to cover additional costs such as insurance, vaccinations and even delivery of the pet.

Read More :

 

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July 2021

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New warning from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB)

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) is warning the public to be vigilant of scam calls that appear to be coming from numbers similar to their own. Commonly, the first seven digits (07nnnnn) match the victim’s own number. The calls impersonate well-known government organisations, or law enforcement agencies, and will ask the recipient of the call to “press 1” in order to speak with an advisor, or police officer, about unpaid fines or police warrants.

In May 2021, Action Fraud received 2,110 scam call reports where the caller’s number matched the first seven digits of the victim’s own phone number. Of these, 1,426 (68%) referred to HMRC or National Insurance.

Victims have also reported receiving these types of calls, and messaging, via widely-used messaging apps, such as WhatsApp.

Protect yourself - What you need to do

  • Government and law enforcement agencies will not notify you about unpaid fines or outstanding police warrants by calling or texting you. Do not respond to any calls or texts you receive about these.
  • Always take a moment to stop and think before parting with money or your personal information, it could prevent you from falling victim to fraud. Remember, it’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • If you receive a suspicious text message, you can report it by forwarding the message to 7726. It’s free of charge.
  • Suspicious telephone/mobile calls can be reported to Action Fraud via their website.

 

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June 2021

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Beware of Ticket Fraud

Action Fraud is warning the public to take extra care when buying tickets for festivals and events online, as figures from the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime reveal almost £1 million has been lost to ticket fraud so far this year.

Data from Action Fraud reveals that 1,085 reports of ticket fraud have been made so far this year, equating to an average loss of £850 per victim. Almost two thirds of victims (61 per cent) were aged between 20 to 49 years old.

Action Fraud received 374 reports of ticket fraud in March this year – the highest number of reports received since March 2020 when lockdown restrictions were first implemented. Victims reported losing over £200,000 in March this year alone.

Read More ...

 

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Census 2021 Phishing

t’s been a few months since the deadline for the 2021 census in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but scammers are still trying their luck with fake texts threatening fines for not completing your survey properly.

Scammers are continuing to tell people that their Census submission either hasn’t been received or that information is missing, and because of this you risk being fined £1,000.

It’s suggested you can prevent being fined by clicking on a link included in the messages, but it will only take you to a fake website designed to steal your personal details. Any information you inadvertently hand over could then be used to target you with more sophisticated scams in the future.

 

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Is your Bank protecting you from Number Proofing Scams?

Any phone number advertised to customers is also advertised to scammers, making them vulnerable to spoofing. Banks can protect their outbound numbers so that scammers can’t copy them, but not all have done so, Which? Money reveals. Number spoofing is a valuable tool for scammers: by manipulating caller ID to show a number that matches the one on the back of your debit card, for example, they stand a much better chance of convincing you to part with your life savings. To help tackle this, Ofcom has worked with the banking industry body UK Finance to identify a list of ‘do not originate’ (DNO) numbers – in short, those that are never used for outbound calls. But not every bank is making use of this scheme, making life far too easy for scammers.

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/06/is-your-bank-protecting-you-from-number-spoofing-scams/ - Whic
Any phone number advertised to customers is also advertised to scammers, making them vulnerable to spoofing. Banks can protect their outbound numbers so that scammers can’t copy them, but not all have done so, Which? Money reveals. Number spoofing is a valuable tool for scammers: by manipulating caller ID to show a number that matches the one on the back of your debit card, for example, they stand a much better chance of convincing you to part with your life savings. To help tackle this, Ofcom has worked with the banking industry body UK Finance to identify a list of ‘do not originate’ (DNO) numbers – in short, those that are never used for outbound calls. But not every bank is making use of this scheme, making life far too easy for scammers.

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/06/is-your-bank-protecting-you-from-number-spoofing-scams/ - Whic

Any phone number advertised to customers is also advertised to scammers, making them vulnerable to spoofing. Banks can protect their outbound numbers so that scammers can’t copy them, but not all have done so. Number spoofing is a valuable tool for scammers: by manipulating caller ID to show a number that matches the one on the back of your debit card, for example, they stand a much better chance of convincing you to part with your life savings.

To help tackle this, Ofcom has worked with the banking industry body UK Finance to identify a list of ‘do not originate’ (DNO) numbers – in short, those that are never used for outbound calls. But not every bank is making use of this scheme, making life far too easy for scammers.

 

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Scams warning for tax credits customers

Tax credits customers should be vigilant and alert to potential scams, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has warned, as the remaining annual renewal packs will arrive in the post this week.

 

In the 12 months to 30 April 2021, HMRC responded to more than 1,154,300 referrals of suspicious contact from the public. More than 576,960 of these offered bogus tax rebates.

In the same period, HMRC has worked with telecoms companies and Ofcom to remove more than 3,000 malicious telephone numbers and with internet service providers to take down over 15,700 malicious web pages. HMRC responded to 443,033 reports of phone scams in total, 135% up on the previous year.

Anyone doing their tax credits renewal who has received a tax or benefits scam email or text might be tricked into thinking it was from HMRC and share their personal details with the criminals or even transfer money for a bogus overpayment.

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May 2021

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New figures reveal victims lost over £63m to investment fraud scams on social media

Over £63m was lost nationally by victims of investment fraud who referred to a social media platform in their report to Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime. Some victims mentioned being approached directly by an investment fraudster, whilst others said they were attracted to a fake investment through adverts.

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April 2021

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Holidaymakers and festivalgoers urged to be vigilant from scams as lockdown restrictions ease

Fraudsters are poised to target the British public with ticketing, travel and health insurance scams as consumers look to book in much-needed social activities as lockdown restrictions ease, warns UK Finance. The scam alert comes as the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign publishes guidance below on how consumers can protect themselves in the lead-up to further easing of lockdown restrictions from 17 May.  

With many people booking holidays and tickets to concerts and summer festivals, criminals are staying one step ahead by advertising holidays and tickets at low prices or for sold out events, illegally profiting from consumers who are looking for good deals or wanting to attend fully booked events. In some instances, scammers are charging people for the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which is available free of charge, or advertising fake ‘vaccine certificates’ online.   

Experts at impersonating trusted organisations such as travel agencies and hospitality firms, these fraudsters are using a range of sophisticated methods to approach their victims, including scam emails, telephone calls, fake websites and posts on social media. To stay safe when booking holidays and tickets, people are reminded to always follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and take a moment to stop and think before parting with their money or information in case it’s a scam.  

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Text Message Scam Alert

A text-message scam that infects Android phones is spreading across the UK, experts have warned.

The message - which pretends to be from a package delivery firm, prompts users to install a tracking app - but is actually a malicious piece of spyware.

Called Flubot, it can take over devices and spy on phones to gather sensitive data, including online banking details.

Network operator Vodafone said millions of the text messages were already being sent, across all networks.

"We believe this current wave of Flubot malware SMS attacks will gain serious traction very quickly, and it's something that needs awareness to stop the spread," a spokesman said.

Customers should "be especially vigilant with this particular piece of malware", he said, and be very careful about clicking on any links in a text message.

 

The National Cyber Security Centre has issued FluBot: Guidance for ‘package delivery’ text message scam  - what to do if you have been scammed.

 

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National Insurance number ‘compromised’ cold call 

An official sounding voice usually claiming to be from the National Crime Agency or National Office for Serious Crimes has been cold calling unsuspecting members of the public, asking them to call back urgently. It may state that your National Insurance number has been compromised, but it’s an attempt to get you to hand over your personal details.

You may receive it in the form of a pre-recorded message or phone call that sounds threatening, so please do ignore it. Here’s how fraudsters may pressure you into giving up your details and how you can protect yourself.

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Warning from Action Fraud to ProtectYourPension as £1.8 million lost to pension fraud so far this year.

Data from Action Fraud shows a steady fall in pension scam reports from 1,788 in 2014 to 358 in 2020 – a reduction of almost 80 per cent.

However, there has been an increase in reporting so far this year, with 107 reports of pension fraud received in the first three months of 2021. This is an increase of almost 45 per cent when compared to the same period in 2020.

Action Fraud have launched a national awareness campaign (Tuesday 20 April 2021) to remind the public about the importance of doing your research before making changes to your pension arrangements.

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We are aware of a number of reports locally of a Telephone Call purporting to be The Telephone Preference Service.

There is a current scam where criminals cold call people pretending to be from the Telephone Preference Service and ask you for money or personal details. The TPS is always free and they will never contact you requesting payments or credit card details.

Read More this scam and about the Telephone Preference Service designed to help stop those annoying cold calls ....

 

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An email purporting to be from Dyson is promising ‘prizes’ as part of a fake loyalty program. Dyson has confirmed it has nothing to do with the communication

A member of the public became suspicious when they received an email supposedly from ‘Dyson V10’ congratulating on them on their selection to ‘participate in our loyalty program!’, despite not owning any Dyson products.

Despite the email showing as having been sent from ‘contact@dyson.com’, the recipient reported it to Which?’s scam alert service.

 

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Trading Standards Telephone Scam

Hampshire Trading Standards Service have recently been made aware of an incident whereby a telephone cold caller falsely stated they were from the ‘Trading Standards Service Accounts Department in London’.

The caller claimed the resident was due an award of £4,900 owed to them for overpayments and charges from NatWest. To process the claim, the resident was asked for £250 or, if they preferred, they could go to the local City Council but would need to pay £450 for the same service.
The resident was given a contact name, reference number and telephone number to call to make the payment. Thankfully, the resident knew there was no such department as ‘Trading Standards Service Accounts’ and had spotted the signs of a scam. They did not pay any money and reported the call.

Remember:
• Trading Standards will never ask for money.
• Take 5 minutes to think about any cold calls, never act immediately and get help from a family member or friend before making any decisions.
• It is possible for scammers to keep telephone lines open, meaning the resident may dial out and think they are making their own checks, but may be speaking with the scammer.
• Wait at least 20 minutes before making any calls, or use a different phone to ensure the telephone line is clear. Alternatively, call a trusted friend whose voice you recognise to make sure the line is clear.
• Do not rely on dial codes as proof of a caller’s location, it is possible to spoof telephone numbers.
• If payment has been made, or card details given, contact your bank or building society immediately.


For further advice or to report fraud / scams to Trading Standards, please contact our partners at Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133

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