Latest - Scams and Cons

 

Members of the public are being contacted by fraudsters who are offering ‘free’ or ‘low cost’ government grants and loans.

Victims have reported being offered the loans on their doorstep, via telephone, and over social media.

Fraudsters target victims who currently receive government benefits, or are eligible for Universal Credit:

  1. The victim is contacted by a fraudster offering them a ‘free’ or ‘low cost’ Government loan or grant.
  2. The fraudster requests personal and financial information from the target and uses these details to apply for Universal Credit in the victim’s name, usually without informing the victim about it.
  3. The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) approves the eligible claim and transfers money to the victim’s account.
  4. The fraudster then requests that the victim transfer them a significant portion of the money as a ‘finder’s fee’.
  5. The victim receives a letter from DWP about their Universal Credit application and realises that they have been duped. The victim is then left to repay the total amount initially borrowed.

One victim was introduced to this scam by a friend on social media. The friend helped them receive the ‘free grant’ of over £1,000, only to later be asked to transfer £500 to the fraudster’s account as a ‘finder’s fee’. The victim only realised they had fallen victim to a scam after they received a letter from DWP requesting repayments for the loan.

Protection advice

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What to Do if Your Receive Counterfeit Notes or Coins

With an estimated 3.7 billion genuine bank notes currently in circulation in the UK, counterfeiting is viewed as big business by organised crime syndicates.

 

Only a small fraction of banknotes are counterfeit, but it is essential that they are reported to the police. 

In 2018 alone, around 461,000 counterfeit Bank of England banknotes with a face value of £10 million were taken out of circulation. 

Last month, reports surfaced of criminals using social media platforms such as Instagram to promote and sell counterfeit money with sellers offering counterfeit notes for as little as a tenth of their face value.

In West Yorkshire, police confirmed a spate of incidents across the county in which counterfeit notes were used to pay for goods purchased online.

Victims made arrangements for the buyer to visit their home and pay in cash, only to find out afterwards that counterfeit notes had been used to pay for the goods.

In many cases, people are unsure about where to report counterfeit currency and what to do if they recover or are passed forged notes.

Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith said: “Criminals are using increasingly sophisticated networks and methods to make counterfeit notes and coins.

“If you have been passed or recover counterfeit currency, this should be reported to your local police force.

 “Police are responsible for investigating the matter and they will liaise with National Counterfeit Currency Unit (aka UKNCO) at the National Crime Agency (NCA).

“Action Fraud does not deal with counterfeit currency offences or reports.”

What to do if you receive counterfeit currency

  • If the notes have been passed and the suspect is not present, this should be reported via 101, by attending your local police station or online depending on the force area.
  • If the suspect is present at the location or still nearby, consideration should be given to contacting the police on 999.
  • Counterfeit notes should be retained and provided to the police as evidence, ideally inside a plastic wallet or paper envelope to preserve potential fingerprints.
  • If there is CCTV footage of the suspect available, this should be downloaded and provided to the police together with the counterfeit notes or coins.

Please see the links below to websites that contain further information about security features present in bank notes and coins to assist you in determining if the item is counterfeit or genuine:

How to check your bank notes (Bank of England)

Banknote issuers (Scotland and Northern Ireland – how to check your bank notes)

Coin designs and specifications

Euros and dollars

If you have information about persons; making, supplying, passing or possessing counterfeit currency (banknotes and / or coins) please contact your local Police or report the matter anonymously to CrimeStoppers on 0800 555111 or online    

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Courier Fraud, Bogus Police and Bank Official Alert - What you need to know

Individuals have been receiving phone calls from people claiming to be a police officer or banking official

The suspect will say either:

Occasionally the victim will be told to dial a non-emergency extension of ‘161’ to receive confirmation of the individual’s bogus identity, the bogus official will advise the victim to lie about the reason for the withdrawal or purchase if challenged by staff, as the staff member is involved in the fraud
A courier attends the victim’s home address to collect the goods the same day Often the victim is given a code word for the courier as a way of authentication.

What you need to do - Your Bank or Police will Never :-

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Fake TalkTalk E-Mails

Action Fraud has received over 100 reports this week about fake emails purporting to be from TalkTalk. The emails state that the recipent's TalkTalk account is in credit and that they are owed a refund. The links in the emails lead to malicious websites.

Don't click on the links or attachments in any suspicious emails, and never respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial details.

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Telephone Fraud

Fraudsters can ‘spoof’ telephone numbers so that people receiving the call (on landline or mobile) think they are dealing with someone from the UK on a genuine number, when they are not. If you have a caller display on your landline and you see what looks like an incoming UK mobile or landline number, please don’t take it for granted that it actually is.

This can also happen with a call made to your mobile phone – for example it can show the name as ‘Bank’ if that is how you have it stored in your mobile, leading you to think it’s a genuine call from your bank, when it isn’t.

Note the Telephone Preference Service cannot protect you from these types of calls, as the service aims only to ensure genuine companies do not make contact if you have registered to opt out of receiving unsolicited calls.

How to keep safe from this type of fraud

1. Don’t assume the caller is actually phoning from the number you see.

2. Always be suspicious of unsolicited requests for personal or financial information in case it is a scam.

3. If in doubt, check with the organisation directly by phone or email using contact details from your records – do not use contact details given by the fraudsters

4. Do not confirm anything to a ‘cold caller’ you don’t know and do not start any dialogue. Simply hang up.

5. Do not be rushed into action. Question and check before acting.

If you’ve fallen victim to a scam - what next?

6. Stop further payments – contact your bank or cancel your transactions directly. (Monitor your statements regularly for any unusual activity.)

7. Report this has happened - contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at actionfraud.police.uk.

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£7 Million Lost to Holiday Fraud

Fraudsters stole more than £7 million from unsuspecting holidaymakers and other travellers in 2018, a new report reveals today.

ABTA – The Travel Association, Action Fraud and Get Safe Online are joining forces to warn the public about the dangers posed by holiday fraud and give advice on how to spot and avoid travel related fraud. The report, compiled by Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, details the most commonly targeted areas of travel and the methods used by unscrupulous criminals to defraud the travelling public.

Over 5,000 people reported to Action Fraud that they had lost a total of just over £7 million to holiday and travel related fraud, an increase on last year, when 4,382 victims reported losing £6.7 million. The average amount lost was £1,380 per person but, as in previous years, in addition to the financial cost, victims have also reported the significant emotional impact caused by this crime. The three campaign partners also believe that the actual total figures relating to travel fraud may be even higher, with many victims feeling too embarrassed to report.

Over half, 53%, of the crimes reported were related to the sale of airline tickets. These reports were made consistently throughout the year, however the largest individual loss, of over £425,000, was made in August 2018.

The next most common fraud at 25%, related to the sale of accommodation, with a peak in reported losses in October. This indicates that many victims report their loss after the end of the summer holidays the busiest time of the year for travel and a popular target for fraudsters.

Link to more information on how to avoid becoming a travel fraud victim.

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42% of used hard drives sold on eBay still contain sensitive data.

42% of used hard drives sold through eBay still contain sensitive data according to new research from a leading international data security company. Of these, 15% were found to contain personally identifiable information (PII) even where sellers stated they had used proper data sanitation methods prior to the sale.

The study, carried out by Blancco Technology Group in conjunction with partner, Ontrack, analysed 159 drives purchased in the US, UK, Germany and Finland. The findings highlight a major concern that whilst sellers recognise the importance of removing data, they are using methods which are inadequate.

“Selling old hardware via an online marketplace might feel like a good option, but in reality, it creates a serious risk of exposing dangerous levels of personal data," said Fredrik Forslund, VP, cloud and data erasure, Blancco. 

"By putting this equipment into the wrong hands, irreversible damage will be caused – not just to the seller, but their employer, friends and family members. It is also clear that there is confusion around the right methods of data erasure, as each seller was under the impression that data had been permanently removed. It's critical to securely erase any data on drives before passing them onto another party, using the appropriate methods to confirm that it's well and truly gone.

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Springtime tax scams target young and vulnerable, warns HMRC

Young adults who may have less experience of the tax system should be especially vigilant against springtime refund scams, warns HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Scammers are increasingly targeting vulnerable or elderly people and those with less familiarity with the tax system, such as young adults.

During April and May, fraudsters regularly blitz taxpayers with refund scams by email or text pretending to be HMRC. Criminals do this to coincide with legitimate rebates being processed by HMRC.  They will encourage people to provide bank details, in exchange for a payment worth hundreds of pounds, on a fake government website to harvest private information and steal money. HMRC will never ask someone to provide bank details by text or email.

Last Spring alone, HMRC received around 250,000 reports of tax scams — which is nearly 2,500 a day — and requested that over 6,000 phishing websites be deactivated.

Useful statistics about Spring scams warning

The tax authority is urging anyone who knows someone that could be vulnerable to scams to be warned and prepared. HMRC’s top tips:

Recognise the signs - genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details.

HMRC will never advise you of a refund in an e-mail or SMS message.

HMRC’s action against scams

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