Fraudsters are using more sophisticated methods to take advantage of vulnerable Brits.
The internet is awash with fake websites while our mobile phones are targeted by con artists who unleash believable scam texts and fake calls.
The Covid pandemic has given crooks a new way of emptying victims’ bank account by exploiting the vaccine rollout or the Government’s support packages for struggling businesses.
An explosion in online shopping has also given fraudsters another way of draining their victim’s savings.
The latest data from banking industry body UK Finance has revealed that losses to fraud rose by another 30 pc to almost £754 million in the first six months of 2021.
This means fraudsters are pocketing an eye-watering £4million every day.
These are the top 10 tricks scammers use and how you can detect them.
A fraudster will pretend to be from a trusted organisation, such as a delivery firm, the tax office or internet provider.
They will claim they owe their victim money and will trick them into handing over personal details that can be used in a fraud.
They may ask their victim to make a payment to release the cash or move money.
Some crooks will clone the number or sender ID of a trust organisation which will be displayed on your phone – the practice is called ‘spoofing’.
The targeted victim will receive an urgent request for personal or financial information via a text, call, email or even a social media message.
Fraudsters pretend to be calling from your bank or police often by spoofing so they appear genuine.
They will use scare tactics to persuade victims to part with their hard-earned cash such as telling you that their money is at risk and they could lose every penny.
The con artists will say they are from the bank’s fraud team or they are a detective and the victim must transfer their money to another account to keep it safe.
Some even send couriers to the victim’s home to collect their cards, PIN or cash in person.
Or the victim is convinced to take part in an ‘undercover operation’ and make a large withdrawal and hand it to the police caller for ‘analysis’.
Your bank or the police will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or passcode and they won’t ask you to transfer money to a safe account
Scammers usually target their victims with cold calls or lure them with fake investment opportunities promoted on social media and search engines.
According to UK Finance investment scams have surged in the pandemic and this has been ‘heavily enabled’ by fake advertising, search engines and social media.
Victims will be persuaded to move their money into a fictitious fund or to put their savings into a fake investment which promises incredible rewards.
Some crooks clone legitimate websites and send out paperwork with official branding and logos.
Recent investment cons have seen victims lose their money by ploughing it into cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, rare wine and whisky, property, gold or carbon.
Check the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) register for regulated firms and individuals before investing your money.
Fraudster use your details to open bank accounts or take out loans or credit cards.
Some may try and obtain official documents such as passports or driving licences in your name and apply for welfare benefits.
Identity thieves are known to go rummage through your rubbish to find bank statements with details they need while some steal personal information from your purse or wallet
Criminals can also use information about you online and on social media to build a picture of your identity.
Often a victim is unaware identity fraud has been committed against them until they spot suspicious transactions on their bank statements or they are sent letters about loans or contracts they did not apply for.
Audacious cybercriminals will impersonate a top executive to convince a worker to send money to them.
The scam predominately affects businesses and is the least-common type of bank transfer con.
The victim is trying to pay a genuine manager but the fraudster intervenes with fake emails where they poses as someone high up in their organisation and ask for the payment to to me sent to a different account.
Con artists have been known to pose as staff in company finance teams and using spoofing technology so their emails appear genuine.
Scammers will hack the email accounts of tradesmen, builders and solicitors to send out fake invoices.
They will claim their account details have changed and ask their victims to send any money owed to a new account.
Unlucky families moving money between accounts to buy property have lost their entire deposits using this method.
People are being warned to be suspicious if they receive new bank details from a service provider or if there is a duplicate or more frequent invoices than expected.
They should always call the company concerned using a number they know to be correct to check if account details have been changed first.
Scammers will prey on holiday-starved Brits with fake websites that offer cheap travel deals.
The sites will often imitate well-known reputable names but the website address might be slightly different.
Incredibly cheap flights may be a sign that it’s a scam because prices are largely set by airlines.
The sites may also redirect the payment to be made via bank transfer which should set the alarm bells.
Fraudsters will also offer discount rates on luxury villas and apartments but only if you pay a non-refundable deposit.
Scams include taking a deposit from unsuspecting shoppers for goods, holidays or even pets that don’t exist.
Crook often advertise through social media or auctions sites to lure victims by using images stolen from genuine sellers.
They might also use web pages that look like genuine but have a different website address.
If a deal seems too good to be true or it offers heavy discounts or far cheaper rates then this should sound alarm bells.
Shoppers should also be suspicious if a seller demands payment via bank transfer instead of by debit or credit card, or the online platform’s secure payment option.
Advance free fraud
Scammers contact their victims and claim they have won a prize but they must pay a fee first to receive it.
But once the victim sends the money they hear nothing else.
The victim is often told they have won an overseas lottery or that gold or jewellery is being held at customs and a fee must be paid first.
Heartless crooks often prey on people looking for a job by claiming they are a recruiter but they need an upfront free to do background checks or other admin.
Anyone who is approached like is advised to check email addresses of recruiters or employers, and confirm a firm is reputable and registered with Companies House.
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Fraudsters search social media and dating websites to find victims that they believe are vulnerable as they state they are ‘widowed’ or ‘divorced’.
The ruthless scammers steal photos off the Internet to use for fake profiles so they can pretend to be someone else before claiming to have fallen in love with their victim.
They pull on their victim’s heart strings to gain their trust and once they have they produce a sob story where they need money.
After they’ve gained your trust, they’ll often have a sob story – such as needing medical treatment – which will involve you sending them money.
If an online beau starts declaring strong feelings quickly yet they are not able to do a video call or meet you in person this could be a romance fraudster.