Scam Watch Blog

 

For details and advice regarding scams, fraud and Internet crime please view the following website http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/types_of_fraud or call ActionFraud directly on 0300 123 2040. If you believe you have become the victim of a fraud or cyber crime, or have received a suspicious email, find out how to report it here:

 

Fraudsters Claiming to be from HMRC - Fraudsters are contacting the elderly and vulnerable claiming to be from HM Revenue & Customs. Victims are being told they have arrest warrants, outstanding debts or unpaid taxes in their name. The fraudsters are asking victims for cash or to purchase iTunes gift cards as payment. There are a variety of methods being used including calls, texts and voicemails. How to protect yourself: HMRC will never use texts to tell you about a tax rebate or penalty or ever ask for payment in this way. Telephone numbers and text messages can easily be spoofed. You should never trust the number you see on your telephones display. If you receive a suspicious cold call, end it immediately. http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/news/alert-fraudsters-claiming-to-be-from-hmrc-jun17http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/residents-in-mildenhall-and-newmarket-urged-to-be-alert-against-hmrc-telephone-scam-1-5232918 - Suffolk press article but relevant. A countywide alert from stephen.armson-smith@essex.pnn.police.uk - Braintree & Uttlesford Crime Prevention Officer - 101 extn 407110

 

Organised Crime Groups and Investment Frauds - The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has identified a method utilised on occasion by organised fraud crime groups to attract potential victims into investment frauds.

Initially the fraudsters advertise and organise a seminar with the sole aim of attracting customer leads. Whilst some seminars may be perfectly legitimate, it is important ‘would be’ investors remain cautious. In some instances the organised crime group (OCG) coordinate a seminar that will be used to capture customer information to use for dishonest purposes. Intelligence shows that a number of OCGs have used this method to deceive victims.

Known techniques in publicising these seminars involve advertisements in newspapers or via email contact. Following the seminar, the attendees’ details (or leads) will then be distributed to the marketing or sales outlet that the fraudster controls or has access to. Contact will then be made to engage the individual in a fraudulent investment as they have already shown themselves to be suitable targets with money to invest.

Whilst it may not be necessarily easy to identify if a lead generating event is legitimate, you should undertake suitable due diligence and assure yourself that the seminar you are planning to attend is genuine. If you have specific concerns where advice may involve investing in unregulated products, please seek as much information and advice prior to considering any investment.

Fraudsters Claiming To Be From HMRC - Victims are being contacted in a variety of methods by fraudsters claiming to be from HMRC and are being told they owe an outstanding debt. In most cases they ask for payment in iTunes gift card voucher codes. BEWARE we have seen cases of this within the Braintree/Uttlesford districts, please see this web-link for further details - http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/news/alert-fraudsters-claiming-to-be-from-hmrc-jun17.

 

Wedding Services Fraud - With the upcoming “Wedding Season”, and for those individuals who are considering making plans for next year and beyond, you should be aware of the potential risks of fraud involved.

According to ‘bridesmagazine.co.uk’, in 2017 the average wedding cost spend is approximately £30,111.  This will be paid out to multiple vendors, including; photographers, caterers, reception venues and travel companies, to name a few.  Many of these services will require booking at least several months in advance and you may be obliged to pay a deposit or even the full balance at the time.

Being aware of the potential risks and following the below prevention advice could minimise the likelihood of fraud.

Paying by Credit Card will provide you with protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, for purchases above £100 and below £30,000. This means that even if a Company goes into liquidation before your big day, you could claim a refund through your Credit Card Company.

Social Media - Some Companies run their businesses entirely via social media sites, offering low cost services.  Whilst many are genuine, some may not be insured or may even be fraudulent. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself;
  • Ensure you obtain a physical address and contact details for the vendor and verify this information.  Should you experience any problems, you will then be able to make a complaint to Trading Standards or consider pursuing via the Small Claims Court.
  • Ensure you obtain a contract before paying money for services.  Make certain you fully read and understand what you are signing and note the terms of cancellation.  
Consider purchasing Wedding Insurance - Policies vary in cover and can be purchased up to two years in advance.  They can protect you from events that would not be covered under the Consumer Credit Act.

Complete research on each vendor, ensuring you are dealing with a bona fide person or company.  Explore the internet for reviews and ratings and ask the vendor to provide details of past clients you can speak to. You should do this even if using companies recommended by a trustworthy friend or source.

For services such as wedding photographers, beware of websites using fake images. Look for inconsistencies in style; Meet the photographer in person and ask to view sample albums. If you like an image from a wedding, ask to view the photographs taken of the whole event so you can see the overall quality.

Remember, if something appears too good to be true, it probably is!

 

Fraudsters Targeting Tourists - There has been a series of recent incidents reported to Action Fraud where a lone fraudster has approached victims whom they believe to be unfamiliar with the local area. They make an excuse to talk to the victims such as enquiring about directions or offering a recommendation for a good hotel.

After this interaction, several other fraudsters will intervene purporting to be police officers in plain clothes and will sometimes present false identification as proof. The fake officers will then give a reason to examine the victims’ wallet, purse or personal items. They may also examine the first fraudster’s items or try to tell victims that the first fraudster is suspicious in order to gain victim trust and appear more realistic in their guise.

After all the fake police ‘checks’ are finished, victims have then reported being handed back their personal items only to later realise that a quantity of money or valuables were missing.

How to protect yourself:

  • If an individual claims to be a police officer ask for their name and rank, force, and examine any identification presented; this is always good practice but especially important if they are not wearing a uniform.

  • The Police will never ask for your passwords or PIN details. Do not give this information to anyone.

  • The Police will never request that you withdraw/transfer any money to them or to a ‘safe’ account.

  • If you have been affected by this, or any other fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk 

 

Beware of Bogus Council Workers - We have recently had a couple of incidents in different areas of Essex where Bogus Callers have made out they were from the local council and had come to investigate and remove rats nests in the loft. These bogus callers have then proceeded to take a deposit of cash (or in at least one case with a card reader) and said they would return to remove the nest and then disappeared.

If you do get a visitor along these lines, they are likely to be fraudulent. Please ring your local council direct to confirm that any caller is bonafide. Fraudsters can produce fake ID badges.

If an unknown trader knocks on your door at any time , don’t open it unless you use a door chain . Preferably, open a small window either upstairs or downstairs and speak through the window. 

To verify someone’s identity please ring the organisation they claim to be from. Use a number from a bill or telephone directory that you have looked up yourself – never use a telephone number provided by the caller. A bona fide caller will wait outside whilst you verify their validity – a bogus caller is also likely to disappear as soon as they know you are telephoning to check identity.

Please do not let anyone into your home if you are not expecting them. REMEMBER – Your door - Your House - Your choice. Not sure? Don’t Open the Door.

Display a ‘No Cold Calling’ sticker on your front door. These are available from Trading Standards free of charge. Call them on 03454 040506.

If you do need work undertaken on your property, Trading Standards operate a ‘Buy With Confidence’ scheme, which enables residents to identify approved local traders who have readily demonstrated a commitment to high working standards, high levels of customer care and a fair trading policy. 

The ’Buy with Confidence’ scheme is available via the internet  https://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/ or by telephone 03454 040506.

REMEMBER: NOT SURE? DON’T OPEN THE DOOR.

 

Can You Trust Your Facebook Friends? - You get a message from someone you think you know who wants to become one of your Facebook Friends. Should be okay, right? Maybe not.

Right now, one of the most common ruses on this site is the so-called Facebook Clone Scam.

In this trick, crooks target Facebook accounts with weak or no privacy settings.

They set up similar sites that mimic the original, stealing all the info and pictures, and then contact all the victim's friends with a fake friendship request, trying to fool them into accepting them again.

It's amazing that some users don't first check their list of friends when they receive these requests and happily accept the clone as a genuine new friend, whom, they think, they already know.

The crooks then attempt various scams on your gullible friends, such as inviting them to click links to malicious websites, requesting money, and even trying to trick them into an identity theft scam.

If you're a Facebook user, there are a couple of key steps you can take to avoid this scam.

First, always check requests against your current list of Friends.

Second, hide your list of Friends so no one else can see them or contact them, posing as you. In fact, this is good practice for every Facebook user.

It's a privacy setting not many people seem to know about, but it's easy to do. Here's how:

1.     Open your Facebook profile (usually by clicking your profile picture and name in the blue bar at the top of the page).
2.     When your profile page opens, click on the "Friends" tab.
3.     In the top, right-hand corner, you'll see an editing icon -- looks like a small pencil. Click this.
4.     Now you get an option to "Edit Privacy." Click this.
5.     Now you'll see a couple of options, the first of which is "Who can see your Friends list?"
6.     Click the options on the right for a choice ranging from "Public" to "Only me."
7.     There are other options here too but choosing "Only me" ensures no one else, not even your Friends, can see this list.

That way, no one can try to scam your Friends in your name -- unless they managed to hijack your account.

 

Paying for Messages - Another common scam involves fake messages claiming that one or other of the social media sites is going to start charging for membership.

These are usually harmless, just starting out from someone who's got nothing better to do than waste everyone's time by urging recipients to pass it on.

The latest version claims that people using Facebook's Messenger app, or the popular WhatsApp program, will have to start paying for each message they send out unless they start using the app more frequently. Crazy, huh?

On other occasions though, these types of messages are a prelude to another scam.

For example, the message might contain a link to a phony site that requests your sign-on details, which will enable the scammer to hijack your account, as mentioned above.

The fact is that no mainstream social media or messaging app charges members for their services unless they have to send an SMS text (as Skype does).

For competitive reasons, they're unlikely to start charging, so you can safely ignore these warnings.

 

Malicious Ads - Posting fake advertisements with links to malicious websites seems to be an everyday thing on many social media sites.

But the latest trick is a cleverly designed attempt to introduce the well-known tech support scam.

Windows users who click on these malicious links are taken to a web page that looks like the famous "blue screen of death" (BSOD), which shows a whole stream or error data.

A genuine BSOD shows up when a computer system crashes but, in the case of this scam, it tells victims they've been infected with a virus and must call tech support.

You know the story from here: victims are either charged an outrageous sum to put things right or they become identity theft victims after giving the "tech support" people access to their PCs.

If you get one of these messages, shut down and restart your PC.

 

Messenger Ads and Other Kinds of Post - Watch out for alerts via a messenger app appearing to come from a friend and telling you about a federal grant program that entitles you to up to $150,000.

All you have to do is provide your personal details. Don't!

Second, don't believe those tear-jerking posts about a sick child who will receive $5 from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for every repost of a sad photo and typing the word "Amen" in the comments section.

We don't know Mr. Zuckerberg so we can't say how generous he is or is not. But we do know he's not doing this, and this particular post is just a "like farming" operation, which unscrupulous marketing companies use to gather lists of followers, which they then sell.

 

American Express - This week's sneaky phishing trick targets American Express payment card users via a message with the subject line "Unauthorized transaction - American Express."

It tells recipients their account has to be updated and has been temporarily suspended until they verify their billing information.

There's a helpful "UPDATE NOW" button that leads to a fake American Express Page.

Never click on links in this type of message. Go straight to the official site for your card issuer (in this case www.americanexpress.com) and check out things there.

Scammers Are Using The Wannacry Attack To Lure Victims - Action Fraud has received the first reports of Tech-Support scammers claiming to be from Microsoft who are taking advantage of the global WannaCry ransomware attack.

One victim fell for the scam after calling a ‘help’ number advertised on a pop up window. The window, which wouldn’t close, said WannaCry Ransomware had affected the victim.

The victim granted the fraudsters remote access to their PC after being convinced there wasn’t sufficient anti-virus protection. The fraudsters then installed Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, which is actually free and took £320 as payment.

It is important to remember that Microsoft’s error and warning messages on your PC will never include a phone number.

Additionally Microsoft will never proactively reach out to you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support. You must initiate any communication they have with you by you.

How to protect yourself:

  • Don't call numbers from pop-up messages;
  • Never allow remote access to your computer;
  • Always be wary of unsolicited calls. If you’re unsure of a caller’s identity, hang up;
  • Never divulge passwords or pin numbers;
  • Microsoft or someone on their behalf will never call you.

If you believe you have already been a victim:

  • Get your computer checked for any additional programmes or software that may have been installed;
  • Contact your bank to stop any further payments being taken.

Report fraud and cyber crime to Actionfraud.police.uk

 

Ransomeware Attack - Following the ransomware cyber attack on Friday 12 May which affected the NHS and is believed to have affected other organisations globally, the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has issued an alert urging both individuals and businesses to follow protection advice immediately and in the coming days.

Ransomware is a form of malicious software (Malware) that enables cyber criminals to remotely lock down files on your computer or mobile device. Criminals will use ransomware to extort money from you (a ransom), before they restore access to your files. There are many ways that ransomware can infect your device, whether it be a link to a malicious website in an unsolicited email, or through a security vulnerability in a piece of software you use. 
 
Key Protect messages for businesses to protect themselves from ransomware:

  • Install system and application updates on all devices as soon as they become available.
  • Install anti-virus software on all devices and keep it updated. 
  • Create regular backups of your important files to a device that isn’t left connected to your network as any malware infection could spread to that too. 

The National Cyber Security Centre’s technical guidance includes specific software patches to use that will prevent uninfected computers on your network from becoming infected with the “WannaCry” Ransomware: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/ransomware-latest-ncsc-guidance
 
For additional in-depth technical guidance on how to protect your organisation from ransomware, details can be found here: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/protecting-your-organisation-ransomware

  

Scam Phone Calls Purporting to Come From BT Open Reach - Caller says they are from BT Openreach, regarding an unusual amount of activity on your Broadband connection. They offer to “show you” this unusual activity. This is automatically a LIE – BT Openreach are NOT ALLOWED to talk to BT RETAIL (or any other Service Provider which uses the BT Network as its backbone, e.g. Sky, Talk Talk etc) customers. The Caller asks the intended victim to hold down the windows symbol and the letter “R” – this brings up the Run dialogue box on your PC. They then ask you to type into that box.

YOU MUST terminate the telephone call IMMEDIATELY – it is a scam, with very dangerous consequences if you proceed.

 

Scam Concerning Printer Problems - Essex Trading Standards is warning consumers about a new scam targeting those looking for help with printer problems. The warning comes after a rise in the number of ‘printer helpline numbers’ being displayed in online adverts placed on search engines and social media. These scams differ from most scams as it sees consumers contacting the criminals directly. Cases have involved those behind the ‘helplines’ gaining remote access to people’s computers – under the auspices of helping them to resolve their technical problems – only for them to use this to steal personal information including bank account details and infect computers with malware.  One particular group behind these scams – which claims to be affiliated with a wide range of technology brands and printer manufacturers – holds victims to ransom by taking control of their computers before demanding payment to return control.  

Action Fraud said cases of computer service fraud, including the printer scam, had risen by 47% since 2014, to a total of 32,719 incidents last year.

 

Payment Diversion Alert - Fraudsters are emailing members of the public who are expecting to make a payment for property repairs. The fraudsters will purport to be a tradesman who has recently completed work at the property and use a similar email address to that of the genuine tradesman. They will ask for funds to be transferred via bank transfer. Once payment is made the victims of the scam soon realise they have been deceived when the genuine tradesman requests payment for their services.

Protect Yourself

  • Always check the email address is exactly the same as previous correspondence with the genuine contact.
  • For any request of payment via email verify the validity of the request with a phone call to the person who carried out the work.
  • Check the email for spelling and grammar as these signs can indicate that the email is not genuine.
  • Payments via bank transfer offer no financial protection; consider using alternative methods such as a credit card or PayPal which offer protection and an avenue for recompense.

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud you can report it online http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by telephone 0300 123 2040.

 

Suspect unknown has stolen the victim’s purse from a bus and then used a card to purchase a gift card.Do Not Call (UK) Ltd - Unsolicited Sales - One of our partners has informed me of a scam / fraud leading to the loss of a considerable amount of money from a very vulnerable person’s bank account causing untold misery.

The victim, who sadly lost his wife recently after caring for her for four years, is in his 80’s, and of a confused disposition, and very hard of hearing. Not long after this a package arrived through the post and when opened by an informant was found to be a small 4” square device described as a nuisance call deflector and was sent by:-

Do Not Call (UK) Ltd, Unit2, Stratfield Saye, 20-22 Wellington Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH8 8JN ( 0333 456 0310 or 0800 138329), they also trade as Nuisance Call Blocker Ltd.

The victim subsequently had £149 taken from his account via his debit card. The victim put this issue aside as he was busy arranging his wife’s funeral and dealing with her effects. The victim stated that he had not ordered this unit.

A week later the informant noticed three similar boxed units in the victim’s study. These had been delivered over the past 18 months. He had not requested them and had no idea as to how to use them.

On 23rd November our informant was assisting the victim with his bank statements and found that Do Not Call (UK) Ltd, using the victim’s debit card details, had taken a payment from the victim’s account. The informant phoned this company and was fobbed off with the usual “Read the small print” (which in this case was extremely small) and when it was pointed out that this was a fraudulent transaction was told to forward the unit with a letter to the managing director and he would deal with it.

At this stage the informant decided to do an internet search and found the following:-

Last year “Do Not Call UK” was fined £90,000 and another company “Telecom Protection Service Ltd” were fined £80,000 by the Information Commissioners Office over their fraudulent activities in trying to sell these units which are unsolicited sales. It appears both these firms are connected. It is clear that Trading Standards were also involved in these investigations.

It was also found that a director of Telecom Protection Services Ltd, Giles Ward-Best was jailed for 5 years for operating a fraud over these devices. Best, who comes from Bournemouth, (described as a hotbed of this type of fraud) was described by the judge as “a scammer and fraudster who exploited those he promised to protect”.

Armed with this information the informant went back to the victim and together they went back over his bank statements and found that three other payments of £90 each had been taken from his debit card. The victim has a vague recollection of a hard sell phone call months ago about this unit and he had passed over his card details for a one off payment.

The victim has now had his card cancelled and been issued with a replacement and states he will not talk to anyone trying to sell him something on the phone.

There is no doubt that these people are preying on the elderly and vulnerable people no matter what their age in order to perpetrate these crimes.

A SUSPECTED con artist is knocking on doors around Colchester claiming to need money to save a fictitious child. - The woman states she has to pay for electricity to power her child’s nebuliser and is also understood to be trying doors to find unlocked homes. Reports have been made to police and residents from Greensted, New Town, and Mersea Road. One of the homes visited belonged to the Mayor of Colchester Julie Young and her husband and councillor Tim Young.

Mr Young, following the unwanted visit at 10.30am on Monday, said: “We were visited by a woman knocking on our door saying she lived at a flat nearby. “She said her electricity meter had run out and needed money to pay for her child’s nebuliser to start working.” Mr Young said he visited other homes in the area and he saw her and another woman walking away with money and laughing. A picture of the suspect was sent to Essex Police who are investigating the claims.

Mr Young also visited the flat and found no trace of them and added “it is absolutely disgraceful behaviour, pretending to have an ill child to make ill gotten gains.”

Essex Police is warning people to beware of con artists and to look again at their home security. A spokesman for the force said: “Most people who call at your home will be genuine but it’s important to be on your guard and remember there are bogus callers about. These are people who turn up unannounced with the intention of tricking their way into your home to steal. Bogus callers are creative and their reasons for needing entry into your home can seem plausible, but be cautious. The person whose car has broken down and needs to use your phone to call the recovery service may not be who they seem. If you don’t want callers in your home, tell them. If they fail to listen you should contact us.”

Other advice includes locking the back door before answering the front and don’t be fooled by scare or hard luck stories.

From the Colchester Gazette and Standard.


Fake Calls Supposedly From Essex County Council - 
We are warning residents to watch out for calls claiming to be from Essex County Council.

Residents have reported receiving calls about an accident from an 020 number pretending to be from Essex County Council. If you, someone you know or a vulnerable adult you work with gets a call like this, here is the advice from Essex Trading Standards:

  • Put the phone down straight away and do not get into conversation with the caller;
  • Never give out any personal details over the phone to a random contact;
  • Remember, reputable businesses (such as banks) will not ask for account details or pin numbers over the phone;
  • Report the call to Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre.


Students Targeted as Money Mules - 
Students are being recruited, sometimes unwittingly, as “mules” by criminals to transfer illegally obtained money between different bank accounts.

What is a money mule?

A money mule is someone who is recruited by those needing to launder money obtained illegally. Criminals advertise fake jobs in newspapers and on the internet in a number of ways, usually offering opportunities to make money quickly, in order to lure potential money mule recruits. These include:

  • Social media posts
  • Copying genuine company’s websites to create impression of legitimacy
  • Sending mass emails offering employment
  • Targeting individuals that have posted their CVs on employment websites

Students are particularly susceptible to adverts of this nature. For someone in full-time education, the opportunity for making money quickly can understandably be an attractive one. The mule will accept money into their bank account, before following further instructions on what to do with the funds. Instructions could include transferring the money into a separate specified account or withdrawing the cash and forwarding it on via money transfer service companies like Western Union or MoneyGram. The mule is generally paid a small percentage of the funds as they pass through their account.

Money Laundering is a criminal offence which can lead to prosecution and a custodial sentence. Furthermore, it can lead to the mule being unable to obtain credit in the UK and prevented from holding a bank account.

Protect Yourself

  • Be aware that the offence of money laundering carries a maximum prison sentence, in the UK, of 14 years.
  • Never give the details of your bank account to anyone that you do not trust.
  • No legitimate company will ever ask you to use your own bank account to transfer their money. Don’t accept any job offers that ask you to do this.
  • Be wary of unsolicited emails or social media posts promising ways of earning easy money. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Don’t be afraid to question the legitimacy of any businesses that make you a job offer, especially if the recruitment procedure strays from the conventional.


Phishing Email 'Compensation Fund' - 
There is a phishing email currently in circulation that claims to be from the City of London Police. The departments that it claims to represent include the ‘Fraud Intelligence Unit’ and the ‘National Fraud Intelligence Bureau’. The email is titled ‘compensation fund’ and has a letter attachment that claims to be offering financial compensation to victims of fraud. The letter uses the City of London Police logo. 

 
The letter states that in order for compensation to be arranged, the receiver of the email should reply disclosing personal information. It states that HSBC and the South African Reserve Bank have been chosen to handle the compensation claims. All of these claims are false.
 
The email and letter are fraudulent and should not be replied to. 
 
Protect Yourself

  • Opening attachments or clicking links contained within emails from unknown sources could result in your device being infected with malware or a virus. 
  • The City of London Police and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau will never email you asking for you to disclose personal information. 
  • If you believe you have become a victim of this fraudulent email get your device checked by a professional and make a report to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre:  http://www.actionfraud.police.uk


Fraudsters Selling Non-existent Drones - 
Online shopping websites are being utilised by fraudsters to advertise nonexistent drones of various specifications for competitive prices.

Drones are personal flying devices that often carry cameras and can be navigated remotely by smartphones or hand-held controllers. Fraudsters are capitalising on their recent popularity and advertising non-existent drones at a lower value than their recommended retail price to tempt buyers.

After victims agree to purchase the drone, the fraudsters request payment to be paid via bank transfer saying that it will quicken the delivery process. After transferring the money the buyers never receive the drone and the fraudster blocks the victim to prevent further conversation.

How to protect yourself:

  • Check the validity of the post.
  • Avoid paying by bank transfer and instead use an online payment option such as PayPal, which helps to protect you.
  • Check feedback online by searching the associated phone numbers or email addresses of the seller. Feedback will give you useful information about recent transactions other buyers may have made.
  • If the item is below market value consider whether this is an opportunity too good to be true.

If you have been affected by this, or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk


Advance Fees Fraud - 
People selling their items on online platforms are falling victim to a new type of advance fee fraud. This involves a fraudster, posing as a buyer, sending an email to the seller (victim), agreeing to the full asking price of the item. They state that they are unable to collect the item themselves and will arrange for a courier to pick it up instead.

The fraudster then sends a fake payment confirmation email from a different email address, one that falsely purports to be from a payment platform. In the course of the email exchange, the seller/victim is requested to pay the courier fee. Once the payment is made the contact is broken, the item is not picked up and the money paid for the ‘courier’ is gone.

An example of the most recent emails received by the victim/seller, from the ‘Buyer’, read:

“I want you to consider this a deal as I am willing to pay your full asking price! I actually want to buy it for a family member who is urgently in need of it, I have checked through your posting and I'm fully satisfied with it. Unfortunately, I would not be able to come personally to view/collect, I work offshore as an instructor on a oil rig so I don’t have time at all, but like I said I am 100% OK with the advert”

Protect Yourself:

  • Be wary when buyers wish to purchase items at the full asking price without viewing them.
  • Check the validity of the payment receipt confirmation
  • Avoid paying an advanced fee if you are a seller; should you choose to use a courier, arrange your own.
  • Check feedback online by searching the associated phone numbers or email addresses of the seller/buyer. Feedback will give you useful information about recent transactions other buyers/sellers have made.

If you, or anyone you know, have been affected by this fraud or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

Mobile Phone Upgrades - Fraudsters are impersonating telephone service providers and contacting their clients offering a phone upgrade on a low monthly payment contract. The fraudsters will glean all your personal and financial details which will then be used to contact the genuine phone provider and order a new mobile phone handset. The fraudsters will either intercept the delivery before it reaches the victim’s address or order the handset to a different address.


Protect yourself:

  • Never provide your personal information to a third party from an unsolicited communication;
  • Obtain the genuine number of the organisation being represented and verify the legitimacy of the communication;
  • If the offer is too good to be true it probably is;
  • If you have provided personal information and you are concerned that your identity may be compromised consider Cifas Protection Registration.

 

Holiday Booking Fraud - EWith summer holidays fast approaching, individuals are often more exposed to travel booking frauds when looking for last minute package deals / cheap flights. Whether paying upfront for a family holiday or simply booking a flight, payments are transferred only to discover that the holiday / airline ticket does not exist and was sold to you by a bogus travel company. Fraudsters will often lure in potential customers with low prices and ‘one time only’ offers that are simply too good to pass up, requesting payment by the preferred method of direct bank transfer. 


Avoid paying for a holiday / airline tickets / accommodation via direct bank transfer. No reputable company will ever request payment via this method. Do not respond to unsolicited calls, texts or emails offering holidays at incredibly low prices.

Protect Yourself:

  • Whenever possible, pay for your holiday by credit card as it offers increased protection;
  • Always remember to look for the ‘https’ and locked padlock icon in the address bar before entering your payment details;
  • Never feel pressured to make a booking for fear that you will miss out on this ‘low price’ opportunity. If you have never used the company before, take your time to do some online research to ensure they are reputable;
  • Should you make a flight or hotel booking through a travel company, feel free to separately check with the hotel / particular airline that your booking does indeed exist.

Identity fraud up by 57% as thieves target social media - The number of victims of identity theft rose by 57% last year, figures from fraud prevention service Cifas suggest. The data, taken from 261 companies in the UK, suggests fraudsters are increasingly getting people's personal information from social media sites. Cifas said Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn had become a "hunting ground" for identity thieves. It said there were more than 148,000 victims in the UK in 2015 compared with 94,500 in 2014.

A small percentage of cases involved fictitious identities but most fraudsters assumed the identity of a real person after accessing their name, date of birth, address and bank details. More than 85% of the frauds were carried out online. Some personal details were found by hacking computers but increasingly fraudsters used social media to put together the pieces of someone's identity, Cifas said. It urged people to check their privacy settings and think carefully about what information they share online.

Often victims did not even realise they had been targeted until a bill arrived for something they did not buy or they experienced problems with their credit rating, the fraud prevention service added.

'Online goldmine'

A report out earlier this year estimated the annual cost of fraud in the UK was £193bn - equal to nearly £3,000 per head of population. Business fraud accounted for £144bn, the study said, while fraud against individuals was estimated at £9.7bn.

Simon Dukes, Cifas chief executive, said: "Fraudsters are opportunists. As banks and lenders have become more adept at detecting false identities, fraudsters have focused on stealing and using genuine people's details instead. Society, government and industry all have a role in preventing fraud. However, our concern is that the lack of awareness about identity fraud is making it even easier for fraudsters to obtain the information they need. The likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online platforms are much more than just social media sites - they are now a hunting ground for identity thieves. We are urging people to check their privacy settings today and think twice about what they share. To a fraudster, the information we put online is a goldmine."

Olympics Ticket Fraud - The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro begin on 6th August 2016 and as of late June, you will be able to purchase tickets from the Rio 2016 ticket offices.  Purchasing from an unauthorised seller or a ticket tout could leave you out of pocket; not only are the tickets advertised at inflated prices, but there is also a risk that the tickets purchased are counterfeit or do not exist. Any individual with a counterfeit ticket will be refused entry.

To help protect yourself, the list of authorised sellers has been published on the official website and provides a list of trusted resellers; this can be found at www.rio2016.com. Equally, tickets purchased that are no longer needed can be sold through the Rio 2016 website for a 100% reimbursement of the amount paid if the tickets are resold.

Protect yourself:

  • When purchasing from another company or individual, ask questions; specifically when you will receive the ticket and what type of ticket you are purchasing.
  • Pay for tickets by using a credit card or trusted payment service. Payments made by bank transfer may not be recoverable.
  • Always check that the payment screen is secure by looking for the padlock symbol or making sure the website/url begins with “https”.

Fake Letter Boxes - The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has noticed an increase in reports of fraudsters placing fake letter boxes on residential properties in an attempt to harvest the mail. Residents are sometimes unaware of the fake letterbox as the fraudsters will periodically remove the item, which may leave notable markings. The mail is then used to open various lines of credit with financial providers in the name of the innocent resident. 

Protect Yourself:

  • Be vigilant and check for any suspicious activity, tampering of your post/letterbox or for suspicious glue markings on the wall.
  • Check all post received from financial institutions, even if it appears unsolicited.
  • Consider reporting theft of mail to your local police force and any cases of identity fraud to Action Fraud.
  • If you have been a victim of identity fraud consider Cifas Protection Registration (https://www.cifas.org.uk/protective_registration_form)
  • If you, or anyone you know, has been affected by this fraud or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

Spoof Emails Claiming 'Buyer Protection' - Online shopping websites are being utilised by fraudsters to advertise vehicles for sale which do not exist. After agreeing to purchase the vehicle via email with the fraudsters, buyers then receive emails purporting to be from Amazon Payments and/or Amazon Flexible Payment Service stating that their money will be held in an ‘escrow account’ (a bank account held by a third party, used as a temporary holding account during a transaction between two parties- for a 7 day ‘cooling off’ period). Once happy with the purchase the email indicates the money will be released to the seller, therefore offering ‘buyer protection’. In reality these emails are fraudulent and do not come from Amazon. The bank accounts are controlled by fraudsters. 

Protect yourself:

  • Remember that Amazon does not provide an escrow account to purchase items.
  • Meet the seller ‘face to face’ and view the vehicle before parting with any money. 
  • Be vigilant of emails that purport to be from genuine companies and check the ‘domain’ name of the email address for any inconsistencies. 
  • Check feedback online by searching the associated phone numbers or email addresses of the seller.
  • If the vehicle is below market value consider whether this is an opportunity too good to be true! 
  • If you, or anyone you know, have been affected by this fraud or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.


European Football Championship Ticket Fraud - 
The 2016 European Football Championships are underway and those purchasing last minute tickets are likely to be targeted by fraudsters posing as official sellers.  Purchasing from an unauthorised seller or a ticket tout could leave you out of pocket; not only are the tickets advertised at inflated prices, there is a risk that the tickets purchased are counterfeit or do not exist. Any individual with a counterfeit ticket will be refused entry.

Resale Platform
Consumers wanting to sell their tickets can do so through the resale platform, where tickets will be resold at face value. For further information please visit UEFA’s website. Those seeking to purchase tickets are advised to check the site regularly as tickets will be sold on a first come first serve basis and are likely to change regularly as different tickets become available to purchase.

  • Only purchase tickets from an authorised seller by using the exchange portal.
  • When using the portal do not be encouraged to contact the seller privately and complete the transaction outside of the portal.
  • Be wary of purchasing tickets from a social media account. There is a risk that the ticket does not exist or is counterfeit. Consider conducting research on the information provided by the seller, for example a mobile phone number or email address used by the seller could alert you to any negative information associated to them online.
  • Avoid making payments through bank transfer or money transfer services, as the payment may not be recoverable.

If you have been affected by this, or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.


On-line Extortion Demand Affecting UK Businesses - 
A number of businesses throughout the UK have received extortion demands from a group calling themselves ‘Lizard Squad’. 

 
The group have sent emails demanding payment of 5 Bitcoins, to be paid by a certain time and date. The email states that this demand will increase by 5 Bitcoins for each day that it goes unpaid. 
 
If their demand is not met, they have threatened to launch a Denial of Service attack against the businesses’ websites and networks, taking them offline until payment is made.   
 
The demand states that once their actions have started, they cannot be undone.

What to do if you’ve received one of these demands:

  • Report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or by using the online reporting tool
  • Do not pay the demand
  • Retain the original emails (with headers)
  • Maintain a timeline of the attack, recording all times, type and content of the contact

If you are experiencing a DDoS right now you should:

  • Report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 immediately.
  • Call your Internet Service Provider (ISP) (or hosting provider if you do not host your own Web server), tell them you are under attack and ask for help.
  • Keep a timeline of events and save server logs, web logs, email logs, any packet capture, network graphs, reports etc.

Get Safe Online top tips for protecting your business from a DDoS:

  • Consider the likelihood and risks to your organisation of a DDoS attack, and put appropriate threat reduction/mitigation measures in place.
  • If you consider that protection is necessary, speak to a DDoS prevention specialist.
  • Whether you are at risk of a DDoS attack or not, you should have the hosting facilities in place to handle large, unexpected volumes of website hits.

 

On-line Job Recruitment - The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and Action Fraud have noticed a rise in the reporting of victims being recruited via Facebook to sell items for suspects on eBay – often stating that it is a quick way of making money.


The items are said to be bankrupt stock, purchased via auctions, and need to be sold on quickly. The majority of the items reported have been Apple Mac Book Pro/Electrical Items.

The victim places the items on eBay and once the items are sold, the victim will get paid and transfer the funds to the suspect/recruiter.

Once the suspect/recruiter gets the funds, the purchasers are claiming that they have received empty cereal boxes or often no goods at all, leaving the victim being reported as the actual suspect, and leaving them out of pocket as their account will be debited.

Protect yourself:

  • Consider conducting research on other information provided by the seller, for example: a mobile phone number or email address could alert you to negative information associated with the number/email address online.  
  • Be very cautious of unsolicited emails or approaches over social media promising opportunities to make easy money. 
  • When accepting offers, verify the company/entity details provided to you and check whether they have been registered in the UK.
  • If you think the deal or offer is too good to be true then it probably is! 


Wine Investment Fraud - 
A new investment fraud trend is targeting members of the public who are seeking to sell their wine investment.  Fraudsters agree to purchase the victim’s wine, but instead transfer the stock into their own account without paying the victim.  The fraudulently obtained wine is then believed to be sold on to other, unsuspecting victims.  

How does it work?

Fraudsters set up fake companies and websites as well as exploit the names of legitimate, established companies to facilitate this fraud.  They cold-call the victims and offer to purchase their wine for significantly more than the actual market value.  
 
Fraudulent documents, such as purchase agreements, are used to facilitate the fraud and are sent to the victims via post and email.  Some fraudsters have gone as far as setting up fake escrow services in order to fool the potential sellers that the payments have been transferred.    
 
The fraudsters send the victims instructions to transfer their wine into storage accounts held within legitimate bonded warehouses.  The victims are informed that upon doing this they will be paid the agreed amount.  The use of storage accounts held within legitimate bonded warehouses adds an air of legitimacy to the process but in actual fact these storage accounts are controlled by the fraudsters.      

  • Never respond to unsolicited phone calls – if in doubt, hang up
  • Always check that the details of the organisation or company contacting you (such as website, address and phone number) are correct – the fraudsters may be masquerading as a legitimate organisation
  • Never sign over your wine (or any other investment) to another party without first checking they are authentic
  • Don’t be fooled by a professional looking website, as the cost of creating a professional website is easily affordable
  • Escrow services are regulated by the FCA under the Payment Services Directive 2009.  Only deal with a registered Authorised Payment Institution.  You can check the FCA register online at www.fca.org.uk/register
  • Consider seeking independent legal and/or financial advice before making a decision

 

HMRC Tax Rebate Scam - Fraudsters are texting members of the public offering a tax rebate. The text message contains a link to a website and requests to provide personal information, such as bank account information, to claim the nonexistent rebate.

Protect Yourself:

  • Don’t click on web links contained in unsolicited texts or emails.
  • Never provide your personal information to a third party from an unsolicited communication.
  • Obtain the genuine number of the organisation being represented and verify the legitimacy of the communication.
  • HMRC will never use texts or emails or tell you about a potential rebate or ask for personal information.
  • If you have provided personal information and you are concerned that your identity may be compromised consider Cifas Protection Registration.

 

Social Media Ticket Fraud - The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has recently received an influx of reports that fraudsters are targeting the public, via social media, in relation to football tickets.

Fraudsters are posting pictures or statuses online telling members of the public to contact them via Direct Message for football tickets. This then leads to a mobile messaging conversation. During the conversation, bank details are provided by the suspect so that the tickets can be purchased.

After the victim has paid for the ticket the fraudster blocks them to stop further conversation, leaving victims without the tickets and out of pocket.

Protect yourself:

  • Check the security of the website and validity of the post
  • Avoid taking the conversation offline to private messages
  • When purchasing any products over the internet always try to make the payment via PayPal or a credit card where you have some sort of payment cover

 

Payment for Repairs to Property - Fraudsters are targeting members of the public who are expecting to make a payment for property repairs. The fraudsters, via email, will purport to be a tradesman who has recently completed work at the property and use a similar email address to that of the genuine tradesman. They will ask for funds to be transferred via bank transfer and once payment is made the victims of the fraud soon realise they have been deceived when the genuine tradesman requests payment for their services.


Protect Yourself:

  • Always check the email address is exactly the same as previous correspondence with the genuine contact. 
  • For any request of payment via email verify the validity of the request with a phone call to the person who carried out the work.
  • Check the email for spelling and grammar as these signs can indicate that the email is not genuine.
  • Payments via bank transfer offer no financial protection; consider using alternative methods such as a credit card or PayPal which offer some protection and avenue for recompense.


Warning from Essex Trading Standards about Doorstep Traders - 
Doorstep/Rouge traders are operating in Essex trying to obtain work related to block paved driveways, garden work or tree cutting, roofing or any other household repair or maintenance.

Never agree to have work carried out by traders who knock on your door offering these services and always thoroughly check out leaflets as addresses provided can be false with telephone numbers that stop working if you have a problem with the work. You can also be provided with guarantees that are worthless.

We would always advise residents to consider using one of our Buy With Confidence businesses who have been audited and approved by Trading Standards. The nearest three to your postcode can be found by calling the national consumer helpline on 03454 040506 orwww.buywithconfidence.gov.uk

We would ask all residents to look out for household repair and maintenance activity at the homes of elderly neighbours, friends or family members.

Residents who do get caught out by doorstep/rogue traders are often too embarrassed to report it. If you are concerned, call the helpline with the information.

 

Bogus call purporting to come from BT Openreach - Warning message sent by a NhW member in Colchester. I received a Bogus supposed BT Openreach call today at 15:40, which was alarmingly convincing – only because I know BT protocols thoroughly did I work out that it was bogus.

The caller stated they were from BT Openreach, and said that due to server problems I am not getting the Broadband Speed I should (which is true), and asked me to do a speed test.

I did this (the caller did not offer which website to use for the test, this started to raise my suspicions) but I ran the test anyway, and got one of my best result ever (still poor at 2.13 down, 0.28 up) – but I know that this is close to the max I can get based on distance from my exchange and being on aluminium cable.

The caller then asked me to go to Google and use joinme.net – NO NO NO – definite scam now.

I used 1471 – caller withheld number – BT would not do that if the call was genuine.

PLEASE – if you get one of these calls, do not proceed.

 

Your Package Has Been Seized – It’s a Scam - Fraudsters are sending out virus infected emails that claim a package has been seized by HM Revenue & Customs upon arrival into the United Kingdom. The official looking scam emails claiming to be from Royal Mail contain a link to a document which will install malicious software on your computer designed to steal credentials like account names, email addresses and passwords.


An example email reads:

Title: Your parcel has been seized

Royal Mail is sorry to inform you that a package addressed to you was seized by HM Revenue & Customs upon arrival into the United Kingdom.

A close inspection deemed your items as counterfeit and the manufacturers have been notified. If your items are declared genuine then they will be returned back to you with the appropriate custom charges.

You may have been a victim of counterfeit merchandise and the RM Group UK will notify you on how to get your money back. Please review the attached PDF document for more information. 

Document (RM7002137GB).Zip

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.

To help the spread of the virus, the email also says: “you will need to have access to a computer to download and open the Zip file”. If you receive one of these emails, do not click on any links or download any attachments and report it to Action Fraud.

Protect Yourself

  • Royal Mail will never send an email asking for credit card numbers or other personal or confidential information.
  • Royal Mail will never ask customers to enter information on a page that isn’t part of the Royal Mail website.
  • Royal Mail will never include attachments unless the email was solicited by a customer e.g. customer has contacted Royal Mail with an enquiry or has signed up for updates from Royal Mail.
  • Royal Mail have also stressed that they do not receive a person’s email address as part of any home shopping experience.


Virgin Media 'Phishing' Scam - 
We have received a report from a resident of an attempted email ‘phishing’ scam supposedly from Virgin Media. The householder was asked to update their account details by following a link or their account would be closed.

This is a variant of the scam where, if the link is followed and personal or banking information given there is a real risk of identity theft or financial loss.

If you receive one of these emails our advice is to mark it as a phishing attempt, block the sender and forward it to the security team of the company for their information via the official company website.

Fraudsters Claiming to be Police Officers - There has been a recent series of incidents whereby fraudsters either phone or attend the home address of elderly members of the public, claiming to be police officers.

The fake officer/s will claim that they are investigating a fraud which they believe the elderly person to be a victim of. The fake officer/s will then request the bank cards and personal identification numbers (PIN) of the victim and claim these are needed for investigation purposes. If the first contact was made by a phone call, the fake officer/s will tell the victim that someone will be over to collect the evidence. In one case the victim was instructed to attend their local bank and withdraw all of the money from their account. The suspect was left alone in the victim’s house whilst the victim carried out the instructions.

Protect Yourself

  • Before letting anyone into your home who claims to be from any law enforcement agency, ask to see their identity card and check it by calling 101.
  • Ask if they can attend at a pre-arranged time when a family member or friend can also be present.
  • If you receive a phone call from a police officer,  ask for their name and force and tell them you will call them back. Wait a few minutes and then use 101 to call them back through their force’s switchboard and verify their identity.
  • The Police will never ask for your PIN or passwords. Do not give this information to anyone.
  • The Police will never request that you withdraw/transfer any money to them.

 

SIM Splitting - The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) is reminding the public of a method called “SIM Splitting” used by fraudsters to steal your money. Here's how the scam works.

Fraudsters in the UK purchase victims’ personal details that are obtained through the spread of Trojan malware. Victims’ detail packages are purchased from overseas fraudsters specialising in the collection of compromised personal data to sell. Specific data is extracted, namely online bank account details and statements. Using the victim’s banking details to gain telephone access to the bank account, the fraudster then opens a parallel business account in the victim’s name. Opening a business account is subject to less stringent security checks once an individual already has a current account with a bank and helps make any transfers of money in the future less suspicious. Details of the victim’s mobile phone, again extracted from the purchased personal data package, are then passed to an individual who specialises in the SIM Split step.

This SIM Splitter then:

  • Uses the bank statement obtained through the hacking to establish the mobile network the victim belongs to;
  • Uses open source searches, using the victim’s details, to ascertain potential answers to security questions;
  • Uses open source searches to establish the mobile phone network provider;
  • Obtains a blank SIM card, either through an insider at a phone company or by purchasing one;
  • Contacts the phone provider and tells them that the mobile phone has been lost/damaged.

 The new SIM card is activated while the victim’s is cancelled. Contact details and security questions may be changed with the phone provided to further hinder the victim from reporting the fraud. As soon as the SIM card is activated, the SIM Splitter contacts the fraudster and tells them to transfer funds from the victim’s current account into the newly set up business account. As a security measure the banks will often make a call or send a text to the phone number registered to the account to confirm if the transaction is genuine. The SIM Splitter agrees to the transfer when contacted and disposes of the SIM card afterwards so not to be traced. The fraudster can withdraw or transfer funds away from the business account with a lower level of scrutiny whilst maintaining a certain level of access and control of the account with the stolen details.

How to protect yourself against this type of fraud

  • Always make sure you have suitable anti-virus software installed and that your firewall is switched on.
  • Always consider what you are downloading – do not open files from unknown sources.
  • Be wary of ‘pop-ups’ requesting unsolicited downloads.
  • If you discover a virus on your computer, disconnect from the internet immediately and ask a specialist for advice.
  • When creating a password, try not to use the same password for more than one account. This will prevent further accounts being taken over if one has been compromised.
  • Use complex passwords containing a mix of symbols, upper and lower case letters, and numbers.

 

Police Spam Email - There is an email in circulation that appears to have been sent from a legitimate Lancashire Constabulary email address. The email appears to come from ‘Lyn Whitehead’ and is asking the recipient to pay an invoice that is attached to the email. The email has not been generated from inside the Constabulary or by the Constabulary. This email has not been sent from Lancashire Constabulary. A third party supplier to the Constabulary has had their data breached, as a result of the breach this Lancashire Constabulary email address has been spoofed and used to generate spam to recipients far and wide. This type of email is commonly referred to as spam, and if you have received it you MUST NOT open it. Instead delete it from your email system to avoid infecting your device. Protect Yourself:

  • Do not click or open unfamiliar links in emails or on websites
  • Make sure you install and use up-to-date anti-virus software
  • Have a pop-up blocker running in the background of your web browser
  • If you have opened the attachment and ‘enabled macros’ it is very likely that all your personal data will have been breached. You MUST change all your passwords for personal accounts, including your bank accounts.

If you believe you have become a victim of this get your device checked over by a professional and make a report to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ If you do make a report please provide as much detail as you can about the email and any effects it has had on your computer. Additionally if your Anti-Virus software detects any issues in relation to this email please provide us with the details.

 

Talk Talk Cyber Attack - Talk Talk, the phone and broadband provider, has been the victim of a cyber attack on their website commonly referred to as DDoS – distributed denial of service attack. This has led to hackers accessing Talk Talks servers and stealing personal data, which could affect over four million customers. It is currently unknown exactly what data has been stolen but Talk Talk has stated that there is a chance that some of the following data could have been accessed:

  • Name and addresses
  • Dates of birth
  • Email addresses
  • Telephone numbers
  • Talk Talk account information
  • Credit card and banking details

Protect yourself

  • Be wary of any emails claiming to be from Talk Talk asking for additional information such as passwords even if they are able to tell you specific account details – this could be a phishing email and sent to gain access to your account.
  • If you have opened an email attachment please ensure you change the passwords for all your bank, email and online shopping accounts.
  • As well as e-mails be wary of any telephone calls claiming to be from Talk Talk that ask for additional information or want to gain remote access to your computer. Again they may tell you specific details about your account. If you get such a call do not give any details, terminate the call, use a separate telephone line/mobile phone and call Talk Talk back on one of their known numbers to ascertain if the call is genuine.
  • Monitor your bank accounts for any unusual activity that you believe may be fraudulent.

If you think you have been a victim of this type of email you should report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre.www.actionfraud.police.uk

 

Pension Release and Transfer - The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has been alerted to a pension scam whereby cold callers continue to target members of the public aged 50 to 60 years old to release and transfer their pension early. Suspected firms who advertise and arrange pensions are offering investments in alternative commodities such as hotel developments or property in Cape Verde, and operate as unregulated collective investment schemes.

Often, the cold calling ‘pension companies’ involved are neither regulated nor qualified to give financial advice and classify themselves as a ‘trustee’, ‘consultant’ or an ‘independent advisor’ and offer exceptionally high return rates for investors.  

Some victims have signed documents that authorises a limited company to be set up using their personal details, including utilising a Small Self–Administered Scheme (SSAS). Whilst SSAS accounts and limited companies are essential for legitimate schemes, the fact that victims are unaware that this will happen suggests that the scheme may not have been fully explained to them, increasing the likelihood that there may be an element of fraud involved.

Protect yourself:

Further advice can be found at:

http://www.fca.org.uk/your-fca/documents/protect-your-pension-pot

http://www.fca.org.uk/consumers/financial-services-products/pensions/protect

http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/individuals/dangers-of-pension-scams.aspx

Ensure that you request that the risks and growth rates are explained and that you fully understand them before transferring your pension

Check whether the pension arrangement company is registered with the FCA. Registered companies can be checked using the FCA register online at:https://register.fca.org.uk/ 

Remember that if the offer seems too good to be true, then it generally is.

Bank Card Intercepts - The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau’s (NFIB) Proactive Intelligence Team is warning people of a new method of fraud whereby fraudsters are exploiting the delay in the replacement of victims’ bankcards by intercepting their mail. According to the NFIB, fraudsters have identified that if a genuine banking customer requests a new card to replace a damaged one, some banks will send the replacement card but not cancel the damaged card straight away, leaving it active for several days.

Fraudsters target letterboxes in communal flats and premises that lack security and CCTV to steal victims’ mail, specifically banking documentation. Having identified a victim via the stolen letters and open source information, fraudsters have all the personal information they need. The fraudster calls the bank pretending to be the customer. They state that the plastic bankcard has snapped but is still functioning, and that they will need a replacement sent to their home address. The fraudster returns a few days later to steal the bankcard contained within the mail and utilises it for fraudulent purposes. Victims won’t become aware of the fraud until several days later when their original card stops working and they get in touch with their bank.

Research conducted for Action Fraud’s “Not With My Name” campaign found that 71% of people do not regularly redirect their post for at least six months when they move house. Also, 1 in 3 people don't shred letters before throwing them away. This leaves people vulnerable to bank statements and other mail being intercepted by fraudsters. A convicted fraudster told the NFIB, “identity fraud is dead easy, it’s like any scam, and you just need to plan it through. Do your homework, think it out, keep it simple and look for the system flaws”.

Protection advice from the ‘Not With My Name’ campaign:

  • Always destroy or securely store personal documents.

Diamond Buy-back Fraud - The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau’s (NFIB) Proactive Intelligence Team is warning people of a new scam dubbed “diamond buy-back courier fraud”. Information gathered by the intelligence team suggests that boiler rooms operating from overseas (specifically in Thailand) are targeting existing investors of diamonds from ‘victim sucker lists’ circulated by fraudsters internationally.

Fraudsters who ask if they would like to increase the value of their investment, as the return on their current stock has been so good, contact existing clients who have purchased genuine but lesser value diamonds. They are encouraged to purchase more diamonds and invest further – buying either overpriced or non-existent diamonds.

In this new type of scam, the victim is contacted and informed that the value of diamond(s) they have physically purchased have significantly increased due to the rarity and demand. They are then convinced that in order to revalue the diamond(s) they will need to be physically returned to be assessed by a fake “valuation team”. Victims are then offered a free of charge, no hassle return service to undertake the valuation process. Intelligence suggests the fraudsters use UPS (United Postal Service) to collect the diamond(s). The fraudsters have no intention of returning the diamonds.

 Protect yourself against investment fraud:

  • If you’re considering any type of investment, always remember: If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. High returns can only be achieved with high risk.
  • If you get a call out of the blue, be wary. If in doubt, don’t be polite, just hang-up.
  • Take the time to seek independent legal or financial advice before making a decision.
  • Always verify the credentials of the company you’re dealing with. Check for known fraudulent organisations with the FCA

Crowdfunding - The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau’s (NFIB) Proactive Intelligence Team has become aware that fraudsters are looking to utilise “boiler rooms” to target a type of investment known as “Crowdfunding”. Crowdfunding is a legitimate way in which people and businesses (including start-ups) can try to raise money from the public to support a business, project, campaign or individual. However rather than asking a few people to make a large investment, Crowdfunding uses the internet to contact thousands, if not millions, of people to invest smaller amounts of money.

The method will usually involve those sourcing the funding to set up websites and use modern social media techniques, alongside traditional networking such as family and friends, to reach out to investors. The NFIB’s Proactive Intelligence Team has said that this type of investment is growing rapidly in popularity, and being primarily Internet based, will be exploited by boiler rooms looking for new ways to target well-meaning investors.

There are 3 types of Crowdfunding:

  • Donation or reward Crowdfunding – People want to donate because they want to support the organisation or cause. Rewards can be offered, such as free gifts or concert tickets, but “donors” often expect nothing back.
  • Debt Crowdfunding or peer-to-peer lending – This enables investors to lend money to good causes whilst bypassing the banking system. Investors can expect their money to be returned with interest.
  • Equity Crowdfunding – This is an investment in exchange for equity such as shares or a small stake in a business or project.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) offers advice in relation to Crowdfunding and they make it clear that whilst they do regulate peer-to-peer and equity-based schemes, they consider them to be “high risk”. The FCA does not regulate any donation or reward through Crowdfunding. For more information about Crowdfunding and the potential risks please see information on the FCA website.

The NFIB’s Proactive Intelligence Team spoke to a convicted fraudster and they said: “Commission or charges of 80% for Crowdfunding and peer to peer will be the next biggest fraud boiler rooms will utilise as it’s difficult to regulate. Fraudsters are likely to return to the UK from the rooms abroad for Crowdfunding opportunities. This will be the next biggest scam for boiler rooms”.

Protect yourself against investment fraud:

  • If you’re considering any type of investment, always remember: If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. High returns can only be achieved with high risk.
  • If you get a call out of the blue, be wary. If in doubt, don’t be polite, just hang-up.
  • Take the time to seek independent legal or financial advice before making a decision.
  • Verify the credentials of the company you’re dealing with. Check for known fraudulent organisations with the FCA.

Tax Bracket Scam - The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau’s (NFIB) Proactive Intelligence Team is warning people of a new approach being used by fraudsters to carry out phishing scams. Fraudsters have been phoning victims telling them that they have been placed in the wrong council tax bracket for a number of years and are entitled to a rebate. They normally say that this rebate should be worth about £7,000. Since mid July 2015, Action Fraud has received 16 reports.

 Once the victim is convinced, the fraudster tells them that in order to receive the rebate they will need to pay an administration fee in advance. The payment they ask for varies between £60 and £350. The victim provides the details and makes the payment, but then is no longer able to make contact with the person they spoke to on the phone. When they phone their council about the rebate and the fact that they are in the wrong tax bracket, the council will confirm that they know nothing about it and that fraudsters have contacted them.

The fraudsters have mainly been targeting both male and female victims who are aged 60 and over and live in the Sussex area, but it is likely that the fraudsters will also start to target victims in other areas. Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith said: “Fraudsters are relentless and will work tirelessly to find new ways to convince people to part with their money. These criminals make several calls and will be particularly convincing and provide good reason for why the person should make an immediate payment. We urge people to be vigilant and never respond to these callers who are simply trying to scam you”.

How to protect yourself:

  • Never respond to unsolicited phone calls.
  • Your local council won’t ever phone out-of-the-blue to discuss a council tax rebate. If you receive a call of this nature, put the phone down straight away.
  • No legitimate organisation will ask you to pay an advanced fee in order to receive money, so never give them your card details.
  • If you think you have been a victim of fraud, hang up the phone and wait five minutes to clear the line as fraudsters sometimes keep the line open. Then call your bank or card issuer to report the fraud. Where it is possible use a different phone line to make the phone call.

Leases on Computer Servers - The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau’s (NFIB) Proactive Intelligence Team is warning people of a new investment scam whereby fraudsters are offering leases on computer servers. Fraudsters are offering people the chance to invest in the leasing of computer servers from companies that also specialise in Bitcoin Mining. Bitcoin is a digital-only currency traded from computer to computer and is usually used to pay for goods online. Bitcoin has no central authority and is not backed by governments or banks.

In this new type of methodology, people are cold called using high-pressure tactics and persuaded to invest in a new form of alternate investment. Fraudsters claim this investment will be subject to huge growth because of the rise in demand from major international companies that require computer server space. Victims are promised to receive a guaranteed 5% monthly increase on any amount they invest as their returns are based on the capital generated from the major companies utilising the services. In addition to the server leasing scam, fraudsters claim that the new start up companies they are investing in also specialise in Bitcoin Mining with the servers that are owned. In reality, none of this is true.

Protect yourself against investment fraud:

  • If you’re considering any type of investment, always remember: if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. High returns can only be achieved with high risk.
  • If you get a call out of the blue, be wary. If in doubt don’t be polite, just hang up.
  • Take the time to seek independent legal or financial advice before making a decision.
  • Always verify the credentials of the company you’re dealing with. Check for known fraudulent organisations with the FCA.

Advertising of Items for Free - Fraudsters are targeting online advertising platforms where items are acquired for free. The fraudsters will list items on the website and advise any purchasers that they have recently moved from the area they were originally living in and can arrange a courier to dispatch the items for a fee. 

 
The payment requested for this service is usually via Money Transfer such as MoneyGram or Western Union, or an e-money voucher. The items they were promised are not received and any attempts to contact the individual to gain a refund are unsuccessful.
 
Protect Yourself:

  • Stay within the auction guidelines stipulated on the website;
  • Ask to view the item in person;
  • Be cautions of making advance payments to a stranger via Money Transfer or e-money products;
  • If the item advertised seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Parcel Mule Alert - People are being targeted to become “Parcel Mules” as part of a reshipping scam, which results in them handling stolen goods and losing out financially. Victims are predominantly recruited through job advertisements and dating websites. They are persuaded to have items delivered to their addresses, and to pay for postage before sending the items elsewhere. Victims are contacted through Freelancer websites and invited to become a “Freight Forwarder” as an employment opportunity. The work is advertised as processing packages and forwarding them to clients. The items being delivered have been purchased through fraudulent means, including the use of stolen/fraudulently obtained cards. The items being delivered are often pieces of electrical equipment or high value goods such as trainers, perfume and the latest phones. If you act as a “mule” you are not only handling stolen goods, but also losing out financially. You will not get paid the promised salary and you pay for the postage and delivery of the packages personally. Additionally, you will have provided enough of your personal details to allow identity theft to occur. 

How To Protect Yourself:             

  • Do not agree to receive packages at your address for someone that you do not know and trust.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited job offers or opportunities to make easy money.
  • When accepting a job offer, verify the company details provided to you and check whether they have been registered in the UK.
  • Be wary of someone that you have met only online who asks you to send money or to receive items. Protect your privacy and do not give your personal details to someone that you do not know and trust.

 
Dangerous E-mails - Rogue emails which appear to come from someone whose name or email address you recognise are happening on an ever increasing scale, due to Yahoo email servers (which also includes BTINTERNET) having a major security breach at the moment, whereby a large number of (email) personal address books have been hacked into, and rogue emails sent out as if from the email owner. SKY email has also more recently been impacted. These rogue emails are quite easy to spot, in that they only have one line of text, such as Hi from Phillip or similar, and a hyperlink – DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES click on that link – one of several nasties can ensue, the worst of which is known as Ransomware – your Computer is locked and can only then be unlocked by, you guessed it, paying a ransom (of around £140 currently) to the perpetrators.

Some anti-spam packages catch these, but sadly currently not all – we do not have a specific list – being on your guard is the best way to trap and then delete these.

 

Rental Property - Seasonal rental fraud is an emerging trend with students looking for suitable accommodation around August, before the start of the new term.

Fraudsters use a variety of websites to advertise available properties to rent, often at attractive rates and convenient locations. Adverts will seem genuine, accompanied by a number of photos and contact information to discuss your interest. Due to demand, students will often agree to pay upfront fees to secure the property quickly, without viewing the property, only to discover that the fraudster posing as the landlord does not have ownership of the property, or often there are already tenants living there. 

Protect Yourself

  • Only use reputable letting companies.
  • Do some online research such as using Google maps to check the property does exist.
  • Make an appointment to view the property in person.
  • Always view the property prior to paying any advance fees.
  • Look out for warning signs, such as landlords requesting a ‘holding deposit’ due to the property being in high demand.
  • A landlord will usually conduct some due diligence on any successful applicant. Be wary of handing over cash without the landlord requesting employment or character references.

 

Gardening Services - Essex Police and Essex County Council Trading Standards are warning residents not to agree to work from traders who knock on your door offering tree cutting, gardening, roofing or other household maintenance.  Residents across the county have been targeted via door knocking and leafleting for work that is often substandard, overpriced and unnecessary.

We are urging all residents to keep an eye on elderly or vulnerable neighbours and call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506, who handle calls for Trading Standards, to log any concerns so that we can ensure that residents do not get ripped off.

Top tips to avoid being caught out by rogue/doorstep traders

  • Never agree to household repairs or maintenance via a knock on the door
  • Check out any leaflet through the door as often the address can be false and the telephone number untraceable
  • If you need work carried out get at least three written quotations and ask family, friends and or neighbours about traders they have used.
  • Use a Buy with Confidence business that has been audited and approved by Trading Standards via 03454 040506 or www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk
  • Ensure your relative, neighbour has not been the target of these rogue traders

If you are being threatened by a doorstep trader or they want to take you to the bank to obtain cash call 101 or 999.

 

Empty Property - The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has received several reports of rental fraud whereby empty premises are being targeted and the locks are being changed for the purpose of adding legitimacy to a rental fraud.

The suspect(s) will find and enter an empty property for the purposes of changing the locks and then advertising it on online platforms, such as Gumtree, as a rental property. The suspect(s) then invite interested victims to visit the property for a viewing. Those victims which are interested in renting the property are then requested to pay a deposit and/or rent upfront in cash.

In some instances the victims have moved into the property only to be evicted by the real property owner, or have found that the locks have been changed, once they have received the keys. There are several instances where this fraud has left victims homeless.

Property Owners:

  • If you or someone you know currently has an empty property, encourage them to visit the property regularly to make sure that the locks have not been changed and no damage has occurred.

Prevention Advice:

  • Avoid communication with only email or mobile phone, request to see the property owner and ask for valid ID. You can also check ownership of the property using the Land Registry.
  • The landlord will carry out their own due diligence and should request all of your details, references and proof that you will be able to afford to rent the property. Make sure that these checks are completed prior to paying a deposit / rent.
  • Always view the property and the tenancy agreement before paying any upfront costs.

 

Bogus Policeman - 

One of the NhW members has been in contact with me after he received a phone call from someone claiming to be the Crime Reduction Officer for Essex Police. The NhW member, as he knows me and so knew this information to be false, interrupted the caller asking why he specifically had been called.The caller told him Essex Police Crime reduction were calling people in the CO6 postcode and tried to start the hard sell; again the NhW member interrupted him by asking what his name was?, where was he based? and that he personally knew the Colchester's Crime Reduction Officer. At this the caller realised his lies had been exposed and hung up.

If you receive a phone call or someone comes to your house that you don't know, don't be concerned about challenging the person and tell them you are not interested.

Remember:

  • If you receive a call, never give information to people you don't know or be tempted by their "fabulous offers", just hang up. If you do need some work to be done, ask family/friends for recommended companies and try to get three quotes.
  • If you don't know whom it is knocking on your front door, don't open it but try to look and see who is there through the nearest window. Speak through the door - you haven't invited this person to call and have no interest in what they are selling or saying so don't worry about being rude and leave the door shut. They will be able to hear you through the door when you say you're not interested.

 

Ministry of Justice - It has been bought to our attention that a telephone scam is happening across Essex, with males claiming to represent the Ministry of Justice. They claim that victims are entitled to a large amount of money, and to receive this they are to purchase UKASH vouchers from a designated newsagent nearby. They then send someone round to collect the vouchers, in exchange for the money they are entitled to.

The Ministry of Justice have confirmed this is not a practice they participate in, and therefore we are urging members of the public to be aware of this scam, and not to engage or give out further personal details.

Should you need further advice, or feel you may have been a victim to this type of scam please contact Essex Police on 101.

 

Website Offering TVs for Sale - Fraudsters have created a high specification website template advertising flat screen televisions for sale which are below market value and do not exist. Payment is being requested via bank transfer and will offer no protection to the consumer when the television does not arrive.

Protect yourself:

  • Payments made via bank transfer are not protected should you not receive the item.
  • Always make payment via a credit card or PayPal where you have some avenue of recompense should you not receive your product.
  • Conduct some online research on the website, company name and business address to identify any poor feedback or irregularities.
  • Check the authenticity of websites before making any purchases. A ”whois” search on the website will identify when the website has been created, so be wary of newly formed domains. This search can be conducted using the following website - https://who.is/
  • If the item advertised seems too good to be true, it probably is

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud you can report it online at http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by telephone on 0300 123 2040.

 

Computer Virus / 'Problem With Your Computer' Calls - As a result of the recent Essex Community Messages sent out regarding scams, it has become apparent a number of people have been contacted by scammers by telephone stating that they have a virus/ problems with their computers. The caller goes on to warn the customer that their computer will become unusable if the problem is not fixed and offers to guide them through steps to fix the problem. Instead of helping them though, he directs them to download a program that asks them to pay a fee. 

Similarly, scammers are contacting residents pretending to be from Microsoft or Windows or a company working on their behalf. They say something like “we have reason to believe there’s a problem with your computer”. They will then ask you to log into a website that will give the caller total control over your computer. This will allow them to obtain all sorts of personal details without your consent.

Our advice is:

  • Never pay anyone to fix your computer remotely.
  • Never give your bank details to someone you don't know or allow them access to your computer.
  • View Telephone Preference Service www.tpsonline.org.uk for information on a free service to help reduce nuisance callers.
  • View Mail Preference Service www.mpsonline.org.uk for information on a free service to help reduce nuisance mail.

Please email or contact Action Fraud with any information if you believe you have been contacted fraudulently. The more information received, the closer we get to identifying offenders. www.actionfraud.police.uk

 

Advance Payment of Fees by Home Office - The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has been alerted to an Advanced Fee Scam whereby mainly persons of Asian descent are targeted by the suspects who cold call the victim, purporting to be from the Home Office UK Visa and Immigration department, and inform them that a case has been received by the department against the victim, sometimes with a request to deport. A request is then made for money to be paid mainly by Ukash vouchers or MoneyGram. Occasionally, money is requested to be paid into a bank account. Also on occasion, victims have been asked to provide bank account details. A telephone number is given which is a genuine contact number for the Home Office to give the call a form of legitimacy. The UK Visa and Immigration department would not make any request for payments in this form.

Protect yourself:

  • Never respond to any such communication;
  • Any unsolicited contact followed by a request for an advance payment/fee is a good indication that someone is trying to defraud you. Do NOT pay any fees unless you are 100% of what you are paying for;
  • Never, ever disclose your bank details.

 

Postal Scams - Often these letters carry these titles;

Important Document / Clairvoyant Friend/ Cheque to Dispatch/ Payment Required/ Act Now/ Dear Winner

Nearly half of people in the UK have been targeted by a scam. One of the ways that scammers commonly contact people is through the post. As the techniques that scammers use get more sophisticated, it can be difficult to spot the difference between scam mail, junk mail and offers from legitimate companies.

You can help protect yourself from postal scams by contacting the Mailing Preference Service (MPS) to have your name taken off mailing lists in the UK. This won’t cover mail that is unaddressed or from overseas but will help.The MPS is free. Visit www.mpsonline or call 0845 703 4599. You could also put a ‘no junk mail’ sign on your door.

If you have received or are receiving something that looks like scam mail, don't respond to it, talk about it to someone you trust such as a friend, family member,Trading Standards or Citizens Advice bureau. 

Most postal scams want your money. Letters may claim;

  • You have won a lottery, sweepstake or competition. To claim the prize you have to pay an administration fee. You pay the fee & either get back nothing or get something worth less than the fee you’ve paid;
  • Money you have won is being held in a holding company... BUT YOU HAVE TO SEND MONEY to release it;
  • Somebody has left you an inheritance... BUT YOU HAVE TO SEND MONEY to find out who;
  • A clairvoyant can stop bad luck or direct good luck towards you... BUT YOU HAVE TO SEND MONEY;
  • Debt Recovery Agencies: threatening court action if a BOGUS overdue utility bill isn't paid within 7 days;
  • Religious Scam: Criminals use religion as a way of deceiving victims, often claiming they are going to pray at Lourdes;
  • Charity Scam: Criminals send out 'begging' letters from fictitious charities. They often use distressing photos in an attempt to pull at the heart strings of caring people. 

In 2008 a survey conducted by Help the Aged and Barclays revealed that 7 out of 10 older people in Britain - more than 6.6m people – are targeted by scams every month. 22,000 victims replied to one scam mail shot and sent £500,000 in one day. 

Remember:

  • If it sounds too good to be true it probably is;
  • It you haven’t bought a ticket – you can’t win it;
  • You shouldn’t have to pay anything to get a prize;
  • Contacted out of the blue? – be suspicious;
  • Never send money to someone you have never met.

 

ABTA and Police issue warning on rising holiday booking fraud - Findings from a report compiled by the NFIB reveal the scale of the crime and expose common tactics used by fraudsters. The most common types relate to: 

  • Holiday accommodation – According to the report almost a third (30%) of holiday fraud victims in 2013 were scammed by the fraudulent advertisement of holiday villas and apartments, with some arriving at their destination to discover they had nowhere to stay.
  • Airline tickets – where a customer believes they are booking a flight and receives a fake ticket or pays for a ticket that never turns up. This is the most second most common type of booking fraud, accounting for 21% of holiday booking fraud reported to the police in 2013. Average losses are more than £1000 per victim, with flights to West Africa a particular target.
  • Package holidays – particularly group, sports and religious packages.

A YouGov poll for ABTA back in 2013 revealed that one in ten consumers (9%) do nothing to research their travel company, such as checking if it is a member of a trade association such as ABTA (which has a code of conduct in place to protect consumers), asking friends and family for recommendations, or running a web search.

ABTA, the NFIB and Get Safe Online have published advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of holiday booking fraud – and on how victims should go about reporting it, including the top tips below: 

  • Do your research: Don’t just rely on one review, do a thorough online search to ensure the company’s credentials. If a company is defrauding people there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experiences, and warnings about the company, online.
  • Look for the logo: Check whether the company is a member of a recognised trade body such as ABTA. You can verify membership of ABTA online, at www.abta.com
  • 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
  • Pay safe: Never pay directly into an owner's bank account. Paying by direct bank transfer is like paying by cash – the money cannot be traced and is not refundable. Where possible, pay by credit card, (or a debit card that offers protection).
  • Check paperwork: You should study receipts, invoices and terms and conditions, and beware of any companies that don’t provide any at all.
  • Use your instincts: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Report it – victims should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via www.actionfraud.police.uk

 

Rio 2016 Olympics Lottery - The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has received intelligence regarding two new Lottery Fraud letters/email attachments (Scam 1 & Scam 2) using the 2016 Rio Olympics as a theme. The scams try to trick people into believing they have won the following:

Scam 1: An online lottery prize of £650,000 and a trip to Brazil to watch the Olympics as the recipient’s email address was chosen out of a possible ten million at random.

Scam 2: An online lottery prize of £820,000 and a trip to Brazil to watch the Rio Carnival and the Olympics as the recipient’s winning numbers 8 17 34 38 42 and 51 were selected.

In order to collect the winnings the recipient is requested to contact:

Scam 1:

Mr Dima Robert
MillMan Street, WC1N 3JB. London A5200.
Tel: +447035973561
Email: RioOlympics2016@represnetative.com

Scam 2:
‘UK Pay out Officer’

Email:paymaster-office@bol.co.br
+44 7937428753

Protect yourself from lottery fraud

  • Never respond to any such communication. If you have not entered a lottery then you cannot have won it.
  • Official lotteries in other countries operate in much the same way as the UK’s National Lotto. 
  • No official lotteries that we know of contact people to tell them of their win.
  • We do not know of any official lottery operators who ask for fees to collect winnings.  Any request for a fee payment is a good indication that someone is trying to defraud you.
  • Never disclose your bank details or pay fees in advance.
  • If they have provided an email address to respond to, be very suspicious of addresses such as @hotmail.com or @yahoo.com or numbers beginning with 07 because these are free to get hold of.
  • Genuine lotteries thrive on publicity. If they ask you to keep your win a secret, it is likely to be a fraud.
  • Many fraudulent lotteries have bad spelling and grammar – see this as a warning that fraudsters are at work.

 

Fake Designer Goods - Fraudsters advertising fake designer goods are targeting people looking for a cheap designer bargain online. The items received are usually cheap and inferior counterfeits of handbags, clothes and sunglasses amongst other things.

The general rule is if it looks too good to be true then it probably is.Designer products sold at heavily discounted prices are an immediate sign that something is noquiteright.

People looking for a cheap designer bargain online are being targeted by fraudsters advertising fake designer goods. The items received are usually cheap and inferior counterfeits of handbags, clothes and sunglasses amongst other things.

The general rule is if it looks too good to be true then it probably is.Designer products sold at heavily discounted prices are an immediate sign that something isnt quite right.

What can you do to protect yourself?

  • Where possible, buy from well-known, High Street retailers. If you've never heard of a firm, or it is based overseas, be sceptical.
  • Avoid paying by cheque or bank transfer.  Use PayPal or a credit card as they will give you additional protection.
  • Search the Internet. Type the website you are buying from and look for reviews of what others customers are saying about the company. Bad customer service feedback usually finds their way online quite quickly.
  • Check for spelling mistakes or poor grammar on websites as this may suggest the website has been put together by a fraudster.

 

Cheap Flights - Fraudsters are targeting people looking for cheap flight tickets. New websites are continuously being created with slight changes to the company names with the intention to deceive the public. They offer tickets at bargain prices and usually request for payment via bank transfer. These tickets do not materialize and the fraudsters retain the funds.

Protect yourself:

  • Where possible, buy from well-known company names. If you've never heard of a company, conduct some due diligence.
  • Use the internet. Type the name of the company/site you are buying from and look for reviews of what others customers are saying about the company. Bad customer service feedback usually finds their way online quite quickly.
  • Use companies that are ATOL or ABTA Registered. You can check this here: http://abta.com/go-travel/before-you-travel/find-a-member orhttp://www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?catid=490&pagetype=65&appid=2
  • Check the authenticity of flight booking websites before making any reservations. A “whois” search on the website will identify when the website has been created, so be wary of newly formed domains. This search can be conducted using http://who.is     
  • Never send money to bank accounts. If possible pay using a credit card – that way you have some protection and avenue for recompense. 
  • Sign up to Action Fraud Alert https://www.actionfraudalert.co.uk/ to keep you updated with what’s going on.

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud you can report it online http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by telephone 0300 123 2040.

 

Royal Mail – Cryptolocker Ransomware - A scam email is currently being sent to victims fraudulently claiming to be from the Royal Mail. The attachment on this email is known to infect the victim’s computer with CryptoLocker Ransom-ware.

One of two email types have been received by the victims, both stating that the Royal Mail are holding an item for the victim and that a response to the email is required to arrange for the item to be resent/collected.

Email Type 1: Email states that they are holding a letter and there will be a £5 per day charge if the letter is not collected. It then instructs the victim to click on a link to get the letter resent. From here the Ransom-ware infects the victims system.

Email Type 2: Email states that a parcel could not be delivered and that it is waiting for collection. A link on the email is provided for further information. The link takes the victim to a page that appears to be part of the Royal Mail website where victims are requested to enter a code (believed to have been in the original email). Once the code has been entered the victim is instructed to download an application, this application downloads the Ransom-ware.

The Ransom-ware encrypts files on the victim’s system and a window appears requesting a payment, to be made in Bitcoins, to decrypt the files. There is further incentive for early payment as the ransom states that the cost of decrypting the files will increase the longer the fine is outstanding.

The victim is asked to pay around £300-£360 initially, rising to £600-£660 if not paid within a period of time.

The victims of this fraud, although primarily individuals, does also include a number of businesses.

Protection Advice

Essex Police advises that members of the public and businesses should take the following steps to reduce the potential for falling victim to this type of malware:

1.    Look at whom the email is addressed to. Is it generic or specifically addressed?
2.    Look at the quality of the images included on the email. Are they of sufficient high quality that they could come from Royal Mail?
3.    Do not open attachments from unsolicited emails regardless of whom they are from.
4.    Do not click on the link supplied. Instead, go to the relevant website and log in from there.
5.    Check the address of any email received to see if it appears legitimate. 

Additional information regarding Royal Mail on-line security can be found at: http://www.royalmail.com/personal/help-and-support/I-think-Ive-had-an-email-from-a-company-pretending-to-be-royal-mail

 

Vehicles for Sale - Fraudsters are targeting classified advertisement websites like AutoTrader to advertise vehicles for sale. Buyers are then contacting these ‘sellers’ to find out more about the vehicles and are being told to pay for them via ‘Apple Pay’. In this case the fraudsters are not using the genuine Apple Pay service and potential victims pay money directly to bank accounts in control of the fraudsters. Individuals receive emails claiming to be from Apple Pay with a web link to a cloned website with false terms and conditions of the ‘escrow’ service. Any money remitted to the fraudsters is then unrecoverable and the vehicles are not delivered.

Protect yourself:

  • Meet the seller ‘face to face’ and view the vehicle before parting with any money.
  • Be cautious of web links in an email. They may not direct you to the genuine website.
  • Report scam advertisements to the classified advertisement websites.
  • If the vehicle is below market value, consider whether this is an opportunity too good to be true!

 

Investing in Wine - The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) wishes to remind investors that fraudsters are still active and are using various methods to dupe victims into investing in fine wine.

Whilst it might be easy to identify a fraudulent investment in non-existent fine wine, there is another tactic which is much harder to detect that relies on limited knowledge of the investor in this specific area. 

In many cases, the fraud relates to the value of the wine as opposed to the existence of the wine. Therefore, fraudsters will be able to prove to the victims that they have the wine in stock, however the wine in stock will be significantly cheaper than the inflated price the fraudsters ask the victims to pay.

Whilst it may look like a ‘real deal’, the dramatically inflated prices make the promise of any returns unrealistic.

Assessments of reports show that fraudsters charge victims an average of 47% more than the comparative market values at the time of sale.

The brokers who typically cold call victims boast that an increasing market in China will guarantee tax free profits. When questioned about risk, fraudsters will convincingly say that it is “extremely low”.

How to protect yourself against investment fraud:

  • If you’re considering any type of investment, always remember: if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. High returns can only be achieved with high risk. If you get a call out of the blue, be wary; if in doubt don’t be polite, just hang up.
  • Take the time to seek independent legal or financial advice before making a decision.
  • Always check the credentials of the company you’re dealing with. Check for known fraudulent organisations at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud you can report it online http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by telephone 0300 123 2040.

 

On-Line Loans - Fraudsters are targeting individuals who have recently expressed an interest in an online loan. Fraudsters who appear to be calling from a genuine company make unsolicited calls. They state that the recently applied for loan has been agreed, but an "advance fee" is required before the money can be transferred.

 Once these “fees” have been paid, either directly to the fraudsters’ bank accounts or through a money service bureau, they are unrecoverable.

 In many cases, fraudsters have asked for multiple upfront “fees” to address issues arising with the loan.

 Protect yourself:

  • Authentic credit companies do not charge fees in advance.
  • Be wary of anyone calling who says they represent a credit company.
  • Report any instances of a credit company attempting to request fees in advance of a loan to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud you can report it online http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by telephone 0300 123 2040.

 

Courier Fraudsters Claiming to Be the Police - Courier fraudsters have been identifying themselves to victims on the telephone as “Detective Constable Martin Benton of New Scotland Yard Fraud Department”. The fraudsters will invent a story regarding fraudulent activity on your card and request your bank/card details.

No such person exists at the Metropolitan Police. If you receive a call from someone purporting to be this individual, terminate the call immediately. 

No such person exists at the Metropolitan Police. If you receive a call from someone purporting to be this individual, terminate the call immediately.

Protect yourself against courier fraud:

  • Your bank will never send a courier to your home
  • Your bank and the police will never collect your bank card
  • Your bank and the police will never ask for your PIN
  • If you receive one of these calls end it immediately

Victim Advice:

  • If you have handed over any details to the fraudster, call your bank and cancel your cards immediately.
  • If you want to call your bank, then do it from another telephone.

If you have been affected by this, or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk

 

A scam email is currently being sent to victims fraudulently claiming to be from British Gas or The Ministry of Justice. The attached document or link leads to the TorrentLocker Ransom-ware - This malware encrypts files on the victim’s system and requests a ransom be paid in order for the files to be decrypted; one reported amount has been £330 worth of Bitcoins.

It has been reported that some Anti-Virus vendors are detecting this and stopping the pages and or documents from being opened.

Protect yourself: 

  • If you receive an email that you are suspicious of do not follow any links or open attachments until you can verify that the email is genuine. To do this contact the organisation that the email has come from by sourcing the number independently from the email received.
  • If you believe the email to be fake, report it to your email provider as spam.
  • Ensure your anti-virus software is up to date this will help to mitigate the potential for virus to be downloaded. It should be noted that anti-virus software is constantly being updated and may not stop all viruses especially if they are new or been adapted.  It has been reported that some anti-virus vendors are detecting this and stopping the pages and or documents from being opened.
  • If you have opened an attachment or followed a link which you believe to be suspicious it is recommended that you run your anti-virus and/or take your machine to a reputable company to have it cleaned.
  • In cases where files have been encrypted it can be very difficult to retrieve them, and in most cases they will be lost. It is recommended that you always back up all files on a separate device or cloud storage to ensure they are not lost. Please remember that if a device is attached to the infected machine the files on this could also be encrypted with the virus so ensure they are kept separate.

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud you can report it online http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by telephone 0300 123 2040.

 

Phantom Debts - Action Fraud has seen an increase in the number of small to medium sized businesses being contacted by fake bailiffs requesting payments for a phantom debt. The scam involves the business being cold called from someone purporting they are bailiffs working on behalf of a court, attempting to recover funds for a non-existent debt. The caller will then request payment by means of bank transfer and if this is refused, will threaten to visit the premises to recover the debt that is owed. A range of different businesses are being targeted; including Nurseries, Manufacturers, Hotels and Taxi Services. 

Protect Yourself

  • Confirm what the debt is regarding; bailiffs are only used to recover certain debts such as council tax, child support and compensation orders. Bailiffs are not used to recover debts relating to private advertisement; these would be collected by debt collectors. Debt collectors do not have the same legal powers as bailiffs and will not have special court authorisation to act. For more details regarding this, please look at the Citizens Advice website.
  • Double check with the Court or originating company to confirm whether the suspects are legitimate; if you use a landline make sure you hear the dialling tone prior to dialling as the suspects could still be on the line.
  • Request details of the debt in writing to access its legitimacy.
  • Do not feel rushed or intimidated to make a decision based on a phone call.

If you, or anyone you know, have been affected by this fraud or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk

 

Investments in Fine Art - People nationwide are receiving cold calls and are being persuaded to invest in 'Fine Art'. Concerns around this include:

  • How the commodity is being offered, such as how the cold callers persuade victims to part with their money;
  • Hidden costs charged to the victims to view the product, shipping costs or additional fees to store the item.

How to protect yourself:

  • If the investment sounds too good to be true it probably is;
  • Hang-up on investment cold calls. Legitimate companies will not ring-up and offer you an investment out of the blue;
  • Do not give out personal financial information to cold caller;
  • Check whether the art dealer is a member of a trade association, such as The Society of London Art Dealers (SLAD), The Association of Art and Antique Dealers (LAPADA), The British Art Dealers Association (BADA) or Confederation of International Dealers in Art Work (CINOA);
  • Request copies of old receipts, invoices and question the history of the previous owner of the art investment, to check if the product is genuine before investing.


Spoof E-mails from PayPal - 
Fraudsters often target ‘goods for sale’ adverts on popular online auctions sites, so watch out whenever you’re selling anything online. 


How does the fraudster operate?

The fraudster will contact the seller to say that they want to buy the advertised item. The seller then receives what looks like a genuine PayPal email, to confirm that the money has been paid by the buyer into their account.

With confirmation of payment, the seller will then send the item to the buyer’s address. The seller will later find that the PayPal email is fake and that the money has not been paid. The seller ends up losing out twice as not only do they not have the money, but they no longer have the item to sell.

Protect yourself:

  • Check your PayPal account to ensure that the money has been paid in and has cleared into your bank account before you send the item to the buyer.
  • Do not be bullied or rushed into sending items before you know that the payment has cleared – a genuine purchaser will not mind waiting a day or two for you to send them their item.
  • If you are selling a vehicle, think carefully when selling to overseas purchasers – especially if they tell you they will send an extra payment for shipping – check that the funds have cleared before arranging this.

 

Apple iTunes - Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) have been made aware that there are currently a number of emails being sent out that appear to be coming from Apple iTunes, detailing a recent purchase. The email states that if customers did not purchase the item they should click on the link provided to obtain a refund. Once redirected to a web page they are asked to fill out their card and other personal details. This is a spam email with links to a malicious web page that is being used to harvest personal details, possibly in order to access victim’s bank accounts.

Protect yourself:

  • Double check where the email has come from before clicking on the link
  • Check your iTunes account for recent activity
  • Consider contacting iTunes separately to double check your account activity
  • Remember iTunes will not request your personal details via email or through attached links
  • If you have filled in one of the forms, do not use online banking until you have had your computer checked out by an expert.  Also consider contacting your bank to make them aware of the situation – money held in your account may be at risk.

 

Bogus Police Officer - Essex Police are warning members of the public of a male claiming to be a Police Officer who is targeting addresses in our area. He is using fake ID in an attempt to gain entry and steal property. If you have been subject to this type of caller or are at all suspicious call Essex Police on 999 giving as much detail as you can and where possible details of the vehicle.

 

Adobe and LinkedIn Phishing Emails - Current spam email campaigns are trying to infiltrate or infect email accounts by pretending to come from either Adobe or LinkedIn Support. The emails from LinkedIn claim ‘irregular activities have prompted a compulsory security update’. With the Adobe emails attempt to direct the user to the latest updates

Phishing is an attempt by a fraudster to steal valuable information by pretending to be a company that you know and use. It relies on people to think the message is genuine. Victims are initially sent an email that will have either a link to a website, or contain an attachment. What the fraudsters want you to do is click on the link or attachment so that they can steal valuable information from your computer, like your bank account or credit card details

Protect yourself:

  • Look at who the email is addressed to – many will say “Dear user” or “Dear valued customer” and will not be addressed directly to you.
  • If there are images included in the email they may be of a poor quality but will try to look like the company they are trying to represent.
  • The message may have a few spelling mistakes.
  • Do not click on the link supplied. Instead, go to the relevant website and log in from there.

Fraud of The Rings - Please look out for a fraud which is being reported around the South-East of England at the moment. Whilst driving, the victim is flagged down by a man (or men) next to a broken down vehicle. The man states that he needs money to get petrol. As payment, the man offers the victim one to three “gold” rings and may also provide a business card suggesting links to Berlin, Germany or Glasgow, Scotland. The amount of cash taken is between £20 and £300. However, the rings are worthless and definitely not precious.

Offences are occurring on ‘A’ roads and slip roads at major junctions in the South of England. One victim reports seeing the same offender(s) back at the same spot (the A41 bypass near Tring, on this occasion) two days later at approximately 12:50pm. All suspects are described as male and with dark hair. The description of the “broken down” vehicle varies.

Offenders seem to target men over the age of 55.

Prevention advice - Do not accept jewellery as payment!


Seeking Jobs On-line -
 Get Safe Online, Safer Jobs and Action Fraud are warning people to take precautions whilst looking for jobs online, to avoid falling victim to scammers. There are a number of different ways in which job-seekers could be defrauded. These range from direct financial scams to misleading job descriptions. Safer-Jobs, the recruitment industry’s counter fraud forum, provide free advice to ensure that people have a safer job search. They suggest several steps which any other job-seeker should take when dealing with a potential employer:

  1. Never part with money – employers should pay you, not the other way round. If asked to pay for security checks, visas, training, or anything else, you should research the job, the company, and never use any associated company suggested to you without conducting independent thorough research;

  2. Never take it on face value– have you received an ‘out of the blue’, ‘too good to be true’ job offer? Be sceptical and ask questions. Why and how have you been contacted, what is the job, did you apply? Be wary of any non-business, generic email address (such as hotmail and yahoo), poorly written job adverts or job descriptions, and emails or contact at unusual times of the day (unless pre-arranged);

  3. Never do everything online – whilst technology is a great enabler to help people find work, at some point your job discussion should lead to an interview or a meeting. Hiring agents who keep the relationship solely on email must be treated extremely cautiously;

  4. Never fail to do research – find out about the company that the job is with and do your research! Check landline telephone numbers and call the end employer to check the job exists. Use social media and sources such as Companies House and LinkedIn to dig deeper into the organisations and people you are interacting with;

  5. Never phone them for an interview – premium rate phone scams are common. This is where an individual calls a pay-for number thinking it’s an interview, when actually they are paying for every minute they stay on hold. If an employer wants you to work for them, they will call you;

  6. Never accept money for nothing – with money mule scams on the increase, beware of any employer promising ‘get rich quick’ or ‘earn thousands working from home’. When cheques begin arriving it is easy to be fooled into being used as a money mule;

  7. Never provide personal details– be suspicious of any requests for personal data ahead of an interview or registration meeting (if an agency). Until you have the job, keep bank details safe and only provide identity details once you have met face to face.

For more information visit: www.actionfraud.police.uk/node/288  | www.getsafeonline.org  | www.safer-jobs.com

 

Auctioning Goods on Behalf of Others - Fraudsters are targeting people to list items on their behalf on popular online auction sites. The scam involves a job offer to sell desirable items at below market value and receive money from any potential buyers. The ‘work from home’ job will usually require retaining 10% of the money received as a “salary” and fraudsters will ask that the remaining funds are sent to them via bank transfer or money transfer.
 
In these cases the proposed items being sold do not exist and are therefore not dispatched to the proposed buyers. This will usually result in the buyer making a complaint concerning the individual who has listed the items. This can result in your bank account being closed by the bank for suspected fraud, or money laundering, and being held accountable for reimbursing the potential buyers.
 
Protect yourself:

  • Do not list items on online auction sites on behalf of others you do not know or trust;
  • Be vigilant of ‘work from home’ jobs which involve passing funds through your bank account;
  • Meet face to face with any potential employer;
  • Question job offers which seem “too good to be true”.

 

Lottery Scams - A lottery scam takes place when criminals pretend that you have won a prize, often a lottery. The people most likely to fall victim to this tend to be over the age of 60 (although younger people do fall victim too) – but we know that it is often close family members of victims who spot the tell-tale signs of the fraud.

Criminals will normally get in touch by letter or email and will try to engage you into dialogue with them. Once they have convinced you that they are “genuine”, they will ask for a fee to be paid to release your winnings. This fee could be to pay taxes or duty, or for a solicitor, banker or judge to authorise the transaction. NO GENUINE LOTTERY WILL EVER ASK FOR ANY SORT OF FEE TO BE PAID.

Often this first fee will be small, but once they know you are willing to pay it they will ask for more and more money, with ever-changing excuses as to why they need it. Victims can end up losing tens of thousands of pounds over the course of months or even years.

Many of you reading will be surprised that this type of crime takes place. After all, why would anyone fall prey to scam like this when they never entered any such lottery in the first place? Why would they have to pay money when they are supposed to have won millions of pounds? The sad truth is that these criminals are incredibly persuasive and prey on people who are very trusting. Therefore, even if you know that you would not get defrauded like this, please spread this message widely to friends, family and to people within your community. 

Prevention:

  • If you have not entered a lottery or a prize draw, you have not won it.
  • Delete any emails which detail you winning money or being in a position to make a fortune
  • Spread the message amongst people you come into contact with, especially older people in your family, and look out for any unusual behaviour, for instance someone paying money via money service bureaux, like Western Union or MoneyGram, or buying Ukash vouchers.

If you believe you have become the victim of a fraud or cyber crime, or have received a suspicious email, find out how to report it by clicking through to http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/.

 

Peoples Postcode Lottery - A person (there may be others) received an unsolicited letter purporting to come from the above lottery, advising him of a win, and asking him to contact a named person on an inner London telephone number. As the recipient had never entered this, or any other, lottery, suspicions were raised. Enquiries revealed that whilst the letter was an attempt at fraud, the lottery is real. Following contact from the chair of the Essex NWA, the following letter was received from the genuine lottery

Unfortunately there are a small number of criminals out there who on occasion steal the branding of organisations, such as ours, for their own gain. 

The police and ourselves are aware of these letters, calls and emails and are continuing investigations, but in the meantime please do not contact or give any details to the people who have contacted you. If you have already done so, we would recommend you contact the police and either your bank or card provider if any payment details were concerned.

People's Postcode Lottery is a subscription-based lottery in which there is a winning postcode every day. You can find out more at www.postcodelottery.co.uk or by calling us on Freephone 0808 1098 765.

 

Middle Eastern Scam - A person (there may be others) has received an email and fortunately suspected a scam. The originator, having or using the name of Abdul Aziz, has been active in contacting Western businesses since early 2013 inviting them to invest in Middle Eastern projects involving considerable sums of money. Needless to say, the projects are non-existent - anyone investing can expect to be the loser. The e-mail reproduced below is a variation on a theme, this time using the dire situation in Syria as the bait. Anyone receiving such an email is strongly advised to forward it to Action Fraud and then delete the original.

 Greetings from Syrian Arab Republic,

 Kindly accept my apology for sending unsolicited mail to you.

 Although we have never met before but I have every reason to believe that you are a highly respected personality, considering the fact that I sourced your profile from a human resource profile database on your country from the Internet.

 Though, I do not know to what extent you are familiar with events and fragile political situation in Syria but it has formed consistent headlines in the CNN and BBC news bulletins and many international newspapers.

 I am Abdul Aziz, Investment officer, representing my boss and his colleagues. Due to the war crisis, the political situation in our country at the moment is very fragile and because of this and so many other internal problems we are facing that nobody knows what will happen tomorrow, we would like to appoint you as our business partner to assist in securing and managing some of our funds for the purpose of investments in your country on our behalf.

 If our offer is acceptable to you, just rest assured you stand to benefit heavily from us at no risk to you. I cannot go into many details at the moment until I hear from you.

 Please contact me by email at [Removed by Essex NWA Webmaster] for further details. 

 Looking forward to hearing from you.

 Sincerely,

 Abdul Aziz. Email: [Removed by Essex NWA Webmaster]

 

Business Registration Scam - There is a new scam doing the rounds of the business community. A target company receives an unsolicited letter from an organisation claiming to be part of Companies House. The letter asks for a fee to be paid to complete a registration. The scammers are working under the name of New Companies Register (Digital) and are using a fictitious London address. Their headed notepaper includes a logo that resembles a Royal Crest. Payment of £37.50 by electronic transfer was demanded, but researching this scam on the Internet reveals that demands ranged from £37.50 to £140. Any contact from New Companies Register should not be acted upon and the details passed to Action Fraud via www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud.

 

PPI Refund Scam - A Leigh co-ordinator received a phone call from 020 4309 5294 a short time ago. The caller had a thick Indian or Pakistani accent. He said that the recipient had a PPI refund of £3,000 due and he needed to verify his bank details and bank details so that they could make the refund. The caller correctly identified the address! No London telephone numbers begin with 4, only 3, 7 or 8.

The standard advice applies – do not enter into conversation with such callers and terminate the call. A variation on this theme is where the caller claims to be speaking on behalf of the recipient’s bank and wishes to arrange a refund! In this case he simply wanted the recipient’s date of birth.

 

HMRC Tax Rebate - The message below is an example of a scam email purporting to be from HMRC. The person reporting this scam had a firewall in place, which this message managed to get through. At first glance the message seems genuine, however it is not. HMRC has confirmed it would never inform tax-payers of rebates by this method or request personal details.

Please be aware of any post/emails/phone calls that offer unexpected money or ask for payments that you weren’t expecting to make. The same goes for notification of unexpected deliveries.

 

Fraudsters Posing as Police or Bank Staff - The purpose of this alert is to raise awareness of fraudsters posing as police or bank staff, who trick victims into relinquishing money or cards collected by bogus couriers. Essex Police have been notified of fraud orchestrated by individuals posing as police or bank staff, who contact victims by phone, advising them that their account has been compromised and to withdraw large sums of cash or relinquish payment cards, subsequently collected from their home by bogus couriers. The fraudster/s contact victims by telephone, informing them that their accounts have been fraudulently accessed or that the bank has increased security. Victims are then instructed to contact a false helpline or to redial a legitimate number, with the current line kept open. The victim is then instructed to attend their bank and withdraw money (typically ranging into several thousands) or make cards and pin numbers available, with both subsequently collected from home by a bogus courier. Persons targeted are typically elderly/retired and may therefore be more vulnerable to the scam.

Preventative Advice and Awareness:

  1. Should you receive a call of this type, do not disclose any personal or billing information;
  2. If you receive such a call and if you want to contact your bank, use an independently sourced telephone number and call from another line e.g. mobile phone;
  3. If you have handed over any details to the fraudster/s, call your bank and cancel your cards immediately;
  4. Should bank staff encounter a customer suspected to be requesting a withdrawal under these circumstances, they are advised to ask for the reason/s for this, recording as much information as possible. Staff is then advised to contact police, advising the customer of doing so immediately.

 

Fraud Alert for Users of Android Phones and Tablets - Security firm Adaptivemobile has uncovered a new variant of the ‘Android.Koler.A’ malware, which is being called Worm.koler and is spread by SMS message. The message received will typically read ‘someone made a profile named - the contact’s name- and he uploaded some of your photos! Is that you?’ This will then be followed by a ‘bit.ly’ URL. On clicking the link it will redirect the victim to a file hosting service. Once on that site the victim is encouraged to download an app called ‘Photoviewer’. Once this app is installed a pop up screen will appear stating that the device has been locked by the police and the user must pay a certain amount to unblock the device. Whilst this is happening on the screen, in the background, an SMS message will be spammed out to all contacts on the victim’s phone. The message is only sent once to make it appear more authentic. It is recommended that any victims of this ransom-ware complete a manufacture reset of their device and then reinstall their apps afterwards. This could cause a potential loss of data such as photos, if they have not already been backed up. If the malware restricts you from getting into your phones settings, put the phone into safe mode (please refer to your phones instruction manual) and remove the app. Once this is done, perform a complete reset of your phone. It is also recommended that if you are unsure about any messages containing a link do not click on them, and think about contacting the sender for verification that they intended to send you the message. Only download apps from a reputable source such as Google Play Store. The purpose of this alert is to prevent crime in the UK. If you think you have been a victim of this type of fraud you should report it to Action Fraud the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.ukPlease state the device being used and the application downloaded.

 

Mail Non-Receipt Fraud - Essex Police has become aware of details relating to a Mail Non-Receipt Fraud. Criminals are gaining entry to blocks of flats and then access to letterboxes in communal areas with a view to committing a variety of different frauds. The most basic fraud is simple theft of mail, in particular financial information and products such as credit and debit cards along with the PIN numbers that follow. However, current information suggests that fraudsters are assuming the identities of residents at address and are using the mailboxes as 'mail drops'. Having obtained stolen personal data the fraudsters will order items online to be delivered at the address where they will accept them from the delivery company or the Royal Mail. Again this will include financial products such as credit cards, which the fraudster would have requested from the bank. Once personal data has been obtained from the mailboxes, the next stage of the fraud is to set up multiple personal and business accounts linked directly to the compromised addresses. Fraudulent funds are laundered through these accounts before being withdrawn in cash or transferred overseas. As a consequence the credit rating on the compromised addresses are severely and adversely affected, with a potentially harmful effect on the legitimate residents. Ways to prevent becoming a victim of this type of fraud: Never grant unauthorised access to communal areas where mailboxes are located. If possible collect mail from your mailbox shortly after it has been delivered. Do not leave mail in your mailbox for long periods of time. If you are going away for a long period, ask a neighbour to check your mailbox. Consider switching to online paperless bank statements. If you start receiving regular mail at your address that is not in your name, contact the sender directly and confirm what information they hold. If you see damage to any mailboxes notify the resident and landlord immediately as it is likely others have/will be targeted.

 

Bogus Door-to-Door Utility Representative - The Essex Police have been notified of an emerging fraud type carried out by bogus door-to-door sales and tradesmen. Asian males purporting to represent the utility industry orchestrate these.

MO1 - Fraudster(s) approach victims, offering them savings on bills. They obtain a copy of a recent bill in order to carry out an account takeover, setting up online accounts and changing bank account details. False lower meter reads are then provided, placing the account into credit. The premises are then stated to be unoccupied and refunds are requested into the offender’s bank accounts.

MO2 - Fraudster(s) pay into victim’s accounts using stolen credit card details, placing the account into credit. The customer is then asked to pay their bill, minus a given amount, into the fraudster’s account. The account-holder is then impersonated and meter reads are again altered and refunds requested into the offender’s bank accounts.

MO3 - Victims are targeted by suspects stating that they have a friend who works for a utility provider who can offer discounts for friends and family. Payments are either made using stolen credit card details or the account is taken over and meter reads reversed, placing the account into credit, so the customer doesn’t have to pay. Multiple victims have been targeted, with a current cumulative loss of approximately £25,000.00.

 Preventative Measures:

  1. Always ask for identification. Check credentials, including a permanent address and landline number;
  2. If in any doubt, ask the person to leave and contact the utility provider the person is purporting to represent via contact details obtained independently;
  3. Do not disclose any personal and/or billing information.

If you have been affected by this, or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

 

BT - BT is warning customers that fraudsters are once again sending out phishing emails asking them to update their billing information. There are also reports of fraudsters threatening to disconnect customers after calling them about alleged unpaid bills.  BT is reminding customers that they never send emails to customers in which they ask for any sensitive information. Anyone who receives an email that looks like it has been sent by BT and that asks for personal details such as password and account details, is being advised that it’s likely to be a phishing email.

BT offer this advice - Anyone who receives a scam email should not:

  • Click on any links in the email or reply to the email or contact the senders in any way;
  • Supply any information on a website that opens if they have clicked on a link in an email;
  • Open any attachments that arrive with the email.

For those who have already submitted their email password or user name as a result of a phishing scam should change their password, then contact BT. Anyone who has lost money to a scam like this should report it to Action Fraud.

 

Cold Calling by Alarm Companies - The Crime Reduction Advisor for Braintree district, says: “There has been a rise in the number of unsolicited sales calls both on the doorstep and by telephone calls, especially to the elderly to sell alarm systems. These companies quite often make false claims and can be aggressive in their sales pitch.”

Please always consider:

  • That no alarm system will be free or very cheap. Beware of high maintenance fees, monitoring fees or sometimes premium rate telephone numbers are used by the system in the monitoring;
  • Commercial monitored alarms systems are monitored by that or another company and if it is a confirmed activation it is that company that notifies the key holder and in some cases the police;
  • The police do not recommend or endorse alarm companies;
  • The police do recommend that if you are having an alarm fitted that you choose an alarm system that is accredited to SSAIB or NSI;
  • The police do not work in conjunction with any security companies;
  • Do get more than one quote, preferably three;
  • Consider joining the Telephone Preference Service to reduce the number of unsolicited telephone calls - http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/ or 0845 070 0707;
  • If it seems too good to be true then it probably is.

If you do received unsolicited calls from security companies contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.

Security advice can always be obtained free from your local Tactical Crime Reduction Advisor by ringing 101.