Members of the public are being urged to be aware of mandate fraud and how to protect against it as part of a national campaign.
Mandate fraud is when a scammer contacts someone to request a change of direct debit, standing order or bank transfer mandate, by claiming to be an organisation a person makes regular payments to.
It is a growing problem nationwide, however, between April and September 2018 3,848 mandate fraud crimes in Cambridgeshire have been reported to Action Fraud, amounting to a financial loss of £750,000.
Nigel Sutton, Cambridgeshire police’s fraud and cyber security advisor, said: “An example of this type of fraud may be that you receive a letter in the post which appears to come from the company supplying a monthly magazine to you. It provides details of a new bank account and asks you to change the payment details to reflect this. The direct debit bank mandate is amended as instructed, however the following month your magazine does not arrive and when you contact the publisher you are told that because your payment was cancelled you no longer have a subscription for the magazine.
“Phishing emails are can be aimed at anyone in the hope they make the payment change requested. They come in the form of letters, emails, phone calls, texts or even social media posts and messages. Sometimes the criminal behind these types of scams will look at social media profiles and annual reports to do their homework against the recipient to make them appear more convincing.”
Advice on how to best protect yourself:
Don’t leave papers like bills lying around for others to look at and record details of standing orders and direct debits. Always verify changes to financial arrangements with the organisation directly using established contact details.
If you are concerned about the source of a telephone call, text message or email, call the company back using established contact details you have on file.
Check your bank statements carefully and report anything suspicious to your financial institution.
Any changes to a payment should be verified by at least a second person within the family or business, if in doubt ask a trusted friend or work colleague.
Read emails carefully, check for spelling and grammar, does the email use a generic salutation such as Dear Sir and not a name?
Be suspicious of any urgency or threat to make the payment changes.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Against Scams Partnership by Charlotte Homent, Community Protection Manager, Cambridgeshire County Council
I work for Cambridgeshire County Council in the Strengthening Communities Service. Whilst we deliver scams prevention work on behalf of Trading Standards, we are very much about engaging with communities and helping them to build resilience from within. That’s why I helped to set up the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Against Scams Partnership (CAPASP) – to bring together all the right people to support communities to prevent scams and provide support to victims.
CAPASP brings together over 20 local partners, groups and organisations who are all passionate about raising awareness of the financial and emotional harm caused by scams, whilst also providing appropriate support to those who suffer the misfortune of falling victim.
CAPASP believes that prevention is better than cure, and as such, the Friends Against Scams initiative is very much at the heart of what we do. Friends Against Scams provides an excellent opportunity for all partners to spread the word about scams in a consistent and robust way. Our partners are committed to either face-to-face delivery of Friends Against Scams sessions as a SCAMchampion, or promoting the online learning which is helping us to reach more and more of our local citizens and organisations to invite them to join the growing legion of Friends Against Scams.
Many CAPASP partners have now made Friends Against Scams part of their staff mandatory training and part of the staff induction process, ensuring these Friends are better equipped for spotting the hallmarks of scams or victims of scams as they go about their work. We are also committed to registering all partners as Friends Against Scams organisations.
Perhaps one of the most effective ways of recruiting new Friends has been through our ‘5 Simple Steps’ guides and our communications with local communities. The ‘5 Simple Steps’ guides - one version for local councils and one version for community groups - identify some very easy, quick-win steps that local councils and community groups can take to build resilience within their communities to scams. This is very much focussed on Friends Against Scams! And whenever we provide communications to community connectors, articles for local newsletters etc. we highlight Friends Against Scams – in e-mail signatures and in the articles themselves. All simple stuff really, but it’s ensuring residents of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are more resilient to 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.
If you learn about scams you are far less likely to be a victim of one and you can also help protect those in your community. Neighbourhood Watch are here to help you and want as many people as possible to be trained and become a member of Friends Against Scams.
If you want to know more about the effects of scams and what they might look like, watch this video from Friends Against Scams.
You might like to find out more about scams once you have seen the video. If so goto the CAPSASP page here.
The NFIB have become aware of techniques used by romance fraudsters against people using dating sites. Not only will they steal your heart they will steal your money and your identification.
You think you’ve met the perfect partner through an online dating website or app, but the other person is using a fake profile to form a relationship with you. They’re using the site to gain your trust and ask you for money or enough personal information to steal your identity.
A dating fraudster, previously involved in deceiving people that wanted a friendship explained how they would create fake accounts with social media platforms so that their details matched and could be searched. By appearing to be a real person their fake persona could be corroborated by prospective partners searching their background and believe them to be genuine. The fraudster said:
“People like to live in fairy tales to say it won’t happen to me. I make sure all my conversations are bespoke. I will show insecurity myself about trusting people and this helps allude to them that I’m genuine.”
The fraudster will also utilise as many accessible online research tools to explore people’s information for their own personal gain or sell onwards. The fraudster elaborated and explained:
“I use various online directories to find out about the person. Once I have enough, I use it to milk everything I can using their details or sell them on to other fraudsters via the dark web”
When asked how people could check if a person is real. The romance fraudster offered advice for others searching for a relationship. They told us that after you see a picture of them:
“Ask for them to send you another photo of themselves posing with their thumbs up or waving. It’s like a form of 2 factor authentication and makes it hard to do if it’s not an original picture”
What you need to do
Avoid sharing too many personal details when on online dating profiles. Revealing your full name, date of birth, or full home address may lead to your identity being stolen.
Never respond to any requests to send money, or have money transferred into your account by someone you don’t know and trust. These types of requests should always raise a red flag. If something feels wrong then it is usually right to question it.
Pick a reputable dating website or app, and use the built-in messaging service. Fraudsters want to quickly switch to social media or texting so there’s no evidence of them asking you for money.