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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.

 

April 2021

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.  

Read More ...

 

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.

 

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.

Read More ...

 

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 ....

 

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.

 

Read More ...

 

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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March 2021

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216 fell victim to Ticket Fraud in February - £270,000 lost

As a result of the high demand for tickets, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) are warning buyers to take extra care when buying tickets online. We are urging people to be wary of fraudsters selling fake or non-existent tickets to events. NFIB have already started seeing reports of non-existent tickets being advertised for sale online, some at inflated prices. 

In February 2021, Action Fraud received 216 reports of ticket fraud. This is an 62% increase on the previous month and the highest number of reports received since March 2020 when lockdown restrictions were first implemented. Victims reported losing £272,300 in February 2021 – an average loss of just over £1,260 per victim.

It is anticipated that increased demand for tickets following lockdown restrictions will lead to greater numbers of victims and higher losses as a result.

Spot the signs of ticket fraud and protect yourself:

  • Only buy tickets from the venue’s box office, official promoter or agent, or a well-known and reputable ticket site.
  • Avoid paying for tickets by bank transfer, especially if buying from someone unknown. Credit card or payment services such as PayPal offer greater protection against fraud.
  • Be wary of unsolicited emails, texts or adverts offering unbelievably good deals on tickets. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Is the vendor a member of STAR? If they are, the company has signed up to their strict governing standards. STAR also offers an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution service to help customers with outstanding complaints. For more information: star.org.uk/buy_safe

Every report matters. If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime report it to us online or by calling 0300 123 2040. 

 

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National Insurance scam leads to surge in calls to Action Fraud

Victims have reported receiving an automated telephone call telling them their “National Insurance number has been compromised” and in order to fix this and get a new number, the victim needs to “press 1 on their handset to be connected to the caller”.

Once connected to the “caller”, victims are pressured into giving over their personal details in order to receive a new National Insurance number. In reality, they’ve been connected to a criminal who can now use their personal details to commit fraud.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:

“We are asking the public to remain vigilant and be cautious of any automated calls they receive mentioning their National Insurance number becoming compromised.

“It’s important to remember if you’re contacted out the blue by someone asking for your personal or financial details, this could be a scam.

“Even confirming personal details, such as your email address, date of birth or mother’s maiden name, can be used by criminals to commit fraud. If you have any doubts about what is being asked of you, hang up the phone. No legitimate organisation will rush or pressure you.”

How to protect yourself

If you receive an unexpected phone call, text message or email that asks for your personal or financial details, remember to:

STOP

Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

CHALLENGE

Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

PROTECT

If you have provided personal details to someone over the phone and you now believe this to be a scam, contact your bank, building society and credit card company immediately and report it to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

You can also contact CIFAS to apply for protective registration. This means extra checks will be carried out when a financial service, such as a loan, is applied for using your address and personal details, to verify its you and not a fraudster.

 

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First time victims of fraud go on to lose £373 million

Read more about this issue from Action Fraud.

 

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Census Scams

Hampshire Trading Standards would like to remind residents that The Office for National Statistics Census Day is Sunday 21st March 2021. This survey gives the most accurate estimate of all the people and households in England and Wales. The information you give helps decide how services are planned and funded in your local area.

The census must be completed by law with accurate information. 

All households have been receiving a letter giving details of how to complete the census.

From Monday 22nd March 2021, Census officers will be following up non responders and helping residents with queries by knocking on their doors.

All Census officers will be carrying official identification cards with a photograph and the officer’s name.

Be sure who is at your door.  All Census officers will carry a critical workers letter containing a telephone number. Any resident can ask to see this letter and use the number if they are unsure that the caller is genuine.

Census officers will NEVER

  • Ask for money, or request the resident to withdraw cash
  • Ask for bank details at any point during their conversations with residents
  • Ask to enter the resident’s home  

 Covid-19 Precautions

Census officers are classed as key workers and will be working within the law. Officers will wear personal protective equipment, socially distance and not enter residents’ homes.

More information is available at www.census.gov.uk or by calling 0800 141 2021.

 

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Money mule recruiters use fake Online job adverts to target ‘Generation Covid’

  • Money mule recruiters are targeting those looking for work or to earn easy money during the pandemic, by posting fake adverts on jobs websites and social media.
  • Figures reveal there were over 17,000 suspected money mule cases involving 21-30 year olds in 2020, up five per cent on the previous year.
  • The public is being urged to be wary of any offers of earning quick and easy cash online. Money muling could lead to a criminal record, the closure of your bank account and difficulty getting a mobile phone contract.

Cash laundered by money mules is used by criminals to facilitate serious crimes such as terrorism, drug trafficking and people smuggling.

Young people whose job prospects have been impacted by the pandemic are being targeted online by criminals looking to recruit money mules to launder the profits of their crimes, UK Finance and Cifas have warned.

The latest research from Cifas has revealed there were 17,157 cases of suspected money muling activity involving 21-30 year olds in 2020, a five per cent increase on the previous year.

This age group accounted for 42 per cent of money mule activity in 2020, up from 38 per cent three years ago. It was among the hardest hit by the economic impact of Covid-19, with thousands facing job losses as a result of the pandemic and graduates entering the jobs market at a time of unprecedented uncertainty.

Read More ...

 

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A fraudster who groomed women on dating sites to scam thousands of pounds from them was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court last week on Friday 26 February.

Sebastian Timmis, of Hill View in Marksbury, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of fraud by false representation in relation to offences committed between January 2018 and September 2020.

The 29-year-old used dating apps and websites to establish the trust of his victims before claiming to them he needed money urgently.

Timmis would pressurise his victims into transferring money to him, promising he would pay them back. He would make up time-critical scenarios that he needed cash for – including car repairs, utility bills or to pay for food – and never gave the money back. He instead used the money for gambling.

In total, Timmis defrauded 10 women out of more than £48,000. His victims included women from Bristol, Cheddar, Devizes, Bournemouth, Malvern, Cardiff, Birmingham and Cheltenham.

He was jailed for three years and four months.

PC Rory Everitt said: “Timmis scammed these women out of thousands of pounds and made promises he knew he could not keep about returning their money.

“He clearly had no regard for his victims’ feelings and targeted people he knew were caring. He preyed on their generosity.”

Last year, Avon and Somerset Police supported Action Fraud’s campaign to raise awareness of romance fraud, providing advice on how to prevent falling victim to scams through dating sites.

Between August 2019 and August 2020, Action Fraud received 198 romance fraud reports worth £2.4million from people in Avon and Somerset.

PC Everitt said: “Timmis’ scams were typical of romance fraud cases involving dating sites, where demands for cash are made from the victims, who feel pressurised to provide money for people they believe they can trust. Victims get told they need to provide the money quickly for urgent reasons, which often will be emotive and pull at heartstrings.

“We would urge anyone in that situation not to hand over money or personal details and to talk it through with family or friends if you feel under pressure. If the person you’ve met through the website genuinely cares for you as they claim, they will not object to you being cautious.

“And if you feel someone is trying to scam you, please report it to the police or Action Fraud – you could save yourself and others from falling victims to predatory fraudsters.”

 

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Action Fraud warning as holiday bookings surge after lockdown exit plans announced

The national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime and ABTA, The Travel Association, are reminding the public to think twice before handing over their money and personal information when booking holidays this year. In previous years, criminals have targeted unsuspecting holidaymakers booking airline tickets, holiday accommodation and religious pilgrimages.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:

“We are all more eager than ever to go on a holiday and relax with family and friends after the year we’ve all had. However, the surge in holiday bookings provides criminals with an opportunity to defraud innocent people out of a well-deserved break and their hard-earned cash.

“Criminals are increasingly using more sophisticated ways to trick their victims, which is why it’s important that we all do our research when booking a holiday and making travel arrangements. Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

What is holiday fraud?

Holiday fraud can vary from fake accommodation listings advertising hotels, and self-catering properties that simply don’t exist, to “too good to be true” offers with flights being particularly targeted. Criminals can approach you over the phone, via text, email and social media, offering incredibly cheap deals to tempt you into booking a holiday with them. In reality, the holiday you’ve booked, or parts of it, doesn’t exist at all.

Graeme Buck, ABTA Director of Communications, said:

“As travel restrictions begin to lift millions of us will be looking to book holidays both at home and overseas, which may place pressure on both availability and prices. Fraudsters will take advantage of the fact that customers will be looking for good deals and they use increasingly sophisticated methods to target destinations and times of year when demand is high and availability limited.

“Victims often find out just before they travel or even while on holiday that they have been defrauded, it can then be very difficult and expensive to obtain a legitimate replacement booking. City of London Police, Get Safe Online and ABTA have put together a list of tips to help customers recognise the warning signs of potential fraud which will help customers avoid both potentially significant financial loss and severe disappointment, at a time when getting away on holiday is more important than ever.”

Tops tip to avoid falling victim to holiday fraud

  • Stay safe online: check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from .co.uk to .org.
  • Do your research: don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to ensure the company is credible. If a company is defrauding people, there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experiences, and warnings about the company.
  • Look for the logo: check whether the company is an ABTA Member. Look for the ABTA logo on the company's website. If you have any doubts, you can verify membership of ABTA online on their If you're booking a flight and want more information about ATOL protection, or would like to check whether a company is an ATOL holder, visit the CAA website.
  • Pay safe: wherever possible, pay by credit card and be wary about paying directly into a private individual’s bank account.
  • Check the paperwork: you should study receipts, invoices and terms and conditions, and be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all. When booking through a Holiday Club or Timeshare, get the contract thoroughly vetted by a solicitor before signing up.
  • Use your instincts: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Get free expert advice: for further advice on how to stay safe when booking or researching travel online, go to Get Safe Online.

For a full list of tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, please visit https://www.abta.com/tips-and-advice/planning-and-booking-a-holiday/how-avoid-travel-related-fraud.

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

 

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February 2021

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February 2021

Have you heard of Courier Fraud

We want to alert residents to a scam where someone pretending to be a police officer calls your home and tells you your account is subject to fraud. They say that you must withdraw money immediately and move it to protect it from being stolen from your account. They then send someone to your house to collect the cash in person.
 
Alternatively, they may ask you to transfer your money to another account that they will give you the details for.
 
Sadly, this happens all over the country. But yesterday, 17 February, two elderly people living in Hampshire, were targeted.
 
An 83-year-old woman and an 86-year-old man were both phoned and told their accounts were subject to fraud. The fraudsters said they had been working with their bank and asked them to transfer money.
 
Luckily, neither victim parted with any money and reported the calls to police.
 
The scammers often say they are from a police station in London, that they are working undercover and that there is fraudulent activity on your account, when in fact it is them scamming you.
 
They ask for your help to stop it from happening, and are very convincing. They may even tell you that your bank is involved, or know your full name and address.
 
In the Monxton incidents, one of the victims was told they would be arrested for interfering with the investigation when they refused to transfer their money.
 
We want to remind you that a police officer would never call you and ask you for your money. No one, not even someone from your bank, would call and ask for your financial details or ask you to withdraw cash.
 
Look out for elderly relatives and friends, and remember:
 
• Police officers will never call people in this way and ask you to withdraw money or disclose personal or financial information. If someone does do this, please hang up – it will be a scam.
• Consider contacting your telephone provider to get a free call-blocking service if you are getting unsolicited calls. 
• If you are a friend, relative or carer of someone you think might be vulnerable to this type of scam, please speak to them about this advice. You might be the only person who can stop them from being scammed. 
 
If you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, report it to us by calling 101. If a crime is in progress, dial 999. 
 
You can make yourself aware of this type of scam and how to protect yourself by visiting the Action Fraud website https:/www.actionfraud.police.uk/) or by calling them on 0300 123 2040.

 

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Bitcoin related Scams

We’re warning the public to be vigilant of unsolicited emails promoting cryptocurrency (Bitcoin) investment opportunities. We’ve received over 750 reports this week about Bitcoin-related phishing emails that use fake celebrity endorsements to try and lure victims into investment scams. The links in the emails lead to fraudulent websites that are designed to steal your money, as well as personal and financial information.
How you can protect yourself:

  • Investment opportunities: Don’t be rushed into making an investment. Remember, legitimate organisations will never pressure you into making a transaction on the spot.
  • Seek advice first: Speak with a trusted friend or family members, and seek independent professional advice before making significant financial decisions.

  • FCA register: Use the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) register to check if the company is regulated by the FCA. If you deal with a firm (or individual) that isn’t regulated, you may not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if things go wrong and you lose your money.

For more information about how to invest safely, please visit: https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart

Report suspicious emails: If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, you can report it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service by forwarding the email to - report@phishing.gov.uk

 

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Romance Fraudster? - There's No Love Lost

New data from UK Finance reveals a 20 per cent increase in bank transfer romance fraud between January - November 2020 compared to the previous year, with the total value of these scams rising by 12 per cent to £18.5 million. The average loss per victim reported to UK Finance members was £7,850, highlighting the significant impact this type of fraud can have on victims’ finances.

But criminals can trick victims into sending them money in many ways, not just via a bank transfer. Action Fraud has also seen a rise in reports made by members of the public who have fallen victim to romance fraud in 2020, with total reported losses equating to over £68 million. In these reports, victims have lost money via bank transfer, money transfer, sending fraudsters gift cards and vouchers or presents such as phones and laptops, and providing them with access to their bank account or card.

Romance scams involve people being duped into sending money to criminals who go to great lengths to gain their trust and convince them that they are in a genuine relationship. They use language to manipulate, persuade and exploit so that requests for money do not raise alarm bells. These requests might be highly emotive, such as criminals claiming they need money for emergency medical care, or to pay for transport costs to visit the victim if they are overseas.

Read More ...

 

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January 2021

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Attack of the clone firms: over £78 million stolen in 'clone' firm investment scams

  • Number of ‘clone firm’ investment scams reported increased by 29% as UK went into first lockdown
  • Victims scammed out of more than £45,000 each, on average
  • 77% of investors do not know or are unsure what a ‘clone investment firm’ is
  • FCA and Action Fraud advise investors to only use contact details on the FCA Register to help avoid ‘clone firm’ scams

Action Fraud and the City of London Police are working with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to issue a warning to the public, as reports of ‘clone firm’ investment scams increased by 29 percent1 in April 2020 compared to March, when the UK went into its first lockdown.

Action Fraud reporting data reveals losses of more than £78 million1 between January-December 2020, with victims losing £45,2421 each on average, when investing with fraudsters imitating genuine investment firms.

Read More

 

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Criminals continue to take advantage of coronavirus vaccine roll-out as phishing email reports soar

The email, which attempts to trick people into handing over their bank details, was reported more than 1,000 times in 24 hours. It appears to come from the NHS and asks the recipient to click on a link to accept or decline an invitation to receive the coronavirus vaccine. If they click accept, they are asked to input personal information and their bank card details.

The national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime has previously warned about coronavirus vaccine scams, with many people reporting receiving fake text messages purporting to be from the NHS.

Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, is warning the public to remain vigilant as fraudsters continue to act:

“It’s despicable that fraudsters will take advantage of such an important tool in the fight against this evil and deadly disease. Not only are the people being targeted with this email at risk of losing money, or having their identity stolen, but they are also at risk of not receiving the real vaccine.

“The public have been fantastic at reporting these scams to us and raising awareness in their local community as well. But unfortunately, as this latest phishing campaign shows, we still have to remain cautious and alert. Remember: anything purporting to be from the NHS asking you to pay for the vaccine, or provide your bank account or card details, is a scam.”

How to protect yourself

In the UK, coronavirus vaccines will only be available via the National Health Services of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, a GP surgery or pharmacy local to you, to receive your vaccine. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. At no point will you be asked to pay.

The NHS will never:

  • ask you for your bank account or card details.
  • ask you for your PIN or banking password.
  • arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.
  • ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips. 

If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you are suspicious about an email you have received, forward it to report@phishing.gov.uk. Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726 which is free of charge.

If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, please report this to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

 

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National Insurance Scam

Victims have reported receiving an automated telephone call telling them their “National Insurance number has been compromised” and in order to fix this and get a new number, the victim needs to “press 1 on their handset to be connected to the caller”.

Once connected to the “caller”, victims are pressured into giving over their personal details in order to receive a new National Insurance number. In reality, they’ve been connected to a criminal who can now use their personal details to commit fraud.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:

“We are asking the public to remain vigilant and be cautious of any automated calls they receive mentioning their National Insurance number becoming compromised.

“It’s important to remember if you’re contacted out the blue by someone asking for your personal or financial details, this could be a scam.

“Even confirming personal details, such as your email address, date of birth or mother’s maiden name, can be used by criminals to commit fraud. If you have any doubts about what is being asked of you, hang up the phone. No legitimate organisation will rush or pressure you.”

How to protect yourself

If you receive an unexpected phone call, text message or email that asks for your personal or financial details, remember to:

STOP

Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

CHALLENGE

Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

PROTECT

If you have provided personal details to someone over the phone and you now believe this to be a scam, contact your bank, building society and credit card company immediately and report it to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

You can also contact CIFAS to apply for protective registration. This means extra checks will be carried out when a financial service, such as a loan, is applied for using your address and personal details, to verify its you and not a fraudster.

 

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COVID Vaccinations Scams further Alert from Action Fraud.

As of 7 January 2021, Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, had received hundreds of reports in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:
“The vaccine is a crucial tool in fighting the coronavirus and keeping people safe. Thankfully, the number of reports into Action Fraud are relatively low but we have seen an increase in the last two months, particularly around scam text messages. 

“Remember, the vaccine is only available on the NHS and is free of charge. The NHS will never ask you for details about your bank account or to pay for the vaccine. If you receive an email, text message or phone call purporting to be from the NHS and you are asked to provide financial details, this is a scam.”

Action Fraud has received reports from members of the public who have been sent text messages claiming to be from the NHS, offering them the opportunity to sign up for the vaccine. The texts ask the recipient to click on a link which takes them to an online form where they are prompted to input personal and financial details. In some cases the online form has looked very similar to the real NHS website.

How to protect yourself:

In the UK, coronavirus vaccines will only be available via the National Health Services of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, a GP surgery or pharmacy local to you, to receive your vaccine. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. At no point will you be asked to pay.

- The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.

- The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.

- The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.

- The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips.  

If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you are suspicious about an email you have received, forward it to report@phishing.gov.uk. Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726 which is free of charge.

If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, please report this to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

 

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COVID vaccination scam alert

There have been reports of a new scam where a person receives a text saying they need to book a vaccination appointment and it takes them to a fake NHS form which then asks for their bank details to prove their identity.  The NHS will never ask for a person’s banking information so please do not provide as it will be a scam.

 

 

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December 2020

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Action Fraud has received 120 reports of courier fraud in 24 hours

In the past 24 hours, Action Fraud has received 120 reports of courier fraud. Victims have reported a particular tactic of being called by someone impersonating a police officer. The suspect uses the name Eric Shaw and gives over his badge number, in order to appear trustworthy to victims.

The suspect asks victims to move money to a “secure bank account” until the victims are sent a new national insurance number. In reality, their money is being transferred into an account under the criminal’s control.

What is courier fraud?

Courier fraud is when victims receive a phone call from a criminal, 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 high value items, such as jewellery, watches and gold (coins or bullion).

How to protect yourself and your loved ones:

  • Your bank or the police will never call you to ask you to verify your personal details or PIN by phone, or offer to pick up your bank card by courier. Hang up immediately if you receive a call like this.
  • If you need to contact your bank back to check the call was legitimate, wait five minutes; fraudsters may stay on the line after you hang up. Alternatively, use a different line altogether to contact your bank.
  • Your debit or credit card is yours: don’t let a stranger take it from you. You should only ever have to hand it over at your bank. If it’s cancelled or expired, you should destroy it yourself.

Spot the tell-tale signs:

  • Someone claiming to be from your bank or local police force calls you to tell you about fraudulent activity, but is asking you for personal information, or even your PIN, to verify who you are.
  • They’re offering to call you back so you can be sure they’re genuine, but when you try to return the call, there’s no dial tone.
  • They say they’re trying to offer you peace of mind by having somebody pick up the card for you, to save you the trouble of having to go to your bank or local police station.

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

 

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£242,000 Lost since June to Fake DPD emails and texts.

(DPD is just one parcel delivery company, others can also be targeted.)

In November alone, the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS), a tool launched by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the City of London Police earlier this year, received 5,478 reports of suspicious DPD emails. This is an increase of 655% when compared to the previous month.

Action Fraud has also received 166 reports of suspicious DPD text messages between June and November this year, with victims reporting a total loss of £139,000. A further 35 reports were made in the first week of December, with victims reporting a total loss of £103,000.

The messages purporting to be from DPD claims that the delivery driver was “unable to deliver your parcel today” as “you weren’t in or there was no safe place to leave it”. The message provides instructions on how arrange another delivery. The links in the messages lead to fraudulent websites that request a small payment to rearrange the delivery.

If the victim makes this payment, they’ll receive a phone call within a few days from someone purporting to be from their bank to inform them about suspicious transactions on their account. Criminals carrying out this scam are able to use a tactic called ‘spoofing’ to make the call or text appear genuine by cloning the phone number, or sender ID, used by the bank.

The victim is informed that their bank account may be compromised and is instructed to transfer their money to what they believe is an alternative secure account to prevent further losses. In reality, their money is being transferred into an account under the criminal’s control.

In other cases, suspects have gained enough personal details and security information during the phone call with the unsuspecting victim, to enable them to take out a loan in the victim’s name. The criminals then transfer the loan to an account under their control.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:

“Phishing messages are commonly used by criminals to gain access to our personal and financial details, leaving them free to commit fraud and take your money.

“At this time of year people are often sending parcels and gifts to friends and family, especially this year with people not being able to meet up in the same way for Christmas. Criminals are relying on the fact that we may need to reschedule a delivery to make their communication seem genuine. This is why we’re urging the public to follow some simple steps to ensure they have a #FraudFreeXmas this year. Remember, if something feels wrong then always question it.”

A spokesperson for DPD, said:

“We are aware that there have been a number of fake DPD emails trying to get consumers to send money for parcels to be re-directed. We would never do this nor would we ask consumers to give us their bank details.

“There is an easy way to check the email is safe, only emails sent from one of three DPD email addresses are genuine. These are dpd.co.uk, dpdlocal.co.uk or dpdgroup.co.uk. Fake or scam emails are nearly always sent from a private email address and certainly not from an official DPD one. Any other sender email address, especially if the email is asking for money is highly likely to be a scam email.

“We would encourage anyone who has received a fake email to report it to report@phishing.gov.uk.”

Always remember:

  • Your bank, or other official organisations, will never ask you to share personal or financial information over the phone, or via text or email. If you need to check that it’s a genuine message, contact them directly.
  • You can report suspicious emails you have received but not acted upon, by forwarding the original message to report@phishing.gov.uk.
  • You can report suspicious texts you have received but not acted upon, by forwarding the original message to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keypad.

If you have acted upon a message you have received, and you think you may be a victim of a fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040 as soon as possible.

 

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Over £2.1 Million lost to Tech Support Scams in one month.

2,007 reports of computer software service fraud were made to Action Fraud last month. Victims reported losing a total of £2,148,976. This is a 22% increase in reporting compared to the previous month.

Action Fraud has received reports of criminals cold calling victims purporting to be calling from well-known broadband providers primarily, claiming that the victim has a problem with their computer, router or internet. The suspect persuades the victim to download and connect via a Remote Access Tool (RAT), allowing the suspect to gain access to the victim’s computer or mobile phone. Some reports also state that criminals have been using browser pop up windows to initiate contact with victims.

Victims are then persuaded to log into their online banking to receive a refund from the broadband provider as a form of compensation. This allows the suspect access to the victim’s bank account, and the ability to move funds out of the victims account into a UK mule account.

There has also been an increase in the variety of service providers being impersonated, with multiple providers being affected.

Always remember:

  • Genuine organisations would never contact you out of the blue to ask for personal or financial details, such as your PIN or full banking password.
  • Never install any software, or grant remote access to your computer, because of a cold call.
  • Don’t contact companies promoting tech support services via browser pop-ups.
  • Hang up on any callers that claim they can get your money back for you.
  • If you have made a payment, contact your bank immediately. They can help you prevent any further losses.
  • If you granted remote access to your computer, seek technical support to remove any unwanted software. If you need tech advice, look for reviews online first or ask friends for recommendations.

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

 

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Don't let the money you donate end up in a cruminal's pocket.

Figures from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, show that almost £350,000 of charitable donations ended up in the pockets of criminals over the festive period last year.

The vast majority of fundraising appeals and collections are genuine, however criminals can set up fake charities, or even impersonate well-known charitable organisations, to deceive victims.

Action Fraud has teamed up with the Charity Commission, the regulator and registrars of charities, and the Fundraising Regulator, the independent regulator of charitable fundraising in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to help the public make sure their donations go to the right place this Christmas.

Gerald Oppenheim, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Regulator, said:

“Fundraising this Christmas takes on a greater importance after a tough time for so many, including charities whose public fundraising activities have been paused for much of 2020. Unfortunately, there are a small number of people who may try to take advantage of your festive goodwill, and direct donations away from legitimate charities.

“Whilst we encourage donors to keep giving, it is essential that you remain alert and aware for any unusual activity when making a donation. Be sure to carry out a few important checks before giving. This includes checking to see if the charity is registered with the Fundraising Regulator, which means they are committed to maintaining good fundraising practice.”

Previous research from the Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator revealed that less than half of people that give to charity usually make checks before donating.

Action Fraud, the Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator are therefore urging the public to follow some simple steps to ensure they have a #FraudFreeXmas this year.

Take the following steps to make sure your donations go to the right place:

  • Make sure the charity is genuine before giving any financial information. Look for the registered charity number on their website. You can check the charity name and registration number at https://www.gov.uk/find-charity-information.
  • You can also check if a charity is registered with the Fundraising Regulator. All charities registered here have made a commitment to good fundraising practice: https://www.fundraisingregulator.org.uk/directory.
  • If you’re approached by a collector on the street or at your door, ask to see the collector’s ID badge. You can also check whether the collector has a licence to fundraise with the local authority, or has the consent of the private site owner.
  • Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and phone calls that ask for your personal or financial details – even if it’s in the name of a charity.
  • To donate online, type in the address of the charity website yourself rather than clicking on a link. If in any doubt, contact the charity directly about donating.
  • Be cautious when donating to an online fundraising page. Fake fundraising pages will often be badly written or have spelling mistakes. When donating to an online fundraising page, only donate to fundraising pages created by someone you know and trust.

After making these checks, if you think that a fundraising appeal or collection is fake, report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

 

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Friends Against Scams launch ‘Scamnesty' initiative.

A new offensive to combat the scourge of scam mail is being launched today. Members of the public are being urged to send the National Trading Standards Scams Team examples of scam mail they receive in the post as part of a new ‘scamnesty’. The scamnesty will help trading standards officers build intelligence about the criminals behind the latest scam being sent to Brits this winter.  

Organised criminals try to con the public by sending scam mail through the post such as: 

  • fake lottery draws 
  • romance scams 
  • unclaimed inheritance scams 
  • and clairvoyant scams  

However, fraudsters are continually adapting their criminal techniques. To disrupt the criminals, the public are being urged to join Friends Against Scams and send in examples of scam mail.  

How to spot scam mail 

The criminals use a wide range of measures to create an illusion of legitimacy and give people false hope of a big payout or a better life. Scam mail often includes a competition question to hook recipients into the scam. Consumers are advised that some of the tricks the scammers use include: 

  • Personalising mail using the recipient’s name throughout as well as on images such as certificates and cheques 
  • Artwork that purports to be genuine, for instance the use of a seal or crest and fonts that suggest they come from a financial institution or official body 
  • Words like’ guaranteed’ or ‘100% genuine’ as well as precise amounts of money 
  • Signatures from officials with senior ranking titles and identification numbers that suggest legitimacy 

Louise Baxter, Head of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, said: 

“It’s not just vulnerable people who fall prey to scam mail. The criminals take great care to ensure their mailings look genuine. Many of us have felt anxious and lonely during the pandemic, and fraudsters will not hesitate to prey on our emotions by sending us fake stories of hope. Consumers need to be extra vigilant. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Send us the scam mail and help us prevent more people being conned.” 

Scam mail should be sent to: NTSST, FREEPOST, MAIL MARSHALS. More information on the Scamnesty – including the privacy policy – is available here: www.FriendsAgainstScams.org.uk/scamnesty 

A new report* published today on how trading standards officers disrupt criminals’ behaviour, confirms what householders know: this illegal activity is big business. Since 2016 the National Trading Standards Scams Team, with the help of more than 600,000 Friends Against Scams, has prevented over 10 million pieces of fraudulent mail from reaching consumers.  

Effective disruption techniques have resulted in more than £100 million in financial savings and estimated healthcare & health related quality of life savings for UK consumers and the UK economy. The scale of the problem is significant: the NTS Scams Team has identified nearly 1 million potential victims through its investigative work and is working to refer these to local trading standards for support and advice.  

The Scams Team use so-called ‘disruptive techniques’ to prevent scam mail reaching people’s homes. In 2019 the Team prevented 40,000 mailings a month about an Australian fake lottery reaching consumers. Also in 2019 an American criminal was prevented by trading standards officers from using a mail provider in the South West to send up to 80,000 items of scam mail a month to addresses in the UK and abroad.  

Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said: 

“The scamnesty is a new approach to ensure trading standards officers are a step ahead of the criminals. Fraudsters are constantly innovating and so must we if we are to continue to disrupt their techniques and protect consumers. The intelligence we gather from the scamnesty will be used by trading standards officers to help nullify the criminals’ threat and prevent more scam mail reaching people’s homes.”  

 

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November 2020

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Self Assessment customers warned about scammers posing as HMRC

Self Assessment customers should be alert to criminals claiming to be from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

As the department issues thousands of SMS messages and emails as part of its annual Self Assessment tax return push, HMRC is warning customers completing their returns to take care to avoid being caught out by scammers. The annual tax return deadline is on 31 January 2021.

The department knows that fraudsters use calls, emails or texts to contact customers. In the last 12 months, HMRC has responded to more than 846,000 referrals of suspicious HMRC contact from the public and reported over 15,500 malicious web pages to internet service providers to be taken down. Almost 500,000 of the referrals from the public offered bogus tax rebates.

Many scams target customers to inform them of a fake ‘tax rebate’ or ‘tax refund’ they are due. The imposters use language intended to convince them to hand over personal information, including bank details, in order to claim the ‘refund’. Criminals will use this information to access customers’ bank accounts, trick them into paying fictitious tax bills, or sell on their personal information to other criminals.

HMRC’s Interim Director General for Customer Services, Karl Khan, said:

“We know that criminals take advantage of the Self Assessment deadline to panic customers into sharing their personal or financial details and even paying bogus ‘tax due’.

“If someone calls, emails or texts claiming to be from HMRC, offering financial help or asking for money, it might be a scam. Please take a moment to think before parting with any private information or money.”

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:

“Criminals are experts at impersonating organisations that we know and trust. We work closely with HMRC to raise awareness of current scams and encourage people to report any suspicious calls or messages they receive, even if they haven’t acted on them, to the relevant channels. This information is crucial in disrupting criminal activity and is already helping HMRC take down fraudulent websites being used to facilitate fraud.

“It’s important to remember if you’re contacted out the blue by someone purporting to be from HMRC asking for your personal or financial details, or offering you a tax rebate, grant or refund, this could be a scam. Do not respond, hang up the phone, and take care not to click on any links in unexpected emails or text messages. You should contact HMRC directly using a phone number you’ve used before to check if the communication you have received is genuine.

“If you’ve been the victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and please report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.”

Customers can report suspicious activity to HMRC at phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and texts to 60599. They can also report phone scams online on GOV.UK.

HMRC is also warning the public to be aware of websites that charge for government services – such as call connection sites – that are in fact free or charged at local call rates. Other companies charge people for help getting ‘tax refunds’. One way to safely claim a tax refund for free is to log into your Personal Tax Account.

HMRC has a dedicated Customer Protection team that identifies and closes down scams but asks the public to recognise the signs to avoid becoming a victim. HMRC regularly publishes examples of new scams on GOV.UK to help customers recognise phishing emails and bogus contact by email, text or phone.

Ways to spot a tax scam

It could be a scam if it:

  • is unexpected
  • offers a refund, tax rebate or grant
  • asks for personal information like bank details
  • is threatening
  • tells you to transfer money.

Self Assessment customers can complete their tax return online and help and support is available on GOV.UK.

To protect against identity fraud customers must verify their identity when accessing HMRC’s online services. They must have two sources of information including:

  • credit reference agency data
  • tax credits
  • P60/payslip
  • UK Passport

 

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Action Fraud is informing the public of how to protect themselves from investment fraud, after reports spiked following the first national lockdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Between September 2019 and September 2020, Action Fraud received just over 17,000 reports of investment fraud, amounting to £657.4m in reported losses. This is a 28% increase when compared to the same period last year. Furthermore, reports spiked in May, June, July, August and September 2020 as the nation adjusted to life after lockdown.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:

“The coronavirus outbreak sadly led to many people losing their job or having to manage with a lower income than they were used to. It has also caused a shake up in the economy in general, with interest rates falling, in a similar way to the financial crisis of 2008. All of these factors provide criminals with the opportunity to attract more people with their fraudulent investment schemes.

“Preying on people when they are at their most vulnerable really shows how low these criminals will stoop to make a profit for themselves. That is why we are working hard with our law enforcement colleagues, and partners in the finance industry, to tackle investment fraud and empower the public to spot a scam.”

How to protect yourself from investment fraud

  • Be suspicious if you are contacted out the blue about an investment opportunity. This could be via a cold-call, an e-mail or an approach on social media.
  • Don’t be rushed into making an investment. No legitimate organisation will pressure you into making a transaction, or committing to something on the spot. Take time to do your research.
  • Seek advice from trusted friends, family members or independent professional advice services before making a significant financial decision. Even genuine investment schemes can be high risk.
  • Use a financial advisor accredited by the Financial Conduct Authority. Paying for professional advice may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it will help prevent you from being scammed.
  • Use the Financial Conduct Authority’s register to check if a company is regulated. If you deal with a firm or individual that isn’t regulated, you may not be able to get your money back if something goes wrong and its more likely to be a scam.
  • Just because a company has a glossy website and glowing reviews from ‘high net worth’ investors does not mean it is genuine – fraudsters will go to great lengths to convince you they are not a scam.
  • Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If you think you’ve been a victim of an investment fraud, report it to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. For more information about investment fraud, visit www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart. 

 

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Action Fraud is warning people selling items online to be on the lookout for criminals sending fake PayPal emails.

  • Between January 2020 and September 2020, 21,349 crime reports were made to Action Fraud about fake PayPal emails.
  • Victims reported losing a total of £7,891,077.44 during this time.
  • Those targeted included people selling jewellery, furniture and electronics via online marketplaces.
  • Reports of fake PayPal emails to Action Fraud made up a third of all reports of online shopping and auction fraud during this period.

Criminals have been targeting people selling items online, by sending them emails purporting to be from PayPal. The emails trick victims into believing they have received payment for the items they’re selling on the platform.

Typically, after receiving these emails, victims will then send the item to the criminal. This leaves them at a further disadvantage having not received any payment for the item and also no longer being in possession of it.

What you need to do?

  • Sellers beware: If you’re selling items on an online marketplace, be aware of the warning signs that your buyer is a scammer. Scammers may have negative feedback history, or may have recently set up a new account to avoid getting poor feedback. Don’t be persuaded into sending anything until you can verify you’ve received the payment.
  • Scam messages: Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial details.

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

A spokesperson for PayPal, said:

“At PayPal we go to great lengths to protect our customers in the UK, but there are still a few simple precautions we should all take to avoid falling victim to scams.

“All communications from PayPal to account holders would be sent to the secure message centre within their PayPal account. You will have a secure message waiting if PayPal does need you to take any action.

“A genuine PayPal email will only ever address you by your full name – anything that starts differently should immediately raise your suspicions. Look out for spelling mistakes, which are a common tell-tale sign of a fraudulent message.”

PayPal offer the following advice:

  1. Log into PayPal: If you receive a suspicious email, don’t act on the message or click on any links. Instead, open your browser, log into PayPal and check for any new activity. PayPal will also email or notify you in the app if you’ve received any payments.
  2. Check the basics: Look out for misspellings and grammatical errors, which can be a tell-tale sign of a scam.
  3. Verify an email’s authenticity: Phishing scams will often mimic the look and feel of PayPal emails, and ask you for sensitive information – something that real PayPal emails will never do.
  4. How to spot the difference: A PayPal email will address you by your first and last name, or your business name, and we will never ask you for your full password, bank account, or credit card details in a message.
  5. Avoid following links: If you receive an email you think is suspicious, do not click on any links or download any attachments. You can check where a link is going before you click on it by hovering over it – does it look legitimate?
  6. Keep tabs on your information: Limit the number of places where you store your payment information online by using a secure digital wallet like PayPal. If you are making a purchase online, consider using a protected payment method such as PayPal, so if your purchase doesn’t arrive or match the product description, PayPal can reimburse you.
  7. Easiest of all, use common sense: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is! Stay clear of exceptional deals or anything that is significantly reduced in price from what you would expect to pay.

If you think that you’ve received a suspicious email, you can forward it to spoof@paypal.com, without changing the subject line. PayPal will let you know whether it is fraudulent.

More information about PayPal’s protection policies can be found on their website: https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/paypal-safety-and-security

 

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October 2020

Watchdog warns charities and the public to protect themselves against fraudsters amid pandemic

The Charity Commission is warning trustees and donors to strengthen their defences as it fears the pandemic has created environments that are enabling charity fraud.

As we enter Charity Fraud Awareness Week (19 – 23 October 2020), charities have reported being victims of fraud or cybercrime 645 times since the start of the pandemic in March, amounting to £3.6 million in total losses to charities. The true scale of fraud against charities is believed to be much higher, as fraud is known to be underreported.

The regulator is concerned that remote working and virtual activities and sign-off processes, combined with charities’ tendencies to place goodwill and trust in individuals, may make them especially vulnerable. It says that charities providing services and supporting local communities could be amongst those at risk after earlier reports of criminals using PPE as a lure in scams.

Analysis of frauds reported to the Commission has found that in some cases fraudsters have preyed on people’s fear and anxieties. In one case, the regulator saw a fraudster using a beneficiary’s story of personal struggle during the pandemic to pressure a charity into making a payment quickly. The regulator also considers that economic hardship may have increased perpetrators’ temptation to commit fraud, particularly in cases of insider fraud. It has seen cases of charity employees diverting funds into their personal bank accounts and even selling charity equipment for personal gain.

Read More ..

 

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