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Whittlesey and District Neighbourhood Watch

Whittlesey and District Neighbourhood Watch

Creating safer, stronger and active communities

What is a Scam?

Scams are crimes where the perpetrator tries to swindle the victim out of money, or out of personal information with a view to stealing their money later. Scam is a slang term for personal fraud.  All scams are frauds.

It is estimated that around £10 billion is lost each year in the UK by victims of scams.

Age UK reports that 43% of older people – almost five million people aged 65 and over – believe they have been targeted by scammers. Those with dementia are at particular risk.

Scams can be committed over the phone, through the post, on the internet or face-to-face, often on the doorstep.

Because older people are more likely to live on their own, and are often lonely, they become targets for fraudsters. Age UK reports that in one study, it was found that 27% of single people responded to a scam, compared with less than a tenth of their married counterparts. In England, the number of people over 65 living on their own is expected to rise from 3.5 million in 2015 to just under five million by 2030, and the number of people with dementia is projected to rise from 850,000 now to 1.14 million by 2025.  This means that in future, significantly more older people could be at risk from being scammed.

STATISTICS

Estimated sum lost each year to scams

10bn

People over 65 who have been targeted by scammers

5m

Proportion of scams that are ever reported

5%
 

For some people, their only form of social contact is with commercial organisations, legitimate or fraudulent.  They might receive telemarketing calls, emails or letters, or open the door to a scammer purporting to be a bona fide salesman or tradesman.  Sometimes strong relationships can develop between scammers and their elderly victims, if a high level of contact is maintained.  The average age of victims of mass-marketing postal fraud is 75.

And, once people realise they have been scammed, they often feel ashamed to have been duped and so will seldom report what has happened.  It is estimated that only 5% of these crimes are ever reported.

Once a person falls victim to one con artist, their personal details are often added to what is known as “suckers lists” and sold onto other criminals, so they are targeted again and again.

The impact can be devastating – people who have been defrauded in their own homes are two and a half times more likely to die or go into residential care within a year.

Legal and Financial Scams

People need to be on their guard against financial and legal scams following a rise in cases reported to the Citizens Advice consumer service.

A total of 1200 financial and legal scams were reported to the consumer service in the year ending April 2018 - a 6% increase on the year before.

A range of investments scams were reported to the consumer service, including:

   - Cryptocurrency - Fake websites claim to offer cryptocurrency investments, like Bitcoin. Often, scammers will pretend that household names have endorsed the company to give it some legitimacy.

   - Binary options - Scammers pose as stockbrokers and get you to place bets on whether phoney shares will rise or fall within a certain date. They’ll promise big returns. You should check if they are on the FCA Register and not on the warning list of firms to avoid

   - Holiday timeshares - Scammers promise to buy your membership off you for an advanced fee.

   - Bogus solicitors - A scammer will intercept emails from a legitimate solicitor and pose as them. Scammers often strike when a property is being exchanged on and get the funds diverted to their bank account instead. Check if they are on the Solicitors Regulation Authority to see if they are genuine.

To help stop more people being fleeced by these types of scams, Citizens Advice is sharing tips on how to spot them:

  - Be suspicious if you’re contacted out of the blue, even if it’s from a name you recognise
  - Don’t be rushed – you never need to make a decision straight away
  - If it sounds too good to be true it probably is
  - Never send money to someone you have never met
  - Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you
  - Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance
  - Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer
  - Suspect a scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call
  - Persuasive sales patter? Just say: “No Thank You”
  - Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams

Follow Up Calls

There is concern that victims of previous Computer Software Service Fraud (CSSF) are being re-targeted for “owed money”. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) reports that CSSF scammers are returning to contact previous victims, requesting that they pay money owed for a fake malware protection service they had provided. Alternatively, the fraudster will ask for a new subscription fee in return for protection from a new threat. The victims that have made payments to the fraudsters have done so via credit/debit card payments. In some instances threatening and aggressive language has been used against victims, as part of the attempt to coerce them into sending money.

Computer Software Service Fraud involves the victim being contacted, told that there is a problem with their computer, and that for a fee this issue can be resolved. The aim of the fraudster at this point is usually to gain remote access to the victim’s computer and, subsequently, access to their online banking account. No fix actually occurs. The victims will often be cold-called or will receive a pop-up on their computer, prompting them to phone the suspect.

Since the beginning of this year (2018), the total loss for repeat victims of CSSF has been reported as £16,712.85. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has noticed an increase in such reports since the beginning of May.

Protect Yourself

• If you receive such an unsolicited call or pop-up, do not make a payment. Always ensure you know who you are talking to. If in doubt, hang up immediately.

Do not allow remote access to your computer.

Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision. Under no circumstances would a genuine bank, or another trusted organisation, force you to make a financial transaction on the spot; they would never ask you to transfer money into another account for fraud reasons. Remember to stop and take time to carefully consider your actions.

Listen to your instincts. If something feels wrong then it is usually right to question it.  Criminals may lull you into a false sense of security when you are out and about or rely on your defences being down when you’re in the comfort of your own home. They may appear trustworthy, but they may not be who they claim to be.

For more information about how to protect yourself online, visit www.cyberaware.gov.uk and takefive-stopfraud.org.uk

If you have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime, report it to us at Actionfraud.police.uk, or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Fake EE Texts

EE Phishing Alert

These fake text messages purport to be from EE and claim that you haven’t paid a bill. The link in the message leads to a phishing website designed to steal your EE account login details, as well as personal & financial information.

Don’t be tricked into giving a fraudster access to your personal or financial details.

Never automatically click on a link or attachment in an unexpected email or text.

For more information on how to stay secure online, visit www.cyberaware.gov.uk