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Urgent - Courier Fraud Warning

You may recall earlier this month we warned of ‘courier fraud’ scams where fraudsters pose as a police officer or bank official to persuade their often elderly and vulnerable victims to hand over large amounts of cash.

We have been made aware of seven separate instances where people across Cambridgeshire have lost almost £88,000 to courier fraud this month alone.

In six out of the seven instances this month, the fraudster has cold-called the victim by telephone posing as a police officer claiming they had someone in custody as part of a fraud investigation.

The bogus officer told the victim there was an issue with their bank account or requested their assistance with an ongoing investigation. The ultimate aim of the call being to lure the victim into withdrawing cash from their bank and later handing over money to a courier.

On the other occasion the fraudster has claimed to be from the tax office, claiming the victim owed in excess of £10,000 and would be arrested if they didn’t pay the outstanding balance. In this instance the victim was told to hand over cash and also purchase thousands of pounds worth of Amazon vouchers from a supermarket.

Criminals are increasingly turning to vouchers as a method of obtaining funds since these are much more difficult to trace than banking transactions.

Between 18 and 26 January five victims in the East Cambs area lost a total of £78,500 and on two occasions in Peterborough, on 8 and 24 January, two people lost a combined £9,000.

This recent spate of courier fraud is appalling and must be stopped. Not only is the financial detriment significant, these crimes often have a devastating impact on the health and wellbeing of the victims and their families.

Whilst the latest reported incidents are all in the same two areas, it is likely the scammers are working through a list organised by postcode and therefore there is a strong chance this scam will appear in other areas too. We urge residents to please be vigilant to this and pass the message on so others can be vigilant too.

Please remember your bank and the police would:

  • Never ask for your bank account details or PIN over the phone
  • Never ask you to withdraw money and send it to them
  • Never ask you to send them your bank cards or any other personal property

Further information about courier fraud can be found on our website here http://bit.ly/35W0NYB.

If you are suspicious about a telephone conversation you should end the call and contact us via our non-emergency number, 101. Ideally use a mobile phone or a friend's phone or wait at least five minutes before calling to ensure you aren't reconnected to the offender.

To report an incident in action or if you are in immediate danger always call 999.

The £600 Scam

Please be aware of another new scam that we have been made aware of.

The details of how one local person received the call are below;


I had an automated call telling me that a bank transaction for £600 had been made against my account, and to 'press 1'.
I didn't, but checked my account and no such transaction was present.
I then phoned the bank fraud department, and they advised that there are THOUSANDS of such calls, mentioning £600, coming in.


ADVICE : ignore the call;  do NOT press 1; if in doubt, call your bank.
 
Second call of the day by an automated scammer call.
This time it related to 'your Visa/Mastercard', but the same value £600.
Same process - press 1 to stop the transaction.


Beware - don't press 1!

Suspicious Paypal Text

As the new year starts, criminals are clearly continuing to behave like they did throughout 2019.

The following relates to this text message sent by a cyber ambassador on New Year’s Day.

paypalscam

So why is it a scam? Well if you don’t use PayPal it is clear that it is suspicious. Delete it.

Look at the mobile number of the sender, research the number. A handy website is https://scam-numbers.co.uk/

This website will show that the mobile number has been linked to a text purporting to be from PayPal and that it is likely to be a scam.

If you look at the link within the text it is HTTP when I would expect HTTPS. (S for secure)

**WARNING** HTTPS is not a guarantee that a domain name is genuine, you still need to research everything that follows the HTTPS.

If you look at the PayPal website you will notice that the true address is https://www.paypal.com and NOT http://ppayp.info

For those of you who want to know a little more about how to detect a fake domain name, visit https://centralops.net

This website provides a host of internet tools for an investigator, so enter the suspect link from the text http://ppayp.info into the box where prompted and click go. This will give you a domain record including when the domain name was registered and from where. So in this case, it was created on the 31/12/2019 at 05:46 hours UTC, hours before the text message was sent and received.

The domain name http://ppayp.info was registered with a company called https://namecheap.com a legitimate company in which you can buy a domain name and create a website.

This is highly suspicious to me, someone has created a domain name that looks similar to PayPal. The fact that the domain name was registered only hours before the text was sent is also highly suspicious. Once the domain name is registered and live, criminals using a list of stolen/compromised telephone numbers, will send out thousands of scam text messages in the hope that at least a few people click on the link believing it to be from PayPal. Those that do click on the link will end up providing their email address, password, and other private information to the cyber criminals.

DON’T CLICK ON A LINK OR OPEN AN ATTACHMENT UNLESS YOU ARE CONFIDENT THE SENDER IS GENUINE.

If in doubt, verify the sender and content of the message by using an independent trusted form of communication, never reply to the sender of the text, email or instant message.

If you are confident, send the link to Action Fraud (https.actionfraud.police.uk) or just delete, delete delete.

Friends Against Scams

Cambridgeshire Neighbourhood Watch has signed up to a partnership called Cambridgshire and Peterborough Friends Against Scams (CAPASP). We are determined to help communities stand up to scammers as we know this is one of the few areas of crime which is increasing. Scams are often not reported and can happen to anyone especially to the vulnerable and elderly.

Read more: Friends Against Scams