Online criminal activity continues to grow, with scammers coming up with more elaborate ploys to scam people out of their hard-earned money.
We strongly encourage you and your loved ones to take action to protect yourself from any fraudulent online activity.
This page will offer tips to protect yourself and explain how some scams operate.
How scams work
Most scams work by fraudsters impersonating a member of a regulated firm. They will often claim that they can make large returns quickly on small amounts of money. These ‘get rich quick’ schemes should set alarm bells ringing. f they seem too good to be true, they probably are.
Online scams are not new but the criminals behind them are always changing in an attempt to steal from consumers. Below is a list of recent scams to be aware of.
September 2020 - Impersonating regulated firms
- The scammer will set up a false social media account with posts that show incredible returns and lavish lifestyles. This is to give the impression that they’re successful and to catch the attention of potential victims.
- They will claim to either work for, or be associated with, regulated companies.
- Contact will either be initiated directly by the scammer, or they will encourage victims to reach out to them to avoid missing out on an opportunity. This ‘opportunity’ is the offer of trading on behalf of the victim, with the promise of high returns.
- The scammer requests funds to be sent to a personal bank account, rather than the regulated company’s account.
- They will use the company's branding and edit content to appear more legitimate.
- Once a victim sends money to the scammer’s account, a photoshopped proof of payment, using the same branding, will be shown.
- The scammers will show false returns and request an additional ‘withdrawal fee’ from the individual to release their profits.
Other scams to be aware of
Scammers are always trying new techniques to try to steal money from consumers. While we cannot say what they will try in the future, below are a few examples of other methods they currently use.
This is the practice of using another persons’ name and personal information to make transactions, purchases or obtain credit and loans.
They can get this information from old paper documents, from unsecured online documents or directly from you by impersonating a recognised organisation. Make sure you keep all your personal information safe and secure.
Phishing is where a scammer would send communication (email, text message, etc) to an individual in an attempt to obtain personal information. This could be anything from credit card details and passwords to your mothers’ maiden name.
If you open these communications they can also plant malicious software into your device. Always be sceptical of any communication from recipients you have never heard of or signed up with.
Cold calling investment scams
This is where a scammer will cold call, often thousands of phone numbers, offering an ‘amazing investment opportunity’. These are almost certainly worthless and a way to get an individual to part from their money.
They will entice an individual with impressive returns and claim there is limited risk. If the person is convinced, they will request money to be sent to a bank account. Once the money is deposited, they will become near impossible to contact.
How to report a scam
If you have witnessed any behaviour or have made any direct payments to someone that might be associated with the above scams, we would encourage you to contact Action Fraud. You can call them on 0300 123 2040 or for more information visit actionfraud.police.uk.
To make this process as efficient as possible, it’s recommended to provide the following:
- The date and time you made any payments
- The amount you sent and the details of the account you sent them to
- The way they communicated with you (social media account, email address, phone number)
- Screenshots of communication you’ve had with the scammer
How to protect yourself online
There are lots of ways you can protect yourself against criminal activity online.
- Passwords. Ensure you use a good password and keep it safe. Don’t give it out to anyone.
- Use two-factor authentication if it is available.
- Be cautious of senders you don’t recognise.
- Think before you open any attachments or click any links.
- Log in to platforms using devices you trust and ensure to log out when not using.
- Keep software up to date.
- If you have suspicions of an individual, take steps to verify their identity.
- Don’t be afraid to delete a communication without opening it nor terminating unexpected phone calls.
Signs to spot a scam
They promise you high returns on investment, also thought of as ‘get rich quick’ schemes.
Trade on your behalf
They want to trade your money for you, so you don’t have to do anything.
Any emails, text message, phone calls, social media message etc from an individual with an opportunity for you.
Forcing you into a quick decision and not taking no for an answer, either by speaking aggressively or by pointing towards a limited time only offer.
Told a secret
You may have been told something that no-one else knows and that this will give you an advantage.