This page covers details of scams and fraud. The vehicle of much of this crime is via email, so examples of SPAM and Phishing is also included.

Remember, this is NOT a definitive list of scams and fraud. This page only provides an example of what is going on.

Note : Some of the information provided is from ActionFraud Alerts, in the past they have been included on the NEWS pages. From September 2015 they will appear on this page.





MAY 2019


TALKTALK EMAIL SCAM OFFERING CUSTOMERS REFUNDS WARN POLICE
(South Wales Argus, 30th May 2019)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/17673735.talktalk-email-scam-offering-customers-refunds-warn-police/

A FAKE email scam has been targeting TalkTalk customers.

Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and cyber reporting centre, has received more than 100 reports this week about fake emails claiming to be from TalkTalk.

The emails state that the recipient’s TalkTalk account is in credit and that they’re owed a refund. The links in the emails lead to malicious websites.

People are advised to not click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails and never respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial details.

If you are unsure whether the email is genuine, contact the company directly.

Gwent Police said that should you receive an e-mail from a suspected fraudster, report the person to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or actionfraud.police.uk.

(1st June 2019)


BRITS ARE MOST LIKELY TO FALL VICTIM TO FRAUD IN JUNE THAN ANY OTHER MONTH
(Mirror, dated 28th May 2019 author Emma Munbodh)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/brits-most-likely-fall-victim-16209933

Brits are most likely to fall victim to fraud during the month of June, figures suggest.

A Freedom of Information request by credit referencing agency ClearScore found more crime reports for scams were made to Action Fraud in June 2018 than any other month last year.

The figures found fraud incidents were 37% higher in June than December, the month when the least reports were recorded.

Separate research also found almost one in five of those who found an error on their credit report identified signs of fraud.

These signs include higher levels of debt on your credit card than expected, new lines of credit you didn’t apply for or applications for credit that you don’t recognise.

In the run up to June, ClearScore is urging people to check their report for signs of fraud - which could save victims thousands of pounds.

 It comes after the Financial Ombudsman reported a 43% increase in fraud complaints last year, totalling over 12,000.

Victims of fraud can not only lose money, but can also have difficulty getting approval for loans, credit cards or a mortgage until the matter is resolved, due to the impact on their credit score.

Justin Basini, CEO and co-founder of ClearScore, said: "Fraudsters are becoming more and more sophisticated. A major problem is that so much attempted fraud goes unnoticed and once people do realise, it’s too late.

"When this happens, innocent people are left thousands of pounds out of pocket. Keeping an eye on your credit report is a simple, free way to check for the tell-tale signs someone is trying to defraud you – vigilance is the first step towards protecting yourself."

How to spot signs of fraud on your credit report

One of the simplest ways to keep an eye out for fraud is to check your credit report regularly.

Keep an eye on your report like you would your bank statement - it often contains the first signs that you’ve been a victim of identity theft. It’s also an opportunity for you to correct anything that doesn’t look right, for example an incorrect address.

1. Track changes to your report


Each time your report is updated, make sure you recognise everything that's changed. For example, if you see a new credit account that you weren’t expecting, it might be because someone has taken out credit in your name.

2. Check the balances on your accounts

On your credit report, look for information about any credit and current accounts you hold. They tend to be split into sections like 'credit cards', 'loans', 'mortgages'.

Firstly, check the overdraft balances on any current accounts listed. If anything looks strange here, it’s best to compare the figures to your bank statement and speak to your bank if you’re still suspicious.

Then check that everything else is in order, such as the mortgage and utility sections. If you see something you don’t recognise, like a telecoms account that’s been recently opened but you don’t remember opening it, get in touch with the provider for further information.

3. Do you recognise everything in your searches?

In this section, you'll be able to see a list of everyone who’s looked at your credit report. This includes hard searches, which show up when a lender checks your report after you’ve applied for a credit product with them.

Pay particular attention to credit application searches in this section; an unexpected hard search is often the first sign that someone’s committed fraud against you. If you spot a search you don’t recognise, this could be because someone has applied for credit in your name. If this is the case you can contact the credit reference agency to get this removed from your report.

uaware comment

Other credit score companies are available.

(1st June 2019)


BANKS SHOULD NOT REFUND ALL FRAUD VICTIMS TO STOP PUBLIC BEING CARELESS, POLICE CHIEF CLAIMS
(Telegraph, dated 26th May 2019 author Jack Hardy)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/05/26/banks-should-not-refund-fraud-victims-stop-public-careless-police/amp/

Banks should not guarantee refunds for all fraud victims to encourage the public to be less careless, a police chief has claimed.

Commander Karen Baxter, the national coordinator for economic crime at the City of London police, suggested there should be “consequences for extremely irresponsible behaviour” if people ignore safety advice.

Her intervention comes just days before a voluntary code of practice offering greater protection against fraud is adopted by major banks including Barclays, HSBC and TSB.

The new rules will mean customers duped into transferring money to scammers posing as trusted parties - known as “push payment” fraud - will be covered for their losses.

While most banks are expected to ask customers to demonstrate they took reasonable care before giving refunds, TSB is to offer a “fraud guarantee” to all victims.

This allows any customer who has been scammed - even one deemed negligent - to get their money back, except in instances where guidance has been repeatedly ignored.

Ms Baxter expressed scepticism of the move, claiming a greater degree of “personal responsibility” was needed to stop the public growing complacent about fraud.

She told The Sunday Times: “If we are not diligent around money and the economy, we all end up paying for it. I’m not sure that’s a good message.”

Previously, banks have not always refunded customers who fall victim to push payment scams, as they authorised the transfer of money to the criminal themselves.

Around £1.2 billion was stolen through fraud last year, including £354 million through authorised push payments, according to banking trade body UK Finance.

Ms Baxter said she welcomed to code, but indicated a guaranteed refund policy was not “encouraging the best responsible behaviour”.

She added: “When people are being offered things that are too good to be true, things that they are advised against doing but they still go ahead, I think we have to have some really difficult conversations.”

TSB’s offer of greater protection against fraud follows a high-profile IT meltdown suffered last year, which saw fraudsters successfully target customers who had been locked out of their online account.

A spokesman for the bank said: "We know our customers never want to become victims of fraud and they want us to help fight back against this type of crime.

“Prevention is absolutely key to tackling fraud so that’s why we share our fraud prevention knowledge, face-to-face in communities right across the UK as well as through digital channels.”

(1st June 2019)


A SINGLE TWEET SAW ONE WOMAN'S BANK ACCOUNT ENTIRELY WIPED OUT
(Mirror, dated 26th May 2019 author Dean Dunham)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/single-tweet-saw-one-womans-16194621

Social media is often disgruntled customers first port of call when they want to make a complaint about goods or services these days, but after hearing Andrea’s story this week I would urge caution when doing this.

Andrea from Milton Keynes had a shock last month when she discovered that her bank account had been cleared out by fraudsters.

This was devastating news and left Andrea desperately short of money. Whilst she was assured that she would be reimbursed the money by her bank, it was explained that this would have to go through a process and could take up to two weeks.

She therefore decided to obtain a short-term loan to tide her over. To her horror she was refused, on the basis that she already had three loans and was in default on all of them.

Andrea did not understand this as she had not taken out any loans.

However, it soon became clear that her identity had been stolen and that fraudsters had taken out loans in her name.

After some investigation it became clear what had happened.

In December 2018 Andrea had experienced problems with her broadband.

She decided to take to Twitter to complain to her provider Virgin. She received a very rapid response from @virginCSmedia, whom she assumed to be the customer service team of Virgin.

The response asked for her name, address and account number in the first instance to which she responded.

A new message was then sent stating that they were having trouble locating her account so they would need some further information.

They asked for her date of birth and place of birth, which she provided. The next message confirmed that the account had been located and asked for Andrea’s phone number.

Andrea then received a call from someone purporting to be a Virgin customer services agent. The man on the phone said that he needed to ask a security question first.

He then proceeded to ask Andrea for the bank details of where her direct debit is paid. She gave this information.

Andrea took screenshots of the Twitter communications at the time so that she had a record of what had been said.

This was a good idea but didn’t stop her getting scammed.

The account has now been suspended, and Virgin Media have said "any accounts claiming to be us are reported immediately through the appropriate channels", but it's a clear warning to never trust anyone who contacts you directly and asks for bank details or any other personal information.

(1st June 2019)


POLICE WARNING OVER UNIVERSAL CREDIT SCAM WHICH IS PREVALENT IN THE NORTH WEST
(Manchester Evening Standard, dated 23rd May 2019 author Saffron Otter)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/police-warning-over-universal-credit-16318494

Greater Manchester Police have warned about a scam where people are pretending to offer people low cost government loans - and using the details to apply for Universal Credit.

Officers in the region say Trading Standards have been made aware of the scam which is targeting people in the North West.

As a result they have urged people to 'never give personal or financial information to anyone you do not know.'

A post shared by a number of GMP Twitter accounts says: "Trading Standards have been made aware of a scam being operated across the UK, and appears to be particularly prevalent in the North West of England."

It adds: "The scam is targeted at anyone of working age. Never give personal or financial information to anyone you do not know".

What is the scam?

Fraudsters are targeting people of working age and claim that they're able to offer them a low cost government loan.

The scammer will then use their victim's personal details to apply for Universal Credit, then request a substantial advance payment, of which they'll take a cut for themselves.

The result is that the victim's current benefits will be stopped, and replaced by Universal Credit.

The victim will then be required to pay back the so called loan in full from future Universal Credit payments.

Personal information will also be compromised and the scammers will have access to their benefit account and banking information.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a government payment to help with living costs.

It is paid monthly and eligible to those on low income or out of work. Universal Credit replaces such benefits including: Child tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and Working Tax Credit.

If you currently receive any of these benefits, you cannot claim Universal Credit at the same time.

Ten golden rules to prevent fraud

Greater Manchester Police say there are ten rules to prevent fraud.

1. Be suspicious of all ‘too good to be true’ offers and deals.

2. Don’t agree to offers or deals immediately. Insist on time to get independent or legal advice before making a decision.

3. Don’t hand over money or sign anything until you’ve checked someone’s credentials and their company’s.

4. Never send money to anyone you don’t know or trust, whether in the UK or abroad, or use methods of payment you’re not comfortable with.

5. Never give banking or personal details to anyone you don’t know or trust.

6. Always log on to a website directly rather than clicking on links in an email.

7. Don’t just rely on glowing testimonials. Find solid, independent evidence of a company’s success.

8. Always get independent or legal advice if an offer involves money, time or commitment.

9. If you spot a scam or have been scammed, report it and get help. Contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

10. Don’t be embarrassed about reporting a scam. Because the scammers are cunning and clever there’s no shame in being deceived. By reporting it, you'll make it more difficult for them to deceive others.

(1st June 2019)


WOMAN WARNS OF NEW SINISTER PHONE SCAM
(Oxford Mail, dated 22nd May 2019 author Indya Clayton)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/17657036.woman-warns-of-new-sinister-phone-scam/

A WOMAN from a village near Witney is concerned about the vulnerable falling into a trap after she believes she received a 'sinister' scam phone call yesterday.

Dot Holloway, 71, from Minster Lovell, received the call at 3.30pm. The automated voice on the phone said: "There is a court injunction against you. This is an important message. Press one to access the solicitor who will be acting on your behalf."

 She put the phone down and immediately contacted three neighbours who she feels are particularly vulnerable and would fall victim to the scam.

She said: "This is an obvious scam. I'm concerned that anyone who is vulnerable or has a nervous disposition will think they have to 'press one' but they don't - it's completely made up."

Mrs Holloway blocked the number which tried to call again and hour later.

 She alerted BT to the call who said they were not aware of this type of scam, and tried contacting the police but said she 'gave up' when she spent two hours on the phone waiting to get through to them.

Mrs Holloway said: "You can't stop all the scams but this is one that needs to be stopped. It has to be taken seriously because there's a sinister element to it."

(1st June 2019)


THE WARNING SIGNS OF A HOLIDAY SCAM - AND HOW TO AVOID THEM
(Daily Record, dated 22nd May 2019 author Vicky Shaw)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailyrecord.co.uk/lifestyle/travel/how-avoid-scammer-holiday-make-16180533

Planning a holiday is one of life’s most exciting joys, so it can be ­heartbreaking to discover that your big break doesn’t really exist and you’ve in fact been the victim of a scam.

Would-be holidaymakers and travellers were conned out of £7million by ­fraudsters in 2018, according to Action Fraud.

The average amount lost was £1380 per person but as well as the financial cost, victims have also reported the significant emotional impact caused by this crime.

More than half (53 per cent) of the crimes reported were related to the sale of airline tickets.

The next most common fraud related to the sale of accommodation.

What’s more, the actual total number of losses relating to travel fraud may be even higher, with many victims feeling too ­embarrassed to report what happened.

As holiday season approaches, Action Fraud has teamed up with Abta – the Travel Association and Get Safe Online – to highlight the warning signs of ­travel-related fraud. Here are some tips…

1. Stay safe online

Pay close attention to a company’s web address to make sure it is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from .co.uk to .org.

2. Do your research

Don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to check the company’s credentials.

If a firm is defrauding people, there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their ­experiences, and warnings about it.

3. Ask yourself if the deal is too good to be true

It’s easy to let the ­excitement of what looks like a “dream holiday” at a bargain price cloud your judgment.

Be wary if you are contacted out of the blue by a travel agent or firm you’ve not dealt with before, offering a trip at a low price.

Fraudsters will often use fake online adverts, bogus sales calls, emails and texts offering very cheap deals to tempt you in to booking a holiday with them.

4. Look for the logo

Check if the company is a member of a recognised trade body such as Abta. If you have any doubts, you can verify membership of Abta online.

5. Pay safely

Wherever possible, pay by credit card and be wary about paying directly into someone else’s bank account. If it’s a scam, the fraudster may completely cut off contact after their victim has paid up – and they later discover the holiday doesn’t exist.

Generally speaking, people paying by credit card have protections under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if something goes wrong with a purchase.

This means it’s possible to put a claim to the credit card company if you don’t get the goods or service you purchased with your card.

6. Watch out for holiday club fraud

This may happen when a fraudster contacts you out of the blue, perhaps on the phone or by offering you a ­scratchcard in the street, and says you’ve won a holiday.

To claim the “prize”, victims may be asked to watch a presentation, often in a fancy hotel, to learn more about their holiday.

The presentation may be deliberately long and victims may be offered free champagne or other alcohol, before being asked to sign a contract.

It later turns out the holiday isn’t free and instead the victim finds out they are expected to pay for flights and other extras.

When they try to book holidays, people may also discover that destinations are not guaranteed and may be unavailable when they want to visit them.

7. Check the ­paperwork

You should study receipts, invoices, as well as terms and conditions.

Be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all.

When booking through a holiday club or timeshare, consider getting the contract ­thoroughly vetted by a ­solicitor before signing up.

8. Get help and report any suspect contact

Victims should contact their bank and report it to Action Fraud. For more advice on how to stay safe when booking or researching travel online, visit

https://getsafeonline.org/shopping-banking/holiday-and-travel-booking/

(1st June 2019)


TALKTALK FAILED TO TELL 4,500 CUSTOMERS THEIR BANK DETAILS WERE STOLEN IN 2015 BREACH
(Mirror, dated 22nd May 2019 author Sophie Curtis)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/tech/leaked-bank-details-4500-talktalk-16184069

Personal details of more than 4,500 TalkTalk customers have been discovered online - despite TalkTalk denying they had been stolen.

The details, which were found as part of a BBC Watchdog investigation, are part of the 2015 data breach, when almost 157,000 TalkTalk customer details were stolen.

They include full names, addresses, email addresses, dates of birth, TalkTalk customer numbers, mobile numbers and bank details of thousands of customers.

This information is likely to have been online since the 2015 breach, without the knowledge of the people involved, according to Watchdog Live.

It was freely and easily available and did not have to be found by searching the "dark web". The BBC consumer show uncovered it using a simple Google search.

The 2015 breach left substantial amounts of sensitive personal information potentially exposed to fraudsters.

While all TalkTalk customers were advised about the risk of scam calls, thousands were reassured by the chief executive at the time that “none of your personal information or sensitive financial data was taken”.

Following Watchdog Live's investigation, TalkTalk has contacted the affected customers and made them aware their details were compromised back in 2015.

“A recent investigation has shown that 4,545 customers may have received the wrong notification regarding this incident," the company said in a statement.

"This was a genuine error and we have since written to all those impacted to apologise.

"99.9% of customers received the correct notification in 2015. On their own, none of the details accessed in the 2015 incident could lead to any direct financial loss.”

However, online security expert Scott Helme said that with the information Watchdog has found, a fraudster could sign up for services, set up direct debits and purchase goods on their victim's behalf.

He said a scammer could also pretend to be their bank with this information.

The 2015 attack saw the personal details of nearly 157,000 customers accessed, including the bank account number and sort code of over 15,000 customers.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) subsequent investigation found multiple failings in TalkTalk’s security processes.

The ICO issued a record fine of £400,000 to TalkTalk  in 2016, as a reflection of "the seriousness of the event".

Watchdog presenter Steph McGovern spoke to a number of customers affected, none of whom were aware that their details had been compromised.

For the last two years Alan - whose name has been changed to protect his identity - has had his phone, email and his bank account bombarded by a series of fraudulent attacks.

Alan said he felt “extremely uncomfortable” after Watchdog Live showed him his bank account number, sort code and other personal information being so easily accessible online.

He added: “I think they've failed their customers on a gigantic scale.“

Watchdog Live also spoke to Maureen, who was shocked after finding out that her details were breached in 2015. At the time Maureen was told by TalkTalk that her details had not been stolen.

Maureen has been in touch with TalkTalk on multiple occasions, most recently in May of this year, to raise her concerns that her details had been compromised.

 But TalkTalk continued to insist that they had not. Watchdog Live’s investigation found Maureen’s sensitive data through a simple online search.

"I've been asking this question since 2015," Maureen told the programme:

I knew something was not right and I kept insisting and they avoided every single time I asked the question, have my details been compromised?”

(1st June 2019)


SNAPCHAT AND INSTAGRAM SCAM TRICKS USERS INTO PAYING MONEY
(South Wales Argus, dated 22nd May 2019)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/17656351.snapchat-and-instagram-scam-tricks-users-into-paying-money/

 USERS of Snapchat and Instagram are being blackmailed for money with the threat of having their personal photos shared publicly if they refuse to pay.

Those using the apps are being told to stay alert to any emails or text messages asking for their 2FA (Two Factor Authentication) codes that can be used to hack into their account.

Action Fraud (the UK's National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre) recommends not responding to messages that ask for your login details or two-factor authentication codes. 

Use the report functions within Snapchat and Instagram to alert them of spam messages or accounts that have been hacked.

Any instances of fraud or Cyber Crime can be reported to Action Fraud. Call them on 0300 123 2040.

Alternatively, visit actionfraud.police.uk/contact-us or visit actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime

(1st June 2019)


ACTION NEEDED NOW AS £674 A MINUTE IS LOST TO "DEVASTATING" FINANCIAL CRIME
(Mirror, dated 22nd May 2019 author James Andrews)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/action-needed-now-674-minute-16179442

While banks drag their heels over new rules, losses from bank transfer fraud are spiralling out of control, Which? has warned.

Figures from the consumer association show a staggering £674 is lost each minute to push payment fraud, working out at £40,445 an hour, £970,685 a day and £29.5 million a month.

Which? head of money Gareth Shaw said: "For too long, victims of bank transfer fraud have lost life-changing sums and subsequently faced a gruelling battle to get their money back."

There is a plan in the works to crack down on this - or at least get customers their money back if they are hit - but it's still not fully adopted.

"Banks must offer much greater protection to consumers, while quickly and fairly reimbursing those who are unfortunate enough to fall victim," Shaw said.

"Failure to do so will require swift intervention from the regulator- as these devastating scams can't be allowed to derail lives any longer."

How push payment fraud works and the plans to stop it

Push payment fraud is when a criminal convinces someone to transfer them cash - often by impersonating the police, a the tax man or even the customer's bank itself.

They can be incredibly convincing and have a string of tricks to make you believe you're acting in your own interest.

However, as it's you making the transfer, banks have previously said it's not their fault and refused to reimburse victims.

Last year, less than a quarter of the money lost to this sort of fraud was returned to consumers.

Which?  is calling for all banks to urgently reassure their customers they will be better protected against fraudsters by signing up to a new voluntary industry code, which comes into effect next week.

The code is designed to offer better protection and ensure people who lose money through no fault of their own are swiftly reimbursed.

But so far just eight banks have signed up to it.

New rules to make sure victims of "push payment" fraud are refunded by their bank - instead of just 1 in 5 of them

UK Finance, which represents British banks, said protecting customers as one of the industry's "foremost priorities" in response.

"It is vital that we get the right outcome for customers by ensuring that customers making payments are not penalised for the criminal actions of others even in circumstances where the payment services provider has done everything reasonably expected of it to protect the customer under the Code," said UK Finance chief executive Stephen Jones.

He added: "The new Code delivers a commitment from all firms who sign up to it to reimburse victims of authorised push payment scams in any scenario where the customer has met the minimum standards expected of them under the Code."

There is also even stronger protection in the works, with the payment system regulator taking steps to prevent you ever transferring cash to someone you don't know by accident.

But the introduction of this "confirmation of payee" system has been delayed until March 2020.

Jones said: "The industry will continue to fight fraud on every front to protect customers and prevent this kind of crime - investing in advanced security systems and new ways to track stolen funds, preparing for the roll out of 'confirmation of payee' capability across payment systems, assisting law enforcement in tackling the criminals and supporting the government in improving how intelligence is shared."

Which? was less impressed. "This new date is nine months later than its original deadline of July 2019, and is likely to result in an additional £109m being lost to scams," it said.

The consumer association issued fives tests to check if banks were doing enough:

Banks must promise to protect their customers by signing up to the Code with the regulator pledging to conduct a one-year review on its effectiveness.

The regulator must ensure all banks introduce vital name-check security (confirmation of payee) no later than its new deadline of March 2020. The latest delay will cost people an additional £109m in losses while they wait for this important measure.

No blameless scam victim should ever be denied reimbursement again, and full refunds should be issued swiftly.

Banks must show they are serious about protecting consumers by immediately agreeing a long-term funding solution for no blame refunds.

Banks must publish victim and reimbursement figures on a regular basis to allow effective monitoring in the fight against transfer fraud.

"Until these steps are taken, the devastating effect of bank transfer scams will continue to cause growing financial and emotional harm to UK Consumers," Which? chief executive Anabel Hoult wrote in a letter to UK Finance's Jones.

Who's signed up to the new code so far


These are the banks that have committed to signing up to the new code surrounding payment fraud:

- Barclays
- Lloyds Banking Group
- HSBC
- Metro Bank
- Royal Bank of Scotland
- Natwest
- Santander
- Nationwide

-----------------------
BANKS LAUNCH A PROTECTION SCHEME TO FULLY REFUND VICTIMS....BUT IS IT JUST A SMOKESCREEN ?
(This is money, dated 21st May 2019 author Amelia Murray)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/beatthescammers/article-7055179/1M-day-lost-scammers-week-banks-launch-new-protection-scheme.html

Banks will next week enter a milestone agreement that will see every blameless fraud victim refunded all of their stolen money.

It spells a landmark victory for Money Mail following years of campaigning for those tricked out of life-changing sums.

But, today, as figures from consumer lobby group Which? reveal fraudsters are stealing £674 a minute - almost £1million a day - we call on our biggest banks to ensure they keep working to better protect customers.

The voluntary code - which HSBC, RBS, NatWest, Lloyds, Nationwide and Santander have all signed up to - promises reimbursement for victims provided they have shown a reasonable amount of care.

Average losses are around £2,920 per victim, while fraud complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) are at an all-time high - up by 40 per cent to more than 12,000 in 2018/19.

The new code, compiled by a steering group of campaigners and banks, will oblige members to refund customers tricked into transferring money to fraudsters.

For years they have been able to shrug off responsibility when customers were deceived by crooks posing as legitimate organisations, such as their bank.

Experts say the code is the first key step to tackling the fraud epidemic, but there are a number of issues still to be addressed and it is not retrospective.

But while the code will end the pain of fraud for millions, there are still delays to a key security check that could prevent the crime in the first place.

A long-awaited safeguard - Confirmation of Payee - will ensure that when customers transfer money, the payee's bank account number and name have to match.

But this has been delayed by nine months leaving millions of people vulnerable to scams.

In the absence of the check, fraudsters posing as legitimate companies and individuals are able to trick people into transferring money into their accounts.

Regulators wanted the new check by July, but it has emerged that banks now do not have to fully implement the new system until March next year.

Experts at Which? estimate that fraud victims could lose as much as £109 million because of the delay.

Gareth Shaw, head of money content at Which?, says: 'Confirmation of Payee would cut fraud losses in half overnight.'

Banks which have signed up to the code have all offered an initial contribution to a fund which will see 'no blame' customers reimbursed until the end of this year.

But a long-term funding model has yet to be agreed. One proposal is a fee paid by banks on transactions, which could see the cost passed on to customers. Only Lloyds and Nationwide have promised to absorb the costs.

Under the new code banks must make a decision to reimburse within 15 working days or 35 in exceptional circumstances. The payment must then be made 'without delay'. Mr Shaw says: 'By adopting this code, banks must offer much greater protection to consumers, while quickly, and fairly, reimbursing those who are unfortunate enough to fall victim.

Failure to do so will require swift intervention from the regulator - as these devastating scams can't be allowed to derail lives any longer.'

Under the code, banks can refuse to refund scam victims when they have ignored warnings or when they have been 'grossly negligent'.

Fraud expert Richard Emery, from consultancy 4Keys International, says 'gross negligence' could involve an individual making a conscious, voluntary decision with a clear understanding of the risk.

But he says customers refused payouts on these grounds should take their case to the FOS where they will have a good chance of having their complaint upheld.

He adds: 'Any bank that relies on the gross negligence argument will have an uphill battle trying to prove this.'

Only individuals, charities and businesses with fewer than ten staff, and a turnover under £2 million, are covered by the code.

Last month, TSB introduced its own Fraud Refund Guarantee, which covers all types of scams.

As of April 14, customers who fall victim to scams are reimbursed up to £1 million. It will cover the costs of the scheme itself, but won't pay out if customers are repeatedly conned because they did not follow the bank's advice.

Stephen Jones, boss of trade body UK Finance, says firms who sign up to the code will commit to reimbursing victims of scams in any scenario where the customer has met the minimum standards.

He says a long-term funding agreement for the 'no-blame' scenario will be decided by January 2020.

He adds: 'Banks follow all the requirements set by the government and regulators and will also reflect the decisions and guidance of the Financial Ombudsman Service in deciding how the threshold of gross negligence should be interpreted in individual cases.'

----------------------
(1st May 2019)


UK WATCHDOG SAYS CURRENCY AND CRYPTO SCAMS HIT £27 MILLION
(Reuters, dated 21st May 2019 author Huw Jones)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-markets/uk-watchdog-says-currency-and-crypto-scams-hit-27-million-idUKKCN1SQ2FZ?rpc=401

Scams in Britain involving currencies and crypto assets like bitcoin totalled £27 million in the last financial year, with average losses of 14,600 pounds per victim, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said on Tuesday.

Reports of scams more than tripled in the year that ended in April to 1,800 as fraudsters often used social media to promote their "get rich quick" online trading platforms, according to an FCA statement.

"Investors will often be led to believe that their first investment has successfully made a profit," it said.

The fraudster then contacts the victim to invest more money with a false promise of greater profits. The customer account is later closed and the scammer disappears, the FCA said.

The FCA said it would run advertsising to raise awareness of online trading scams.

"We're warning the public to be suspicious of adverts which promise high returns from online trading platforms," said Mark Steward, the FCA's executive director of enforcement and market oversight.

------------------------
VICTIMS WHO LOST £27 MILLION IN CRYTOCURRENCY SCAMS SAY POLICE AREN'T DOING ENOUGH
(Metro, dated 23rd May 2019 author James Hockaday)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://metro.co.uk/2019/05/23/victims-lost-27000000-cryptocurrency-scams-say-police-arent-enough-9646540/

People who've lost millions of pounds to cryptocurrency 'get rich quick scams' say UK authorities have been far too slow to react.

Members of a victim support group have accused police of 'sitting on its hands' as the ponzi schemes have grown.

It comes after a warning this week claiming cryptoasset and foreign exchange (forex) investment scams in the UK more than tripled last year.

While victims and experts welcome the statement by Action Fraud UK and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), they say far more action should have been taken years ago.

People are losing £14,600 on average to 'get rich quick scams' involving online investments and lost more than £27 million in total in 2018/19.

Reports of cryptoasset and forex scams more than tripled in a year, jumping from 530 in 2017/18 to more than 1,800 the following year.

Criminals promote the trading platforms through social media and images of luxury items like expensive watches and cars.

Punters are persuaded to invest with promises of eye-watering profits and are encouraged with handsome commission payments to recruit family and friends.

Eventually the returns stop and customer account is closed and the scammer disappears with the money.

Victims of cryptocurrency investment scheme USI-Tech say it's been an uphill struggle to get authorities to act and accuse them of 'sitting on their hands'.

Jason Everett from the USI Tech Now What!? Facebook group said: 'This fraud left a lot of people devastated and their life savings gone - and vulnerable people were deliberately targeted.

'But Action Fraud and the police simply do not care and spend more time finding reasons and making excuses not to investigate and prosecute.'

He says USI Tech victims are often told there isn't much UK authorities can do because the company is registered in Dubai.

But Jason, who lost £3,000, says many of the people duping victims with these sorts of pyramid schemes are UK based promoters.

Accusing authorities of 'sitting on their hands', he added: 'I've gone into battle with Action Fraud, I've collated 130 reports, they don't want to do sod all about it'.

Victims Zahid Malik and Becky Turner, who lost £10,000 and £1,500, complained to Action Fraud after hearing nothing back from them for months.

Only then were they told the complaints had been passed to various police forces.

Action Fraud is a reporting centre run by the City of London Police, working alongside the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

Although the centre doesn't have investigative powers, many victims feel left in the dark after making complaints and don't know who's supposed to be looking into them.

Blockchain technology consultant Jon Walsh called the police and Action Fraud's response to the scandal 'disappointing' and says they 'don't understand these scams yet'.

He added: 'They need multiple complaints before they act and even then they still don't. 'By being reactive and not proactive the scammers breathe'.

Jon says his long term goal is to get the law changed so that people promoting the scams are held criminally negligible - meaning they could be prosecuted even if they didn't know they were breaking the law.

He says the FCA needs to start regulating cryptocurrencies, but because they aren't regulated or backed by central banks, they aren't considered a legitimate form of money.

Jon added: 'I accept that we want to have a softly softly approach with new technology in order to not stifle innovation but it still needs doing. Technology can move much faster than regulations can. 'We're seeing significant losses here. We need action now.'

Jen McAdam, whose family lost £216,000 to the OneCoin scheme said: 'For two years they couldn't prevent so many people from losing millions in the UK. They're two years behind. I still want to know why. 'For me it's fantastic that the warning has come out but it's two years too late.'

An Action Fraud spokesperson said people who have reported 'will have received correspondence informing them of the status of their report'.

They added: 'Those reports that contained sufficient information will have been passed onto local forces or law enforcement agencies for intelligence purposes.

'While not all reports can be passed on for investigation, some may be passed on for intelligence purposes, which can help build a picture of how and where fraud and cyber crime is happening.

'The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) continues to assess all crimes reported to Action Fraud to ensure that we alert the public, and the wider policing world, to emerging fraud and cyber threats to protect the UK.

'We continue to ensure that vulnerable victims are referred to local forces for immediate support and all victims receive updates as their crime progresses through the review process.'

An FCA spokesperson added: 'We have been providing warnings to consumers about how to avoid frauds and scams via our Scamsmart website for over three years now. It is wrong to suggest otherwise.'

FCA Scamsmart website : https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart

Tips for avoiding scams

- Don't assume it's real, no matter how 'professional the website looks
 
- Avoid uninvited investment offers

- Research the company thoroughly and seek independent advice

- Check to see if financial services are authorised by the FCA and don't use contact details provided by the firm

------------------------
(1st June 2019)


NEARLY 200,000 IRISH HOLIDAYMAKERS FELL VICTIM TO FRAUD WHILE BOOKING TRIP AWAY
(Irish Mirror, dated 21st May 2019 author Emma McMenamy)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.irishmirror.ie/news/holiday-makers-victim-thousands-fraud-16178277

Note : This fraud easily transportable across borders.

A staggering 180,000 Irish holidaymakers have fallen victim to fraud while booking their trip, according to new figures.

Research carried out by iReach, which provides a range of market intelligence services in Europe, found that in the past 12 months alone it has affected over 25,000 bookings.

The average amount of money per booking that each person lost was roughly €451.

Those booking train tickets online were the hardest hit at 35%, followed closely by hotel reservations at 32%.

People booking apartment online were the third worst hit, affecting 23% of correspondents.

Only 16% of respondents said they were scammed on bus tickets and even less, 15%, said they were targeted while buying flights.

Of those who were hit by fraud, 59% said they managed to rearrange a legitimate replacement booking while a further 7% claimed under holiday insurance.

The survey, carried-out in the run into the summer months, asked 1,001 adults in Ireland about their experiences with booking fraud.

Overall, research found that there were personal losses of almost €12million within the last year alone.

A spokesperson for iReach said: "Due to the rapid development of new technologies, such as the widespread internet and social media platforms, and the associated new opportunities for fraudsters, it is likely that these numbers will continue to rise in the future."

The vast majority of people questioned (59%) said they made their booking on an online website at 59%, a smartphone at 36% or via e-mail at 20%.

When it came to payment, a massive 64% said they paid by credit card while only 20% indicated that they ever paid cash.

And 47% of those that ever experienced a booking fraud said that they have been deceived at least two times or more.

Spokeswoman for iReach, Antonia Schultz-Mosgau that modern technology has a massive part to play with booking fraud.

She said: "Due to the rapid development of new technologies, such as the widespread internet and social media platforms, and the associated new opportunities for fraudsters, it is likely that these numbers will continue to rise in the future.

"Try not rush (or be forced into a decision) and always remember, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is."

She said that there are a few ways to avoid being scammed: "Not using cash is critical and check if credit cards have any purchase insurance.

"If no credit card, then have a look at payment engines such as PayPal which has some protections but is not perfect.

"Finally, search for reviews on the tickets or property or even the booking site itself, as this might highlight problems faced by others. Report any problems as soon as possible."

(1st June 2019)


POLICE WARNING OVER THREATENING BAILIFF SCAM TARGETING PEOPLE IN CORNWALL
(Cornwall Live, dated 20th May 2019 author Graeme Wilkinson)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.cornwalllive.com/news/cornwall-news/police-warning-over-threatening-bailiff-2886194

Police have warned how people in Cornwall have been targeted by a threatening bailiff telephone scam.

Fraudsters pretending to work for a court threaten to visit homes to reclaim a bogus debt.

The police said businesses and individuals have be targeted and urged people not to be pressured into handing over money.

Callington Police said: "The fraud starts by the victim being cold-called by someone pretending to be a bailiff working on behalf of a court or other organisation, attempting to recover funds for a non-existent debt.

"Fraudsters request payment by bank transfer. Never use this method of payment for anything if you can avoid it as there I no way to recover the money.

"If refused, they threaten to visit the people's homes or place work in order to recover the 'debt' that is owed."

People are urged not to be pressured into taking action but to instead request details in writting and then make proper checks.

The police issued the following advice:

- Make vigorous checks if you ever get a cold call associated with a bailiff. Don't be afraid to hang up and use a different phone to call whoever it is you are being told you owe money to. Don't use numbers provided by the "bailiffs" during the cold call.
 
- If you work for a business and receive a call or visit from bailiffs or debt collectors, be sure to speak with your manager or business owner first. Never pay the debts yourself on behalf of a business you work for.

- Request details of the debt in writing to confirm its legitimacy
 

- Do not feel rushed or intimidated to make a decision based on a phone call

- If you have been affected by this or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk/

------------------------
BUSINESSES WARNED OF RATES SCAM WHERE FRAUDSTERS THREATEN TO SEND IN THE BAILIFFS
(Daily Post, dated 21st May 2019 author Sarah Hodgson)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/businesses-warned-rates-scam-fraudsters-16309282

Businesses are being warned of a new scam in which fraudsters try to scare workers into handing over cash.

The con-artists are contacting businesses by phone and claim that they are collecting business rates and council tax on behalf of Flintshire County Council.

They go on to say that the company is in arrears and enforcement agents and vans will be sent to the business to remove goods to the value of the debt.

Flintshire Trading Standards said the callers may seem convincing as they appear to know the names and full details of the business and its owners and other details including how much council tax and rates for the business are and even how much the first payment for this year should have been.

However, it is all just a clever rouse as all the information has been found online in a bid to trick the victim.

But businesses are being urged to be on guard and not fall for the scam - however convincing it may seem.

Flintshire Trading Standards said: "This is a scam and the scammers aim to contact businesses when they are busiest and easily distracted, if a business should receive a call such as this do not agree to pay anything over the phone, terminate the phone call, and contact Flintshire County Council finance to check if there are any problems.

"Businesses will be aware if are in arrears, at least two letters will have been sent by Flintshire Revenues department to the business pointing out they are in arrears. No matter how convincing the scammer may sound, no vans will show up to take your goods away."

------------------------
(1st June 2019)


HERE'S WHAT TO DO BECAUSE YOU CAN'T TRUST HOTELS WITH YOUR PERSONAL DATA
(Forbes, dated 19th May 2019 author Suzanne Rowan Kelleher)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.forbes.com/sites/suzannerowankelleher/2019/05/19/heres-what-to-do-because-you-cant-trust-hotels-with-your-personal-data/#3ad426f74c0e

It's become painfully clear that hotels are not doing enough to protect their guests' privacy.

In recent years, we've seen high-volume data breaches at a slew of major hotel brands, including Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, InterContinental, Sheraton, Westin, Starwood, Wyndham, Omni Hotels and Mandarin Oriental.

Then, last month, a report by the cybersecurity software company Symantec revealed that a majority of hotels inadvertently leak guests' personal data to third parties when they send out confirmation emails. The study looked at more than 1,500 hotel websites in 54 countries ranging from small, independent properties to large five-star resorts and chains, and found that two out of three hotels send messages that can make it easy for third parties to view guests' full names, email addresses, credit card details and passport numbers.

If there's a silver lining, it's that most of the danger outlined in the Symantec report falls into the category of targeted attacks. "These are scary, but very rare," says Max Eddy, a software analyst at PCMag specializing in security services. "Targeted attacks don't scale well, and most attackers are out to get as much monetizable information as possible as quickly as possible."

At the very least, travelers should make sure that the hotel's confirmation e-mail links to a secure site whose address begins with https, advises Navin Manglani, Professor of Technology at the NYU Stern School of Business.  "Also, if the website gets redirected from an https site to an http site, that might be a red flag to not continue viewing the information or not enter any additional information."

Since hotels have done little to earn the trust of travelers, it's up to each of us to protect ourselves. Here are a few easy steps that can make a big difference:

Install an extension to thwart formjackers.

Earlier this year, Symantec highlighted formjacking in its Internet Security Threat Report
(https://www.symantec.com/content/dam/symantec/docs/reports/istr-24-executive-summary-en.pdf)

as one of the most serious and lucrative types of cybercrimes. Formjacking works like an ATM skimmer on websites that require users to fill out online forms. A cybercriminal places a small piece of code on an e-commerce website and then simply waits. When the victim enters a credit card number or other personal data, the code sends that information back to the criminal. It's particularly dangerous because it's nearly impossible for victims to detect.

To make the personal information you enter through online forms less vulnerable, Manglani suggests downloading a browser-based script blocker such as ScriptSafe for Chrome, JSBlocker for Safari or NoScript for Firefox.

"These tools are designed to stop formjackers from stealing the data you enter by blocking the JavaScript code that sends your data to ancillary parties." Manglani says a script blocker may also may prevent formjackers from stealing information pre-populated into your confirmation.

Never use free Wi-Fi without a VPN.

In general, it's wise to get into the habit of using a virtual private network (VPN) whenever you are relying on open Wi-Fi networks in airports, hotels, coffee shops and so on.  Free Wi-Fi networks are handy but notoriously risky; a VPN boosts security by creating an encrypted tunnel between your computer or your phone and a server.

"Using a VPN - particularly on unsecured, public networks but any network that you don't manage yourself - is always a good idea since it prevents network traffic from being observed as easily," says Eddy.

When possible, pay with a digital wallet.

A few major hotel chains and online booking sites such as Expedia and Hotels.com allow guests to pay with digital wallets such as PayPal, Apple Pay or Google Pay.

"This is a more secure option than credit cards, since less of your personal data is shared and the transaction is secure and encrypted," says Manglani.

None of these steps are prohibitively expensive or require more than a few minutes to set up. Besides, it's become untenable for travelers to simply sit back and do nothing.

"We trust companies to be good stewards of our data," says Eddy. "And these hotel sites are clearly failing at it."

(1st June 2019)


WHAT IS THE "LEBANESE LOOP" PARKING METER SCAM ?
(Which?, dated 17th May 2019 author Amelia Wade)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/parking-meter-lebanese-loop-scam/

A member got in touch with us after they were approached by a man at a parking meter. Have you heard of the 'Lebanese Loop' parking meter scam?

A member was stopped by a man who pleaded with them to help him with a parking meter that wouldn't accept a foreign card.

Unfortunately, they offered to use their card as the man said he'd be able to pay them back in cash.

He insisted on pressing the buttons, but let them type in their own Pin - which the member thought they had concealed from him.

Transaction void

The man then said that the transaction was void, and the card wouldn't come out of the machine. He rang what he said was the number given on the meter and gave the member his phone to speak with the meter personnel.

They said that if a second credit card was inserted, it would force the first one out.

Of course upon trying this, the card did not come out. After the man left the member tried calling the number on their own phone - it was an automated message.

In 10 minutes the thieves had withdrawn £500 on each card. Fortunately, the bank refunded the amount.

What is a 'Lebanese Loop'?

It's not too often you meet a scammer in 'real life' - more often they lurk behind a computer or on the end of a phone.

Since contacting us, the member reported the crime to the police and has told friends and family to watch out - spreading awareness is vital.

There have been other reports of this in London. A police warning described a suspected 'Lebanese Loop' - a device that captures cards while the suspect watches you enter your Pin.

Action Fraud told us the scam isn't that common, but if it happens to you, contact your card provider and the police. If you're ever entering your pin anywhere, even if it's not in front of people, make sure you conceal it.

(1st June 2019)


ACTION FRAUD WARN OF NEW "SEXTORTION SCAM" WHERE FRAUDSTERS SEND VICTIMS THEIR OWN PASSWORDS
(Daily Post, dated 16th May 2019 author Joel Leaver)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailypost.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/action-fraud-warn-new-sextortion-16278329

Action Fraud has warned the public of a terrifying new scam in which victims are sent their own passwords as evidence of a hack.

Fraudsters claim to have gained access to the victim's device following the viewing of pornographic material, relying on the premise of a surveillance hack to threaten the individual.

Tech experts however believe this isn't a genuine case of surveillance, unlike the recent WhatsApp spyware attack, instead noting that filming of the victim is unlikely to have taken place.

This latest scam comes just days after we warned of a similar con doing the rounds this month - the HMRC 'springtime tax scam'.

Over 250,000 people are said to have been targeted with the offer of a tax rebate.

So what exactly is the new phishing scam? And how should you respond if you receive the email?

What is the 'sextortion scam'?

The 'sextortion scam' is essentially a blackmail scheme through which scammers attempt to threaten victims into payment by claiming to have footage of their private online activity.

This is done through an email which includes the victim's own password in the subject line - suggesting that the sender has access to their computer or device.

The fraudsters claim that the password was obtained through surveillance software installed on the victim's device through pornographic videos online.

The email threatens that if the victim doesn't provide a payment, a recording of them watching this sexual content will be leaked to their social media and email contacts - purportedly obtained through the hack too.

This latest scam was first identified back in July 2018 by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, a police unit who focus on cyber crime in the UK.

Since then, there have been a high numbers of reports to Action Fraud, with many victims receiving multiple emails over a short period of time.

In fact, this month alone, the organisation has already received over 1,400 reports to its website.

How have they got my password?

The purpose of the scam is to trick the victim into believing their password was obtained through surveillance software installed in pornographic videos.

Action Fraud however explained that the scammers instead likely obtained the victims' passwords from an old data breach - such as the one which affected Facebook in September 2018.

The cyber crime organisation said it suspects this after running some of the victim's email address through a dedicated database, which checks if an account has been ever been comprised in such a way.

They found that almost all of the accounts they tested were at risk.

How do I protect myself?

Although there's a very real possibility that your information may have been passed on through a data breach, there are a number of ways to protect yourself from falling victim to the scam.

Firstly, Action Fraud recommends that everyone ensure they have the latest software and app updates installed as well as making sure anti-virus software is up-to-date.

The organisation explained that anyone who does receive the email should not reply, as it highlights their vulnerability and may mean they are targeted again.

Recipients shouldn't pay the criminals either and should instead flag the email as spam if they continue to receive it multiple times.

Action Fraud also advises performing password resets immediately, if you receive a scam such as this, particularly on accounts where you've used the password mentioned in the email.

Anyone who has received the email should either contact their local police force, if they've already paid the fine, or Action Fraud, if they have yet to provide the scammers with payment details.

(1st June 2019)


BT BROADBAND SCAM WARNING AS FRAUDSTERS THREATEN TO CUT OFF YOUR CONNECTION
(Chronicle Live, dated 15th May 2019 author Katie Collings)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/bt-broadband-scam-warning-fraudsters-16277839

Residents in Northumberland are being warned over scam phone calls from people claiming to be from BT.

Northumberland County Council have received numerous complaints about hoax calls and messages telling people that that unless they take action, their broadband they will be disconnected in 48 hours.

In order to make the call look more genuine the displayed telephone number appears to be local, however this is likely to have been bought by someone who is calling from abroad.

It is not possible to call the number back, but the message requests that the recipient needs to press a number to be redirected.

BT states on its website that "Fraudsters are known to make calls claiming to work for BT, when it's actually a scam. They may ask you for personal information, want access to your computer and in some cases, ask for your bank details.

"Don't be fooled, this is fraud. We take these cases very seriously. So please let us know if you've been the victim of a scam call so we can work to stop fraudsters in their tracks."

Northumberland County Councillor John Riddle, cabinet member with responsibility for planning, housing and resilience added: "There have been a significant number of reports in the Bellingham area, and another in North Northumberland from residents who have received these calls.

"Please be on your guard and do not press any numbers that will connect you to these scammers."

To reduce the risks of falling for email scams BT has issued the following tips:

They say they will never call you out of the blue and:

- Tell you that your service has been hacked
- Try to remotely take control of your device
- Tell you we've found a problem with your computer
- Ask you for an urgent payment and threaten to disconnect your service
- Ask for payment details to activate Caller Display, Call Protect or any of our free services.

If you receive one of these calls and would like further advice you can contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0345 404 0506, or report any potential fraud to 'Action Fraud' at  www.actionfraud.org.uk/report_fraud, or by calling 03001232040.

Alternatively BT state that you can report a scam to them at  ww.bt.com/scams    

Useful advice for consumers and businesses is available on the Take Five - To Stop Fraud website at https://takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/

(1st June 2019)


BANKING FRAUD COMPLAINTS SURGE 43% TO ALL TIME HIGH
(Independent, dated 15th May 2019 author Ben Chapman)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/bank-scams-fraud-complaints-financial-ombudsman-service-a8914716.html

Complaints about banking scams and fraud have surged 43 per cent to an all-time high, the finance industry's adjudicator has said.

Payday loan criticism also more than doubled last year, with a "startling" 40,000 new disputes opened. The "unacceptable" rise pushed the total number of complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) up 14 per cent to 388,392 - the biggest annual total in five years.

Scams where fraudsters convince victims to transfer money out of their accounts are now one of the fastest-growing types of fraud, the FOS said. Advanced push payment (APP) fraud can leave people without their life savings and with no chance of redress because banks do not have a duty to refund money in such cases.

A new voluntary code to help victims of APP fraud is being introduced in May as part of efforts to tackle the issue.

Caroline Wayman, the FOS's chief ombudsman and chief executive, said: "People manage their money in a variety of ways, and fraud and scams are becoming ever more sophisticated.

"We know from the complaints we see that banks aren't always treating victims of fraud fairly. They must do better."

On banking complaints generally, she said: "Too often we see that the interests of consumers are not hardwired into financial services. The behaviour we've seen from some businesses is simply not good enough."

Payday loans accounted for 39,715 new complaints to the FOS in the 12 months to March, marking a 130 per cent rise from a year earlier.

Regulators have cracked down on payday lenders like Wonga, which fell into administration last August. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) capped interest rates and charges on payday lending but this has sent many companies out of business, leaving those who have complained that they were mis-sold loans unable to claim compensation.

In February, the House of Commons Treasury Committee said the government may have to step in to help 10,500 Wonga customers who have been "cast aside".

The situation "cannot be right", said Nicky Morgan, chair of committee, in a letter to the FCA. "These people have been left to fend for themselves by Wonga, the FCA and the FOS," Ms Morgan said. "They've been allowed to fall through the cracks with nobody taking responsibility for their mistreatment.

Ms Wayman told the Treasury Committee in January that customers who had open complaints will not be able to have their issues resolved. The customers, many of whom are considered vulnerable, are also unable to obtain redress through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme because high-cost credit firms like Wonga are not covered.

(1st June 2019)


ROYAL MARINE SOBS AS MAN WHO STOLE HIS IDENTITY TO SEND LEWD IMAGES IS JAILED
(Mirror, dated 5th May 2019 author Danya Bazaraa)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/royal-marine-sobs-man-who-14999510

A Royal Marine wept after a man who stole his identity in order to send lewd images of himself to women was jailed.

Graeme Brandon pretended to be "The Marine" while sending explicit messages to women as well as pictures of his private parts.

"The Marine" said the thought of people doubting his innocence was 'unbearable' and his mental health has been affected as a result of the horrible ordeal.

He says he has had threats from people who thought he was responsible.

Brandon pretended to be "The Marine" after stumbling upon the commando's Facebook account.

The painter and decorator used Gumtree to obtain mobile numbers of 27 random women before sending them explicit messages via WhatsApp.

The 44-year-old spent a year sending almost 30 messages, many of which contained snaps of his private parts, while using "The Marine" identity and profile picture.

A court heard the messages left the women, who were aged between 27 and 75, feeling 'distressed and violated', with the finger of suspicion pointed at the serviceman.

"The Marine" had his car vandalised by vigilantes and the mental stress of being wrongly accused led to him to quit the armed forces.

He attended Bournemouth Crown Court in Dorset and broke down in tears after seeing the man who ruined his career sent to jail for 30 months.

He said: "The thought that people were doubting me was unbearable.

"There have been incidents when I was out with my family that people recognised my face and started shouting things like 'Paedo' towards me.

"I have had my car damaged, nails in tyres and wiper blades pulled off.

"I have had numerous threats from people who contacted me believing I was responsible and I have felt helpless in trying to clear my name and trying to convince people I was not responsible.

"As a direct result of what has happened it is hard to put down into words the effect this had had on my life and my mental health."

Mark Gammon, for the Crown Prosecution Service said afterwards: "Identity theft is an insidious crime, which has a traumatising and long lasting impact on victims' lives.

"Graeme Brandon stole someone's identity and used it to send pictures of his private parts to a number of women, causing them shock and upset.

"Not only did he cause the women to be disgusted and shocked when they received these unsolicited indecent pictures, but he also showed cowardice by using someone else's identity.

"This case has had a devastating impact on the man whose identity was stolen by Graeme Brandon.

"The victim had a successful career in the Royal Marines and was about to be deployed to a foreign country when people from his community and friends started angrily to contact him saying that they had received pictures of an explicit nature.

"He and his wife started suspecting family and friends as they could not understand how their pictures could have been accessed from their Facebook account.

"Graeme Brandon's deplorable actions had a detrimental effect not only on the victim's career but also on his mental health.

"His wife's career was also affected as well as their everyday lives, as their friends and their community thought he was guilty.

"We hope that this conviction and sentence will bring some comfort to the male victim and his family and to all the women to whom he sent the unsolicited indecent pictures."

The court heard that Brandon, from Bournemouth, had never met "The Marine" but stole data and a photograph from his Facebook page and began posing as him online in early 2017.

He obtained details of the women through Gumtree after they had advertised items to be sold.

As well as the indecent photos, Brandon also threatened some of the female victims by telling them he 'knew where they lived' and that he was 'coming to get them'.

Dorset Police launched an investigation and traced the mobile phone number used back to Brandon.

He was arrested in October 2017 but denied any knowledge of the offences and was released on bail.

But he continued to send a further seven messages and was arrested again in March 2018 when police searched his home and found two pay-as-you-go phones used to send the messages hidden behind a radiator.

Thomas Evans, defending, said Brandon's father died shortly before he committed the offences.

He said: "He was grieving and drinking heavily at the time and did not think about how his behaviour would impact his victims."

Brandon pleaded guilty to 28 counts of sending indecent images and one offence of unauthorised access to computer data.

(1st June 2019)


NUMBER SPOOFING : MEET THE CUSTOMERS WHO LOST THOUSANDS
(Guardian, dated 4th May 2019 author Simon Hattenstone)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/money/2019/may/04/number-spoofing-meet-the-customers-who-lost-thousands

'I told Barclays about a £4,000 scam within minutes of it happening - but they said they could do nothing'

Jean Bishop was called on her mobile from someone claiming to be from Barclays. When she asked how she could be sure it was genuine, she was told they would call her back from Barclays Premier banking, which they did. The Barclays Premier number showed up on her phone. She was told they were concerned about activity on her bank account and asked her to move her money to a safe haven account. She agreed to move £4,000 of the £16,000 in her account and was told she would get a text to confirm it had been moved, which she did. But at this point she became suspicious and used another phone to call the real Barclays fraud team to ask if the first call was genuine. It wasn't.

While the fraudster was still on the other line, Barclays identified the receiving bank, Metro. Despite this, Barclays told her it would not refund the money because she had authorised the payment.

Bishop does not understand why Barclays could not trace the fraudster, who was still on the line, and why the Metro account was not instantly frozen and investigated by both the bank and the police.

Barclays' investigation team told her that when it contacted Metro there was no money in the account and it would not refund her. She claims she asked Barclays when exactly it had contacted Metro, and the bank said it could not tell her. "When the fraud was reported we send a funds remaining enquiry (FRE) to the beneficiary bank … They did confirm that no funds remained in the account when the FRE was sent," she was told in a letter.

On 27 April, after the Guardian contacted Barclays, Bishop received a letter saying the bank had reviewed the original investigation, and that there was a change of outcome as a result. She was told that at the point she contacted the fraud team, £300 of her money had been spent but the rest remained, which was now being refunded. This was despite Barclays having told her in the final resolution letter that no money was left in the receiving bank's account. Bishop believes the bank acted with gross incompetence at best. Barclays apologised and offered her £150 as compensation.

Bishop said after the fraud she couldn't stop crying. "I felt ashamed that I fell for the trick and I lost confidence in my own decision-making and became suspicious of everyone who called me - including my own GP." She told the Guardian: "I am appalled at how the banks are treating their customers. Their own investigation has been shown up to be incorrect. This could have cost me - and nearly did, if I hadn't gone to the press - £3,700. Their failure to accept any responsibility in these cases of sophisticated fraud is nothing short of shocking."

Barclays said: "At the point Mrs Bishop notified us that she had been the victim of a scam, £300 had unfortunately already been spent. However, having reviewed this case further, we acknowledge that we could have acted faster in referring her to our specialist fraud team and have therefore agreed to return the remaining £3,700 with our apologies - alongside an offer of £150 for the distress and inconvenience caused."

###'The call from NatWest came just days after they sorted out a fraud. Of course I thought it was genuine - but lost £20,000'

Helen Silva was defrauded out of £19,949 in December 2018 after being the victim of number spoofing.

The number she was spoofed on was a special NatWest 0845 number. The previous week she had had several genuine interactions with NatWest staff regarding potential security threats to her accounts on that number. So she was already on high alert to security threats. But, she says, at no time was she warned that fraudsters might use that very same spoofed NatWest security phone number to steal her money.

The fraudster ran through details of recent transactions, standing orders and direct debits, which only someone with access to her account would know. She was convinced that the call was genuine because she believed only NatWest would be able to access such details. At no time did she disclose her pin or security credentials, she says. She was tricked into transferring £19,949 to a new account.

Silva told the Guardian: "This has had a significantly negative impact on me and my husband's mental health, our plans for the future and our trust in anyone. It has also adversely affected our three children and our wider friends and family. We have lost nearly £20,000 of long-term savings in a cruel and sophisticated criminal act and no one seems to care."

Four months after she was spoofed, she received a curt letter from NatWest saying: "As previously advised, as you authorised the transaction for the sum of £19,949, the bank accepts no liability. However, we have contacted the beneficiary bank and were able to recover partial funds. I confirm the total amount of £16.08 has been credited back to your bank account."

The letter was dated 1 April 2019. When Silva read that she had been refunded £16.08 she initially thought it was an April fool, but she soon discovered it was genuine.

We asked NatWest why she had not been refunded when others who had been similarly scammed had been, and why NatWest had not warned her and other customers that its numbers were arguably vulnerable to number spoofing.

On 16 April, NatWest told the Guardian: "On review, we have decided to refund Mrs Silva in full for her loss as a gesture of goodwill, and we wish to apologise for any distress caused to her while we reached this decision."

###'I sent £30,000 to Metro and Barclays accounts after what appeared to be a genuine call from NatWest'

On 22 June 2018, Bill Edmonds received a call from a NatWest number stating that his account was in danger of being hacked and, as NatWest had stopped fraud successfully on this account before, the safest thing would be to transfer his money to a new account. Six months earlier he had received another call on this number telling him of a fraud that had been successfully intercepted. He had no reason to distrust the number. After all, the number was a perk of his NatWest Platinum account, for which he paid £20 a month.

Edmonds set up a new account on 23 June 2018. When he logged on to his old account, it said "suspended", and he was informed by the fraudster that this was done by NatWest to prevent fraud.

On 23 June and 25 June, he transferred the money out. He was then advised by the fraudster to visit a NatWest branch to check the new account had been set up. He did so on 26 June, when he discovered he had been a spoofing victim and that his funds had been transferred to Barclays and Metro accounts.

In total, he transferred £17,562.41 on 23 June to the Barclays account, and £12,346.65 to the Metro account on 25 June. He says he was provided with no emotional or monetary support, even though his account had just been emptied.

On 11 July he received £17.57 from Metro, but the NatWest case handler only became aware of this because Edmonds told him. On 29 August he received £2,787 from Barclays - again, this was only discussed with the case handler because Edmonds informed him.

Later in July, NatWest wrote to Edmonds stating: "Whilst I fully sympathise you have been a victim of a scam, the bank has made no error and the correct processes have been followed." The bank did apologise for the poor service Edmonds received but told him it would not refund his money.

We asked NatWest why it did not question him about the withdrawals when they were so out of character, and why NatWest had taken no action to warn customers that this special Platinum number was arguably vulnerable to fraud. When he received a new card, the information leaflet for the debit card stated: "If we think someone else is trying to use your card we may contact you by phone or text." The number cited in this leaflet was the same (albeit spoofed) number through which he was defrauded.

NatWest told Edmonds that the account had been renamed "suspended accounts" by the bank in an attempt to investigate the fraud when in fact it was the fraudster who renamed it "suspended accounts".

On 17 April this year, Natwest agreed to refund Edmonds' money. NatWest said: "We sincerely sympathise with Mr Edmonds, who has been the victim of a scam, and appreciate this has been a very difficult time for him. We take fraud and scams very seriously and, having been asked to revisit this case by the Financial Ombudsman, we have decided to refund him in full for his loss as a gesture of goodwill. We wish to apologise for any distress caused to Mr Edmonds while we reached this decision."

HOW THE SCAM WORKS


There is nothing to stop fraudsters changing the caller ID to mirror that of your bank. If the receiving mobile already has the bank's number in its contacts list, the handset will show that NatWest, Metro or whoever is calling.

Similarly, texts from fraudsters using a spoofed number, will show up as being from the bank - often appearing alongside legitimate texts sent out by the bank.

Which? recently warned consumers to be on their guard against this growing problem. It says texts have been particularly effective at duping customers because of the way smartphones group messages that claim to come from the same source.

If you receive a voice or automated call - either at home or on your mobile - that claims to be from your bank, hang up. Having cleared the line, phone the bank yourself on the number shown on your bank card. Texts should be treated as equally suspicious.

The banks have said they can't prevent scammers using technology to impersonate them, as they don't control the gateways through which spoofed texts are sent.

(1t June 2019)


MORE FRAUD - THE SKIES THE LIMIT !

So we have had personal banking fraud, fraud on vehicle exhaust emmissions, fraud on what meat is being put in our pies, temporary staff employment fraud and now...... space craft fraud ????

NASA SUPPLIER FAKED TEST RESULTS FOR 19 YEARS
(The Times, dated 3rd May 2019 author Jacqui Goddard)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nasa-supplier-faked-test-results-for-19-years-n069hg2wk

A metals manufacturer that provided faulty rocket parts to Nasa, resulting in the loss of two satellites worth $700 million, has been prosecuted after an investigation found that it falsified thousands of test results.

Hundreds of clients suffered combined losses of billions of dollars as a result of Sapa Profiles Inc (SPI) faking certificates to show that the aluminium it supplied had passed quality testing.

"When testing results are altered and certifications are provided falsely, missions fail," Jim Norman, Nasa's director for launch services, said. "Our trust was severely violated."

The faulty aluminium was used in the construction of the Taurus XL rocket that launched Nasa's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) in 2009 and the $424 million Glory satellite in 2011. Both aimed to gather climate science data by observing the Earth from space.

Years of scientific work was lost, along with the hardware after the rocket fairing - a clamshell like structure meant to protect the satellite as it passed through the atmosphere - failed to open and seperate on command during ascent. The rocket was too heavy to get into orbit and was dragged down causing it to break up and burn.

The remains of the OCO crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, near Antartica. Glory's pieces are believed to have fallen into the Pacific Ocean.

Two accident investigation boards failed to establish the root cause of the malfunctions, but seperate inquiries opened in 2012 b two NASA branches - the launch service programme and the Office of the Inspector General and the US Department of Justice found thousands of falsified documents.

They revealed how SPI, based in Oregon, altered test reults relating to the metal's strength and reliability under presure, and produced fake certificates to Orbital Sciences Corporation, the rockets manufacturer.

Records of the test results obtained by NASA's Office of the Inspector General revealed that SPI made alterations to more than 2,000 test results between 1996 and 2006, affecting more than 200 customers. SPI's own investigations revealed that its employees altered more than 4,100 test results from 2002 to 2015, affecting more than 250 customers.

Employees who raised concerns were ignored, according to court documents. They included a lab technician who told the plant manager he was dreading the daily practice of being asked to fake tests, pass failing material or enter fake data.

The investigations resulted in criminal charges, civil allegations and an agreement by Norsk Hydro SA, SPI's parent company, to pay $46 million in reparations to the US government and other commercia customers.

SPI's test laboratory manager pleaded guilty to fraudulently altering failing test results to make thempass and to training and directing lab employees to change test reults. He is serving a three-year prison sentence.

"Corporate and personal greed perpetuated this fraud against the government and other private customers," Brian  Benczkowski, assistant attorney general of the Department of Justice's criminal division, said.

A spokesman for Norsk Hydro said the case had been settled. "Since learning of the misconduct and reporting it to the government and customers, we have invested significant time and resources to completely overhaul our quality and compliance organisations," he said. "We are committed to serving the needs of our customers and conducting business with the highest level of ethics and integrity."

See also (uaware)

COMPANY SUSPENDED FROM NASA WORK AFTER FAKING TEST RESULTS AND DESTROYING $700 WORTH OF MISSIONS
(Sky News, dated 1st May 2019)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://news.sky.com/story/company-suspended-from-nasa-work-after-faking-test-results-and-destroying-700m-worth-of-missions-11708366

(1st June 2019)


CONMAN WHO POSED AS A WEALTHY FINANCIER TO TRICK SIX WOMEN HE MET ONLINE
(Daily Mail, dated 3rd May 2019 author Terri-Ann Williams)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6987953/Love-rat-conman-32-posed-wealthy-financier-trick-six-women-met-online-jailed.html

A love rat conman who defrauded women he met online has been jailed for six years after he tricked them into handing over £800,000.

Keyur Vyas had pretended to be in a relationship with six different women, who he committed fraud against.

An investigation into the 32-year-old's activities was launched in October 2014 after women began to report him to the police.

Between 2014 and 2017, Vyas, from the Tower Hamlets area of London, befriended women online with the pretence that he would build a relationship with him.

The trickster had been working as a recruitment agent, but had convinced the women he was an affluent man working finance.

He wined and dined the women and would use his commonalities such as religion and his wish to start a family to get them onside.

Once he gained their trust, Vyas would encourage the women to invest in various business ventures for a large return.

Instead of investing the money, he would gamble it away, would put pressure on the women and became abusive.

The victims would then invest more money on the promise that they would get their money back.

He employed fear tactics and would warn them that if they were to go to the police, then they would lose all of their money.

When they didn't receive their money back, the women began to report their concerns to the police.

At Kingston Crown Court Vyas pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud by false representation in March 2019. Two charges will lie on file and the total loss for all the charges is approximately £808,942.

Detective Constable Andy Chapman of the Central Specialist Command said: 'Vyas used a tried and tested technique to commit fraud. He used the trust he had gained to get them to invest in non-existent companies.

'He went as far as having fake contracts drawn up with outlandish conditions, but essentially he used the relationship to get their money'.

'Vyas was selfish and cruel in his actions by emotionally involving the victims and conning them out of a combined loss of approximately £639,133.00.

'Unfortunately we see cases like this fairly often and my advice to anyone in an online relationship whatever the nature is never to send personal details or money to someone who you have never met in person.'

(1st June 2019)


THE PLAGUE OF SCAM TEXTS IS SPREADING
(Mail on Sunday, dated 24th March 2019 author Laura Shannon)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-6842679/Plague-scam-texts-spreading-victims-complaints-jump-44-just-six-months.html

Complaints about rip-off mobile phone text scams have soared by 44 per cent in just six months, alarming new figures have revealed.

Thousands of people are caught out by surprise charges on their mobile phone bills every month.

Spurious companies are charging customers up to £4.50 per text message - via their mobile phone bills - for useless and unsolicited subscriptions to services such as quizzes, competitions or money-saving deals.

Victims are supposed to have signed up using their smartphones, but many are in the dark about how the charges have been triggered.

The Phone-paid Services Authority - the regulator for premium services charged to a phone bill - is fielding thousands of complaints a month from angry consumers who say they never gave consent to be charged.

The most recent figures show complaints between the first and second half of 2018 soared by more than two-fifths (44 per cent) to 6,700. These figures only relate to those who knew to complain to the regulator and took the time to do so.

Many more will have complained to their mobile networks and gone no further. Others may not even know they have been affected until they spot the small, but regular charges on their bills.

For more than a year, The Mail on Sunday has repeatedly highlighted the blight of rip-off texts - and readers continue to come forward to describe their experiences.

They include one person paying for texts from an unknown company based in Cyprus and a grandmother being charged for a text-based subscription service despite never using the internet on her phone.

Customers' experiences all follow the same pattern. They do not know how they came to receive the messages, deny ever signing up to a service and have no use for the messages. Meanwhile, the companies behind them remain cloaked in secrecy.

Mobile networks often allow the charges to be added to bills via the 'Payforit' platform - owned by Three, EE, O2 and Vodafone.

When customers complain to their mobile networks, they are routinely redirected to contact the 'service providers'. Often these companies are based overseas with contact only possible via a general email address from which replies are not always forthcoming.

When a response is generated, customers are usually told no refund will be issued because they willingly signed up and agreed to the terms and conditions.

Elaine Cottam, 64, was charged £4.50 each for three texts from a provider she had never heard of. She only noticed the additional payments when querying charges for phone use abroad.

The married retiree, from Cleveleys in Lancashire, says she is 'appalled' at how easy it was for the company to take her money.

Elaine was unaware what the text service was even for. She contacted her network, Three, which pointed her towards a Cyprus-based company called Panadema. A spokeswoman at Three says Elaine signed up to a 'money-off alerts' service.

But the 'service' simply provided links to deals on the popular VoucherCodes website, including money off shoes and pizzas. Deals on the VoucherCodes website, which is not linked to the service, can be accessed and searched easily for free.

Three's spokeswoman adds: 'The online advert clearly stated the service would cost £4.50 per message. The customer contacted us to query the charges, and we were happy to provide a credit of £20 as a goodwill gesture.

'We also placed a cap on her account so that she would no longer be able to send or receive premium rate text messages.'

Elaine says: 'Whatever the advert was I cannot remember seeing it, and no way would I have willingly signed up to this.'

Meanwhile, 73-year-old grandmother Pauline only spotted charges on her bill after reading about scam texts in The Mail on Sunday.

She says: 'Thank goodness I read the article because I have been charged twice. I did not agree to anything and don't know how they got my number. This is a terrible practice.'

Pauline has never used the internet on her phone and is on a pay-as-you-go tariff, only using it to stay in touch with her family. She contacted her mobile network, which has now blocked any further charges from premium rate services.

Most customers affected by scam texts discover after much frustration that offending companies are not answerable to anyone, unless enough people complain. This then triggers an investigation by the regulator.

After raising a dispute with the company and being rejected, customers can only then hope that their mobile phone operator will reimburse them. Unfortunately, mobile networks do not always play ball.

As a result of the surge in complaints, the regulator is now looking at tighter rules to tackle the issue. It says more than 95 per cent of complaints it receives are about text subscriptions and that some services are 'causing significant harm to consumers'.

Only last week the regulator issued its latest fine - a £375,000 penalty - to subscription provider Best VIP Games for misleading consumers.

Incoming reforms could include a 'two-factor authentication' process before payment is taken. Customers who sign up would have a PIN sent to their mobiles, which they then confirm with the service provider.

A spokesman for the Phone-paid Services Authority says: 'We're proposing new requirements that we hope will make it clearer for consumers what they are paying for and how, and prevent them from being charged without their consent.'

To find out which company is behind a premium rate text message - usually from a five-digit shortcode number - use the 'service checker' tool at psauthority.org.uk.

From here you can also find further details about the regulator's consultation on new rules, which closes on April 16.

(1st June 2019)


GRINDR SALE AS US SAYS CHINESE OWNER A RISK
(Telegraph, dated 28th March 2019 author Laurence Dodds)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2019/03/27/chinese-owners-sell-dating-app-grindr-us-raises-national-security/

The Chinese parent company of Grindr is scrambling to sell it off after a US government panel branded its ownership as a national security risk, according to reports.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has reportedly told Kunlun, a Chinese gaming company, that it must unwind its 2018 acquisition of the popular gay dating app.

Kunlun was previously preparing to float Grindr on public markets, but is now searching for a buyer in order to get rid of it as quickly as possible, Reuters said.

The exact nature of the the Committee's concerns is unclear, but over the last two years it has begun to heavily scrutinise the handling of users' personal data to Chinese firms. Its judgement underscores the escelating suspicion shown towards Chinese companies by America, which is leading a global campaign to lock Chinese investors and technology out of Western markets.

Grindr, based in Los Angeles, is a popular LGBT dating app which uses location tracking to help users find and contact romantc or sexual partners in proximity.

As a result, it holds personal data on around 27 million users, including where they live, with whom they have slept, their messages to partners, their sexual or gender identity and, in some cases their HIV status.

Oren J Falkowitz, a former analyst at the US National Security Agency, said such data would be "of high interest to foreign intelligence services".

"Tech platforms are collecting a ton of information about sensitive, private things that could be used for blackmail or coercion," he said.

"Someone could figure out who is susceptible to financial blackmail, who is susceptible to marital blackmail."

But he said its real utility was likely to improve the accuracy of phishing attacks against soldiers, government officials and employees of defence companies, who might be lured or panicked into clicking a link which would infect their computer with malware.

He said there were "endless examples" of Chinese state hackers using such tactics.

Kunlun bought a majority stake in Grindr in 2016 for $93 million (£70 million), and bought the company outright in 2018 but did not submit either acquisition for review by the committee.

US Cyberspace command warned American soldiers last year to be on the lookout for all types of "sextortion scams", telling them never to send compromising  photos or videos of themselves to anyone.

Last November the US military police said it had uncovered a sextortion scheme using dating apps that had taken more than £420,000 from 400 members of the military. It was organised by inmates at a prison in South Carolina who had used contraband mobile phones to masquerade as attractive women.

Kunlun and Grindr both declined to comment. A spokesman for the US Treasury, which chairs the committee said it would not comment on individual cases.

(1st June 2019)


APRIL 2019


BANKS LET CASH MOVE INTO SCAM ACCOUNTS EIGHT WEEKS AFTER BEING WARNED THEY ARE USED BY TAX CON FRAUDSTER
(Daily Mail, dated 29th April 2019 author Tom Kelly)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6970435/Banks-let-cash-scam-accounts-eight-weeks-warned.html?ito=rss-flipboard

Banks are failing to block payments into fraudsters' accounts up to two months after being alerted about them by previous victims, the Daily Mail has discovered.

NatWest and HSBC allowed transfers to be made into the accounts eight weeks after they had been used when fleecing victims of thousands of pounds in a tax scam.

Last month the Mail exposed a gang of criminals who impersonate HMRC officials and cold-call tens of thousands of UK residents demanding 'repayment' of tax debts. The callers, operating from the Indian city of Ahmedabad, warn victims they face immediate arrest if they refuse to transfer money across.

A flood of victims contacted the Mail to say they had been conned and warned their bank about the existence of the fraudsters' accounts.

But two months after the alerts were issued, following concerns from readers the Mail made a number of test payments of £1 to the same account numbers.

Payments from Lloyds and Santander accounts did not go through, but attempts to move cash from NatWest and HSBC to seven accounts run by the conmen saw some allowed through. Victims described the failure to stop the payments as 'astonishing' and accused the banks of a 'shocking failure to protect their customers'.

Gareth Shaw, head of money at consumer group Which?, said: 'It's alarming that banks have neglected to do even the bare minimum by failing to stop payments to accounts used by scammers months after victims reported them as fraudulent. This worrying inaction could have left people vulnerable to falling victim and allowed fraudsters to easily re-offend.'

Britain is in the grip of a so-called 'push payment fraud' epidemic, where sophisticated scammers convince victims to transfer money to their accounts, costing people £1million a day.

When the Mail made four payments from a NatWest account to a fraudsters' account eight weeks after one victim made her original payment in January, three were allowed to go through.

Our reporter later received a call from the NatWest fraud team - but only because we had made a £1 payment, which is sometimes used by fraudsters ahead of bigger payments, not because of concerns over the accounts being paid into. And more than two months after another victim lost £12,040, the Mail was able to make a payment from an HSBC account to one of three accounts the fraudsters had used to fleece her.

Banks have the capability to block accounts, and several other payments made to known fraudsters' accounts were prevented from going through.

NatWest and HSBC both declined to say why they had not blocked subsequent payments to the fraudsters' accounts and referred all queries to the banks that received them. The recipient banks said the fraudsters' accounts had been frozen by the time the Mail reporters made payments. NatWest and HSBC were unable to say where the money had gone.

A NatWest spokesman said: 'We take our responsibility to prevent fraud and scams very seriously and invest heavily in our security systems and processes. To help reduce this type of criminal activity, we work closely with the other banks, police and industry bodies.'

An HSBC spokesman said: 'Where a report of a fraudulent payment or scam is received, we take appropriate and timely action. We work with the authorities and alongside others in the industry to identify and address the ever-changing techniques used by fraudsters and to protect our customers.'

A spokesman for one of the fraudsters' banks, APS Financial, said: 'When alerted to fraudulent activities we'll take appropriate action. Regarding the payments made by Daily Mail reporters, none of these were applied to the accounts in question, all of which are blocked.'

(1st May 2019)


FESTIVAL TICKETS - BEWARE THE TOUTS WHO LEAVE YOU SHUT OUT
(Guardian, dated 27th April 2019 author Rupert Jones)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/money/2019/apr/27/festival-tickets-touts-scams

More than a quarter of millennial festivalgoers have fallen victim to a ticket scam, according to new research this week.

With con artists using a range of methods to tempt music fans, from offering nonexistent tickets on social media to directing people to fake websites, falling victim to this sort of scam has never been easier, says Barclays, which issued the findings.

The warning comes ahead of the festival season, when thousands of tickets will be snapped up.

However, with some events sold out already, many people will inevitably be left disappointed and will be doing whatever they can to secure a ticket.

According to the research, victims are at risk of losing £179 on average.

The nature of the fraud can vary, but it usually involves tickets being sold that either don't exist, are counterfeit or never turn up.

Buying a ticket from a tout on social media was identified as carrying one of the greatest risks of being scammed. Yet 40% of 25- to 34-year-olds admitted they would be prepared to turn to social media sites in order to get their hands on a ticket, says the bank.

There have also been warnings about fans putting themselves at risk by sharing images of event tickets that can be used to create fakes. Scammers can mock up counterfeit tickets by copying the barcode. It means that when the genuine holder arrives at the event, he or she is left stuck outside because someone who bought one of the fakes has already used it to get in.

Here are some tips for protecting yourself against ticket scams:

- Do your research and make sure you use a legitimate website or company. Only buy tickets from the venue box office, promoter, official agent or reputable ticket resale site that has been approved by the event organiser. For example, Twickets, the "ethical" resale online marketplace that enables fans to buy and sell tickets at no more than their original face value, has partnered with several leading festivals.

- Remember that paying by credit card offers greater protection than other methods in terms of fraud, guarantees and non-delivery.

- Before entering your payment details, ensure the website is secure. There should be a padlock symbol in the browser window frame. The web address should begin with "https://".

- If you buy tickets from an individual, for example on eBay, never transfer the money directly into their bank account. "Scammers love bank transfers - the money goes straight into their account, and then the seller can disappear. By the time you realise something is wrong, it may be too late," says Barclays.

- Don't click on social media, text or email links or attachments offering tickets, as they could connect to fraudulent or malware sites.

- If you become a victim of ticket fraud, report it to Action Fraud on www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 20 40.

(1st May 2019)


FRAUD VICTIMS SHOULD NOT EXPECT A REFUND, SAYS RBS BOSS
(Daily Mail, dated 26th April author James Burton)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6965155/Fraud-victims-NOT-expect-refund-says-RBS-boss.html?ito=rss-flipboard

The departing boss of bailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland has insisted that fraud victims should not be entitled to automatic compensation.

Ross McEwan said that customers must take more responsibility for their actions if tricked into giving their savings to a conman.

He warned that it is not RBS's job to give a refund to those who are reckless. His comments infuriated campaigners who believe many vulnerable individuals get scammed after they have been forced online because their local branch has closed.

Mr McEwan - who this week said he is standing down as chief executive - said his priority is to educate customers, rather than automatically compensate them.

He said: 'At this stage we're thinking about how we work with customers. We've got a big programme of education. We, including the media, have a major job to do of educating people not to give details away.

'We have to do this with customers - they can't just say "Oh, it was the bank's fault I gave my details away". This is a collective responsibility.'

Mr McEwan insisted that RBS already refunds victims of the most sophisticated frauds. Each scam is assessed case by case, he added.

But campaigners last night declared this is not good enough and said that NatWest owner RBS must do more.

Gangs typically have highly-sophisticated methods and in-depth knowledge of the bank's procedures, making them seem very credible.

Critics also argue that large banks are responsible for the fraud epidemic because they have shut hundreds of branches and launched aggressive marketing campaigns to persuade customers to go online.

It can mean that older people who are not used to the internet have little choice other than to open a digital account - making them easier targets for the con artists.

RBS alone has axed around 1,400 branches across Britain since it was rescued with £46billion of taxpayers' money in 2008.

The Mail is campaigning for compensation for fraud victims.

James Daley, of consumer group Fairer Finance, said: 'Ultimately I don't think it's acceptable to allow individuals to lose everything because of a scam - it undermines confidence in the whole system.

'Let's hope Ross McEwan's replacement has more progressive views on this.'

Scam victims lost a total of £345million to so-called authorised push payment fraud last year, where a customer is tricked into transferring the money to a criminal. Only £83million of this money was recovered, according to trade body UK Finance.

The crooks often pose as respectable figures such as a policeman or member of the bank's staff.

They often use legitimate accounts to receive the money. Campaigners say these accounts should be rigorously policed and shut down if suspected of accepting the proceeds of fraud.

TSB earlier this month became the first bank to guarantee it will refund those hit by fraud in almost all cases, and the rest of the industry is under heavy pressure to follow suit.

The largest High Street banks, including RBS, have pledged to introduce a compensation fund. However, this is only guaranteed until the end of the year while a permanent solution is sought.

Gareth Shaw, of Which?, said: 'TSB has rightly recognised that the industry is far better placed to spot scams than customers, and that victims deserve refunds.

'Other banks must now follow their lead.'

RBS said it is concerned that automatic compensation could lead to payouts for customers who are negligent with their bank details. Sources said it did not want to stop victims of complicated scams from having redress.

(1st May 2019)


THEY SAID THEY WERE WORKING WITH DISNEY AND THAT I HAD WON A HOLIDAY
(Sunday Post, dated 21st April 2019)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.sundaypost.com/fp/the-great-bank-robbery-crooks-plunder-120m-from-scots-accounts-in-just-one-year-as-global-experts-warn-that-is-the-tip-of-an-iceberg/

Duncan Sillars was duped out of £3,000 when he was emailed by fraudsters as he was recovering from a stroke.

The former civil servant, 55, from Dundee, received a genuine-looking email from what he thought was a reputable company.

"They said they were working for Disney and that I had won a holiday," said Duncan.

"The email led me to a professional-looking website which gave me a number
to call.

"The person at the other end of the phone asked for credit card details in case I ran up additional bills at the Disney resort.

"That seemed plausible at the time.

"Then, just after I came off the phone, I realised I had done something foolish and called my credit card company.

"£3,000 had been taken from my account. I felt awful."

The credit card firm refunded Duncan five months later, but not before it checked his mistake was genuine.

Duncan said he had to prove that he was not trying to defraud the card company.

"I made a stupid error when I was not at my best," he added.

"If I had not been recovering from a stroke at the time, I would have been a bit wiser."

He tracked the fraudsters down to the USA.

"They were in a tiny office in a back lane," he added. "That will come as no surprise to anyone."

After the money was repaid, he was then hounded by the fraudsters.

"They called me constantly, trying to extract more money from me.

"The bottom line is that these people never give up."

Duncan now works in a call centre advising customers.

"If something looks too good to be true, it always is," he said.

"Scammers' stories change but their motives are always the same."

(1st May 2019)


CROOKS PLUNDER £120m FROM SCOTS' ACCOUNTS IN JUST ONE YEAR
(Sunday Post, dated 21st April 2019 author Krissy Storrar)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.sundaypost.com/fp/the-great-bank-robbery-crooks-plunder-120m-from-scots-accounts-in-just-one-year-as-global-experts-warn-that-is-the-tip-of-an-iceberg/

Crooks armed only with phones and computers are plundering ­fortunes from private individuals and firms targeted with an arsenal of scams and cons.

International fraud experts warn official figures only reveal a small part of the global crime wave as a Sunday Post investigation reveals the scale of the bank robbery and how the criminals launder their dirty millions.

Dr Anton Moiseienko, research fellow at the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute, said: "The number of prosecutions is certainly the tip of the iceberg.There are specific ­challenges regarding reporting and the cross-border nature of cybercrime, which means that a lot of the attacks would be carried out by people who the UK law enforcement would have a very limited ability to apprehend.

"That combined creates ­formidable challenges for law enforcement."

Dr Moiseienko said the international nature of crime - with criminal gangs operating from abroad, or laundering stolen cash outside the UK - made them harder to stop.

He said: "In relation to people who carry out cyber attacks and steal money from UK customers, for example they take over bank accounts, a lot of those organised crime groups are based overseas.

"Therefore, one of the approaches law enforcement has been trying to take has been to make it more difficult for the money to leave the UK, so making it more difficult to misuse the financial system in order to channel the proceeds of crime and get them from the UK to an overseas destination.

"If the criminal is based overseas your ability to apprehend them and bring them to justice is limited, especially depending on the arrangement in place in the UK and the country concerned.

"But following the money and preventing the money from leaving the UK can be a promising avenue."

Crooks carry out a wide range of frauds, including phishing or vishing scams, the use of ransomware and hacking bank accounts or ATMs.

Vishing involves phoning ­victims and tricking them into parting with bank or credit card details, which allows the criminals to transfer funds out of their account. Phishing is its online equivalent, usually involving fake emails.

It can result in authorised fraud, where the bank customer is persuaded to make the transfer to the criminal, or unauthorised fraud where the conman uses the details to gain access to the customer's account.

Ransomware targets firms' or individuals' computers, shutting them down, and the crooks demanding a payment to remove the virus.

Last month UK Finance, the trade association for the banking industry, published The Fraud The Facts 2019, which revealed the extent of the problem in the UK.

It found that, across the UK, criminals reaped £1.2 billion through frauds and scams.

But the banks themselves managed to stop a further £1bn being stolen, through greater diligence and hi-tech security systems.

Experts estimate about 10% of the stolen cash has been taken from Scottish firms and private bank customers.

In the report, Katy Worobec, UK Finance's economic crime managing director, said: "Fraud poses a major threat to the UK. It's a crime the finance industry is committed to tackling, but it's also one that requires the combined efforts of every sector, both public and private, to overcome. Last year, the advanced security systems and innovations in which the finance industry invests to protect customers stopped more than £1.6bn of unauthorised fraud.

"But, despite this, criminals stole £1.2bn through fraud and scams.

"These crimes can have a ­devastating impact on victims.

"And, even if the customer gets the money back from their finance provider, the organised criminal gangs that perpetrate these frauds still profit from the proceeds… money that may go on to fund illicit acts that damage our society - crimes such as terrorism, drug-trafficking and people-smuggling." Last year, £844.4m was stolen in unauthorised financial fraud involving payment cards, remote banking and cheques - an increase of 16% from 2017.

The report revealed a further £354.3m was seized via 84,624 incidents of authorised push payments - whereby customers are tricked into transferring funds.

Financial institutions are continuing to develop ways to detect fraud, including the use of behavioural biometrics.

Some banks already have software that identifies customers' typing and swiping habits and even how they grip their smartphone when logged into a banking app.

A global digital identity tool is also in use, analysing billions of transactions worldwide plus geographical, device and historical data to build a picture of customers' normal behaviour.

New rules requiring additional verification on high-value transactions will come into force in September.

As banks, businesses and the public become more aware of online scams, the fraudsters have changed their tactics.

Hence the number of fraudsters impersonating bank or building society employees fell in 2018, with criminals increasingly ­pretending to be organisations such as HMRC, online retailers or ­telecommunications firms.

And the true financial cost of fraud is far greater than the sums stolen.

Dr Moiseienko added: "The cost of cybercrime is not the same as the criminal revenues from cybercrime.

"So a criminal might steal £1 but the cost of remedying the vulnerability and dealing with the business disruption would be £10 or £20 for the company concerned.

"That makes it even more ­difficult to measure the cost of cybercrime."

THE SCAMS

Phishing - Tricking someone into sharing financial or personal information by posing in an email as a bank or other trusted institution

Vishing- The telephone equivalent of phishing with plausible callers, sometimes armed with personal details, tricking victims into revealing passwords

APP - Authorised Push Payment is the fastest growing type of swindle when victims are duped into sending their money into another account

Smishing - Someone trying to trick you into giving them private information such as passwords via a text

(1st May 2019)


BANKS SAY "NO" TO AUTOMATIC FRAUD REFUNDS
(The Times, dated 20th April 2019 author David Byers)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thetimes.co.uk/article/banks-say-no-to-automatic-refunds-for-victims-of-fraud-90q6vdxdf

Consumer groups have condemned banks for refusing to follow TSB and automatically refund victims of push-payment fraud.

Leading banks say they will not replicate the offer of a "fraud refund guarantee" to ensure that their customers are reimbursed if they are tricked out of their money by scammers.

Banks are obliged to refund scam victims only when fraudulent transactions are made without a customer's authorisation. TSB, however, whose customers were left vulnerable to fraud after an IT problem last year, has said that victims of push-payment scams, who are convinced by fraudsters to transfer funds to their accounts voluntarily, will also be refunded, as long as their losses are less than £1 million.

About £354 million was lost last year through this type of scam, but banks returned only £83 million to customers, according to UK Finance, the industry trade body.

TSB's refund guarantee began on April 14 and will not apply to those who lost money after the IT meltdown last year, which left 1.9 million customers unable to access their accounts.

Times Money contacted NatWest, Barclays, Santander, Metro Bank and Lloyds, and was told that none of them would introduce a similar guarantee, which analysts say could cost TSB tens of millions of pounds.

Some banks did say that they would review claims on a case by case basis, and support a voluntary code that is being introduced on May 28.

It says that victims of push-payment fraud should be reimbursed unless a customer specifically ignores a banks warnings about a scam, or has been grossly negligent in transferring the money.

Under the terms of the code, the banks will decide whether or not to refund a victims within 15 working days of the scam being reported, or up to a maximum of 35 working days "in exceptional cases".

Jenny Ross of the consumer group Which? says all banks should offer the same guarantee as TSB.

"Other high street banks are leaving their customers unprotected. All banks must follow TSB's lead and ensure that their own customers are not left paying for the cost of this crime".

Meanwhile, Action Fraud, the national reporting service run by City of London Police, is warning of a new type that targets users of social media sites Instagram and Snapchat.

Action Fraud says victims have been tricked into revealing access to two factor authentication codes used to protect their social media accounts. Fraudsters then demand money in return for not posting personal photographs on the internet. Action Fraud says you should never reveal your two-factor authentication codes to anyone.

Instagram has a Q&A page with a link where users can report blackmail attempts. The company says:" Your private content is your own. Instagram wants you to know that it's wrong and against our rules for someone to share, or threaten to share, your intimate images, videos or messages without you consent."

(1st May 2019)


WHY I WRITE FAKE ONLINE REVIEWS
(BBC News, dated 17th April 2019 authors Matthew Cannon, Francesca Gillett and Patrick Evans)

Full article [Option 1]: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47952165

"I've learned never to rely on reviews for anything," says Iain Taylor, from East Sussex.

In his spare time and to supplement his income, the 44-year-old says he writes fake reviews online in exchange for money and free products.

"I have written reviews from numbing creams to eBooks to downloadable independent films," he says.

"I think it's bad - but I think everyone's doing it," says Mr Taylor, describing himself as "cynical".

"Since I started doing it I tell my family and friends not to trust reviews.

"If you are going to buy something you should do more research than look at a couple of five-star reviews on Amazon."

He says writers are paid to buy the product and then leave a review, meaning the review can be verified.

'Too focused on statistics'

Another person, a woman who preferred to remain anonymous, writes fake online reviews of the restaurant where she works - a chain pub in Nottingham.

"I feel like there's significant pressure to get positive reviews on either Facebook, Google or TripAdvisor," she says.

"The manager has actually told us to ask customers to do the review in front of us after their meals which I find hilarious.

"Anyway, I feel like it gets the managers off my back about it if I write a few for myself here and there. I do get a few genuine ones but a few more won't hurt, eh?"

She adds: "I think it does make me look like a better employee, obviously."

The murky world of fake online reviews hit headlines again on Tuesday, after consumer group Which? claimed that Amazon's website is flooded with fake five-star reviews for products from unfamiliar brands.

Amazon said it was using automated technology to weed out false reviews and that it had invested "significant resources" to protect its review system "because we know customers value the insights and experiences shared by fellow shoppers".

"Even one inauthentic review is one too many," it added.

Online reviews are valuable to businesses. The government's Competition and Markets Authority has estimated that such reviews potentially influence a mammoth £23bn of UK customer spending every year.

'You can't win'

One company, in Bingley, West Yorkshire, has decided not to use review websites because of the risk of competing with fake reviews.

Helena Gerwitz, head of marketing at Feature Radiators, says: "We work in a really niche industry.

"When new websites pop up, they might suddenly have 200 or so reviews. That's a lot of reviews since we know they have only been going since last month."

She believes the volume of the high-rated reviews that some competitors have cannot be legitimate.

Ms Gerwitz adds: "We have had chats about it - do we need to go down this route? - but my boss is very much 'we don't want to do that'. It's unethical, it's not true.

"We could set up a review account and know that we would do it legitimately but it would look bad as we wouldn't pay people to put out reviews, so relative to the other sites we would look terrible.

"So we have decided not to do them but then people think there is something to hide. You can't win. It's really frustrating."

'Lose faith in online shopping'

Even verified reviews might not be all they seem. Some consumers fear their personal data might have been used by sellers to gather fake "verified reviews".

Known as "brushing", the scam sees sellers obtain people's name and address to send the goods which they did not purchase.

On Amazon, this leaves a paper trail showing the goods had been bought on the site and had been delivered.

The seller then uses the individual's details to set up a new account which it uses to post glowing reviews of its products.

Amazon says it is "investigating" complaints of "unsolicited packages" which would breach the company's policy.

Architect Paul Bailey, from Billericay, in Essex believes he may have been targeted. Last month he received a number of unexpected "gifts", including a key-ring, a phone case, a tattoo removal kit and a charcoal toothpaste set.

"I think when the first parcel arrived it was a case of bemusement, then I checked with my wife if she'd used my account to buy something.

"When the second item arrived later that day I thought it was perplexing but amusing. Then it became quite chilling."

Mr Bailey says he cannot be sure where online sellers have obtained his data but says it has "made me lose faith in online shopping."

He added: "We all know there are laws in place over how data is handled but it's made me very, very nervous to the point I'm going shopping back on the High Street - even though it tends to be more expensive."

A spokesman for Amazon added: "We have confirmed the sellers involved did not receive names or shipping addresses from Amazon.

"We remove sellers in violation of our policies, withhold payments, and work with law enforcement to take appropriate action."

Titilope Omitogun, 24, from south London, is another person to have been targeted by online review scammers.

One morning last month, she woke up to approximately 50 emails from Amazon saying "thanks for your review". She had not posted one.

The posts, which had been made on a range of items including a telescope and screen protectors, all gave the maximum five-star rating.

"They were quite realistic so I think it was a real person doing it and not a robot," she said.

After contacting Amazon, the company told her it believed her account had been hacked. Her password was changed and she has had no such problems since.

The psychology of online reviews

Nathalie Nahai, the author of Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion, says online reviews work because people try to take an "effortless route" when they have to make decisions.

"When it comes to purchasing, especially for items which are easy to buy, we expect this level of convenience and ease," she says.

"Part of that expectation is met by peer reviews… we can outsource our decision-making."

"Above a certain threshold, people will go for a slightly lower rating," Ms Nahai explains, citing a study where a product with more reviews but a 4.3 rating was more popular than the same product with fewer reviews and a 4.4.

Interestingly, she says there is "a certain leniency we give to bad reviews".

"We tend to distrust perfect ratings because it looks too good to be true," she says. "A five-star rating is less worthy than a 4.8 or 4.7."

It could also be the order of the reviews that matters.

Consumer psychologist Cathrine Jansson says some sellers might be aware of what is known as the primacy and recency effects. These theories state that people tend to remember the first and last items in a series better than those in the middle.

"It's the first five or six reviews that people tend to read and then if they're really interested they'll scroll to the last one.

"So some sellers will make sure it's really good reviews at the top and that people see a really good one last."

There are, however, many reasons why people will also post genuine online reviews, says Nisa Bayindir, director of global insights at market research company GlobalWebIndex.

"There are other key motivations at play. For example, we know that consumers buy products and brands that preserve, enhance or extend their self image.

"This dynamic comes alive with online reviews. People may leave genuine and positive reviews online to show appreciation and commitment to the brands that are in tune with their personalities and values.

"This of course includes the basics such as product quality, attentive customer services and good value for money. "

She says that brands should focus on "building credibility" but acknowledges that fake reviews may be around for cheaper goods for the foreseeable future.

She adds: "Sometimes people are just happy to pay a smaller amount of money for a mediocre experience."

Is posting fake reviews illegal?

Trading practices in the UK are covered under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

Under this legislation, a trader commits an offence if they "engage in a commercial practice which is a misleading action" which cause the average consumer to buy something they would not have otherwise.

These actions include "the nature of the sales process" but do not specifically refer to reviews.

Trading watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), took its first action against a company for posting fake reviews in 2016.

It ordered marketing company Total SEO to remove more than 800 fake reviews which were posted for 86 small businesses on 26 different websites between 2014 and 2015. It warned those who write or arrange fake reviews risk acting unlawfully.

(1st May 2019)


NEW SCAM HAS MEN IN WHITE VANS OFFERING PEOPLE MONEY FOR DNA SAMPLES
(GIZMODO, dated 17th April 2019 author Dell Cameron)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://gizmodo.com/new-scam-has-men-in-white-vans-offering-people-money-fo-1834123066

uaware note : This is a scam in operation in the USA, but is sadly internationally transportable.

If you thought face-to-face confidence scams were obsolete thanks to the wonders of modern connectivity, well, think again. Today's grifts have only gotten creepier.

Bloomberg reported today on the rising trend of con artists portraying themselves as medical professionals while offering residents of low-income communities a few bucks in exchange for a DNA swab and some personal health information. In some cases, the perpetrators have even placed advertisements on Facebook offering "free cancer screenings."

"Would you give a DNA sample to a guy in a white van if he offered you $20?" a Kentucky news anchor asked his viewers this month. "That's an actual thing happening right now in some of Louisville poorest neighborhoods."

At first, reporters in Kentucky seemed mostly puzzled by the men in white vans; though it was obvious they weren't on the level. State Attorney General Andy Beshear warned last week that the men likely planned to use their victims' insurance and personal information to file bogus Medicaid reimbursement claims. "Scammers are exploiting Kentuckians' medical needs in an attempt to take in illegal profits," he said.

The information could also be used to steal their victims' identities, leaving them saddled with debt.

The swabbers in Kentucky falsely represented themselves as being affiliated with Passport Health Plan, a local Medicaid insurer. The residents who were targeted, most of whom were black, took part in the "screenings" because they were struggling to get by. They later told reporters that something "didn't feel right."

The men, for instance, appeared to have no paperwork to prove they were actually affiliated with Passport. In a statement to Bloomberg, the insurance company said it was "in no way affiliated with this activity."

Scammers are also targeting residents of senior-living communities, Bloomberg reported. State insurance officials in Nebraska, for example, received similar reports and last month warned residents that the conmen were approaching seniors at assisted living facilities, offering to swab their cheeks "for genetic material purported for DNA checks for cancer."

"They are preying on poor people," Louisville Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith told Bloomberg. She also shared a business card reportedly obtained from one of the scammers. The website listed on the card didn't exist and no one answered calls at the phone number provided.

Sexton Smith also showed reporters a screenshot of a Facebook post for "free cancer screenings" that offered $20 to anyone with Passport insurance. Users were instructed to come to an intersection in Louisville's Smoketown neighborhood, just southeast of downtown.

"Kentuckians should rely on the advice of their primary care physicians-not someone who is calling them by phone or driving by in an unmarked vehicle," Attorney General Beshear said in a statement.

(1st May 2019)


FLOOD OF "FAKE" FIVE STAR REVIEWS INUNDATING AMAZON, WHICH? FINDS
(Guardian, dated 16th April 2019 author Rebecca Smithers)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/16/flood-of-fake-five-star-reviews-inundating-amazon-which-finds

Amazon's customer review system is being undermined by a flood of "fake" five-star reviews for products from unfamiliar brands, a new investigation claims.

The consumer group Which? analysed the listings of hundreds of popular tech products in 14 online categories including headphones, dashcams, fitness trackers and smartwatches, checking for telltale signs of suspicious reviews.

Its researchers found that top-rated items were dominated by brands with names such as Itshiny, Vogek and Aitalk, which in many cases had thousands of unverified reviews - meaning there was no evidence that the reviewer had even bought or used the item.

Many items also boasted a high number of five-star ratings posted in a short space of time - another indicator suggesting inauthentic reviews.

With headphones, all the products on the first page of results sorted by average customer review were from little-known brands and 87% of more than 12,000 reviews for these products were by unverified purchasers.

Seventy-one per cent of the headphones had perfect five-star ratings, while some included reviews for unrelated products such as soap dispensers. One set of headphones made by the brand Celebrat had 439 reviews. All were five-star, all unverified, and all arrived on the same day.

Which? found similar results when searching for smartwatches, with unverified reviews making up 99% of reviews for the top four products.

"Our research suggests that Amazon is losing the battle against fake reviews, with shoppers bombarded by comments aimed at artificially boosting products from unknown brands," said Natalie Hitchins, the head of home products at Which?.

"Amazon must do more to purge its websites of unreliable and fake reviews if it is to maintain the trust of its millions of customers. To avoid being misled and possibly buying a dud product, customers should always take reviews with a pinch of salt and look to independent and trustworthy sources when researching a purchase."

Neither Which? nor the Guardian were able to contact any of the brands cited in the report, or to identify the source of the suspicious reviews.

Amazon said in a statement: "[We] invest significant resources to protect the integrity of reviews in our store because we know customers value the insights and experiences shared by fellow shoppers. We have clear participation guidelines for both reviewers and selling partners and we suspend, ban and take legal action on those who violate our policies."

A Guardian analysis also recently found that some items on Amazon are bundled together when they share a title, even if they are a different translation of a book or a remake of a film, making it difficult for readers to know which version they are buying.

(1st May 2019)


NUMBER SPOOFING - MORE METRO BANK USERS SAY THEY WERE ROBBED OF THOUSANDS
(Guardian, dated 13th April 2019 author Miles Brignall)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/money/2019/apr/13/number-spoofing-more-metro-bank-users-say-they-were-robbed-of-thousands

More Guardian Money readers have come forward to say they too have been scammed by fraudsters who "spoofed" their bank's phone number. In some cases they have lost more than £40,000.

Two weeks ago Money featured Jane Holden, a Cambridge businesswoman who lost £90,000 after falling for a highly sophisticated fraud. She had taken a call that showed up on her handset as coming from Metro Bank's 0345 business banking number. Partly as a result of this - and the fact the fraudsters had so many of her banking details - she thought she was talking to the bank. Since the piece appeared, a host of victims have come forward to say "me too".

Last week, the Guardian featured a NatWest customer who lost £10,000 in similar circumstances. In both cases the bank only refunded the victims following Guardian Money's intervention.

But now four more victims of the scam, who all bank with Metro, complain they were taken in by the fact that the fraudster appeared to be calling from their bank. The fraudsters refer to the fact that they are calling from the number that appears on the back of the customer's bank card.

There is nothing to stop a fraudster changing a phone's caller ID to mimic that of a bank or other government agency. It has been highly lucrative for the gangs, who target banks that still rely on SMS texts to verify the account holder.

Peter Giles is among the Metro Bank customers contacting Money this week. The businessman from Surrey suffered an almost identical fraud as Jane Holden, although in his case he "only" lost £19,900.

Like her, he received a number of calls that showed up as from Metro. When answered, he was told that there was a suspected fraudulent hotel booking on his account. Like her, he checked the number matched Metro's and went through security as "normal", only handing over two characters from his passcode.

Giles says they clearly had access to his account and were able to read out legitimate transactions that he had made. "Thinking I was talking to a bank employee, and busy and hassled with my work on a Monday morning, I gave her the codes thinking this was to set up a payment to re-credit the account - not appreciating at the time that one of them was to set up a phone banking app," he says.

Once they had access to the account, £34,000 was removed, although Metro later refunded some of the money, leaving him with a near £20,000 loss. "It was very professional and sounded exactly as if I had been talking to the bank," he says.

Simon Jones, from Berkshire, similarly lost £15,000 from his Metro account after falling for the same scam, while Colin Brown had over £3,500 stolen from his Metro account.

In each case Metro claimed that the customers had been "grossly negligent" and therefore it would not refund all their money.

Another Metro Bank business customer who lost £41,000 told us this week that she has been forced to take her case to the Financial Ombudsman.

"The way Metro Bank dealt with me as a customer and victim of fraud, is nothing short of disgusting. I was made to feel like a criminal throughout the whole episode. It is simply unacceptable," she wrote.

Last August the Financial Ombudsman Service put banks like Metro on notice that blanket refusals to refund in such circumstances will no longer be tolerated.

The chief ombudsman told the banks that it was not fair to automatically call a customer "grossly negligent" simply because they've fallen for a scam.

Banking regulations state that the bank must refund any payment that was not "authorised" by the account holder. Account holders whose account has been emptied by a fraudster cannot be said to have "authorised" such payments, therefore should be refunded.

Despite this, Metro Bank is still refusing to refund the latest cases.

"This type of fraud is a serious, industry-wide issue. We have a range of safeguards in place to help defend them against fraud, which we constantly review and update in light of increasingly sophisticated tactics from fraudsters.

"We investigate each claim that is referred to the bank and our decisions are based on the merits of each individual case," it says.

(1st May 2019)


AIRPORT PARKING BOSS JAILED FOR DUMPING CARS IN MUDDY FIELDS
(Telegraph, dated 10th April 2019 author Hayley Dixon)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/04/10/airport-parking-boss-jailed-dumping-cars-muddy-fields/

An airport parking scammer has been sent to prison in one of the first cases of its kind after he made £1.4million leaving holidaymakers' cars in muddy fields with keys in the window.

Asad Malik, 38, used fake reviews and photographs of secure car parks hundreds of miles away to trick customers into leaving their vehicles with him when they flew from Gatwick.

The company then dumped them in muddy fields, on street corners and even outside a mosque.

One owner found their car had been driven 185 miles while they were on holiday, others came home to find damage or unpaid parking tickets whilst Keegan Bowes saw his Mini on a TV news bulletin while he was in Spain.

Jailing Malik for 14 months, Judge Paul Tain said that the way the company was run was "almost as if it was a joke".

Despite concerns about the industry, it is believed to be one of the first times that an airport parking boss has been jailed for scamming customers.

Malik, from Crawley, used a photograph of a hospital car park 400 miles away in Scotland to trick travellers into believing their cars were safe when they left them with London Parking Gatwick and another service called Easy Meet and Greet Gatwick.

The websites claimed the cars would be parked in secure compounds with CCTV by professional chauffeurs.

But the company was busted when Trading Standards found hundreds of cars at several locations parked in muddy fields and even in bushes.

Some cars were left unlocked with windows open and keys were left in plastic wallets stuck to the windscreen.

Some cars came back damaged and others were not returned at all, the court heard.

A jury at Brighton Crown Court found him guilty of three counts of defrauding or misleading customers, in breach of consumer protection laws.

Judge Tain said: "It was almost as if it was a joke. One example was a customer complaining about cigarette ash in the car, and were told it must have blown in through the window of another car. Another reported their clutch was burnt out.

"That exemplifies the approach being taken, customers that had difficulties were fobbed off in the hope they would go away."

The Pakistani businessman had worked for BT and as a taxi driver in Crawley after completing a masters in Satellite Communications and Space Studies at the University of Sussex in Brighton.

He set up his first Gatwick valet parking firm in October 2014 and in 20 months of trading he tricked thousands of customers and more the £1.4million passed through the accounts.

Malik was also disqualified from acting as a company director of any business for the next four years.

(1st May 2019)


SEVENTY-FIVE BOGUS UNIVERSITIES SHUT DOWN IN PAST FOUR YEARS
(Guardian, dated 8th April 2019 author Sally Weale)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/education/2019/apr/08/seventy-five-bogus-universities-shut-down-in-past-four-years

Seventy-five bogus universities have been closed in the past four years, amid warnings that the business in fake degrees is undermining the reputation of the UK higher education system around the world.

The university watchdog the Higher Education Degree Datacheck (Hedd), which monitors fake degrees, has built up a register of 243 bogus institutions.

There is growing concern about students being mis-sold fraudulent degrees, with more than 200 potential cases of degree fraud under investigation since 2015.

Among the fake universities that came to Hedd's attention was Manchester Open University, which was advertising degrees for fees of up to £35,000 on its website.

It claimed to have a campus on Oxford Road in the city, with 2,000 students from 90 different countries studying degrees in history, English and medicine, but officials called in to investigate were unable to find a trace of the institution.

In another case, Oxbridge University of Kilmurry, which offered masters, doctorates and professional qualifications on its website, was found to be registered in Gambia.

Jayne Rowley, the chief executive of Hedd, said: "Among the suspicious employers and fake certificates, we hear from genuine universities who spot fakes using their branding to attract students, collect personal information and course fees.

"This is damaging the reputation of our higher education system, but it is a global issue. The majority of websites are based outside the UK and therefore we need to collaborate more internationally."

According to Hedd, bogus universities and degree mills attempt to make money from enrolment fees, premium phone lines and course fees. "This type of fraud is becoming more sophisticated," Hedd's guidance to higher education providers states, "with credible websites and verification services often modelled on their authentic counterparts - including the direct lifting of content and sections of material from genuine university websites."

As well as reducing the number of fake institutions through investigation and awareness-raising, Hedd also hopes to combat degree fraud by getting employers and universities to make more verification checks when recruiting students and graduates.

"We need to focus more on prevention," said Rowley. "If every employer properly checked the degree qualifications of every candidate there wouldn't be a market for this type of fraud."

(1st May 2019)


NUMBER SPOOFING - ANOTHER REFUND AFTER GUARDIAN INTERVENES
(Guardian, dated 6th April 2019 author Simon Hattenstone)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/money/2019/apr/06/number-spoofing-another-refund-after-guardian-intervenes

A second fraud victim - duped into believing he was talking to his bank after his mobile caller ID showed the call was from the bank - has been refunded following the Guardian's intervention.

Bernard Hill* lost £10,150 when he was "number spoofed" earlier this month. His NatWest premium account was cleaned out after fraudsters rang him on a number showing up on his handset as the bank's genuine number.

As Money revealed last week, criminal gangs are increasingly manipulating caller ID to make calls and send texts that appear to be from the bank. Metro Bank initially refused to refund a Cambridge businesswoman the £90,000 she lost, but later refunded her after the Guardian pointed out its stance likely contravened guidance from the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Hill says he was phoned on his special NatWest Platinum Reward number (part of a service for which he pays £20 a month) and told that he had to move his money into a new account as fraudsters were trying to hack it. In fact, the person giving him this advice was the fraudster. Bernard moved the money, believing he was talking to NatWest staff.

He later received a curt email from NatWest informing him that he would not be refunded because it was not the bank's fault that he had been spoofed. It concluded: "I appreciate that you will be disappointed with this outcome," with a list of ways he should keep himself secure in future. Hill, who had banked with NatWest for more than 30 years, was devastated - and angry. To advise him how to keep his money safe after he had lost it all, seemed to be rubbing salt into the wound.

In January Which? published a warning stating that "between May 2018 and the first week of January 2019, its helpline spoke to 42 victims of spoofing - and of the 19 cases where the fraudster pretended to be their bank, 18 banked with NatWest or Royal Bank of Scotland".

RBS was quoted at the time as saying: "Keeping our customers safe and secure is of paramount importance to us. We understand that it can be traumatic for customers who fall victim to fraud and we have invested heavily across all our channels to continuously enhance security features."

Yet there was no evidence that RBS had done anything to keep Hill and other customers secure. In the six weeks between publication of the Which? article and Hill being defrauded, it had failed to warn customers that its phone numbers were vulnerable to spoofing.

This week, RBS told Hill that his money would be refunded. He notes that the special phone number now carries a warning about number spoofing.

NatWest says: "We appreciate this has been a very difficult time for Mr Hill and we will be refunding in full as a gesture of goodwill. Keeping our customers safe and secure is of paramount importance to us. Phone number spoofing is an industry-wide issue and we are working with telecoms providers to address it."

* Not his real name

(1st May 2019)


FRAUDSTERS USE EMAIL SNARE TO TRICK VICTIMS OUT OF £10 MILLION
(Mirror, dated 4th April 2019 author Andrew Penman)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/news/fraudsters-use-email-snare-trick-14229263.amp

A fraud family that netted more than £10million is horrible proof that you can't be too ­careful with online payments.

The gang sent emails with ­attachments which, when opened, allowed them to steal passwords.

They then sifted through messages to find ones from ­businesses and friends or family discussing payments.

The final step was to send their own spoof messages that appeared to come from the genuine intended recipient asking for the money to be paid into a different bank account, which is why the scam is known as diversion fraud.

Among the victims was a small builder's firm from South West England that lost £13,000 and had to shut down as a result.

Much of the stolen money was laundered by buying baby milk which was then sold in Nigeria.

Detectives uncovered 165 bank accounts used by the crooks, sometimes set up with fake details, and other times by people prepared to act as money mules.

Now 11 of the gang are facing jail following a six-month trial at Blackfriars Crown Çourt, South London, and will be sentenced at a date yet to be set. A total of 228 frauds were discovered and 69 victims gave evidence.

One of the key figures was Andrew Chukwu, who lived in a £860,000 house in Essex despite having a ­business with an annual turnover of less than £17,000.

When raided by detectives, his wife Grace, whose only legitimate income came from a salary as an NHS nurse, was found to have a shoe collection "to rival Imelda Marcos", wife of the former dictator of the Philippines. The couple also struggled to explain how they could pay for their three children to be privately educated.

His co-defendants, ­Emmanuel, Christian and ­Bonaventure, who spelt their surname Chukwuka, are his brothers.

Detective Constable Chris Collins, of the Metropolitan Police's Falcon Fraud Squad, said: "They have shown themselves to be unscrupulous fraudsters who have not given a second thought to the misery their actions have inflicted.

"I hope this conviction sends a strong message to online fraudsters: even though you think you are committing fraud at your keyboard in privacy, we have the ways and means of tracing you and we will seek to bring you to justice."

He advised anyone carrying out business by email to verify bank accounts by contacting the intended recipient before transferring money.

Frauds like this work when banks only check the account number and sort code when processing payments and don't check that the name is genuine.

This makes it possible for crooks to set up spoof accounts in the names of real businesses or ­individuals.

The Payment Systems Regulator, part of the Financial Conduct Authority, is currently wading through banking industry responses to its consultation on introducing a "Confirmation of Payee" safeguard.

"We are currently working through the responses to our consultation on the implementation of Confirmation of Payee and so no decisions on timing have been made," said a spokesperson.

"We are taking into account the feedback provided by industry, and the technical complexities to be addressed, so further work will be carried out to ensure this important tool is delivered as soon as possible.

"The PSR still wants to see Confirmation of Payee brought in as soon as possible and also make sure that when it is introduced, it is an effective way to stop this crime taking place."

(1st May 2019)


POLICE URGE BUSINESSES IN INVERNESS AND HIGHLANDS TO BE ON GUARD AGAINST FRAUD
(Inverness Courier, dated 4th April 2019 author Andrew Dixon)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.inverness-courier.co.uk/news/police-urge-businesses-to-be-on-guard-against-fraud-after-three-figure-sum-stolen-from-firm-176512/

POLICE are urging businesses to be on their guard following a recent report in Inverness of a fraud commonly referred to as "ringing the changes".

This type of fraud involves a person asking a member of staff to exchange a large sum of money for them into notes of smaller denominations or a different currency.

While doing this they deliberately confuse the staff member assisting with the transaction in order to obtain more money than they started with.

An incident was reported around 3.30pm yesterday at a business in Keppoch Road where a mid-three figure sum of cash was stolen using this method.

Police want to speak to a man in connection with the incident, described as being in his mid-30s, around 5ft 4in and of thin build. He spoke with a eastern European accent, and was wearing a dark jacket, jeans, a hat and had dark hair.

Enquiries are ongoing and police are urging businesses to be on their guard against any further suspicious behaviour.

Inspector Les Davidson said: "All business owners and their staff should be alert and aware to this type of scam. In particular you should watch out for anyone asking for a large sum of money to be exchanged into smaller notes or into a different currency.

"These unscrupulous criminals employ sleight of hand to leave with more money than they started with and it is possible they will target a busy period which can provide an ideal opportunity to confuse or distract you.

"It is better to be safe than sorry and if you are in any doubt consider asking another colleague for assistance or politely decline the request and notify the police.

"This type of criminal often travels widely, employing this scam and I would urge people throughout Inverness and across the Highlands to be aware of the risk.

(1st May 2019)


SHOULD FRAUD BE A POLICE PRIORITY
(Which?, dated 2nd April 2019 author Gareth Shaw)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/fraud-police-priority-scams/

A new report has found that when it comes to fraud, the police aren't even putting their fists up to defend the public. Should it be a higher priority?

The police are fighting a losing battle against fraud.

The watchdog that oversees the performance of the police force, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, found that fraud is often deprioritised against other crimes.

Many forces don't have enough resource to adequately investigate fraud and, in the instance of one police force, simply file away the overwhelming majority of cases without further investigation.

A fraud epidemic

We are in the midst of a fraud epidemic - around 3.3 million incidents were reported in the past year, and the estimated cost of fraud is in the billions - but it's clear that the police are struggling to pull together the will and resource to tackle this emerging threat. And they claim there is no strategic leadership from government to help them in their fight against fraud.

Our own research has found that 96% of reported fraud cases go unsolved.

n September last year, we found that just one in four cases that have been reported to Action Fraud in the past four years were forwarded onto local police forces, and we estimated that less than 1% of the those have been solved, and 3% were still being investigated.

Despite the fact that fraud and cyber-crime offences are now 10 times more common than burglary, it is clearly not getting the attention it desperately needs.

Just two weeks ago, the banking industry reported that criminals successfully stole £1.2bn through fraud and scams.

On the pages of Which? magazine and online, we repeatedly follow the stories of people who've lost life-changing sums of money to scams.

###Victims left feeling abandoned

Too often, victims are left feeling abandoned and confused as investigations drag on with little sign of progress.

To show they are serious about winning the battle against increasingly sophisticated fraudsters, the government, police and banking industry must establish a more coordinated approach and make scams a top priority.

This is a threat to public safety - failing to stem tsunami of scams we face will make beating the fraudsters near-impossible in the future.

Do you think fraud should be a higher priority for the police?

Note : At this stage of the article Which? asks for the readers opinion on the level of priority.

(1st May 2019)



MARCH 2019


BEWARE CALLER ID - IT MAY NOT BE YOUR BANK, IT COULD BE A FRAUDSTER
(Guardian, dated 30th March 2019 author Miles Brignall)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/money/2019/mar/30/beware-caller-id-it-may-not-be-your-bank-it-could-be-a-fraudster

The number ID flashes up on your phone identifying the call as coming from your bank. But beware - caller ID can be easily spoofed by fraudsters, as one Cambridge businesswoman found to her cost after crooks convinced her she was talking to her legitimate bank, and then emptied her account of £90,000.

The businesswoman also accuses her bank, Metro, of lax security procedures that enabled the crooks to set up payments to accounts at Barclays, through which the money was siphoned from her account.

Jane Holden says the fraud started with a phone call to her mobile which showed it was from Metro's 0345 business banking number.

Although Metro has now agreed to refund her the £90,000 following the Guardian's intervention, she says the episode has left her shocked at how vulnerable bank customers are. She says she now plans to move to another bank.

Her case started in late February when, while abroad, she realised that she had missed four calls to her mobile all from the same number, 0345 080508, which she knew to be Metro Bank's business call centre.

When they rang again in the evening and she was able to answer, the caller claimed to be from the bank's fraud team.

"I was told it was concerned about fraudulent hotel bookings I had made using Booking.com," she says.

"I questioned how I could verify they were calling from the bank and they directed me to the Metro website to check any number calling is genuine, which I did. The number on my phone also matched that on the back on my bank card."

She had also received, during the day, a confirmation booking text that appeared to have come from Booking.com.

"It was by this point I was convinced I was talking to the bank. They then said they needed me to clear security to discuss further, and asked me for characters from my password and from my memorable word, just as my bank does.

"They must have had access to my online banking membership number as I don't know this, and I was not asked for it.

"To cancel the hotel bookings they said they would send me 'a payee code' as the fraudulent payments had been set up as 'faster payments'.

"I received three text messages which I read back to them. It all happened very fast," she says.

Unknown to her, the fraudsters had changed the phone ID on their system to show Metro Bank's number on her handset, which is easily done. They had also faked the Booking.com text.

Armed with the codes she had read out, they set up payments out of her account. With access to both her personal and business account they were able to subsequently take £90,000 through a series of payments - all paid to one of three Barclays accounts that they used to launder her money.

"They somehow had my mobile and the whole of my debit card number - not just the last four digits - you have to have ones from the middle to make the payments," she says. "All along, the person I spoke to was very professional and sounded exactly as though they worked in a bank fraud call centre.

"I am an internet-savvy businesswoman who runs a successful business, and this can happen to anyone. It was a terrible moment when Metro told me that they believed I had been grossly negligent and would not refund me. I later found out that the fraudsters also changed my internet banking password and memorable word while logged in, allowing them to access my account multiple times. And yet Metro sent no text notifications. I'd have thought that was a basic security measure."

Metro Bank told Money: "We take our customers' security extremely seriously and have a range of safeguards in place to help defend them against fraud, which we constantly review and update in light of ever-changing and increasingly sophisticated tactics from fraudsters.

"We have taken the opportunity to undertake a further review of this case as we always want to do the right thing for our customers. I can confirm, as a result of this case being reviewed, and revisiting the facts available to us, we will be offering a full refund to the customer."

* Jane Holden is not her real name

The warning signs

Fraudsters using fake - or spoofed - phone numbers to help convince their victims is not new, but it reached an epidemic in recent months due in part to the ubiquity of smartphones.

It is surprisingly easy for a fraudster to change their phone's caller ID to mimic that of a bank or other government agency. There is nothing to stop a fraudster inputting any bank's customer service number which is automatically displayed on the mobile handset.

If the receiving smartphone has that bank's customer service number in their phone's contacts list, the handset will recognise that and tell the person that NatWest or whoever is calling.

Similarly, texts that come in from the fraudsters using a spoofed number, will show up as being from the bank - often appearing alongside legitimate texts sent out by the bank. Last week, Which? warned consumers to be on their guard against this growing problem. The same goes for trusted organisations like HMRC, the DVLA or TV Licensing or well-known brands such as Apple or PayPal.

It says texts have been particularly effective at duping customers because of the way smartphones group messages that claim to come from the same source.

If you receive a voice or automated call - either at home or on your mobile - that claims to be from your bank, hang up. Having cleared the line, phone the bank yourself on the number shown on your bank card. Texts should be treated as equally suspicious.

The banks have said they can't prevent scammers using technology to impersonate them, as they don't control the gateways through which spoofed texts are sent.

A genuine bank will never contact you asking for your pin, full password, or to move money to a safe account.

Should banks refund customers in cases such as this?

Last autumn, the Financial Ombudsman Service put banks like Metro on notice that blanket refusals to refund in such circumstances will no longer be tolerated. Instead, banks will have to take into account the "evolution and sophistication" of fraud.

The chief ombudsman, Caroline Wayman, told the banks that it was not fair to automatically call a customer grossly negligent simply because they've fallen for a scam.

"That's especially true in light of the sophisticated way criminals exploit banks' security systems - and convince customers that their money is at risk," she said at the time.

Banking regulations state that the bank must refund any payment that was not "authorised" by the account holder. Account holders whose account has been emptied by a fraudster cannot be said to have "authorised" such payments, therefore they should be refunded.

A year ago Money featured the case a Kent-based businessman, who lost £20,000 after fraudsters were able to go into the Brixton, south London branch of mobile phone company EE and take over his phone account, which they used to set up a series of new online payments, that subsequently emptied his Metro account. Metro told him that it would not refund him claiming he had been grossly negligent. FOS later ruled against Metro and ordered the bak to refund him.

He said then: "I've used internet banking for over 15 years and have never been a victim of online fraud; however after only seven weeks of being a Metro customer I have fallen victim to online fraud. I wish I read reviews online before opening the account as I see this appears to be a bigger problem with Metro," he told Money.

(2nd April 2019)


MASSIVE ANDROID AD FRAUD SCAM DRAINS YOUR PHONE BATTERY AND LETS ADVERTISER MAKE MONEY BY RUNNING HIDDEN VIDEO ADS
(Daily Mail, dated 22nd March 2019 author Annie Palmer)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6840273/Ad-fraud-scam-drains-phone-battery-lets-advertisers-make-money-running-hidden-video-ads.html?ito=rss-flipboard

A new report has uncovered a massive advertising fraud scheme that made scammers serious cash, fooled marketing companies and killed users' smartphone batteries.

The scheme operated via fake banner advertisements that were secretly hidden behind legitimate banner ads in Android apps, according to BuzzFeed News.

This scam was previously spotted by at least two ad fraud detection firms, Protected Media and online media verification firm DoubleVerify's ad fraud lab.

Fraudsters were able to hijack in-app ads in apps using Twitter's MoPub ad platform.

App developers say they've received complaints of their apps draining consumers' phone batteries, BuzzFeed said, but they often can't explain the source of the battery drain.

Meanwhile, fraudsters rake in cash as their fake ads auto-play in the apps.

The ads aren't actually seen by anyone, as they're hid behind real ads, but the scammers still end up making money off of ad views.

Brands end up losing out on money because they purchase the ad spots thinking they'll be placed as a normal ad in an app, only for it to be hidden out of view.

In total, the scheme is said to have led to the creation of 60 million fraudulent video ads per month, according to DoubleVerify.

Video advertising solutions company Aniview and its subsidiary OutStream Media were identified as being part of the scheme.

Aniview denied any involvement, saying its systems were 'exploited' by a bad actor, according to BuzzFeed.

'BuzzFeed brought to our attention that there is an abuse activity, as an immediate action, we stopped this activity and started and continue an internal incident review,' Aniview CEO Alon Carmel told the site.

'...To be crystal clear, another customer on Aniview's [self-serve] platform used this [video ad] player and is responsible for this activity and we took actions immediately to stop this activity.

'We are fighting against bad activities, pushing and focus on clean and legit activities and should not be blamed or framed for bad use of our platform,' he added.

Protected Media claims Aniview is one of several other ad tech companies that have participated in these types of illegal ad schemes.

'Fraudsters are purchasing cheap in-app display inventory and are filling it with multiple video players behind innocuous fake branded display ads,' Asaf Greiner, CEO of Protected Media, told BuzzFeed.

A report from DoubleVerify also breaks down exactly how the ad fraud scheme works.

'Bad actors are seeking to maximize revenue and profits by stuffing multiple players into the ad slot, intentionally using incorrectly-sized players, and/or using hidden players - practices that are decidedly fraudulent,' the firm explained.

This is just the latest example of this kind of ad fraud scheme.

Last November, Google and the FBI busted a major ad-fraud operation that hijacked almost two million devices.

The scam was detailed in a 13-count indictment that brought charges against eight people surrounding their involvement in a digital advertising fraud scheme referred to as '3ve' and Methbot.

WHAT ARE 3VE AND METHBOT?

Methbot was a sprawling advertising fraud scheme.

It involved scammers collecting false clicks on ad campaigns by linking them to false IP addresses.

The operation netted the scammers as much as $5 million a day.

Security vendor WhiteOps eventually shut the scheme down in 2016.

Similarly, 3ve was an ad fraud operation that distributed malware on millions of devices to generate fake clicks on ad campaigns.

Scammers infected some 2 million devices and created 60,000 fake accounts with digital ad companies.

It raked in an alleged $29 million.

(2nd April 2019)


HOW EASTERN EUROPEAN GANGS FLY INTO UK ON "FRAUD HOLIDAYS" TO STEAL THOUSANDS OF BANK DETAILS
(The Sun, dated 21st March 2019 author Emma Pietras)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thesun.co.uk/news/8681837/eastern-european-gangs-uk-fraud-itv-documentary/

EASTERN European gangs are flying into Britain to steal thousands of bank account details from our cash points before returning home "millionaires", according to police.

One criminal gang alone harvested details worth more than £3million in the space of a few days after cloning card and pin numbers with a skimming device.

This shocking scale of fraud is revealed in a new ITV documentary, Fraud: How They Steal Your Bank Account, as it follows detectives from a specialist police unit in a bid to tackle Britain's fastest growing crime.

Detective Superintendent Perry Stokes says: "They are basically coming over for a very short period of time, a couple of weeks, to commit wholesale ATM fraud. It's almost like a fraud holiday."

Detective Sergeant Phil Elms adds: "You have these guys coming over into the UK for a week and can go back millionaires, effectively."

With exclusive access to the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), the documentary, which airs tonight, sees officers receive a tip off that Oleg Borta, the head of European operations for a major international crime syndicate is en route to the UK.

After landing in London, the team's surveillance team follow Moldovan Borta as he travels around the country collecting skimming devices from cash points.

Skimming gangs now target cash machines in provincial towns because there are fewer police and CCTV cameras.

They track Borta to what the team suspect is the gang's UK safe house in Purfleet, Essex, before detaining him at the airport as he goes to pick up an accomplice.

Detectives carry out a search of the safe house and discover a bag full of skimming equipment as well as secret cameras to record pin numbers and a laptop used to store people's details.

A forensic analysis of the gang's phones and computers reveal they had cloned 11,000 bank card details.

Detective Constable Andy Lovett says: "It's over £3 million of estimated losses and this is just from one criminal gang. There's several of these gangs all over the country that are operating so this barely touches the surface of what's happening in the UK."

Borta and his accomplice Vasilii Mereacre are arrested, later pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud.

They were sentenced to seven and five and a half years respectively.

BANK CARDS ARE 'HOLY GRAIL' FOR CROOKS


The DCPCU, made up of detectives from The City of London and Metropolitan Police, is funded by the banking industry and has made £600 million in savings from reduced fraud activity since it was set up in 2002.

But as banks work hard to toughen security at cash machines, criminal gangs are turning to alternative avenues to steal our money, including corrupt bank staff who can steal account details to order.

Det Supt Stokes explains: "What's the Holy Grail to them is actually getting hold of physical cards. So we've seen a migration for criminal gangs looking for vulnerabilities.

"We've seen people working in a position of trust, might be a bank employee, actually targeted by the organised crime group and recruited, almost groomed to pass on the information."

Officers investigating a series of bank card thefts from housing estates across east London find a victim who took pictures of the gang as they stole her card from her communal post box.

Detectives discover the gang were tipped off about the victim's card being delivered by corrupt bank employee Zuned Ahmed.

Detective Fiona Roope explains: "He accessed her account and requested a passcode, a card and a PIN for her savings account.

"And then a card and PIN has been issued and intercepted by the people that she has then taken photographs of. And then later on a loan of £35,000 has been agreed."

The officers discover Ahmed also illegally accessed 26 other victims' accounts, allowing the gang to steal more than £160,000.

Police learn Ahmed had been working at Barclays just three months and started stealing accounts as soon as he got the job.

Ahmed is arrested and later pleads guilty to fraud by abuse of position, receiving a reduced sentence of 33 months.

Detective Roope says: "The majority of the time it's the bank insider that obviously gets found out or arrested and charged - and the people higher up in the organised crime gangs are the ones that get away with it, don't get their hands dirty."

How to pot a cash machine skimming device


Skimming devices are attached to the cash machine to record the details from the magnetic stripe of a card while a miniature camera captures the PIN being entered.

A fake magnetic stripe card is then produced and used with the genuine PIN to withdraw cash.

The clip-on skimmers don't tend to sit perfectly on to the machines they are attached to.

It can be a good idea to check the cash machine next to yours and wiggle the equipment to check there aren't any rogue parts which have been attached by a crook.

Covering the keypad with your hand can also stop thieves being able to steal your pin using a hidden camera.

How to keep safe at an ATM

- Try and use ATMs in well-lit areas which are visible to other members of the public.
- Shield the screen and keyboard so thieves can't 'shoulder surf'.
- Put your cash, card and recepit away immediately.
- Memorise your PIN, never write it down and carry it with you.
- Check your ATM receipts against your monthly bank statements.
- If you notice anything suspicious related to your account, cancel your card immediately.

(2nd April 2019)


DATA BREACHES DRIVE LOSSES FROM FRAUD UP TO £1.2bn
(City AM, dated 21st March 2019 author Jessica Clark)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.cityam.com/275062/data-breaches-drive-losses-fraud-up-12bn

The theft of personal information following data breaches drove an increase in money stolen through fraud to £1.2bn last year.

A number of well known companies suffered high profile data breaches in 2018, including Facebook, Google, and British Airways.

Unauthorised fraud, where the account holder is not duped into approving a payment, was up 16 per cent compared to 2017, according to the latest data by UK Finance.

The money lost to cheque fraud soared by 109 per cent to £21m and losses from unauthorised transactions on payment cards were up 19 per cent to £671m.

Meanwhile, £354m was lost through authorised push payment scams, which trick customers into authorising a payment to another account which is controlled by a criminal.

However, the banking and finance industry was able to prevent a total of £1.66bn worth of fraud last year.

UK Finance managing director of economic crime Katy Worobec said: "Fraud is a crime that is a major threat to us all - it can have a devastating impact on victims and the money stolen funds even more damaging criimes such as terrorism, drug trafficking and people smuggling.

"Every business, from online retailers to social media companies , as well as the public sector, has a duty to work together to beat fraud and prevent stolen data getting into the hands of criminals. "

(2nd April 2019)


FRAUDSTER BANKED OVER £100k BLACKMAILING MARRIED MEN IN INTERNET SEX RACKET
(Mirror, dated 20th March 2019 author Louie Smith)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/fraudster-banked-over-100k-blackmailing-14164899

A fraudster banked more than £100,000 by blackmailing married men in an internet sex racket.

Shannon Lee, 21, contacted victims through the controversial sugar daddy dating website SeekingArrangement.

Using pictures of women lifted from the internet, she posed as 'Sophie'.

She lured her victims on the Las Vegas-based site into sex chats, an internet con known as 'catfishing'.

Lee switched communication on to the encrypted mobile message service WhatsApp and threatened to expose the "embarrassing" exchanges to wives, family members or friends.

Jobless Lee, from Netley, Hants, pressured one victim into paying by telling him: 'Tick tock, time is almost up."

She sent threats to others, including: "You'll make the transfer or you'll be exposed. I've told you how things will happen. You've got until 11.22pm.

"I don't care what's criminal, I need to keep a roof over my head and I've given you an option."

Payments of £100,000-plus were found in her account, including £40,000 from one man targeted from 2016 to 2018.

Southampton crown court heard she was arrested after a victim, a foreign student in the UK, reported the scam.

Judge Peter Henry described Lee, who admitted fraud and blackmail, as "cold, callous and vindictive" before jailing her for 32 months.

He added: "You admitted you were enjoying the thrill of putting pressure on these men. You admitted you were being greedy and excited when you were scamming these people. You were controlling these men."

(2nd April 2019)


THESE ARE THE 12 MOST COMMON PHISHING EMAIL SUBJECT LINES CYBER CRIMINALS USE TO FOOL YOU
(ZD Net, dated 19th March 2019 author Danny Palmer)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.zdnet.com/article/these-are-the-12-most-common-phishing-email-subject-lines-cyber-criminals-use-to-fool-you/

The most common subject lines used in phishing emails targeting businesses show how cyber criminals are exploiting urgency, personalisation and pressure in order to trick victims into clicking on malicious links, downloading malware or otherwise surrendering confidential or sensitive corporate information.

Cyber criminals are well aware that people respond to dozens if not hundreds of emails a day - and this is reflected in the most common subject lines used when conducting business email compromise attacks.

After analyzing 360,000 phishing emails over a three-month period, researchers at cybersecurity company Barracuda Networks have detailed the most common lines used in phishing attacks - these subject lines are the most common because it's highly likely they're often the most successful bait for reeling in victims.

According to Barracuda's spear phishing report, by far the most common subject line used in attacks is simply 'Request' - accounting for over a third of all the phishing messages analysed. That's followed in popularity with messages containing 'Follow up' or 'Urgent/Important' in the subject line.

The simple trick attackers are using here is to make potential victims think they need to open and respond to the email as a matter of urgency - especially if the message is designed to look as if it comes from one of their colleagues, or their boss. That could nudge the victim into responding quickly, without thinking, especially if it claims to come from a board-level executive.

The top subject lines according to Barracuda analysis are based around the following key phrases:

1.  Request
2.  Follow up
3.  Urgent/Important
4.  Are you available?/Are you at your desk?
5.  Payment Status
6.  Hello
7.  Purchase
8.  Invoice Due
9.  Re:
10. Direct Deposit
11. Expenses
12. Payroll

'Are you at your desk' uses the trick of familiarly to try and coax victims into falling for the attack, while subjects suggesting the email is part of a previous conversation are also used for a similar goal - to trick the user into trusting the sender.

Many of the most-used subject lines also refer to finance and payments; if the recipient thinks they might lose money if they don't respond, they'll likely jump to it. The same also goes for messages about payments - an employee might think it will look bad if they leave somebody without being paid, especially if the request comes from someone who is their senior.

"Increasingly the social element is becoming the key "attack vector" in cybersecurity attacks. In the past, attackers sent ransomware emails, which actually took over the computer and encrypted the files, asking for a ransom," Asaf Cidon, VP for content security at Barracuda Networks told ZDNet.

"But today, they don't even need to send ransomware. They can simply use social manipulation to get the recipient to send a ransom - which is far cheaper, more effective and harder to detect."

To avoid falling victim to phishing attacks, cybersecurity researchers recommend the implementation of DMARC authentication to avoid domain spoofing, along with the deployment of multi-factor authentication to provide users with an extra layer of protection. Those techniques should be combined with user training and the use of security software.

(2nd April 2019)


WARNING FOR SMALL BUSINESSES OVER INVOICE SCAMS
(Daily Mail, dated 15th March 2019 author Angelique Ruzicka)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/money/smallbusiness/article-6804459/Business-invoice-scams-rise-heres-stay-safe.html?ito=1490

Fraudsters are increasingly targeting businesses with fake invoices in order to scam them out of cash, data suggests.

One in seven small-to-medium sized firms in Britain has fallen victim to an invoice scam in the last 12 months, Barclays says.

With businesses likely to have numerous staff working in accounts along with a healthy bank balance, they are in the crosshairs of fraudsters.

Essentially, invoice scams attempt to trick companies into paying out on what looks like a legitimate bill addressed to them.

More than a quarter - 28 per cent - of reported invoice scams resulted in losses of more than £5,000, according to the high street bank.

Criminals tend to get hold of genuine business invoice details, including payment details, and pose as legitimate business suppliers to take payment from an unknowing business owners or their employees.

These staff members believe they are paying a genuine invoice and then willingly transfer company money directly to the criminals.

Ian Rand, chief executive of Barclays business banking, said: 'Fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated with the methods they use to target Britain's hard-working SMEs and unfortunately, we know that impersonation fraud and invoice scams are on the rise.'

The bank's figures also reveal that hotspots for scams include the West Midlands, the South West, the East and London.

Statistics reveal that many scams could be easily avoidable - only a quarter of employees processing an invoice double-checked with a colleague before making a payment.

Meanwhile, a similar number said they were scammed because they trusted the email address it was sent from.

The bank highlighted that the impact of such scams on businesses and individuals is considerable, with nearly one in five SME leaders admitting they have had to cover the full cost of a scam.

Despite this, due to lack of time, only 19 per cent say they conduct invoice training for all staff to help them spot a fake invoice.

Often scam victims find it difficult retrieving the money or getting their banks to reverse the transaction as transfers are often conducted instantaneously.

Banks have been hesitant to award refunds as they claim those who transferred the money to a fraudulent account acted negligently.

But banking fraud victims who lose cash to push payment scams may soon be able to get their money back if their bank subscribes to a new code this year, which has been published by the Authorised Push Payment Scams Steering Group.

This new rule could also pave the way for business owners to get their money back too.

When asked if there are ways that SMEs can get their money back from the bank, a Barclays spokesperson responded: 'We take each specific case of fraud or scam very seriously and will continue to look at customer issues on a case by case basis.

'We are invested in helping people arm themselves with the knowledge and the tools to stop scams from happening in the first place, which is why we are issuing warnings like this.

'We have no higher priority than the protection of our customers' funds and have invested significantly in fraud and scam prevention initiatives.

'Alongside our prevention work we also help arm the public with information and tools to spot and stop fraud and scams, including major TV advertising.'

The spokesperson adds that once the scam is realised it is vital that it gets reported to the bank as soon as possible either by contacting the fraud department or visiting a local branch.

'When a customer is tricked into paying their money to a criminal, the bank has no way of intervening in advance, and therefore we urge people to check payment details very carefully and to call the company in advance of large payments if they are in any doubt.'

Rand adds: 'We want to arm businesses with as much information as possible on common scams so that they can avoid falling prey to fraudsters.

'Our network of over 1,500 relationship managers are delivering advice clinics to SMEs across the country - arming them with valuable information on all aspects of business resilience, including digital safety.'

Six top tips to help businesses avoid invoice scams

o help businesses stay vigilant, Ian Rand warned against the dangers of invoice scams, issuing top tips to SMEs on how to stay safe:

1. New invoices should always be checked

Call the business on a trusted number on your company files and not that on the invoice or email to check the account details are accurate

Don't assume an email, call or text is genuine - especially if something doesn't look right or the payment details are different.

Be on your guard - only 24 per cent of SMEs surveyed said they would call the supplier or partner they are dealing with to check that the request is legitimate.

2. Train staff to detect fake invoices

One in ten SME employees said that they would not know how to spot a fake invoice. Find out more about how to recognise scams and protect against them on the Barclays fraud advice website.

3. Check new bank details on invoices


Barclays advises having a clear procedure for making payments in your firm and get a second opinion.

A third (33 per cent) of CEOs, founders or managing directors do not get oversight on invoices before they are approved. If you're ever unsure about the invoice you are dealing with, it's always best to get a second pair of eyes.

4. If you feel pressured or anxious, take your time and always ask for support

When asked how falling victim to an invoice scam impacted the business, sadly, 15 per cent said it had a significant impact on their mental health and 13 per cent said the experience had such a severe impact that the employee responsible left the business.

A legitimate company will not mind waiting, especially if it avoids putting employees in an uncomfortable position.

5. Get help from your bank


Talk to your Barclays business team or relationship manager for guidance on how to recognise and protect against common scams.

6. Act swiftly

SMEs should get in touch immediately with Barclays via their business team or the direct call feature in their mobile banking app if they feel they have been the victim of a scam.

(2nd April 2019)


NEW DIRECTORY LEAVES FRAUD BLACK HOLE FOR CONSUMERS
(Telegraph, dated 15th March 2019 author Adam Williams)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/new-directory-leaves-fraud-black-hole-consumers/

Consumers will be unable to check whether their financial adviser is reputable for an entire year, despite the City watchdog announcing the launch of a new industry database.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) plans to introduce a directory that will allow consumers to check whether their adviser is licensed to offer financial services.

This is intended to supersede the much-criticised FCA register. Telegraph Money has repeatedly reported on failings with the register, which in some instances have cost investors tens of thousands of pounds.

The launch of the FCA directory is a response to this criticism. However, a year-long information black hole will be created as the majority of advisers will be removed from the register in December 2019 even though the new directory will not appear until December 2020.

In this period customers will have no easy means to check whether their adviser is legitimate. Only senior managers, such as company owners, will be verifiable.

Ben Yearsley of Shore Financial, an adviser, described the 12-month gap as "just plain daft". He said it would leave consumers in the dark about whether their adviser was reputable.

A spokesman for the FCA said it was "aware of the issue" and was taking steps to ensure "appropriate public information" was available.

(2nd April 2019)


TV LICENSING "DIRECT DEBIT DECLINED" FRAUDSTERS HAVE CONNED PEOPLE OF £830k IN PAST YEAR
(Cornwall Live, dated 14th March 2019 author Max Channon)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.cornwalllive.com/news/uk-world-news/tv-licensing-direct-debit-declined-2646159

Hundreds of people have fallen for a TV Licensing scam - which  has netted fraudsters more than £800,000 in less than year

Bogus emails, purporting to be from the TV licensing authority, attempt to trick victims into handing over their bank details - sometimes by claiming their direct debit has been declined

One such email reads "We're sorry to let you know that the TV License could not be automatically renewed. Something's gone wrong with your payments.

"As we couldn't take the latest payment from your bank account, this amount will also need to be paid when you set up your new Direct Debit.
 
"Remember, if you don't keep up with your payments, we may be forced to cancel your license or pass your details to a debt collection agency."

 "To change your payment method, have a look at all your options.  So, all you need to do is make sure there's enough money in your account.  Or , if you prefer to pay the missed amount now, you can sign in online and pay using your debit or credit card.   While you're signed in, please make sure we have your correct bank details."

The email urges the recipient  to click a link to set up a new direct debit.

The national Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, Action Fraud, says: "An ongoing TV Licensing phishing campaign, first identified by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) in September 2018, continues to be reported to Action Fraud in high numbers.

"Fraudsters are sending the public fake TV Licensing emails that are designed to steal their personal and financial information. Since April 2018, Action Fraud has received over 900 crime reports with victim losses totalling more than £830,000."

How you can protect yourself:


- Don't click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails and never respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial details.

- Don't assume a phone call or email is authentic, even if someone knows your basic details (such as your name or address). Remember, criminals can spoof phone numbers and email addresses to appear as companies you know and trust, such as TV Licensing.

- Your bank will never call and ask you for your PIN, full banking password, or ask you to transfer money out of your account.

What to do if you've fallen victim:

- Let your bank know as soon as possible and monitor your bank statements regularly for any unusual activity.
   
- If you suspect your identity may have been stolen you can check your credit file quickly and easily online. Use a reputable service provider and follow up on any unexpected or suspicious results.
   
- If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, report it to Action Fraud at  actionfraud.police.uk , or by calling 0300 123 2040.

(2nd April 2019)


BANKING FRAUD VICTIMS WHO LOSE CASH TO PUSH-PAYMENT SCAMS WILL GET LOST CASH BACK FROM MAY
(This is Money, author George Nixon / Mail Online, author Charlie Bayliss dated 5th March 2019)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/beatthescammers/article-6760125/Banks-code-make-easier-scam-victims-compensated.html

Victims of authorised push payments may be entitled to get their money back if their banks sign-up to new industry rules from the end of May.

Under a voluntary code of practice, customers will be reimbursed in the event of an APP scam, even in cases where no one is found to be at fault.

Consumers may also be entitled to a refund if their bank failed to set-out standards and customer did everything asked of them

The new legislation will come into effect on May 28. People who have fallen victim to the scam before the legislation came into effect may not be eligible to claim their money back as the ruling is not retrospective.

From the day their application to their bank is submitted, customers should be entitled to their compensation within 15 working days.

The new code has been agreed and published by the Authorised Push Payment Scams Steering Group, set up at the start of 2018 and made of up representatives from banks and consumer groups.

It was designed to offer a greater level of protection to victims of APP scams.

These are scams in which a customer is tricked into authorising a payment to a scammer directly, often posing as the 'fraud team' of their bank. 

It is unclear just how many of these scams have taken place, but one Metro Bank customer, who wanted to remain anonymous, was scammed out of £20,000.

He told The Guardian: 'I've used internet banking for over 15 years and have never been a victim of online fraud; however after only seven weeks of being a Metro customer I have fallen victim to online fraud.

'I wish I read the review before opening the account as I see this appears to be a bigger problem with Metro.'

Another APP victim was Angelene Bungay, of Shrewsbury, who was conned out of £13,000 by someone posing as a builder carrying out her loft conversion. Her bank refused to pay out. 

Figures from September 2018 published by trade body UK Finance revealed consumers lost £92.9million to these scams in the first half of last year.

The final version came after a draft code published last September was put out to consultation.

Payment providers who sign up to the code will commit to protecting their customers from APP fraud and to prevent accounts from being used to launder the proceeds of APP fraud.

In a response to that consultation published at the end of January, some of the UK's biggest high street banks - including Barclays, Lloyds, Nationwide and Santander - criticised the draft, arguing that the changes could lead to payment providers being held liable for fraud even if they were not responsible for it.

Barclays said in its response: 'We disagree with the notion that payment service providers should accept all liability for a scam in the instance that "no blame" can be attributed to either party.'

Lloyds added: 'We believe it does not necessarily follow that a payment service provider should directly bear the cost or reimbursement in such 'no blame' cases'.

However, the banks do not appear to have got their way, with Hannah Nixon of the Payment Systems Regulator saying that they 'had done the right thing for their customers in backing this measure.'

The final published code states: 'When a customer has been the victim of an APP scam firms should reimburse the customer' providing they took sufficient care and heeded any warnings.

The steering group behind the code said that 'the precise long-term funding arrangements' for reimbursing customers in scams where neither bank nor customer were to blame "are in the process of being agreed".'

It is a blow for the banks who had reservations about that part of the code.

The group added: 'The PSPs, supported by the Payment Service Regulator, have committed to work together to introduce a longer-term funding mechanism for January 2020.'

A number of PSPs will fund an initial contribution to allow victims in a 'no blame' scenario to be reimbursed between May and December this year.

Ruth Evans, independent chair of the Steering Group, said: 'APP fraud is a crime that can have a devastating impact on victims and this voluntary code is a major milestone in protecting customers.

'With payment service providers and consumer groups working together to create a lasting and fair solution for all, the code will also help to stop these scams occurring in the first place.

'For the first time under the code any customer of a signatory payment service provider will be fully reimbursed if they are the victim of an APP scam, met the standards expected of them and their provider did not meet the standards expected of them under the Code.

'We now want to encourage as many payment service providers as possible to sign up to the Code before it comes into effect.'

Nixon, the managing director of the PSR, added: 'The code is a testament to the significant work that has gone into protecting people from APP scams.

'It shows that by bringing together consumer and industry representatives, very positive outcomes can be achieved.

'We're particularly pleased that the steering group has been able to navigate and agree a way to reimburse victims when neither victim nor bank has done anything wrong.

'This was a tough issue that rightly involved much discussion, but the banks have done the right thing for their customers in backing this measure.

'We will continue to engage with developments in the code and longer-term funding mechanism closely so that consumers get the protection and benefits intended.

'We will consider whether any further steps would help bring this about.'

Gareth Shaw, head of money at consumer group Which?, who were represented on the steering group, said: 'The publication of this code is a significant step - but it will only be judged a success if the action taken by banks results in fewer scams and if all victims are treated fairly and reimbursed swiftly.

'It is now vital that all banks, building societies and other payment service providers sign up to the voluntary code and ensure that victims are not forced to clear unreasonable hurdles to prove they are not at fault when they have been targeted by fraudsters.

'The banks must also ensure a long-term funding solution is in place by 1 January 2020, so there can never be a return to the days when people were losing life-changing sums of money through no fault of their own.'

Six ways to outfox the cyber-criminals (Compiled by Laura Shannon)

- ASSUME any caller claiming to be your bank or utility provider could be a fraudster.

It might sound unfair and the call may be genuine - but being sceptical from the start could help protect you.

- CALL your bank back on a different phone line if you are not sure a call is authentic.

Use the phone number on the back of your credit or debit card. If calling from the same phone wait at least five minutes for the current call to be disconnected. Otherwise a fraudster could simply stay on the line while you dial.

- KNOW the hallmarks of fraud. There will be convincing lies throughout a scam and the perpetrators will sound intelligent and authoritative.

But typical requests include being asked to: provide a code, a PIN, move money to a different account, repay a sum accidentally put in to your account, reveal passwords or allow remote access to your computer. Do not comply.

- BE careful about what links you click on emails, or what attachments you open. Scammers know how to imitate your friends or big brands in messages.

These links could contain viruses that, once on your computer, allow fraudsters to spy on you when you enter log-in details for online banking. Or they will pose as big brands and demand personal information that you should not surrender.

- UPDATE anti-virus software on your computer and regularly change passwords on online accounts.

- LEARN more ways to protect yourself with help from websites such as takefive-stopfraud.org.uk and getsafeonline.org.

(2nd April 2019)


CRIMINALS HACKING PHONE CODES USED BY CUSTOMERS TO VERIFY BANK TRANSACTIONS
(Telegraph, dated 5th March 2019 author Sam Barker)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/banks-hit-mobile-phone-hackers/

Bank customers are falling prey to a new fraud where criminals hack the codes financial firms send via text messages to verify transactions.

As an anti-fraud measure, some banks send customers a unique code by text message that must be entered to allow a transfer or payment.

These messages are designed to boost security, but now criminals have worked out how to intercept and exploit them.

Earlier this month hackers broke into messages sent by Metro Bank, allowing them to steal money from accounts where they had already gathered users' details.

A Metro Bank spokesman said a small number of people were affected and all were compensated.

Telegraph Money can reveal the problem also hit Santander.

A Santander spokesman said: "In the small number of cases where Santander customers have been affected they have been contacted and fully refunded for any loss."

Criminals have been exploiting an agreement called System Signalling 7 (SS7), which lets users of different mobile phone networks call and text each other.

These hackers can read text messages, listen to calls and track where mobile phones are.

The roll-out of more secure 5G networks this year is expected to limit vulnerability, but for now the problem is likely to worsen, for two reasons.

First, the ability of criminals to carry out SS7 frauds is increasing.

Michael Downs, of Positive Technologies, a software firm, said: "It's not simple, but it's a lot easier than it was two years ago. You are going to see more of these attacks."

Second, opportunities for hackers will grow - ironically as tougher new payment laws come into force.

From September, new European Union laws will mandate an extra security check when using a credit or debit card to buy something online worth €30 (£25.63) or more.

Banks will have to add a second level of security, known as Strong Customer Authentication.

As well as "something you know" such as a password, banks have to choose a second check based on "something you have", such as a mobile phone or other device, or "something you are", such as your fingerprint.

As a result, more banks will rely on sending out verification text messages.

Fraudsters can work around the new system even without SS7 access.

Two small businesses that bank with Metro and use the new system were hit by scammers on Jan 23, losing £20,000 between them.

The firms are The Foxglove pub in London, and a gin distillery called Pocketful of Stones, in Penzance.

Paul Motley, 54, co-runs the distillery with Shaun Bebington, 39, and both men also run the pub with Kimberley Daal, 28.

Fraudsters initially moved £8,000 from the distillery account into the account of the pub, then took £20,000 in total from the pub account.

The attack nearly bankrupted the pub, which opened six weeks earlier.

To transfer the money, either the fraudsters or Mr Motley needed to input a code from a text sent by Metro.

Mr Motley said he never received this text. Metro Bank will not refund either business.

A spokesman claimed the attack was not an SS7 fraud and that Mr Motley somehow revealed his security details to the fraudster, making it his fault.

Mr Motley said the idea he had authorised the fraud was "ridiculous".

###What are banks supposed to do when customers report fraud?

The Payments Systems Regulator, the independent watchdog, has laid out the correct actions banks should take when their customers report a bank transfer scam in its response to the supercomplaint made by Which? in September 2016, which demands banks take more responsibility for money lost in such cases, as they do with card fraud and unauthorised payments.

The PSR said when a scam victim contacts their bank, it will first collect information from the customer to "enable it to investigate the matter further" and then contact the fraudster's bank and "attempt to recover the payment on behalf of their customer".

The Financial Ombudsman, the independent resolution service, said when the customer's bank is alerted to a problem with the payment it would usually expect them to act quickly to try and recover the funds or alert the receiving bank.

(2nd April 2019)


SCAM CALLERS POSING AS TAX OFFICIALS TARGETED AT LEAST 60,000 HOUSEHOLDS IN JUST SIX MONTHS
(Daily Mail, dated 2nd March 2019 authors Tom Kelly and Samantha Partington)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6762789/Scam-callers-posing-tax-officials-targeted-60-000-households.html

Scam callers posing as tax officials targeted at least 60,000 households in just six months.

About 328 victims a day are reporting the telephone fraudsters, who are threatening homeowners with jail unless they repay fake tax debts, HMRC said.

The figures are a rise of 360 per cent on the previous six months and many more are believed to have been targeted but not alerted the taxman.

The elderly and vulnerable are the main victims of the swindlers who usually phone the 26 million homes with a landline.

Those who are not ex-directory are especially at risk because their details are available online.

The shady scheme is part of a massive increase in bank transfer scams which costs customers £1 million a day.

Victims are tricked into making payments into accounts controlled by criminals.

HMRC urged people to stay vigilant and asked them to alert anyone they know with a landline about the scam.

It said in the past year it had helped close more than 450 phone lines the fraudsters use to steal money.

The explosion in tax fraud calls followed a clampdown on similar email and text scams, where swindlers sent messages claiming to be from the taxman to trick victims into paying them.

Treasury minister Mel Stride said: 'We have taken major steps to crack down on text and email scams leaving fraudsters no choice but to try and con taxpayers over the phone.

'If you receive a suspicious call to your landline from someone purporting to be from HMRC which threatens legal action, to put you in jail, or payment using vouchers, hang up and report it to HMRC who can work to take them off the network.'

Pauline Smith, head of the UK's national fraud and cyber reporting centre Action Fraud, said: 'Fraudsters will call your landline claiming to be from reputable organisations such as HMRC.

'Contact like this is designed to convince you to hand over valuable personal details or your money. Don't assume anyone who calls you is who they say they are.

'If a person calls and asks you to make a payment, log in to an online account or offers you a deal, be cautious and seek advice.'

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, added: 'Scammers will use any means possible to cheat people out of their money and we'd urge everyone to be cautious.

'If there are any niggling doubts it is always sensible to end the call and contact the company or government department separately using a phone number taken from a piece of official correspondence or their website.'

In the first six months of last year, £145 million went missing in bank transfer fraud - almost £1 million a day and 50 per cent more than in the same period of 2017, according to trade body UK Finance.

About a quarter of the total losses - £36.6 million - was the result of impersonation fraud. HMRC said it received more than 60,000 reports of phone scams in six months up to January 2019 - a rise of 360 per cent on the six months prior.

It stressed it would only ever call to ask for payment on debts that people are already aware of.

Taxpayers will either have previously received a letter about it or have themselves called HMRC to say they owe some tax.

'Households with a landline number should be vigilant of phone calls from fraudsters pretending to be the tax authority,' a spokesman for HMRC said.

'A rising number of criminals are turning to the traditional method of cold-calling publicly available phone numbers to steal money from taxpayers.'

HMRC said controls introduced in the phone industry have stopped about half a billion scam emails and reduced reported instances of HMRC-branded phone text scams by 90 per cent.

------------------------
SUSSEX RESIDENTS WARNED AFTER 360% INCREASE IN LANDLINE FRAUDS
(Hastings and St Leonards Observer, dated 3rd March 2019 author John Holden)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/news/crime/sussex-residents-warned-after-360-increase-in-landline-frauds-1-8832310

Households with a landline number should be wary of phone calls from fraudsters pretending to be the tax authority, HM Revenue and Customs has warned.

A crackdown on email and SMS phishing has pushed fraudsters back to the more traditional method of cold-calling publicly available phone numbers, which are often landlines.

According to Ofcom, almost 26 million homes have a landline, many of which could be at risk from scams - especially if they are not ex-directory.

Phone scams often target the elderly and vulnerable using HMRC's brand as it is well known and adds credibility to a fraudster's call.

Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said: "Fraudsters will call your landline claiming to be from reputable organisations such as HMRC. Contact like this is designed to convince you to hand over valuable personal details or your money.

"Don't assume anyone who calls you is who they say they are. If a person calls and asks you to make a payment, log in to an online account or offers you a deal, be cautious and seek advice."

HMRC has warned it will only ever call asking for payment relating to a debt the recipient is already aware of, having received a letter or after alerting the HMRC to owed tax, for example through a self-assessment return.

HMRC received more than 60,000 reports of phone scams in the six months up to January 2019, an increase of over 3.5 times compared to the preceding six months.

During the last 12 months, HMRC has worked with the phone networks and Ofcom to close nearly 450 lines being used by fraudsters using boiler room tactics to steal money.

Financial secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride MP, said: "We have taken major steps to crack down on text and email phishing scams, leaving fraudsters no choice but to try and con taxpayers over the phone.

"If you receive a suspicious call to your landline from someone purporting to be from HMRC which threatens legal action, to put you in jail, or payment using vouchers, hang up and report it to HMRC who can work to take them off the network."

If anyone is ever in doubt about who they are speaking to, HMRC advises ending the call and contacting the department using one of the numbers or online services available from gov.uk

-----------------------
(2nd April 2019)


FACEBOOK MUST TACKLE FRAUD, SAYS UK's MOST TRUSTED MAN
(The Times, dated 2nd March 2019 author David Byers)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thetimes.co.uk/article/facebook-must-tackle-fraud-says-uk-s-most-trusted-man-martin-lewis-5vbn5lwzq

The personal finance expert Martin Lewis has attacked Facebook's record on tackling fraud as new figures show that the amount of money being lost to scammers is soaring.

An investigation by The Times reveals that users of social networking sites have been conned out of at least £4.4 million after investing in "get rich quick" schemes that falsely claim to be endorsed either by Lewis or the BBC TV show Dragons' Den since April, when the entrepreneur started legal action against Facebook.

The findings pose fresh questions over the determination of the world's largest social network to fulfil its promise to the founder of Moneysavingexpert to deal with adverts that exploit Lewis's image to defraud victims.

In January £1.38 million was taken from victims using the Dragons Den or Lewis scam, a 13 fold increase from April last year. Lewis, who has been voted the most trusted man in Britain and whose newsletter has 13 million subscribers, announced that he would sue Facebook for defamation over the adverts.

He settled the case in January in return for Facebook agreeing to donate £3 million to setting up a new citizens advice scam-action group and creating a dedicated scam reporting button.

"This is horrific," Lewis told The Times. "I am so sorry for any individuals who have given money to these disgusting, despicable schemes. We need to improve corporate behaviour from social companies to combat this. If you carry these adverts, you must be responsible - if not legally, then certainly morally."

The Times's investiagtion shows how the problem appears to have got rapidly worse since April, when Mike Schroepfer, Facebook's chief technology officer, told MPs that the company had removed "thousands" of adverts promoting investment schemes using fake endorsements from Lewis. Since the start of the month a total of £4,421,256.39 has been reported as having been lost by fraud victims who said they responded to adverts on social media sites that used either the image of Lewis, or Dragons Den.

The figures supplied by Action Fraud, th reporting service run by City of London police, showed that 401 victims had been conned out of and average of £11,025.58 each by these scams during this period.

The figures also show that the fraudsters are persuading their victims to part with dramatically larger amounts of money today than they were in April. Paul Carroll, head of fraud at the Nationa Fraud Intelligence Bureau, said a large number of scam adverts bearing images of Lewis or Dragons Den were displayed on Facebook or Instagram, which Facebook owns.

Facebook and Instagram said yesterday that they were taking action to tackle the adverts. "Fraudsters are continuing to adopt more sophisticated techniques to con people, and we are taking action to stop them," a Facebook spokesman said.

Police inundated by wave of scams

"New technology can be your worst enemy," says Inspector Paul Carroll, chairman of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, which is dealing with a growing caseload of social media investment scams.

According to Experian, the ratings agency, the annual cost of fraud to the public is £190 billion. Mr Carroll and his 90 staff have a mountain of work ontheir hands.

The bureau collates and analyses cases reported to Action Fraud, the reporting service, and if there is enough evidence forwards them to police. It says there has been a particular rise in push-payment fraud, in which the email accounts of businesses are hacked and their customers are sent fake invoices, and pension scams to which victims lose an average of £91,000 each.

As much of digital fraud is committed from outside the EU, prosecution rates are extraordinarily low.

Figures released by Action Fraud show that 237,000 of the 293,900 fraud reports made in 2017-18 were dropped by the NFIB.

Mr Carroll describes it as "a wave that keep coming".

(2nd April 2019)


THESE MAJOR SCAMMERS JUST SWITCHED FOCUS TO AIM AT SCHOOLS, UNIVERSITIES AND CHARITIES
(ZD Net, dated 28th February 2019 author Jack Schofield)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.zdnet.com/article/these-major-scammers-just-switched-focus-to-aim-at-schools-universities-and-charities/

Agari threat researchers say the the fraudster group they call Scarlet Widow has switched from phishing large corporations to attacking "more vulnerable sectors such as school districts, universities, and non-profits, which tend to be more poorly defended".

And instead of demanding bank drafts, it's collecting money via Apple iTunes and Google Play gift cards before trading them for cash.

In a typical scam, a member of staff gets an email that pretends to be from their boss or another senior figure. It asks them to buy gift cards and send them photos of the backs, for reasons that will supposedly be explained later. Agari says the gift cards are being traded on Paxful a legitimate US-based peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange at a reduced rate, then the resulting bitcoins are sold on for cash received via bank transfers.

Gift cards can't easily be blocked or tracked by the banks, though it does mean the average "win" is smaller when they do manage to scam a victim.

It seems this technique is becoming increasingly common. America's FTC said last October that "when people report paying a fraudster with a gift or reload card, about four times out of five the fraud they report is an imposter scam - in fact, gift cards and reload cards are now the number one reported method of payment for imposter scams." (In imposter scams, the fraudsters may pretend to be businesses, bosses, colleagues, family members, friends, or even government agencies.)

Agari says that Scarlet Widow's targets have included "dozens of small-town schools and school districts in Indiana and Wisconsin plus charities, hospitals, churches and a number of universities in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Names and email addresses are often obtained by scraping websites and directories.

The hit-rate for this particular type of phishing - or Business Email Compromise (BEC), as Agari calls it - must be very low, but apparently it's successful enough to be profitable. It should be possible to reduce it with a bit of user education, ie by telling staff that anyone who asks them to send company money using gift cards can be assumed to be a scammer. (They should already know that CEOs and department heads etc typically have more than one debit or credit card, so they're unlikely to need $1,000 worth of iTunes vouchers in a hurry.)

(2nd April 2019)



FEBRUARY 2019

TENANCY DEPOSIT SCHEME ALERT
(Action Fraud, dated 21st February 2019)
www.actionfraud.police.uk/

Action Fraud have received several reports where fraudsters are claiming to be landlords of properties offered for rent online. Prior to a viewing the suspect requests that the individuals pay a deposit and sometimes a month's rent upfront, claiming that this money will be put into the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, and is therefore protected under government legislation.

After the individual pays the money, the suspect sends a bogus email purporting to be from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme confirming they have received their deposit. However, this is not the case as the money was sent directly to an account associated with the suspect and the victim is left out of pocket and without the home they had thought to be putting a deposit on.

What You Need To Do

- Always make sure you, or a reliable contact, has viewed the property with an agent or landlord before agreeing to rent a property.
   
- Don't be rushed or pressured into making a decision. Only transfer funds when you're satisfied a genuine property, safety certificates and valid contract are in place.
   
- Only pay for goods or service by bank transfer if you know and trust the person. Payments via bank transfer offer you no protection if you become a victim of fraud.

- Once you've paid your deposit, you can check whether it's protected by entering your tenancy deposit certificate code on TDS website (www.tenancydepositscheme.com).

(10th March 2019)


YOUR MOST VALUABLE PERSONAL DETAILS TRADED ON THE DARK WEB
(This is Money, dated 20th February 2019 author George Nixon)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/beatthescammers/article-6721013/Personal-details-sale-dark-web-including-Amazon-BA-Netflix-log-ins.html

Personal login details for some of the world's biggest brands, including Amazon, British Airways, Facebook and Netflix - as well as for the viral free video game Fortnite - are available for as little as £7 on the dark web, data shows.

Analysis of listings on five major dark web marketplaces; Berlusconi, Dream, Empire, Tochka Free and Wallstreet Market, found personal details for everything from shopping sites and streaming services, to identity documents to bank details are on sale.

It means your entire personal identity could be bought for around £800, comparison service Top10VPN claims.

Bank details remained the most coveted and expensive item according to the latest dark web market price index, listing for nearly £350.

However, credit and debit cards and driving licence and passport details were available for far less.

Credit cards could be found listed for an average of £24.91, debit cards £5.69, driving licence for £13.28 and passport for £9.93.

The virtual private network comparison service said a series of data breaches over the last 12 months contributed to the 'thriving' online black market trade in personal details, while it found that some products had jumped in value, often by huge percentages.

Details for British Airways accounts could be purchased for an average of £31.94, a whopping 375 per cent increase in value since 2018.

The report says: 'Criminals need to travel too. In accessing BA accounts, fraudsters can siphon off points that can be used on multiple airlines - making these logins even more valuable.'

The airline said last year that around 244,000 payment cards were put at risk by a data breach that occurred between 21 August and 5 September 2018, meaning scammers could potentially get hold of customer's names, email addresses, and credit card details - including the three digit CVV code on the back of the card.

The airline's owner International Airlines Group added that up to 77,000 customers who made reward bookings using a payment card between 21 April and 28 July 2018, a month before the larger breach, could also have had their personal and card details stolen.

Other details that spiralled in price over the last 12 months include logins for the dating website Match.com, which rose 168 per cent to around £6, as well as personal details for accounts with tech firms Amazon and Facebook, ride hailing app Uber, and streaming service Netflix.

Both Facebook and Uber faced scandals over data breaches in 2018, with Facebook announcing last September that almost 50million accounts were vulnerable to a takeover by hackers, while Uber was fined nearly £115million by UK and US authorities following a 2016 data breach that affected 35million customers and 3.7million drivers.

The price of Facebook details increased by 86 per cent to £6.96 in 2019, and Uber details by 52 per cent to £7.61.

The comparison site said the Facebook price increase reflected its 'heightened potential for fraud as its users increasingly tether payment details to the site to play in-app games and use the Marketplace.'

Meanwhile, for Uber, it added: 'As with stolen BA details, hacked Uber accounts allow users to get around using someone else's details.

'There have also been reports of scammers using hacked Uber accounts for their everyday travel, usually deep in Russia.'

However Amazon topped both with the average price of personal details rising by 114 per cent over the last 12 months to £14.53.

The online shopping giant admitted it exposed an unknown number of customer names and email addresses after a 'technical error' on its website last November, days before Black Friday, but refused to give any more details.

The report claims: 'Stolen Amazon accounts have tripled in price, which may be in anticipation of a wider rollout for Amazon Go - thieves would be able to wander in, fill a trolley and leave without detection.'

Netflix account details are selling for an average of £8.19, an increase of 37 per cent on last year, which is slightly more than the £7.99 it costs per month for your own account.

Simon Migliano, head of research at Top10VPN, said: 'Just any like other marketplace, dark web markets are susceptible to the ebbs and flows of supply and demand.

'Last year's serious security breaches involving Facebook and British Airways customers led to vast quantities of personal data flooding these black market sites.

'The high profile nature of these hacks has also created quite the appetite for these stolen account details, meaning that prices have notably jumped since last year too.'

One name that might not instinctively make sense is Fortnite.

The Battle Royale game became a global phenomenon among young and old alike attracting more than 125million players, including celebrities like England footballers Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard.

While it is free, it offers in-game micro-transactions like unique skins and items, which can be purchased with an in-game currency 'v bucks', bought using your own money.

They offer no competitive advantage but are often purchased because they look cool aesthetically.

Simon added that it was these items scammers were after, saying: 'Hacked Fortnite accounts are actually more appealing for using stored credit cards to splurge on highly desirable in-game perks than for broader fraudulent schemes.'

The game fell victim to a data breach of its own last year, with developer Epic Games alerted to a hole last November that allowed hackers to control customers' accounts and make purchases.

Epic has confirmed it has since the flaw, discovered by cybersecurity firm Check Point Software Technologies.

Simon said: 'Storing payment information across a whole range of online accounts - even social media - is now par for the course for the majority of consumers as it's simply so convenient.

'The downside is that if a fraudster gains access to one account they then, essentially, have the keys to the kingdom.

'What this all serves to underline is how web users need to remain constantly vigilant as identity thieves can access personal details in a variety of ways.

'As well as always using unique passwords, encrypting connections to WiFi hotspots with a VPN is a must.

'It's otherwise all too easy for hackers to swipe sensitive data transmitted via these public networks.'

Paul Ducklin, senior technologist at cybersecurity firm Sophos, said: 'You need to take price lists like this with a pinch of salt.

'Prices can vary by seller for many reasons, including the likelihood of the password actually working, the usefulness of the account, the amount you are willing to haggle, and the age of the stolen data.

'It's not like the price of a litre of petrol, where the quantity and quality of what you are buying is regulated and consistent across all sellers, so that prices can be directly compared.

'Nevertheless, the price lists do make both fascinating and worrying reading.

'Online accounts have genuine value to crooks, and that makes them an attractive target.

'The existence of a "password bazaar" is also an important reminder that cybercrooks can and do specialise - the crook who stole your password doesn't also need the skills to milk your account, write malware or hack your website.

'He can simply sell the data on to the next guy, so what happens to you tomorrow depends on who's buying today.'

What your financial details and ID documents could be selling for on the dark web
(Source: Top10VPN.com)

Bank details :    £347.68
Credit Card :    £24.91
Western Union : £22.47
PayPal     : £14.06
Driving Licence : £13.28
Passport : £9.93
Debit card : £5.69

What your online shopping account could be selling for on the dark web

(Source: Top10VPN.com)

Morrisons : £15.95
Amazon     : £14.53
eBay     : £13.89
La Redoute : £13.00
Foot Locker : £11.33
Studio     : £10.86
JD Williams : £9.87
Nectar : £7.02
Gap : £5.37
Nike : £4.20

The personal information that's gone up the most on the dark web since 2018
(Source: Top10VPN.com )

British Airways    : £31.94 (+375%)
Match.com : £6     (+168%)
Amazon : £14.53 (+114%)
Facebook : £6.96 (+86%)
Uber : £7.61     (+52%)
Netflix : £8.19 (+37%)
Twitter : £1.54 (+8%)

(10th March 2019)


POLICE WARNNG OVER DOMINO'S PIZZA SCAM
(Leicester Mercury, dated 15th February 2019 author Adam Care)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/police-warning-over-dominos-pizza-2548575

Criminals are trying to entice people into giving away their personal data with the promise of free pizza.

Police officers are warning of a new online scam, that sees fraudsters impersonating Domino's Pizza.

Somerset Live reports Dorset Police's Cyber Crime Unit first flagged the scam online.

They're advising people who stumble across the ads "DON'T CLICK ON THE LINK!"

The adverts have been appearing on a Facebook account called 'Domino's Club' which is claiming to offer two free pizzas and £8 vouchers to everyone who comments and shares the post.

People who comment and share are then sent a 'voucher' to their inbox from the account, which the police warn is actually a computer virus.

A spokesman from Dorset Police's Cyber Crime Unit said: "Right... let's try and nip this one in the bud before it lands on our Cyber Protect Officers actual news feed.

"No, Dominos aren't giving away 2 free pizzas. No, Dominos aren't giving away £8 vouchers.

"This one is actually fairly serious, as the page states you'll receive a "voucher" in your Facebook Messages. You'll receive a link that they'll encourage you to click, which will invariably lead to either a phishing site, or a malware download.

"I'm that certain of it that, if I were wrong, I'd pay for your two large pizzas myself! (In the spirit of full disclosure, I am not actually going to do that. DON'T CLICK ON THE LINK!)."

(10th March 2019)


HALF-TERM HOLIDAYMAKERS WARNED OVER CHEAP FLIGHTS PHONE SCAM
(Telegraph and Argus, dated 14th February 2019 author Michael Black)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/17433013.half-term-holidaymakers-warned-over-cheap-flights-phone-scam/

 Half-term holidaymakers are being warned to watch out for cold calling fraudsters offering cheap flights abroad.

Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, has received 110 reports with total losses of £98,043 relating to fraudulent flight ticket sellers.

Victims are being cold called by fraudsters purporting to be travel companies - and intelligence suggests they appear to know that the victim has recently been searching to book flights online.

It is suspected that this is because the victim has entered their details into a bogus website while looking for flights.

The victim is then tempted into making a payment after being given a deliberately low quote for the desired flights.

After making a payment, victims have reported receiving a confirmation email but they have then found out from the airline that their booking does not exist and the fraudster has cut off contact.

Action Fraud is reminding people to bear in mind that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

It said that people buying tickets from unfamiliar companies should carry out research first, such as searching the company's name on the Abta and Atol databases.

It suggests avoiding paying by bank transfer. Paying by methods such as credit cards or PayPal can give consumers added protections if something goes wrong with a purchase.

And people should not reveal any personal or financial details as a result of a cold call.

Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud said: "We see holiday and flight-related frauds at peak times throughout the year, but this type of fraud is different.

"By contacting people who have recently searched for flights online, the fraudsters are able to gain the victim's trust much more quickly.

"It's essential that people check with Abta and Atol before using a flight ticket website or broker to make sure the site is legitimately authorised."

Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, said: "Travellers are at risk from increasingly sophisticated attempts to sell them fraudulent flight tickets.

"For those unlucky enough to fall victim to this malicious activity, it causes real financial and emotional distress, while also shattering their plans for a holiday or a visit to see family and friends.

"To protect yourself from fake flight tickets research the company you are booking with and if booking online to thoroughly check the web address to make sure it is legitimate."

(10th March 2019)


HOW TO KEEP YOUR DATA SAFE AND YOUR RIGHTS TO MAKE COMPANIES DELETE IT
(Mirror, dated 10th February 2019 author Dean Dunham)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/how-keep-your-data-safe-13971072

Data breaches are a real hot topic. Sensitive, private ­information about you can be misused or ­disclosed by firms or hackers.

Your data includes things like credit card details and passwords to email accounts. Even your birth date could be used by ­criminals to open accounts.

A reader called Wendy, from Leicester, asked for her details to be removed from a marketing list several times.

Yet she continued to be ­bombarded with emails and text messages from a big-name brand.

And Keith, from Lancaster, made a request for information from a car dealership he used.

He was concerned about what personal information they had about him because there had been a report in his paper saying their ­computer had been hacked.

The dealership said they had only his name and address, which Keith knew was wrong.

Your rights for your personal data

Most people have heard of GDPR, which is an EU directive put in place to provide greater ­protections for your personal data.

The UK implemented these rules within the Data Protection Act 2018. This act gives you lots of rights, including.

- The right to be informed when personal data is collected and used.

- The right to access your personal data held by a company by making a request for information or freedom of information request.

- The right to have your ­personal data erased.

- The right to restrict processing of your personal data.

- The right to object to the use of your personal data.

How to complain

If you feel a company is ­flouting the law and therefore breaching your data rights, put your ­complaint in writing to them.

Make sure you fully set out what you are complaining about and mention that the matters you ­are complaining about amount to a breach of the Data Protection Act.

###Escalating your complaint

If your complaint is ignored or you are not satisfied with the response, you can report it to the regulator, the Information Commissioner's Office and/or go to court.

But before spending your money on going to court, I would ­recommend asking the company if they will agree to alternative ­dispute resolution.

There is a specialist scheme called Data Arbitration that deals with disputes in relation to ­breaches of data rights.

Find out more at : dataarbitration.co.uk

(10th March 2019)


NEW TESCO TEXT MESSAGE SCAM THAT USES YOUR NUMBERPLATE TO CON YOU
(Mirror, dated 6th February 2019 author Tommy Wathen)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/new-tesco-text-message-scam-13962417

A dangerous new text message scam is doing the rounds pretending to be from Tesco.

A shopper has warned revealed the scam after sharing a screenshot from her phone to Tesco on Facebook after being sent a message that she didn't understand, reports Essex Live .

Her message to Tesco on Facebook reads: "I'm guessing this is a scam text?!"

The message gives three names and car numberplates along with a message of congratulating them, before asking the customer to confirm by pressing a link in the text.

Links such as these are often part of phishing scams, which let hackers to steal private information from the phone or cause some damage to the device.

In response to her picture, a member of the Tesco team replied to confirm that the text is a scam and that the company's Phishing Team were investigating.

The Tesco spokesperson replied: "Thanks for letting us know about this. I can confirm this is a scam and our Phishing Team are aware and currently investigating.

"Our customers' security is extremely important to us and I'd like to assure you that we would never send any of our customers a message which asks them to input any personal or security details.

"Please send this in an email to phishing@uk.tesco.com and delete the message without clicking on any links and we thank you for your patience while we look into this."

(10th March 2019)


NEW RAPID RESPONSE SCHEME SLAMS DOOR SHUT ON £38m OF FRAUD - HUNDREDS ARRESTED
(Mirror, dated 6th February 2019 author James Andrews)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/new-rapid-response-scheme-slams-13956784

A new "rapid response" scheme from banks and police stopped people from being scammed out of £38 million in 2018 alone.

The banking protocol is designed to help staff to spot when someone is about to fall victim to a scam and try to stop them from withdrawing cash to give to a fraudster.

They can then request an immediate police response to the branch.

As a result of the scheme 231 arrests and 4,240 emergency calls were made last year, figures from trade association UK Finance show.

The average victim was aged 71 and set to lose £8,960 each before the call was made, UK Finance added.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime, UK Finance, said: "Bank branch staff are on the front line in the fight against fraud, as increasingly sophisticated gangs target consumers directly and trick them into withdrawing large sums of cash.

"This rapid response scheme is giving bank staff the tools they need to protect vulnerable customers from scams, while helping local police catch fraudsters and bring them to justice.

"The banking industry will keep taking action on all fronts to combat fraud, working closely with our partners in law enforcement to crack down on the criminal gangs responsible."

UK Finance said there are now 52 payment service providers involved - including all the main high street banks and the Post Office.

Those fully signed have trained up their front-line branch staff in the steps that need to be taken when a customer is at risk.

If a staff member thinks a customer is being tricked by a fraudster, for example making an unusually large cash withdrawal, they are trained to take them aside to ask extra questions.

If their suspicions are confirmed, the staff member contacts the police, who send a priority response to the branch to investigate the suspected fraud.

The scheme has been implemented across all 45 UK police forces since March 2018.

Commander Karen Baxter, head of the City of London Police's economic crime directorate, said: "These statistics show that the scheme has already prevented millions of pounds being lost to fraudsters and as the national lead force for fraud, the City of London Police will continue to combat this crime type."

As well as stopping attempted fraud, the scheme ensures that extra support is provided to those customers affected to help prevent them falling victim to similar scams in the future.

This can include referrals to social services, expert fraud prevention advice and additional checks on future transactions.

More to do

Since it was first introduced in October 2016 a total of £48 million in fraud has been stopped and 408 arrests made.

But Which? said that while the bank branch initiative is producing results, many people are still falling for scams where they are tricked into making bank transfers directly to a fraudster.

Gareth Shaw, head of money, Which?, said: "While it's positive to see the banking protocol producing results and helping to prevent fraud through improved protections in bank branches, overall losses to transfer fraud continue to rise as people fall victim to increasingly complex scams.

"Two years on from our super-complaint and people are still losing life-changing sums of money every day to bank transfer scams.

"We must see new industry rules urgently introduced to halt this worsening crime, alongside an agreement to reimburse victims when they have lost money through no fault of their own."

(10th March 2019)


BOGUS PARKING WARDEN TELLS YOU TO PUT YOUR BANK CARD IN A TICKET MACHINE
(My London, dated 5th February 2019 author Tara O'Connor)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/not-listen-parking-warden-tells-15778978

A fraudster in Merton has been conning disabled people out of money.

The council has warned blue badge holders to watch out for a scam that involves a man pretending to be a council parking attendant.

Merton Council's parking and community safety teams say they've had reports of a man, dressed like a  parking warden, approaching blue badge holders.

But he is most definitely NOT a parking attendant.

This is how he operates:

First, he tells them there is a new council policy to register their vehicle at a parking machine.

That bit's not true at all.

Once he's done that, he tells innocent motorists to put their card into the machine and to enter their PIN... as he watches them type in their number.

Then, he tells them the card has been swallowed and encourages the victim to leave - leaving him in possession of both the card and its PIN.

It's a cruel trick.

And it's led to easy money for him.

One poor victim has had £3,000 stolen from their bank account.

The council's cabinet member for community safety, Councillor Edith Macauley, has encouraged people to be super-careful.

"I would like to reassure our residents and all blue badge holders that we are doing everything we can to stop this person," she said.

"Merton Council would like to confirm that there have been no new changes made to the Blue Badge policy.

"Along with our neighbouring boroughs, all parking enforcement officers will be keeping a close eye out for this man, and we have alerted the local Safer Neighbourhood Teams so that the police can help us track him down."

So, here's the advice:

Councillor Macauley spelled it out.

"I would urge everyone to stay alert to suspicious activity. Never enter your PIN into any cash or payment machine in view of anyone else, and be aware that once you have entered your PIN, it is not possible for the machine to 'swallow' your card.

"If you are concerned you have been conned, contact your bank immediately so that your card can be cancelled."

uaware comment

This scam may occured in Merton, but it is easily transferred elsewhere.

(10th March 2019)



JANUARY 2019

YOUTUBE "FAKE REWARD" SCAM TRICKED 70,000 PEOPLE
(Telegraph, dated 30th January 2019 author Natasha Bernal)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2019/01/30/youtube-fake-reward-scam-tricked-70000-people/

Scammers that impersonated YouTube stars to steal their fans' money have claimed 70,000 victims in less than a month, new research has found.

The followers of popular YouTubers including Philip DeFranco, James Charles and Jeffree Star were sent private messages through the online video site, asking them to click on a fraudulent link to redeem a prize.

The scam was unveiled last week when Mr DeFranco posted a warning video to fans on his channel.

Scammers created fake accounts that copied those of famous YouTubers to befriend their fans online and start a conversation to prompt them to click on malicious links, researchers at cyber security company Risk IQ found.

The scam links that were active this month claimed thousands of victims, but could be a small fraction of the amount targeted over two years according to Yonathan Klijnsma, threat researcher at Risk IQ.

He said: "If you were to look at every link since January 2016, you would probably have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of clicks. We don't have an exact number on it, but these scams have been really prevalent online.

A study of the scam showed that unwitting fans were taken through to a website set up by scammers, and are asked to provide their name, address, country and email address to enter a raffle for items including gift cards, video games, or an iPhone X.

Once they have completed their personal details, the website tells them they have won the item and prompts them to complete a survey to submit them to the scammers.

"These surveys are what monetise the scam for criminals. Once the visitors fill out the surveys, the organisations that collect this personal information give the scammers a flat-rate kick-back," the RiskIQ study stated. "Even if the kick-backs are tiny, these scammers fool enough users to finance their campaigns and then some."

These scams were so successful because scammers were able to replicate YouTuber's profiles and the websites from companies such as Playstation, Snapchat, Nintendo or Samsung Galaxy, researchers found.

YouTube did not respond to requests to comment.

(10th February 2019)


NETFLIX SCAM EMAIL IS CIRCULATING - HERE'S WHAT TO DO IF YOU RECEIVE IT
(Mirror, dated 29th January 2019 author Shivali Best)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/tech/netflix-scam-email-circulating-heres-13922045

NOTE : Original article includes examples of the actual bogus email.

If you receive an email that appears to be from Netflix this week, make sure you're wary of it.

A new Netflix scam email is circulating, that tries to trick users into giving away their personal details.

The email was first detected by MailGuard after it was sent to several Netflix customers across Australia.

It reads: "We've temporarily suspended your account due to some issues in the automatic verification process."

It also includes a link to 'Update your details'. If users click on this, it leads to a Netflix branded phishing page, which isa  copy of the actual Netflix sign in page.

MailGuard explained: "Cybercriminals have taken great pains to incorporate the exact colour scheme, logo, fonts and popular images commonly found in Netflix pages in a bid to convince the user that the email is actually originating from the entertainment company.

"However, while this email is well-designed and uses a sophisticated HTML design, it contains several red flags for anyone who is vigilant enough to spot fake email scams."

The first red flag is the inclusion of several grammatical and spelling errors, such as 'suspeneded', while the email also has several spacing errors.

What to do if you receive the email

Thankfully, MailGuard has also provided help on what to do if you receive the email.

It added: "If you see an email from Netflix, please exercise caution and make sure it is a legitimate communication before you open it.

Users should also make sure to avoid clicking links in emails that:

- Are not addressed to you by name, have poor English or omit personal details that a legitimate sender would include

- Are from businesses you're not expecting to hear from.

- Ask you to download any files

- Take you to a landing page or website that does not have the legitimate URL of the company the email is purporting to be sent from.

(10th February 2019)


UK VICTIMS OF CYBER-CRIME HAS LOST £34m IN THE LAST 6 MONTHS, STATS SHOW
(Metro, dated 28th January 2019 author Jeff Parsons)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://metro.co.uk/2019/01/28/uk-victims-cyber-crime-lost-34m-last-6-months-stats-show-8401468/

People falling prey to cyber crime have reported losing £34.6 million, the latest numbers from Action Fraud show.

Hacking of social media and email accounts continues to be the most prolific means of scamming people online, contributing to more than 5,000 cases out of the 13,357 cyber crimes reported in the six months between April and September 2018. It is estimated such hacking has cost victims £14.8 million.

According to City of London Police, the national lead force for fraud which runs Action Fraud, the cost of cyber crime to the public has rocketed since the previous six months, when the total stood at £28 million.

'Cyber crime is a growing trend with the total losses increasing by 24%,' said Commander Karen Baxter of City of London Police.

'In particular criminals are targeting social media users and online account holders in a bid to make money and steal personal details. This leaves victims out of pocket and at risk of identity theft.'
Action Fraud is advising people to step up their online security measures by ensuring their password is strong and to be careful of unsolicited requests for personal data.

'To avoid falling victim, it's important that people keep a strong, separate password for their email accounts,' Commander Baxter continued.

'They should also use the latest software and app updates. Always be suspicious of unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information and never call numbers or follow links provided in unsolicited texts or emails; contact the company directly using a verified and trusted email or phone number. If you or someone you know believes they have fallen victim to cyber crime, please report it to Action Fraud.'

The total loss is calculated based on the amounts provided by victims when they report to Action Fraud and have not yet been verified, City of London Police said.

(10th February 2019)


PENSIONERS TRICKED OUT OF £1 MILLION EACH BY RUTHLESS TELEPHONE SCAMMERS
(Mirror, dated 28th January 2019 author Emma Munbodh)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/pensioners-tricked-out-1-million-13919074

At least two victims of pension scams have lost more than £1 million in savings to fraudsters, new figures have revealed.

Two retirees - who have not been named - lost their savings over the two years to June 2018 to telephone scammers who tricked them out of their entire retirement pots.

It comes after a ban on cold-calling about pensions came into force earlier this month - blocking all unsolicited calls about people's retirement savings.

According to Action Fraud, the average person targeted by pension scammers lost £91,000 in 2017.

They reported receiving cold-calls, offers of free pension reviews and promises that they would get high rates of return - all of which led to their money being withdrawn.

However, Action Fraud estimates the toll to be much higher, as many people who fall victim often choose not to come forward.

 A ban on pension cold calling came into force on January 9 to protect retired people from telephone scammers.

At the time, Treasury Minister John Glen, said: "Pensions cold calling is a scourge, so I was pleased and proud to see Parliament pass a ban on it this week. Spread the word."

Firms who break the rules could now face penalties of up to half a million pounds.

According to the Financial Conduct Authority, a large proportion of pension holders consider themselves to be too savvy to be scammed - however sophisticated criminals mean you could lose your savings in the blink of an eye.

Nicola Parish, The Pensions Regulator's (TPR) executive director, said: "Victims of scams are often traumatised by what has happened to them and many inevitably are left questioning how they are going to afford to retire.

"The average loss of a victim is £91,000 but these Action Fraud reports show that people can also lose much, much more.

"However large your pension pot, you must be vigilant and able to spot and avoid a scam."

Pauline Smith, director of Action Fraud, added: "These statistics prove that the consequences of falling victim to a pension scam can be devastating.

"Victims can lose their life savings and are left facing retirement with little or no income.

"This is why it's so important that you are vigilant if you receive an offer about your pension out of the blue and that you check who you are dealing with.

"If you think you have been a victim of pension fraud, please report it to us."

If you've been called up out of the blue by someone wanting to discuss your pension, hang up the phone and report them to the Information Commissioners Office : https://ico.org.uk/

If you feel the conversation has gone too far and your details may be at risk, report it to Action Fraud online (https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/) or by calling 0300 12302040.

If in doubt about who is calling, Which? says you should "remain vigilant: no legitimate pension or investment firm will ever call you out of the blue to discuss releasing cash from your pension.

"If you get a call like this, the message is clear - you should hang up the phone."

----------------------------------
TOP 10 TIPS TO AVOID PENSION SCAMS
(Mirror, dated 6th October 2016 author Tricia Phillips)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/top-10-tips-avoid-pension-8993034

1. Research, research and research

If an offer promises 'guaranteed' returns or seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be on your guard. Do your homework and check all the details before signing anything.

2. Seek your own advice

Things aren't always what they seem. Don't be lured by smart brochures and professional looking websites. Scammers want to trick you and this is one way they do it. Check everything and seek reputable advice.

3. Take your time

Don't be rushed into a decision. Scammers will try to pressure you with time limited offers and create a sense of urgency. Take your time to make all the checks you need, even if this means turning down an 'amazing' deal.

4. Friends aren't always right

Don't choose a scheme just because someone you know has. People have fallen for scams because they'd been 'recommended by a friend'. As with any important decisions, investigate the details yourself.

5. Beware of investing all your money all in one place

This will increase your risk, and scammers often ask for all of your money. Be on your guard against unregulated investments, including those abroad.

6. In doubt? Call The Pensions Advisory Service

f in doubt, call The Pensions Advisory Service. You can call them on 0300 123 1047 or visit their website at pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk for free pensions guidance.

7. Is the 'advisor' Financial Conduct Authority approved?

Scammers can pose as pension advisers, so check to make sure yours is registered on the Financial Conduct Authority's website: fca.org.uk/register .

8. Check the FCA's list of known scams

To find out more about the threats and risks visit scamsmart.fca.org.uk . For more tips to protect your retirement savings visit pension-scams.com

9. Think you've made an error? Call Action Fraud

If you think you've been scammed, call Action Fraud. You can reach them on 0300 123 2040. Also contact your pension provider immediately as they may be able to stop a transfer that hasn't yet taken place.

10. Free help is available

Before you do anything with your pension savings book your free appointment with Pensions Wise.

It will help you to understand the basics and get an idea about your options and what each will mean for your future finances. Find out more at pensionwise.gov.uk or call 0800 138 3944.

-----------------------
HUNDREDS OF PENSION SCAM VICTIMS LOSE £91,000 EACH THROUGH CON
(Daily Mail, dated 29th January 2019 author James Burton)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6642131/Hundreds-pension-scam-victims-lose-91-000-two-conned-1million-nest-eggs.html

-----------------------
(10th February 2019)


UK CYBER-CRIME VICTIMS LOSE £190,000 A DAY
(BBC, dated 27th January 2019)

Full article [Option 1]: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47016671

More than £190,000 a day is lost in the UK by victims of cyber-crime, police statistics show.

More than a third of victims in that period fell prey to the hacking of social media and email accounts.

Action Fraud said £34.6m was reported to be stolen from victims between April and September 2018, a 24% increase on the previous six months.

The City of London Police, which runs Action Fraud, has warned people to keep separate passwords for online accounts.

The figures show 13,357 people in the UK reported cyber crimes over six months.

More than 5,000 of those people were hacked via their social media and email accounts, costing victims £14.8m.

Commander Karen Baxter said cyber criminals were targeting people's social media accounts "in a bid to make money and steal personal details", adding it could leave victims "at risk of identity theft".

Action Fraud is the reporting centre for people scammed, defrauded or who experienced cyber crime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Commander Baxter said people should "keep a strong, separate password for their email accounts" and use the latest software and app updates.

"Always be suspicious of unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information and never call numbers or follow links provided in unsolicited texts or emails," she said.

Earlier this month Action Fraud reported a "convincing" TV licence email scam had led to more than 5,000 complaints over a three-month period.

Emails with headlines such as "correct your licensing information" would direct users to a fake TV licensing website.

The site then asked victims to provide their payment details, including their account number, sort code, and card verification value (CVV) code on the back of their card.

(10th February 2019)


FUNERAL PLAN WITH A WOEFUL PAYOUT
(The Times, dated 26th January 2019 author Laura Whateley)
www.thetimes.co.uk [Option 1]

Note : This is article is based on aan issue raised with The Times consumer champion - Laura Whateley.

Issue

My 90 year old grandpa (Mr Scott) went missing in early December and his body was found (in the river Leith) on 4th January. Today we found out that Aviva will only pay out £1820 from his life insurance cover for his funeral. He has been paying £8 a month for 30 years towards this. The original policy was from Sun Life, but was later taken over by Aviva.

When my Mum voiced her concerns to Aviva customer services spokesperson said: "Well that's it, he only paid £8 a month." But it should amount to £2880.

He has paid in £1,000 more than he will receive, and we will only get the money at the end of January, yet the funeral directors want £762 deposit immediately. Thats the charge for cremation. How are companies getting away with this ? How is this ethically sound ? He thought he was securing his funeral costs. It's an absolute rip-off.

L McG, via email

Response

I've written about over-50's life insurance policies before, but I don't think I can't reiterate enough that they are very rarely great value, despite them being sold as a no-brainer decision for those who want to alleviate any financial strain on their family after their death. For those who need reminding, here's why you should probably avoid them.

They are sold as being an easy way to secure funeral costs because anyone qualifies and the sum paid out on death is "guaranteed". The thing is, you have to die well within average life expectancy to make it worthwhile, and very early to trigger a significant payout.

Take Aviva's over-50's product for new customers. I a 60-year old man signed up for a policy and paid in £8 a month, his estate would be gauranteed £1709 on his death. If he lived move than 17 years and 9 months, he would have paid more than he would get back. Also if he died within the first year he would get nothing, unless he died in an accident. The average life expectancy for a 60 year old man, without any serious health issues is 89, according to a calculator on Aviva's website.

Once you sign up, you have to carry on paying into these policies until you turn 90, or you have been paying for 30 years, which ever is sooner, otherwise the policy is invalid. This means you will be losing more cash the longer you survive. That's before you take inflation into account.

Sun Life says the average of dying has risen to more than £9,200, including a wake and professional fees.

In 1989 L McG's grandfather might have thought £1820 would cover a funeral, but had that money been in a savings or investment account paying interest at the average rate of inflation (3.1% according to the Bank of England), by today it would have been woth £4448.09. So you could say that the grandfather has lost out by closer to £5,500.

The Financial Conduct Authority, the industry watchdog, has just warned companies selling over-50's products that their advertising must not mislead people into thinking that they are buying a policy that will cover all their funeral costs.

A spokeswoman for Aviva says that the insurer is very sorry to hear of the circumstances of L McG's grandfather's death and would like to offer its sincere condolences. "We acknowledge that the service we provided to Mr Scott's family at a very difficult time did not meet the standard our customers, or we expect and we apologise for this.

"Over-50's plns are life insurance policies, not savings products, and provide customers with the assurance that when they die, a gauranteed amount will be payable. Customers purchase life insurance as part of their financial preparations for death, and it can help to contribute to funeral costs or can allow the customer to leave a bequest. We have discussed the matter with Mr Scott's family, and we will be paying the sum of £1820 today. In addition, we will pay the family £250, which they accepted.

(10th February 2019)


BANKS SAY NEW CODE DESIGNED TO CLAMP DOWN ON SCAM THAT SAW £145m STOLEN IN 2018 IS UNFAIR AND COULD LEAD THEM PAYING MILLIONS IN COMPENSATION
(Daily Mail, dated 25th January 2019 author George Dixon)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/money/beatthescammers/article-6632125/Banks-object-new-code-designed-better-protect-customers-push-payment-scams.html?ito=1490

Some of Britain's biggest high street banks have cautioned against a new code designed to protect customers against push payment scams, arguing it could leave them solely responsible for paying out compensation.

Responding to a consultation, Barclays, Lloyds, Nationwide and Santander all said that they disagreed with changes that could lead to payment providers being held liable for fraud even if they were not responsible for it.

Some of the banks added that they might limit services to customers or levy fees on bank transfers if the code was implemented in its current form.

The new draft code, published by the Authorised Push Payment Scams Steering Group in September, sought to offer a greater level of protection to victims of so-called authorised push payment scams.

These are scams in which a customer is tricked into authorising a payment to a scammer themselves.

Under current rules, banks are not necessarily obliged to refund payments which have been authorised by their customer, but the new code states that 'firms should reimburse the customer' when they have been the victim has been a victim of an APP scam.

t adds that customers deemed especially 'vulnerable' to such scams should also normally be reimbursed. That definition should be determined on a case-by-case basis, the draft code suggested.

Figures from trade body UK Finance in September found that £145million was stolen through APP scams in the first half of last year, but only £31million of that was recovered.

Responding to the consultation, several of the country's largest banks said they supported the new code, but expressed concerns about being left liable for millions in reimbursements.

Barclays said: 'We disagree with the notion that payment service providers should accept all liability for a scam in the instance that "no blame" can be attributed to either party.'

Lloyds, part of the country's biggest banking group which controls around a quarter of UK current accounts, added that while they were supportive of the idea 'that all who meet the requisite level of care should be reimbursed', 'we believe it does not necessarily follow that a PSP should directly bear the cost or reimbursement in such "no blame" cases'.

Meanwhile Santander said that the draft code 'is overly weighted in the customer's favour and punishes a payment services provider for criminal behaviour' conducted by 'third parties that it is not responsible for'.

It added that if victims of even smaller purchases were 'essentially insured by some form of strict liability', it would not encourage customers to be careful and could even encourage fraudulent claims.

This is Money has previously reported on the Spanish bank's poor response to scam victims, which included sending carbon-copy letters rejecting refund requests to customers and fobbing off customers after just 24 hours.

All four banks suggested that there could be consequences if the rules around reimbursements were adopted in their current form.

Santander questioned whether those whose losses were not 'life changing' should be excluded from reimbursement, while Lloyds said it could potentially bring in a levy on payments in order to fund any compensation.

It added: 'Simply levying the charge could raise awareness of scams amongst consumers in a similar way to how the "plastic bag tax" raises general awareness of the impact of waste upon the environment.'

Nationwide suggested customers identified as vulnerable may be barred from some offers or have restrictions placed on their accounts, while Barclays said it could slow down or even interrupt payment services for customers in order to limit its liability.

Responding to the consultation, Tom Clementson, director of consumer and SMB at ShieldPay, said: 'Banks are behind the times when it comes to protecting their customers from push payment fraud.

'The very fact that there is a consultation on compensation payments brings the question of how people are able to transfer thousands of pounds to a fraudulent bank account into sharp focus.

'More safety checks must be put in place to ensure consumers do not become victims. The adoption of technology, which verify both identity and matching bank accounts, is one solution that can help to eliminate the risk.'

In total, the consultation responded 53 responses between September and November 2018.

Ruth Evans, the chair of the APPS Steering Group, said: 'We know the devastating impact authorised push payment scams can have on their victims and the steering group is united in its determination to tackle these crimes and improve protection for consumers.

'That is why it is essential that we get the voluntary code right and it is clear from the consultation responses there are a number of matters still to consider.

'We are, however, acutely aware that time is of the essence and we are working hard to resolve these issues swiftly.'

Six ways to outfox the cyber-criminals


ASSUME any caller claiming to be your bank or utility provider could be a fraudster.

It might sound unfair and the call may be genuine - but being sceptical from the start could help protect you.

CALL your bank back on a different phone line if you are not sure a call is authentic.

Use the phone number on the back of your credit or debit card. If calling from the same phone wait at least five minutes for the current call to be disconnected. Otherwise a fraudster could simply stay on the line while you dial.

KNOW the hallmarks of fraud. There will be convincing lies throughout a scam and the perpetrators will sound intelligent and authoritative.

But typical requests include being asked to: provide a code, a PIN, move money to a different account, repay a sum accidentally put in to your account, reveal passwords or allow remote access to your computer. Do not comply.

BE careful about what links you click on emails, or what attachments you open. Scammers know how to imitate your friends or big brands in messages.

These links could contain viruses that, once on your computer, allow fraudsters to spy on you when you enter log-in details for online banking. Or they will pose as big brands and demand personal information that you should not surrender.

UPDATE anti-virus software on your computer and regularly change passwords on online accounts.

LEARN more ways to protect yourself with help from websites such as takefive-stopfraud.org.uk and getsafeonline.org.

(10th February 2019)


MAN'S DESPERATE WARNING AS ONLINE CAR SCAMMERS TAKE HIM FOR THOUSANDS
(Hull Daily Mail, dated 24th January 2019 author Phil Winter)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/business/mans-desperate-warning-online-car-2456566

A man says he has lost thousands of pounds to an alleged scam after he tried to repair his mobile home to take his ill wife on holiday.

Michael Diamond, who lives in Holderness, was on the hunt for a new engine for his camper van and said he spotted the perfect match on what he believed was a legitimate car parts website.

He says he paid more than £2,000 to the website, and was told his camper van would be collected from a nearby garage.

But, after nobody turned up, Mr Diamond now fears he has fallen victim to an elaborate scam.

He said: "I waited at a garage close to the Drypool bridge for three hours, and when nobody showed up I started to get suspicious so I called them.

"I was told they could still come to pick up the camper van, but it would be the next day, so I went back home.

"The next day, I got a call to say no one had been to pick up the vehicle, and that it was still there. That is when I realised something was very wrong."

It is believed the alleged scammers cloned an existing website to draw customers in, before taking their money and then disappearing.

Mr Diamond said he had no idea the website was an apparent scam.

"The only thing I noticed was they only took payment through a bank transfer. They did not accept debit card or credit cards.

"I thought I was being really careful though. I even spoke to a close friend who works at a bank first to talk to them about the transaction, and they said everything seemed normal.

"£2,000 is a lot of money to anyone, but we only bought the camper van recently as a way of being able to go on holiday more easily.

"Not long after we got it, it packed up. Now this has happened and I don't know what else to do."

Mr Diamond said he had reported the incident to Action Fraud, and that they are investigating the case.

He has been left thousands of pounds out of pocket, and does not know whether he will be able to get the money back.

"I used to be a karaoke jockey, and worked all up and down the east coast," he said.

"When my wife got ill, I gave that up so I could care for her. This camper van was a way of us being able to go on holiday."

What Action Fraud says

Action Fraud released a statement on the incident.

A spokesman said: "This report was made in January 2019 to Action Fraud and so it's most likely that it is currently being assessed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

"Action Fraud has launched a new reporting system, which will improve the service for those reporting fraud. Victims can now can now track the status of and update their report via the new website by inputting their unique NFRC number.

"They can now also see whether a report has been sent to a police force for investigation or if it's still under review."

Action Fraud is the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, and takes crime and information reports on behalf of the police and gives advice and fraud prevention guidance.

Action Fraud does not have investigation powers, however, the reports taken by Action Fraud are sent to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) which is run by the City of London Police, the national lead force for fraud.

Hull Live has also spoken to the owner of a Wolverhampton-based company who had previously launched a legitimate website of the same name, but that it had never properly been used.

It was this website that the scammers are understood to have cloned.

(1st February 2019)


YORKSHIRE POLICE OFFICERS URGENT WARNING AFTER CALLOUT TO MAN SENDING LIFE SAVINGS TO CONMAN
(Wakefield Express, dated 18th January 2019 author Alex Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.wakefieldexpress.co.uk/news/crime/yorkshire-police-officer-s-urgent-warning-after-callout-to-man-sending-life-savings-to-conman-1-9544755

A Yorkshire police officer has shared an urgent warning after she was called out to an elderly man trying to transfer his life savings to a conman in an elaborate scam.

PC Jade Hunter revealed the details of the heartbreaking incident in which she was thankfully able to intervene just in time to save the man from sending thousands of pounds to a fraudster.

The man was at the bank trying to send money to a conman who told him they needed the money for security and that he would not be able to contact his family or the operation would be 'put at risk'.

PC Hunter, who polices the Wakefield area, said: "Today is not the first time I've attended a report like this one. We were notified by the bank of an elderly male trying to transfer an amount in the thousands to somebody who he believed was from a well known internet company.

"He had received a phone call this morning from said person who told him they needed help catching fraudsters and convinced him to send an alarmingly large sum of money to 'help them do this'.

"The fraudster had told him this was top secret and stayed on the phone to him from the first initial conversation through to him being at the bank and told him he could not contact his family for validation as this would 'put the operation at risk'.

"There are variations of this crime but they all seem to follow this general gist.

"Luckily the gentleman today was saved from being cheated out of his life savings by the bank staff however we are seeing increasing numbers of this type of fraud. Please take note that legitimate companies, banks and even the police will NEVER ask you to move money around in this fashion.

"If you receive a phone call like this please call the police immediately.

"Unfortunately this type of fraudster seems to pray on the vulnerable and elderly, let's protect each other."

(10th February 2019)


SCAMMERS INCREASINGLY TARGET PREVIOUS VICTIMS OF WINE FRAUD
(The Drinks Business, dated 18th January 2019 author Phoebe French)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2019/01/scammers-increasingly-target-previous-victims-of-wine-fraud/

Action Fraud, a reporting service run by the City of London Police working alongside the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), has stated that it has seen an increase in reports of this nature over the past six months.

Between 1 June 2018 and 31 December 2018 there were 22 reports of this crime made to the service, with victims losing a total £97,914.

Victims, who are both male and female and aged between 46 and 86 years old, send around £2,000 on average to a third party account via a bank transfer, paid in various instalments to accounts in different names over a period of one to four months.

Former victims of wine fraud, who were tricked by scammers between four and six years ago, are now being targeted again by individuals claiming that they can resell their wines in return for an insurance or shipping fee.

The fraudsters appear "reliable and legitimate" owing the the fact they've obtained the personal details, including the name, address and bank account of their victims, as well as having information about the wine company they previously invested in.

Action Fraud state that fraudsters are obtaining information about liquidated wine companies and their directors from forums and from online information released to the press.

None of those targeted have managed to recover their initial payment, while some have lost more money after paying an 'advance recovery fee'. This type of fraud is known as 'recovery fraud'.

Commenting on the situation, director of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said: "The fact that fraudsters are taking advantage of previous victims of fraud is despicable.

"If you're contacted by an individual who knows a lot about the money you lost, but they want a fee first, it is vital that you stop all correspondence immediately.

"If you think you have been a victim of fraud, report it to us and your bank immediately."

The police have been cracking down on phoney wine investment companies in recent years. Last November, the High Court shut down Intercontinental Wines, a UK-based company that had misled customers into investing in fine wines.

During a hearing it was relayed how the company used "high pressure cold calling" to push members of the public to buy wine for investment.

Victims of Intercontinental Wines are advised to be vigilant against recovery fraud.

In order to further protect yourself against fraud, Action Fraud has the following list of guidelines

- Never reveal any personal or financial details as a result of an unsolicited call, email or text. Even if someone knows your basic details (such as your name and contact details), it doesn't mean they are genuine.
       
- Don't immediately agree to any offer that involves an advance payment or having to sign a contract on the spot. Always speak with a friend or family member first.
       
- Always check the credentials of any financial company on the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) website: - they should be on the register. Contact the preferred company directly and reject any offers made through unsolicited communications.

If you suspect that you have been a victim wine investment fraud, you can report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

(10th February 2019)


CHESHIRE POLICE STRUGGLING TO GET JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF FRAUD
(Cheshire Live, dated 17th January 2019 author David Holmes)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.cheshire-live.co.uk/news/chester-cheshire-news/cheshire-police-struggling-justice-victims-15693908

Cheshire Constabulary are near the bottom of the league table when it comes to securing justice for the victims of fraud, police figures show.

The Daily Telegraph recently described the national situation as a 'postcode lottery' where the chances of getting justice is 10 times greater in one part of the UK than another.

Data revealed Cheshire Police only achieved a judicial outcome - meaning somebody was charged or summonsed - in 6.1% of cases compared with more than 60% in other forces such as Hampshire, Durham and City of London.

The Telegraph also reported big variations in the number of allegations investigated, ranging from just 4% in some forces to 60% in others, according to figures from police agency Action Fraud.

Since the article was written the crime statistics have been updated showing Cheshire Constabulary's position has slightly improved - achieving a judicial outcome in 9.8% of cases for the period April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018.

Detective Inspector Alastair Hinze, head of the Cheshire Police Economic Crime and Cyber unit, explained the difficulties involved with investigating fraud.

He said: "Fraud and cyber crime are complex crimes and are often not limited to county borders.

"It is often the case that offenders are based outside of the UK, which can add a further degree of complexity in trying to track them down and makes it more difficult to bring them to justice.

"Nationally it is estimated that crime either enabled or dependant on cyber now accounts for nearly 50 per cent of all crime.

"Here at Cheshire Police we are committed to doing all that we can to tackle economic crime and we have a dedicated team of officers and staff who work solely to investigate it.

"The team works closely with colleagues at Action Fraud and each report we receive is thoroughly reviewed, investigated and action taken wherever possible.

"Between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018 the team dealt with 630 referrals from Action Fraud, resulting in at least 62 judicial outcomes so far. Investigations into many of these reports are still ongoing.

"As part of our commitment to tackling cyber crime investment is being made in training to give all officers the necessary skills to respond effectively to this type of crime.

"While we are committed to doing all that we can to bring those responsible to justice, many of these cases are preventable and there are a number of simple steps that everyone can take to minimise their chances of falling victim."

Fraud prevention tips include:


- Be suspicious of all 'Too good to be true' offers and deals - there are no guaranteed get rich schemes.

- Do not give any personal information - name, address, bank details, email or phone number - to organisations or people you do not know or trust

- Always question whether an unsolicited email could be bogus. Remember that financial institutions and banks will not email asking you to confirm your bank details by clicking a link.

- Destroy and preferably shred receipts with your card details and post with your name and address so fraudsters can't clone your identity.

- Never hand your bank card or any goods you have purchased as a result of a phone call to anyone who comes to your front door

- If you have been a victim of fraud, be aware of fraud recovery fraud. This is when fraudsters pretend to be a lawyer or a law enforcement officer and tell you they can help you recover the money you've already lost.

- Do not be embarrassed to report a scam. Because the scammers are cunning and clever there is no shame in being deceived. By reporting you will make it more difficult for them to deceive others.

(10th February 2019)


BIRMINGHAM FRAUD CASES ARE SOARING - HERE'S HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
(Birmingham Mail, dated 17th January 2019 author Annie Gouk)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/birmingham-fraud-cases-soaring-heres-15694999

Cases of fraud are on the rise across the West Midlands, as the government launches a new taskforce to tackle economic crime.

The latest official figures show that there were 23,735 fraud offences in the West Midlands referred to National Fraud Intelligence Bureau in the 12 months to June 2018.

That's up from 22,353 in the year to June 2017, and a 39% increase from 17,999 the year before that.

The figures come just days after the government's announcement that they have set up an Economic Crime Strategic Board, which will meet twice a year to set priorities, direct resources and scrutinise performance against the economic crime threat.

As well as fraud, this type of crime includes bribery, corruption and money laundering - all of which are estimated to cost at least £14.4 billion per year.  

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: "We need to take action on all fronts to target the corrupt fraudsters who are lining their pockets with dirty money and living luxury lifestyles at the expense of law-abiding citizens.

"The government is already investing millions in the fight against economic crime, but it is crucial we work closely with our financial sector partners to win this battle.

"These criminals threaten the UK's reputation as a world-leading place to do business and we have a joint responsibility to stop them."

Nearly two thirds of all fraud cases reported to Action Fraud - the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre - are from businesses, but individuals make up 39% of the total.

In fact, the Office for National Statistics say that people are more likely to fall victim to fraud or cyber offences above any other crime.

Different kinds of fraud include pension scams, identity theft, computer hacking and ponzi schemes, to name just a few.

Action Fraud advise that there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself from fraud and cyber crime:

- Do not give any personal information to organisations or people before verifying their credentials

- Make sure your device has up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall installed.

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

- Destroy receipts with your card details on and post with your name and address on

- Be extremely wary of post, phone calls or emails offering you business deals out of the blue.

(10th February 2019)


ARE YOU AT RISK OF BEING SCAMMED ON YOUR PHONE ?
(Daily Mail, dated 17th January 2019 author George Nixon)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/money/beatthescammers/article-6599375/Millions-risk-scammers-39-antivirus-phones.html?ito=1490

As many as 61 per cent of smartphone users could be leaving themselves vulnerable to scammers online, according to a new survey.

With more people now shopping online with their phones than ever before, only two in five surveyed by IT security company ESET were certain they had antivirus software on their mobile phones.,

Additionally, many also revealed they would consider downloading an app, entering an online competition, or clicking through to a deal received via email to take advantage of limited-time offers.

A quarter felt pressure from brands to click on 'today-only' deals and 'quick-fix' offers to help them reach their goals.

Branislav Orlik, product manager for mobile security at ESET said: 'At this time of year, it is incredibly easy to be enticed into exciting offers and quick-fix solutions, while scrolling through our phones or tablets.

'However, smartphone users with no antivirus software are opening themselves up to some serious threats.

'While an email deal or competition may seem enticing, clicking through on an unsafe link or entering your details online can make you vulnerable to hackers and leave your personal data at risk.'

This is Money touched on the issue of smartphone security when it came to banking on your mobile back in 2013.

We said that it's important to make sure you download the correct app from your bank and not a dodgy version, advice that goes for any download.

Since then, smartphone usage has grown even more ubiquitous. Deloitte estimates that 87 per cent of adults between 18 and 75 owned a smartphone last year, up from 62 per cent in 2013.

According to antivirus developer AVG, in 2016 an Android malware known as Hummingbad appeared on the Google Play Store, allowing hackers total control over devices that installed it.

The company says that mobile malware can also collect personal information including photos, your contact list and email address, and your banking details.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at security software specialist Sophos, previously told This is Money: 'It makes sense to run antivirus software on your Android device, and there are some good free Android antivirus solutions available from well-known security vendors, including Sophos, AVG and Avast.'

Protect yourself and watch out:


IT security company ESET's top tips on how to shop online without risking viruses or malware:

- Watch out for increased phishing email attacks in the form of 'quick-fix' deals

- If you haven't visited a particular brand's website before, do your homework and research reviews and comments from trusted review sites

- Be very cautious of deals you see on Facebook, Instagram and so on - even if there are lots of 'likes' on the post. There are plenty of scams that take advantage of easily accessible and cheap social media advertising platforms

Meanwhile mobile operator EE recommends a list of steps to ensure that your device is protected:

- Install a firewall

- Install an anti-virus program

- Always install the latest software updates

- Back up all your important information

- Don't open unknown files or photos attached to emails unless you're very sure where they've come from

(10th February 2019)


STUDENT SCAMMED OUT OF £2,500 AFTER CRIMINALS LURE HER IN WITH "PERFECT HOLIDAY"
(Mirror, dated 16th January 2019 author Emma Munbodh)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/student-scammed-out-2500-after-13860471

A university student left £2,500 poorer by online criminals has revealed how the 'perfect deal' turned into what can only be described as a nightmare.

Anna Smith, from London, was searching for a group holiday online when she came across an incredibly attractive offer on a holiday rentals website.

The villa, located in Sorrento, Italy, was ideal for her group of 10 friends, and while the location wasn't perfect, the pricing was spot on, she said.

"We contacted the owners and requested the villa, however they started emailing us instead of on the website," the 24-year-old told the Mirror.

"At the time we didn't think anything of this. They sent us the payment link, which looked identical to the payment method on the actual website so, again, we didn't question  it."

The owner then sent her a payment link to transfer the money, which she said "looked very similar to how it would appear on the legitimate site" and then confirmed receipt of payment.

However, it wasn't until nearer the travel date that Anna realised something had gone seriously wrong.

"As the date got closer we contacted them to ask a few questions but they stopped replying and it eventually became obvious that the villa was not real," she said.

"We contacted the website but as the conversation was not on the website they could not be held responsible and so we lost all the money."

She lost the full £2,500 - £250 of which belonged to each person in her friendship group.

"We lost all the money as the villa owners completely disappeared and we had transferred all the money in one go.  We contacted the bank straight away, however nothing could be done.

"It was extremely frustrating and upsetting, at the time," she said.

"We had all put money aside for the holiday especially, and for many of us it was quite a saving on our student budgets. It really put me off booking holidays for a while, and even now I get paranoid when I think about it."

Anna is just one of dozens of people left out of pocket each year by online criminals targetting vulnerable people with incredible rock bottom holiday deals.

According to a report by Barclays Bank, one in three people affected by a travel scam will lose between £1,000 and £5,000, with nearly three-quarters saving on average £1,274 throughout the year for their holiday.

Yet, despite growing numbers, one in four of us say we would willingly 'take the risk' for a summer bargain.

In addition, more than half would not be put off booking a holiday, even if it seemed 'too good to be true'.

However simple tasks such as paying through the rental website and watching out for trade body logos, could save you thousands of pounds.

"Trying to escape those January blues may seem like an appealing prospect, but fraudsters are preparing to take advantage of sun-seekers at this time of year," Ross Martin, at Barclays said.

"We must all be aware of the risks and make sure we are carrying out proper safety checks to ensure our online security and enjoy a scam-free holiday."

Speaking on her biggest piece of advice for holidaymakers, Anna said: "Always make sure that you are on a secure website when searching for your villa, and to watch out for the 'too good to be true deals'."

Top tips for staying safe while booking a holiday


1. Is the offer too good to be true?

If a villa is advertised at half the going rate and has great availability in peak season when everywhere else is full, this should tell you something. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is

2. Do an internet search on the location

If the villa in question appears to be advertised by other companies under another name, this may also be a warning sign. Be sure to do thorough research before making any booking

3. Are they asking you to pay by transfer?

Scammers love bank transfers. The money goes straight from your account to theirs and then they take it straight out and it disappears. By the time you realise that something is wrong, they are long gone

4. Look for companies that have a real location and real phone numbers

Be suspicious of businesses that will only communicate via email and mobile phones. It's worth checking the address or even looking at the location through an online street map. Make sure you check that the travel agent and website is certified, and that your payment is going to the right people

5. Before you commit to anything, stop and take time to think

If it is a legitimate company, five minutes isn't going to make any difference - and it could save you thousands of pounds and untold heartache.

6. Do your own research

 Get the full address and find it on Google maps, and ask for a full contract which should set out all the terms and conditions of the rental, deposit, payment terms etc.

7. Be vigilant

Check the track record of any holiday retailer unfamiliar to you. Don't reply to unsolicited emails or pop-up adverts from retailers you don't recognise. Legitimate companies will never send an information request via a pop-up advert.

(10th February 2019)


MY WIFE'S A POLICE OFFICER, BUT THE FRAUDSTER WAS SO CONVINCING
(Daily Mail, dated 16th January 2019 authors Victoria Bischoff and Amelia Murray)

Full Article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/money/beatthescammers/article-6595823/Join-fraud-fightback-Landmark-ruling-paves-way-bank-scam-victims-money-back.html?ito=1490

Police officer lost £15,000 saved up for stamp duty

Simon and Elizabeth Ghali lost £15,200 to scammers just last week.

The Ghalis, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, are due to move house in two weeks and had earmarked part of the money to pay their stamp duty bill.

But on January 7, Elizabeth, a police officer, received a call out of the blue from someone claiming to work for NatWest's fraud team.

As the phone number that appeared on her mobile matched the one on her bank card, she assumed the call was legitimate. The caller, 'Craig', said there had been suspicious activity on their account and asked if she had made a £186 payment to Currys.

He took her through a series of security questions, confirming her date of birth and direct debits.

He then said she needed to move her money to a safe account and requested she use her card reader to generate a code to approve the transfer.

The caller even played the same music as NatWest when he put her on hold.

But after Elizabeth, 36, hung up, she and Simon became suspicious and called NatWest. It then emerged their £15,000 savings for the move and their children were gone. Despite logging the fraud, the bank still allowed the fraudster to take out £15,000 more in the form of a loan in Elizabeth's name the next day.

Simon says: 'I almost had a heart attack. We are intelligent people. My wife's a police officer, but he was so convincing she truly believed he was trying to help her.

'We have four children aged between two and 13 and we are supposed to move house in two weeks. This money is everything.'

So far, NatWest has wiped the debt but refused to refund the couple their savings, claiming that they authorised the transaction. Simon and Elizabeth are referring their case to the Ombudsman.

A spokesman for NatWest says: 'Keeping our customers safe and secure is of paramount importance to us. We sympathise with Mr and Mrs Ghali who have fallen victim to a scam and appreciate this has been a traumatic experience for them.

'We take our responsibilities to preventing scams very seriously, and support the victim of a scam in the recovery of their funds on a best endeavours basis.'

Article continues

Today, we call on scam victims who have been denied a refund by their bank to demand their case is reviewed.

In a major breakthrough for our Stop The Bank Scammers campaign, we have discovered that customers tricked into handing over their life savings are now winning compensation.

Typically, banks refuse to refund scam victims on the grounds that the customers authorised the payment or were reckless with their banking details

But now it has emerged that the Financial Ombudsman has overhauled the way it deals with complaints about fraud and is ordering banks to pay back victims.

It means it will be harder for banks to throw out complaints in the first place and could open the floodgates for claims from those previously turned away.

It follows a landmark ruling where the Ombudsman ordered Santander to refund one victim £12,310.

The customer had been sent a text message from criminals posing as the bank's fraud team, which appeared in the same chain as previous, legitimate messages.

When he returned the call using the number given, he was tricked into disclosing vital information needed to transfer money out of his account.

Initially the bank refused to refund him, claiming he had authorised the payments - even though he had no idea he was speaking to scammers. But after referring his case to the Ombudsman, he was awarded a £12,310 payout plus interest.

How victims can fight to get money back

When the Ombudsman receives a complaint about fraud, it first considers whether the customer authorised the transaction.

This means transferring money out of the account yourself. If the Ombudsman thinks you did not do this, it will then consider if you acted with what banks call 'gross negligence'.

In August the Financial Ombudsman announced it was raising the bar on what it considered to be 'gross negligence' in light of how sophisticated scams have become.

It said: 'Banks often tell us they believe their customers have been grossly negligent in handing over personal details to scammers - enabling the scam to occur. But gross negligence isn't a term to be used lightly. It is more than just being careless or negligent.

'And the evolution of criminals' methods - in particular their sophisticated use of technology and manipulative social engineering - means it's an increasingly difficult case to make.'

Where banks cannot prove the customer acted with gross negligence when divulging information or passcodes, the Ombudsman may then rule it is 'fair and reasonable' that the customer is refunded the full amount stolen, plus interest at 8 per cent.

Why this shift in attitude matters

This is a huge shift in the Ombudsman's previous approach, where it often ruled that the bank was not at fault, leaving the customer empty-handed.

And Money Mail has discovered that as a result of this tougher approach the number of cases being upheld in favour of the customer is already increasing.

Between October and December the Ombudsman sided with customers in 62 per cent of fraud and scam cases - up from 55 per cent in the previous three months.

One Santander customer, who lost £71,000 in April 2017, is among those who won her case and will get a full refund.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, received a text from the bank concerning fraud on her account.

She rang the telephone number included in the message and confirmed her details with someone she thought was a member of the bank's fraud team. But when she later checked her online bank account, she saw there was £71,000 missing.

Santander initially reimbursed the customer £2,250, but refused to refund the remaining £68,750, claiming it had not made an error. But last month the Ombudsman ordered the bank to repay the full amount.

Following Money Mail's intervention, Naika Butler has also won a £6,125 refund.

The 33-year-old childminder had similarly received a text message from her bank about a suspicious payment last summer. When she called the number given she too was convinced to read out a code sent to her mobile.

It was not until the next week that she discovered her savings were missing. Initially the bank refused to refund the money, but after pressure from Money Mail last week it has agreed to refund the full amount.

How to get money back

Not all fraud victims will get their money back. To be eligible, you must not have made the payment yourself.

This means you never requested to transfer the money and were instead tricked into handing over personal details that enabled someone else to make the payment.

This might include disclosing the answers to security questions because you thought you were talking to the bank's fraud team or the police. Or you may have read out 'one-time passcodes', which are needed to confirm payments, without realising what they were.

Alternatively, you may have been targeted by fraudsters posing as your telecoms provider who said they needed remote access to your computer to fix a technical issue.

But once they took control of your computer they hacked into your online banking account and stole money without you realising.

On the other hand, if you made a bank transfer for a car which later turned out not to exist, it is unlikely you have a case.

Similarly, you may also find your complaint rejected if you are convinced to make a payment to a bogus solicitor or builder, or pay a fee to release winnings from a fake overseas lottery. This is because you intended to make the payment.

However, the rules are not crystal clear and it is likely there will be many grey areas. So if you are unsure it is always worth referring your complaint to the Ombudsman. It is a free service so you have nothing to lose.

You have six years to complain to your bank about a disputed transaction. If your bank throws out your complaint you then have six months from the date you receive its final rejection letter to refer your case to the Ombudsman.

To refer your case to the Ombudsman, write to the Financial Ombudsman Service, Exchange Tower, London, E14 9SR. Or call 020 7964 1000 for more advice on making a complaint. You can also fill in a form at help.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/help.

If the adjudicator rules in favour of the bank, you typically have two weeks to appeal this provisional decision. This means your case will be passed on to an official Ombudsman, who will make a final decision.

If you lose again, your only option is to take your bank to the small claims court, which can be a time-consuming and costly affair. If you have already been through the Ombudsman process and have received a final decision, you cannot ask it to reopen your case.

But Martyn James, from Resolver, the complaints website, says you can go back to your bank and demand that it looks at your complaint again.

He says: 'Given the new guidance, banks should review whether their customers did actually authorise the payments or were grossly negligent.

'If it maintains it should not pay out, the bank should allow the customer to refer their case back to the Ombudsman as a new complaint - and be sure to stress the new complaint part.

'It will be interesting to see how these cases are viewed retrospectively,' he adds.

Caroline Wayman, chief ombudsman and chief executive of the Financial Ombudsman Service, says: 'It's not fair to automatically call a customer grossly negligent simply because they've fallen for a scam.

'That's especially true in light of the sophisticated way criminals exploit banks' security systems - and convince customers that their money is at risk. We often remind banks that they need to support what they're saying with facts. And if they can't do that, it's likely we'll tell them to cover the money their customer has lost.'

Denis Stevens, 77, is among those hopeful that the Ombudsman's new approach to dealing with complaints about fraud will help him win back £27,500. The retired bricklayer had been called out of the blue in March 2017, by someone purporting to be from Lloyds.

He was told that someone had tried to raid his account and he needed to move his money into a safe account to protect it.

The bogus employee then requested he read out a series of passcodes that had been sent to his mobile phone.

In fact, these were one-time passcodes that banks send customers to authorise payments. Denis says: 'At 3am I woke with a start and thought, 'You idiot, this is a scam.' '

And when he checked his online bank account he discovered £27,500 had disappeared.

Denis reported what had happened to the police and his bank, but Lloyds was only able to recover £11,000.

He says that, while he has tried to put the ordeal behind him, he is hopeful that he now has a chance at getting the rest of his savings back. A spokesman for Lloyds says it will contact the customer to see if he has new information. 

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, says: 'Banks and building societies take the threat of fraud extremely seriously and invest millions in advanced fraud prevention systems to protect customers, stopping £2 out of every £3 of attempted fraud last year. But we know there is more to be done.

'UK Finance is part of the Authorised Push Payments (APP) Scams Steering Group, established by the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) to lead the development of an industry code for the reimbursement of victims of authorised push-payment scams. This code will help minimise the impact this devastating crime can have on consumers.'

(10th February 2019)


PENSIONER CONNED OUT OF £45,000 SAVINGS AFTER BEING TARGETED
(Belfast Live, dated 15th January 2019 author Sarah Scott)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/ni-scam-pensioner-conned-out-15680818

A con artist has scammed a pensioner in Northern Ireland out of her £45,000 savings in what police have described as an "absolutely despicable crime".

The woman, based in Craigavon and aged in her seventies, had tried to access her email last week but kept getting a message telling her she was typing in the wrong password.

On Tuesday, January 8, she contacted her telecoms provider in a bid to resolve the issue and, after a short time, she could access her email.

But then she was called by a man claiming to represent the same telecoms and internet provider. He asked her to complete a number of things on the computer, claiming it was all part of checks he was conducting.

Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: "Among the instructions the fraudster gave the woman was to log on to her banking app. It appears software - TeamViewer - was subsequently installed giving the fraudster remote access to the victim's computer, her bank account and the ability to transfer close to £45,000 from her account.

"This is an absolutely despicable crime.  The women has lost her hard earned savings and this has left her extremely distressed. "

But this was not the only report of fraud last week and on Friday, January 11, police received a further 11 reports of fraud, including reports of people being targeted by scammers claiming to represent HMRC.

Chief Superintendent Walls added: "A second woman was contacted on social media, via Facebook. She replied to a message which she believed was genuine and was from someone she knew informing her she'd won a competition. Replying, she was re-directed to a site which advised she would have to transfer £2,000 before she could get her winnings. As a result of the communication, she unknowingly passed her personal details to the scammer and lost £2,000.

"Sadly, this is just another example of how easy it is for scammers to fool people. This is why it is so important that people become scam aware. Families also need to keep an eye on their loved ones, especially older members of their family. Have the conversation; sit down and talk about these types of scams and what they need to do to protect themselves online, on the phone and post.

"While it's reassuring some people are able to spot these scams, and they are picking up the phone to report them to us, other people are being still being caught out. I would continue to urge members of the public to always err on the side of caution with any text, call, email or letter asking for payment or personal details in order to release money, refund fees, pay lottery wins or supply a holiday, giveaway or service.

"If you are at all suspicious about a call you receive, hang up and phone the organisation the person is purporting to represent to check their authenticity. Ideally, make the call from another telephone so you can be sure the original caller has not remained on the line. Never be pressured into a transaction over the phone.

"Guarding your personal and banking details is essential. Never disclose them to any unauthorised person or allow anyone access to them via your computer.

"Telecoms providers will never call to tell you they have found a problem with your computer; they will never ask for payment details over email or live chat; and they will never call out of the blue and ask for remote access to your computer or other devices.

"Internet/Broadband providers will never call to tell you your router or IP address has been compromised or that your broadband has been hacked. They will also never call to threaten to disconnect your service if you don't make a payment immediately.

"If you have received any calls asking for any of these details or are concerned by the intent of unsolicited calls, emails or letters then please report it to Action Fraud via their website  www.actionfraud.police.uk or by phoning 0300 123 2040, or call police on the non-emergency number 101. "

(10th Febraury 2019)


SITTING DUCK eBAY SELLERS TAKE A STAND AGAINST THE SCAMMERS
(OBSERVER, dated 13th January 2019 author Anna Tims)

Full Article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/money/2019/jan/13/ebay-sellers-scams-buyer-protection

Vishal Vora used eBay to auction a £115 BabyBjörn bouncer when his children had grown out of it. He washed it, listed it as used and accepted an offer of £56 plus £5 postage from an expectant mother. As soon as it was delivered the buyer complained that it was "literally covered in faeces" and demanded a £20 reduction in the price. Vora offered £7.50, although the screenshot of a photo sent by the buyer did not show evidence of staining.

The buyer then opened a case with eBay which advised she could return it and receive a refund. She was duly refunded by the company but she never sent the bouncer back. Weeks later, Vora found photos on the buyer's social media accounts showing her baby happily installed in it.

For most eBay sellers the story would end there. Vora, however, decided to make a stand. He emailed the buyer demanding the item, or his money back. She then reported him to the police for harassment. So he took her to court and, two years after the sale, was awarded £62.

"It happens often, buyers thinking they are entitled to free goods due to eBay's liberal approach to refunds," he says. "My case wasn't about money, more about the principle."

The principle came at a cost - the £70 in court fees and administration outweighed the award and he must find a further £70 if he wants a summary of the judgment.

In 2014 Vora issued legal proceedings after selling an iPhone4 to a buyer who claimed the box arrived empty. Despite proof from the Post Office that the parcel weight corresponded with a handset, eBay refunded the buyer. It eventually settled out of court.

Vora is one of a legion of sellers to have fallen victim to eBay's lavish buyer-protection policy. Launched in 2013, it refunds buyers who raise a dispute if an item is not received, or not as described. The promise was to encourage buyer confidence in the online auction site, but it can be exploited by unscrupulous buyers to obtain free goods. Scores of sellers, both private and business, have contacted the Observer over the years to complain that the company has unquestioningly refunded buyers who had failed to return the goods they bought or sent them back used, damaged or substituted.

Anna Wabrobska is a business seller of car parts. When a buyer returned a part, which he admitted had been damaged by his mechanic, eBay told her it would investigate but then refunded the buyer without her knowledge.

"When I appealed they told me to submit a police report," she says. "The police say they do not deal with such cases, so eBay told me to get a crime reference number from Action Fraud. I did so, but my appeal was rejected as I did not provide the report from the police."

Ebay told the Observer that, as the buyer had declared the part "not as described", he was due a refund. Business sellers do not have the right to appeal against a decision under eBay rules which leaves a court as the only alternative, it says.

Catherine Lewis was left out of pocket after selling a coat. When the buyer claimed she had not received it, eBay issued a refund. But when Lewis studied feedback about the buyer, she got a shock. "All the messages told the same story," she says. "Buyer claimed item didn't arrive, eBay gave refund. Even on items that were signed for. Worse, the buyer has been reported to eBay three times before for this and no action has been taken." Only when the Observer intervened did eBay refund Lewis.

Ebay insists that each dispute is investigated before refunds are issued. "As an online marketplace we take action to protect thousands of sellers in the UK every month, and we're constantly improving our systems to make our marketplace as safe as possible," it insists. "Our team is on the lookout 24/7 for bad buyer behaviour and they're backed by large-scale, automated detection systems that examine millions of transactions every day."

However, the company freely acknowledges that its policies are designed to keep customers spending. Buyers can, for instance, leave anonymous negative feedback against a seller, but sellers are only given a positive button to rate buyers, although they can type a more forthright comment beneath the cheery "+" heading. The seller's only recourse, if a comment unjustifiably damages their status, is to report a buyer to eBay and negative comments are only removed if eBay receives numerous complaints about an individual.

Most controversially of all, any case opened by a buyer shows as a defect on the seller's record and a maximum defect rate of 2% (0.5% for top-rated sellers) is permitted before penalty fees kick in.

Since eBay ordered its business sellers to extend their returns policy from 14 to 30 days last year, sellers complain that return rates have escalated and they are being penalised for complying. Customers who change their mind about a purchase often cite a return as "not as described" rather than "no longer wanted" to avoid incurring postage charges and these count against a seller unless they are successfully appealed.

Ebay counters that its penalty fees for return rates of over 2% are "to ensure buyers receive the best shopping experience possible, bringing more buyers and more sales for sellers" and "maliciously filed returns are stripped out of the calculations".

Like Vishal Vora, other sellers are fighting back. Roland Grimm, a personal seller, sold a Tannoy to a buyer who, 60 days after confirming receipt, claimed it had never arrived and raised a dispute with PayPal which offers an alternative buyer protection scheme to eBay.

"Professional scammers often never notify eBay, nor leave feedback because, if they do, sellers can respond via feedback which stays forever to warn other sellers," he says. "Instead, they make a PayPal claim after 60 days when the sales record for a transaction disappears from the seller's file and feedback can no longer be left on the buyer's record."

Grimm supplied PayPal with proof of postage and the buyer's confirmation of receipt but PayPal nonetheless issued a refund. It eventually settled out of court days before the hearing. The company declined to comment.

Grimm is now considering legal action against eBay after a seller claimed a keyboard he had sold was defective. It was returned damaged. In its response to the buyer, eBay wrote that although the item had been returned "in a different condition to which it was sent" he would be refunded anyway.

Ebay claimed that, since it can't verify the condition an item is returned in, it refunds sellers on a courtesy basis, but that Grimm has made several such claims of returned goods, so no longer qualifies. Ian Ewers received a similar message to Grimm after a buyer claimed two brand new £2,300 power supply units he'd sold were faulty a week after leaving a five-star review of them. They were sent back unboxed, poorly packaged and apparently damaged during use.

He sent before and after photos to eBay who told him they would refund the buyer and Ewers could appeal against their decision afterwards. When he tried to do so, he was refused. A message from customer services explained opaquely: "I understand that in our return policy the buyer should return an item in same condition and most of the times we our seller how if they receive item back in different condition. However, there are policy in place for this seller's coverage and I am afraid in this case it would not be possible to grant your appeal [sic]."

Ebay told the Observer that business sellers can't appeal against faulty returns and says since the buyer provided a detailed description of the problem he had a right to return the goods. It has since unleashed debt collectors to recover the £2,300 from Ewers. "I've told them to take me to court and I look forward to defending the claim if it ever happens," he says. He has also withdrawn his custom from eBay to whom he's paid nearly £30,000 in sellers' fees over 14 years. "I have finally realised I cannot do business with this company any longer," he says. "Ebay sellers are like sitting ducks waiting to be scammed."

(10th February 2019)


WARNING OVER HMRC SCAM VOICEMAILS THAT THREATEN YOU WITH ARREST
(Manchester Evening News, dated 11th January 2019 author Jessica Sansome)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/warning-over-hmrc-scam-voicemails-15661468

The public are being warned against a possible scam after reports of a fake HM Revenue & Customs voicemail have been doing the rounds.

HMRC have themselves been responding to users on their customer support Twitter page as they claim to have received the nuisance call.

The scam voicemails which have been likened to an "80s answer phone" message threaten potential victims with arrest or legal action and ask for bank details.

They claim it is because there's a legal case to be filed in your name which will prompt panic for those receiving the calls.

In a second voicemail, a woman claiming to be  and officer from HMRC will tell you that you, or your solicitor, must call them back immediately or face legal action, again another panicking tactic.

NatWest have also tweeted out a warning which says: "We've received many reports today of scam phone calls claiming to be HMRC, accusing people of tax evasion & asking for immediate payments.

"If you get a call like this, hang up & don't make any payments. Check the security advice on your bank's website for further help."

Police forces in Exeter, Devon and Scotland have also posted similar messages.

It is important to note that you'll never get an email, text message or phone call from HMRC that tells you about a tax rebate or penalty or asks for your personal and payment information.

If you receive such a call or feel that there is something untoward going on, the advice from GOV.uk is to search on their website to find official government services and phone numbers.

This will give you a clearer idea of whether the phone number is legitimate.

You can also report any misleading website, email or phone number to Action Fraud, the National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre.

More information on HMRC's guidance on recognising scams can be found here :

https://www.gov.uk/topic/dealing-with-hmrc/phishing-scams

-----------------------
PEOPLE IN BERKSHIRE WARNED OF NEW TAX OFFICE SCAM
(In Your Area, dated 9th January 2019 author Hugh Fort)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.inyourarea.co.uk/news/people-in-berkshire-warned-of-new-tax-office-scam/

uaware note : The article is much the same as the previous article, but includes this advice :

How to avoid becoming a victim of fraud

- Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information. Just because someone knows your basic details (such as your name and contact details), it doesn't mean they are genuine. Instead, contact the company directly using trusted methods such as a known email address or phone number.

- Listen to your instincts. If something feels wrong then it is usually right to question it. No genuine organisation will ask you to pay taxes, bills or fees using iTunes gift cards, or any other type of voucher.

- Don't be rushed or pressured into making a decision. Under no circumstances would a genuine bank or some other trusted organisation force you to make a financial transaction on the spot.

- Report Phishing attempts. If you receive a call, text or email of this nature and have not lost money, report this as a phishing attempt to Action Fraud.

----------------------
(10th February 2019)



THE WORST SCAMS EXPERIENCED BY OUR READERS IN 2018
(Telegraph, dated 6th January 2019 author Jessica Gorst-Williams)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/money/jessica-investigates/jessica-gorst-williams-worst-scams-experienced-readers-2018/

In yesterday's column I wrote about some of the themes and cases that dominated the 2018 postbag. Now I come to the most prevalent issue.

Apart from complaints to do with telecoms and power companies, scams outranked everything else. They were various and many, some easily avoidable and others less so.

MG of London was taken in by a cold caller who said he was a police detective sergeant involved in "Operation Pelican", allegedly an investigation into criminal behaviour involving money laundering by staff at the local NatWest bank.

MG thought she was helping the police by going to the NatWest branch, withdrawing £5,700 from her joint account and giving the money to another plain-clothes "policeman" on the false premise that Scotland Yard would reimburse it to her account.

MG went home only to receive another call from the same person telling her that they also needed a withdrawal, in euros, this time to be made from a bureau de change. She complied with that too and, predictably, at least to outsiders looking in, there was no happy ending.

PT of Leicestershire fell victim to a common fraud when trying to purchase a vehicle on eBay. It was priced at £1,000 less than similar cars would sell for. Given that it was supposedly in Aberdeen, PT did not try to see it before paying.

The "seller" advised that the way to buy the car was through a "holding company" that could be found through a Google search. Having found a company with reviews online, PT sent £4,499 by bank transfer. The fraudster said the car would be delivered in two days' time. That was the last PT heard of it. By then, all links to relevant sites had been disabled.

JW of south-west England had £7,715 stolen by a fraudster purporting to be a broadband engineer. Under the guise of paying compensation for a service outage, the scammer persuaded JW to give him access to her computer, which allowed him to steal her online banking information.

After my involvement, Barclays, one of the two recipient banks, returned the £1,989 that had been deposited with it and also credited £100 for goodwill.

Using this as a precedent, JW contacted the other recipient bank, NatWest, which had acknowledged some funds had been frozen but had refused to say how much these came to. NatWest sought an indemnity from the sending bank and then returned £1,706, which was all that remained of the £5,726 of JW's money that had gone into the account.

Frauds are part of everyday life and anyone can be targeted. The other day I picked up the phone to hear, "I am calling from the technical department of BT…" A number showed up. I told the scammer in no uncertain terms that I knew him for what he was. Had I had an issue relating to BT at the time, though, I might have been less sure.

(10th February 2019)

TV LICENCE EMAIL SCAM : MORE THAN 5,000 COMPLAINTS IN THREE MONTHS
(BBC News, dated 4th January 2019)

Full article [Option 1]: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46745298

A TV licence email scam has led to more than 5,000 complaints over the past three months.

Cyber crime monitor Action Fraud said fake TV licence emails regarding payment issues had been sent out to try to collect bank details.

The number of reports has increased in each of the past three months, with 1,983 complaints in December alone.

Action Fraud told the BBC the scam was "particularly nasty as it looks so convincing".

The emails use headlines such as "correct your licensing information" and "your TV licence expires today" in an attempt to convince people to click on the link in the email.

Action Fraud said it received 5,247 complaints about such emails between 1 October and the end of December.

By comparison, there were only 1,614 complaints in the preceding nine months of the year, with the majority of those coming in September.

While the emails themselves might vary slightly in their wording, all of the links direct through to the same website.

The fake TV Licensing website asks victims to provide their payment details, including their account number, sort code, and card verification value (CVV) code on the back of their card.

The website may also ask for a victim's name, date of birth, address, phone number, email and possibly even their mother's maiden name.

'Incredibly realistic'

Action Fraud said it was working to "stop fraudsters in their tracks".

Leesa Hellings-Lamb, from Bolton, told the BBC she received an "incredibly realistic" email from what she thought was TV Licensing claiming her licence was due to expire in two days.

She followed the link in the email and began entering her bank details but became "suspicious" when she was asked for "too much information".

"Eventually I realised it was a scam," said Ms Hellings-Lamb, who managed to avoid confirming her details to the fraudsters.

She added: "I have learnt my lesson and told everyone I know to spread the word and remind everyone to be more cautious."

A TV Licensing spokeswoman said: "TV Licensing will never email customers, unprompted, to ask for bank details, personal information or tell you that you may be entitled to a refund."

Is the TV licence email I have received a scam?

There are a number of ways to check whether or not an email you have received might be from fraudsters. Action Fraud says should check:

The sender's email address - does it look like one TV Licensing would use?

The subject line - anything such as "action required" or "security alert" should be treated with suspicion

Spelling and grammar - grammatical errors suggest it is likely to be a scam

The style - scammers often take real emails and amend them, so be wary of emails that seem too familiar or casual

The link - does it go through to the official TV Licensing website? Example : https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/

If you think you have received an email from fraudsters, you should report it to Action Fraud.

(10th February 2019)


SURGE IN CONTACTLESS CARD FRAUD - STEALING £1.18m IN 10 MONTHS
(London Evening Standard, dated 4th January 2019)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/surge-in-contactless-card-fraud-stealing-118m-in-10-months-a4030256.html

The number of reports of contactless card fraud to Action Fraud almost doubled last year.

Pickpockets are stealing cards to make as many £30 transactions as possible before the account is blocked, while more sophisticated scammers use "skimming" devices attached to cash machines to siphon off data.

Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, said that in 10 months last year there were 2,739 reports of contactless fraud, totalling almost £1.18 million - up from 1,440 cases worth £711,000 in the same period in 2017.

They represented 51 per cent of the reports of contactless fraud since 2013 to the service, which is run by City of London Police.

Average losses investigated by detectives were between £90 and £652 but the largest single contactless case reached £400,000, stemming from multiple purchases.

"Low-tech methods" that were commonly deployed included distraction thefts and cash machine "entrapment devices" used to clone card details.

Concerns have been raised that it is possible for criminals to use rogue card readers and smartphones to read cards simply by brushing past the owner.

However UK Finance, that represents the banking industry, has said there have been no verified incidents of contactless fraud on cards still in the possession of the original owner.

Manufacturer Durable has secured a warrant from the City Stationers' Company for its RFID Secure Wallet, which uses a metal-lined sleeve to block radio signals. Durable's Martina Heiland said: "Most cards have a 13.56 megahertz frequency and it is possible to cull data from them from 1.5 metres away."

Gareth Shaw, a Which? money expert, said: "Contactless payments are quick and easy but they have also given criminals a new way to exploit consumers, leading to a significant rise in contactless fraud cases."

An Action Fraud spokeswoman said: "Fraudsters will do all they can to steal your card and account details and take money from your account?…?If you've seen unusual activity on your bank statements, such as purchases you don't remember making or cash withdrawals from places you don't remember visiting, tell your bank immediately."

According to the latest UKF fraud figures the actual proportion of all card fraud losses by value that were through contactless fraud was 3% in the first half of 2018.

(10th February 2019)


DECEMBER 2018


FRAUDSTERS WILL NO LONGER BE ABLE TO MAKE COLD CALLS TO PEOPLE OFFERING PENSION ADVICE
(Mail on Sunday, dated 23rd December 2018 author Jeff Prestridge)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-6523331/Fraudsters-no-longer-able-make-cold-calls-people-offering-pension-advice.html

government ban on pension cold-calling will come into effect early next year.

The long-awaited move means firms - often fraudsters - will no longer be able to make unsolicited calls to people offering them advice on their pension schemes.

Failure to adhere to the new rule, that kicks in on January 9, could result in a fine of up to £500,000.

The call for a ban was first made two years ago by financial adviser Darren Cooke who launched a parliamentary petition on the issue.

The traction that the petition gained prompted the Government to announce it would introduce legislation, but it kept being delayed.

Kate Smith, head of pensions at financial services company Aegon, says the ban will go a 'long way to protect savers from being scammed out of their life savings'.

But many have already seen their cash disappear offshore, never to be seen again.

-----------------------
PENSION COLD CALLING BAN TO START IN JANUARY
(This is Money, dated 20th December 2018 author Tanya Jefferies)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/pensions/article-6516719/Pension-cold-calling-ban-against-scammers-start-January-9.html

A ban on unscrupulous sharks using cold calling to trick people out of their life savings will finally come into force on 9 January 2019.

The cold call prohibition is aimed at scammers trying to steal retirement pots and unregulated firms which persuade people to transfer money into unsuitable high-risk schemes.

Campaigners warn crooks will simply switch to new ruses - including calling from overseas to get round the UK law - but say that raising public awareness about the ban will put more people on their guard.

The Government first announced a ban on cold calling about pensions in November 2016, and industry experts and campaigners have voiced growing frustration about the delays.

Last July, the ban was postponed again while it carried out a last-minute consultation.

The Government has not made a formal announcement about the start date, but Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen tweeted: 'Pensions cold calling is a scourge, so I was pleased and proud to see Parliament pass a ban on it this week.

'This means the ban will officially come into force on 9th January. Spread the word.'

A copy of the rules : www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/1396/contents/made

A ban on unwanted texts and emails is not included, but they are already restricted under EU regulations.

he Government was spurred into action in 2016 following a petition demanding pension and investment cold calling be made illegal.

Launched by Derbyshire-based financial adviser Darren Cooke, the petition said: 'Banning cold calling would dramatically reduce the number of people falling prey to fraudsters and losing their savings and pensions.'

It attracted the backing of two former Pensions Ministers, Ros Altmann and Steve Webb, and a large band of pension industry supporters concerned by the heartbreaking losses suffered by savers.

Victims of pension fraud lost an average of £91,000 each from their life savings last year, figures from watchdogs recently revealed.

Pension freedom reforms, which allow over-55s to access their entire retirement savings pots in one go, have made this money an obvious target for criminals.

Fraud experts say that a combination of new rules, investors looking for returns and pensioners withdrawing large sums of cash have created a potentially fertile hunting ground for conmen.

Citizens Advice statistics suggest 97 per cent of the pension fraud cases it deals with stem from cold calling.

Last summer, financial watchdogs launched a TV, radio and social media campaign to highlight common fraud tactics and explain what to do if you are targeted.

Alistair Wilson, head of retail platform strategy at Zurich, said today: 'The Government's long-awaited ban on cold calling will disrupt one of the main routes scammers use to trick consumers out of their life savings.

'When the ban comes into force within weeks, it will send a powerful message to consumers not to speak to firms who call them about their pension out of the blue.

'However, wherever there is a large pot of money, fraudsters will find new ways to get at it.

'Scammers are likely to evolve new and more sophisticated tactics, and it is vital pension providers and consumers remain alert to this.

'The ban is a major step forward but it doesn't cover cold calls made from overseas, which is a loophole fraudsters could look to exploit. That's why raising consumer awareness of the illegality of pensions cold calls is so vital to the ban's success.'

This is Money has previously reported how sharks are using chilling methods to dupe people out of their savings.

Scammers are 'grooming' pension savers by giving them a script of what to say to get around company safeguards, according to financial giant Aegon.

Customers are repeating certain telling phrases and technical terms not in common use when they ring up and ask for pot transfers, and sometimes admit they were warned to ignore attempts to talk them out of it, it says.

Meanwhile, The Pensions Regulator has warned fraudsters are also cut-and-pasting official scam alerts onto their websites to fool savers into thinking they are dealing with above board businesses.

'Watch out for scam sites that dress themselves up with anti-scam messaging to pose as legitimate businesses,' it says.

Suspicious company websites have also been known to claim fraudsters were passing themselves off as their representatives, and to warn customers to be on their guard.

A common scam is claiming to be able to unlock money from an individual's pension early, before the age of 55 - something known as pension liberation fraud, which can lead people to lose a pension pot and then face a 55 per cent tax charge on the vanished cash.
-----------------------
(1st January 2019)


FORTNITE SCAMS ON THE RISE AS POLICE WARN CHILDREN ARE BEING INCREASINGLY RIPPED OFF VIA COMPUTER GAMES
(Telegraph, dated 22nd December 2018 author Mike Wright)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/12/22/fortnite-scams-rise-police-warn-children-increasingly-ripped/

Children playing the world's most popular computer game are being preyed on by criminals trying to extort money out of them, the police's fraud arm has warned.

Action Fraud has warned that scammers are using Fortnite, an online multiplayer "shoot em up" game with 125 million players worldwide, to trick young players into handing over their parents' bank details.

The fraud reporting centre, which is run by the City of London Police, said it had seen a more than 40 percent rise in crimes involving the hit video game, with victims losing on average £110 each time.

Fortnite, which is certified as being suitable for children aged 12 and over, is set in a dystopian world where most of the Earth's population has suddenly disappeared, living tough conditions and zombie-like creatures to roam the Earth. Players are among the remaining 2 per cent whose job it is to survive and return the earth to normal.

The scam works by convincing players to leave the game and enter a third party website, where they can buy "free" online currency which they can use in the game to buy items like weapons and clothes. To "verify their account is real" players are asked to hand over bank details.

Parents are now being urged to be vigilant in the run-up to Christmas and keep an eye on what their children are doing online.

Chief Inspector Paul Carroll, of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, said: "Clearly you expect there to be more purchases of Fortnite over the Christmas period, it's the in thing for gamers. So it is certainly a time for parents to be vigilant and get their knowledge up to speed of what it entails.

"You have always got to question requests for personal financial information."

Figures seen by the Sunday Telegraph showed that between May and November this year there had been 50 reports of fraud to the hotline involving Fortnite.

This was a rise on previous figures released by the centre that showed there were 35 crimes reported between September last year, when the game was released, and April.

The centre warned that many of the frauds came from children being tricked by scams on social media promisings free ways to get Fortnite's in-game currency, called V-Bucks.

V-Bucks can be bought with real money or earned playing the game and allow players to buy new items for their online Fortnite characters such as costumes, weapons or dance moves.

The Sunday Telegraph found a number of Fortnite scam sites on Facebook and YouTube, which typically took people to a third-party website where they were told they could get free V-Bucks by simply entering their Fortnite account username.

The sites typically then said the process had failed and the person had to 'verify' their Fortnite account was real by handing over various personal information.

They often also promised children the chance to win a new smartphone or games console if they entered theirs or their parents' details.

Ch Insp Carroll added: "We say you have to listen to your instincts and if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. So if you are being offered these V-Bucks for a discounted rate it is potentially someone looking to defraud you."

Since its release, Fortnite has become a huge hit with its free Battle Royale game, in which up to 100 people compete online in a last-man-standing shootout, especially popular.

The game's maker, Epic Games, recently revealed Fortnite now has more than 200 million players worldwide. The studio has previously warned players that online offers of free V-Bucks are not legitimate and not to participate in them.

Facebook and YouTube have since removed all the scam pages and videos found by the Sunday Telegraph.

A spokesman for YouTube said: "We use teams of highly trained content reviewers to determine whether videos violate our Community Guidelines and are committed to removing this offending content quickly."

What is Fortnite: Battle Royale?

Fornite: Battle Royale has quickly become one of the world's most popular online games. Free to play, Battle Royale was released in 2017 by Epic Games, a firm based in North Carolina. It was designed as a spinoff from the company's main release, Fortnite. The game allows users to compete against dozens of others around the world in a last-man-standing deathmatch.

What happens in the game?

Up to 100 players start off the deathmatch in a flying bus. One by one, they drop to the ground of the game's map, which includes areas called 'Tomato Town', 'Tilted Towers', and 'Shifty Shafts'. Players then quickly have to arm themselves and find shelter. The aim is to kill every other player and emerge as the sole survivor. Players are given a huge amount of choice - they can focus on amassing weapons, building an elaborate base, or luring others into traps. Most games last for around 20 minutes.

How many people play it?

Estimates vary on just how many people play Battle Royale. Data from financial information service MarketWatch however, suggests the game pulls in 40 million users each month. That shows a huge rise in popularity in recent months: at it's previous peak the game showed a concurrent player count of 3.4 million, and a total player count of 45 million.

How much money does it make?

In just one month in April 2018, Fortnite made $296 million across all of its platforms (including console, PC, and mobile), according to research company Superdata. This made it the highest-grossing digital console game that month, the data showed.

How does it compare with other online games?

Battle Royale has quickly become one of the world's most popular and successful online multiplayer games. Its 40 million monthly users makes it more popular than its giant competitor, Grand Theft Auto V Online, which is produced by Rockstar Games as part of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, which is one of the most profitable entertainment franchises in history.

(1st January 2019)


MUM SCAMMED OUT OF JEWELLERY AND CASH WORTH THOUSANDS BY BOGUS UNERCOVER COP
(Examiner Live, dated 21st December 2018 author John Davies)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.examinerlive.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/mum-scammed-out-jewellery-cash-15584781

An unsuspecting Dewsbury mum handed over cash and jewellery worth £4500 to a man posing as an undercover police officer after a fraudster tricked her into thinking it would be taken away for "safe-keeping".

In fact the scam was part of a wider West Yorkshire conspiracy masterminded by manipulative Bradford fraudster Zain Khan, 31, who was jailed in September at Leeds Crown Court for five years for similar offending.

Bradford Crown Court heard today (Fri) that back in 2017 Khan used his brother-in-law Adnan Qureshi, 33, as "a foot soldier" to collect cash and jewellery from frightened victims at homes in Bradford and Dewsbury.

Prosecutor Howard Shaw said in April 2017 Qureshi, of Blythe Avenue, Bradford, turned up at a house in the city after a woman had received a telephone from a man claiming to be a police officer.

The man said the family were in danger and advised her to hand over any cash or jewellery for safekeeping.

"He indicated that an undercover police officer would attend at the house and he would be dressed in black," said Mr Shaw.

When Qureshi arrived he told the victim not to worry and she handed him jewellery worth about £9000 to £10,000.

Five months later Qureshi, who had no previous convictions, took the cash and jewellery away from the woman from Dewsbury telling her not to be scared.

Mr Shaw said none of the cash or jewellery was ever recovered and Qureshi was later picked out during identification procedures.

The married father-of-three admitted two fraud charges and today (Fri) Judge Colin urns sentenced him to eight months in jail suspended for two years.

He will also have to abide by a six-month night-time tagged curfew at this Bradford home.

Barrister Shufqat Khan, for Qureshi, said it went without saying that Zain Khan had been a negative influence on his client.

"Zain Khan was a manipulative character not just with this defendant but with others," he submitted.

"Zain Khan had orchestrated a fraud were he was using the guise of a police officer to extract property from people in his own community."

He said Qureshi had become involved because Khan's overbearing personality and behaviour towards him.

(1st Janaury 2019)


SCAM VICTIMS TO GET GREATER POWERS TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE BANKS WHERE THEIR STOLEN MONEY ENDS UP
(Daily Mail, dated 18th December 2018 author Amelia Murray)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/money/beatthescammers/article-6509373/Scan-victims-greater-powers-complain-banks-stolen-money-ends-up.html?ito=1490

Fraud victims will next month get greater powers to complain about banks where their stolen money ends up.

It is a victory for Money Mail's campaign for victims of push-payment scams, where people are deceived into transferring money into a fraudster's account.

If, after complaining, the victim is still unhappy with the way the bank has handled their case, new rules will allow them to escalate their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Currently the criminal's bank is not obliged to deal with issues raised by victims who are not customers.

Following a review, the Financial Conduct Authority decided that receiving banks could do more to identify incoming payments and prevent accounts from being compromised by fraudsters.

Victims of so-called authorised push payment (APP) fraud will be able to complain to the receiving bank from January 31.

Victims of scams before this date will not have the same rights.

Some £145 million was lost to APP fraud in the first six months of 2018, according to UK Finance.

Of this, just £31 million was returned to victims.

(1st January 2019)


ADOPTION FRAUDSTER SCAMMED 16 CHILDLESS COUPLES USING FAKE ULTRSOUND AND PREGNANCY TEST
(Metro, dated 17th December 2018 author Jimmy McCloskey)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://metro.co.uk/2018/12/17/adoption-fraudster-scammed-16-childless-couples-using-fake-ultrasound-pregnancy-test-8258709/

Note: This is a scam in the USA.

A fraudster scammed at least 16 childless couples out of thousands of dollars for babies she lied about being pregnant with.

Wendy George, 39, snared her victims using websites aimed at setting up families keen to adopt with women who would provide them with babies.

George, who was jailed for five years Friday, even paid a pregnant friend $20 to go and have an ultrasoud with her name on it.

She also used the same pal to obtain a positive pregnancy test, which she subsequently used to claim Medicaid benefits.

George, from Carolina Beach in North Carolina, began the scheme in November 2016 by making various posts online claiming to be pregnant, and adding that she wanted to give up the baby.

The crook, who was never pregnant, was then contacted by at over a dozen prospective adoptees, and entered into lengthy discussions with them about handing over the non-existent infant. She requested cash for food, doctors' appointments and rent.

Her plot unraveled in February 2017 after a couple from Ohio called George's local police department, saying they had given George hundreds of dollars for food and rent.

George admitted 10 counts of obtaining property by false pretenses, one count of felony accessing a computer to perpetuate a fraud, and one count of Medicaid fraud.

The serial criminal was previously convicted on other fraud charges, and for selling drugs.

(1st January 2019)


DRIVERS BEING SOLD 'TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE' CAR INSURANCE THAT COULD LAND THEM IN JAIL
(Mirror, dated 15th December 2018 author Stephen Hayward)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/drivers-being-sold-too-good-13738472

Record numbers of young drivers are being duped into buying fake insurance online.

'Ghost broking' scams on Instagram and other websites have soared in the past three years.

Victims lose hundreds of pounds and can end up driving without cover.

Adverts offer insurance for as little as £100 a year on social media sites, student websites or money-saving forums.

Fraudsters falsify drivers' names to bring the price down or take out a genuine policy before cancelling and claiming the refund plus the victim's cash.

The Insurance Fraud Bureau is handing over 70 investigations - up from 11 new cases in 2015.

Its head of intelligence Stephen Dalton said: "Young drivers, with higher premiums, are often the target. More than a third of young people we surveyed said they've seen a suspicious ad for insurance on social media."

One ghost broker, Abdul Hakim, 27, of Oldham, Greater Manchester, was jailed for three years at Bradford Crown Court in April for duping 21 people. Drivers are warned to beware if a seller only provides a mobile number or email.

(1st Janaury 2019)


CITY POLICE SENT TO INDIA TO CATCH ONLINE 'TECH SUPPORT' SCAMMERS
(London Evening Standard, dated 12th December 2018 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/city-police-sent-to-india-to-catch-online-tech-support-scammers-a4015206.html

City of London police are deploying officers in India to combat scammers in call centres targeting the UK in a multi-million-pound racket.

The force, which leads the country's fight against fraud, says it is expanding operations overseas to "take the fight to the enemy".

City police say 22,000 UK victims lost £21 million last year in "tech support scams", many of them originating from abroad.

Callers claiming to be technicians from companies such as Microsoft tell potential victims that their computer is infected with a virus. They then demand cash to fix the problem or ask to remotely access the person's computer, which allows them to hack their emails and bank accounts.

In recent weeks Indian police have raided 26 call centres and arrested more than 50 people.

Microsoft, which has seconded an employee to work with City police, says it receives more than 11,000 calls a month from around the world about fake security warnings. The company's work with City officers has already led to a number of arrests.

Fraudsters also pose as support staff from Google, Apple and other major tech companies.

City of London police commissioner Ian Dyson said some call centres operate legitimately during the day but then switch to illegal activity at night, making them "criminal enterprises".

Mr Dyson told the Standard the force had formed a special team to explore "global solutions" to fraud. "A lot of the perpetrators of fraud operate abroad, and that means getting a judicial outcome is challenging in some cases. They are not out of reach, but it makes it harder," he said.

"There is a serious need to get 'up­stream' of certain crime types, such as economic crime, and find long-term solutions to tackle them at source, before they spread across the globe.

"This is about preventing people ­committing fraud in the UK. We are building a capability that means we are taking the fight to the enemy, and I think we can have a significant impact."

(1st January 2019)


THE SURPRISING DESIGNER SHOES THAT TOP FRAUDSTERS WISH LISTS
(Footwear News, dated 10th December 2018 author Samantha McDonald)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://footwearnews.com/2018/business/retail/designer-shoes-fraud-study-christian-louboutin-balenciaga-1202716311/

What's on a fraudster's wish list?

Turns out, it's designer shoes - particularly Christian Louboutin's So Kate pumps as well as heels from Spanish fashion label Balenciaga.

According to e-commerce fraud prevention company Forter, luxury footwear is among the products criminals are stealing most frequently this season. The recent report, which compared fraud attack rates during Black Friday and Cyber Monday with annual averages, found that Louboutins and Balenciagas were targeted at almost double their normal rates.

"Designer shoes, like luxury goods, are an ideal target amongst fraudsters because while the value of one item leads to a lucrative payoff, the products are not so expensive that merchants must scrutinize the intentions behind each purchase to great lengths," the firm's co-founder and CEO, Michael Reitblat, told FN.

A Deloitte study released in October predicted that online sales would rise between 17 and 22 percent during this year's holiday season, with more than half of shoppers expected to buy apparel and shoes as gifts.

"As consumers seek coveted designer gifts for the holidays, they often turn to third-party sites to find the best bargains, creating a market for fraudsters looking to resell luxury goods for a quick profit," Reitblat explained.

Additionally, he predicts that criminals looking to cash in on the value of stolen goods will do so sooner rather than later. In fact, both affordable and pricey winter apparel such as fleece hoodies and waterproof boots made the list, revealing that the seasonal market proved more important than the cost of the item itself.

Watches like Tissot, designer sunglasses and makeup palettes were also highly targeted, as well as gift cards.

(1st January 2019)


THE CALLOUS 118 TELEPHONE TRICK
(Mail on Sunday, dated 8th December 2018 author Laura Shannon)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/money/beatthescammers/article-6474787/The-callous-118-telephone-trick-costs-HUNDREDS-pounds-seconds.html?ito=1490

Families are being warned to avoid a sinister rip-off known as 'unused number squatting' that tricks them into dialling an expensive phone number.

The little-known scam relies on phone users making a sequence of dialling errors. But those caught end up being charged an average £50.

In some cases, charges amount to hundreds of pounds. It happens when disreputable directory enquiry providers 'hijack' out-of-use landline numbers and use them to play misleading adverts plugging services.

Bulks of 01 and 02 numbers are held by communications providers and can be sold via middlemen on to 118 providers to use.

When a caller misdials a number - or rings one they believe is still active for a person or business they know - they hear a recorded message on one of these hijacked numbers telling them that it is 'out of service' and to call a different number instead. Those who do as directed are tricked into using a pricey 118 service.

One customer who thought she was calling optician Specsavers was greeted with a recorded message saying the number was out of service - and that she should call 118 023.

Believing this to be a message recorded by the high street optician, she dialled the premium rate number - hanging up after realising her mistake. She was charged £7 for a 22-second call.

She says: 'I was not advised of any charges when I listened to the message and was shocked to see the charge on my bill. I am extremely unhappy that people are getting away with scams like this.'

Another person was charged £25 for a call lasting less than six minutes. He had originally called a Northampton-based landline and was told to dial 118 023. When he rang and the operator found the number he was looking for, he was automatically connected.

This meant he was also charged the premium rate for the duration of the connected call - not just the initial contact with the 118 service.

A 93-year-old man who was recently discharged from hospital mistakenly dialled a number he believed was for an MOT centre based in Staffordshire. He was informed that the number was out of service and to call 118 023. Information about this number's premium rate was not supplied until 26 seconds into the recorded message, but the victim had already hung up.

As a result of this rip-off, the company behind the 118 number - PowerTel - was fined £200,000 by the Phone-paid Services Authority, which regulates premium rate services. The fine was levied because the service's cost was not clear, the tactic misleading, and the company had not renewed its registration with the regulator.

Back in March, a company known as 'Call The 118 113 Helpdesk' was also fined £425,000 for telling customers there was a fault on the landline they had phoned and to call premium rate number 118 820.

Complaints resolution service Resolver has heard from many people ripped off by 118 numbers.

Spokesman Martyn James says: 'It is a sad fact that we cannot trust businesses to be honest about the pricing of telephone calls.'

PROTECTION IS COMING

Since PowerTel's fine, the Phone-paid Services Authority has said it will ban companies from advertising directory enquiry services via 'unused number squatting'. Promotions advertising 118 numbers will only be allowed to exist on active numbers already in use for other legitimate purposes.

Providers must also reveal the cost of onward call connections to numbers that customers request, giving them time to consider and decline. These changes take effect from early next February. Communications regulator Ofcom recently announced it will cap charges for all customers who call 118 numbers - typically elderly people and those without access to the internet - to a maximum £3.65 per 90 seconds.

Even that, of course, is eye-wateringly expensive. This comes after research showed around 450,000 people pay £2.4 million more than they expect to for directory enquiry services, leading to 'bill shock'.

There are 86 providers offering more than 200 directory enquiry service numbers beginning with prefix 118.

Nearly 200,000 people pay more than £20 just to find a number. Ofcom's changes will be introduced next April.

David Hickson, of the Fair Telecoms Campaign, says: 'A major hope is that the price cap will drive some of the scammers away.'

He is also awaiting a final statement from the regulators on plans to tackle rip-off call connection services that trick people who search on the internet for numbers of well-established brands into making a premium rate call - when what they should be given is an 01, 02, 03 or free 080 number.

(1st January 2019)


DEVASTATING SCAM MAKES YOU £91,000 POORER FOR LIFE
(Mirror, dated 4th December 2018 author Vicky Shaw)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/devastating-scam-makes-you-91000-13681941

There has been a five-fold increase in visits to a website from people seeking information about pension scams, following the launch of a joint campaign by regulators.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)'s ScamSmart website, which allows people to check pension opportunities they have been offered and find out more about avoiding scams, is being visited every 27 seconds typically.

The FCA and the Pensions Regulator (TPR) launched the joint drive to raise awareness about pension frauds in the summer.

Victims of pension scams last year lost an average of £91,000 each to fraudsters.

They reported receiving cold calls, offers of free pension reviews and promises that they would get high rates of return - all of which are key warning signs of scams.

Before the launch of the awareness drive, an average of 562 visits were being made to the ScamSmart website per day.

But after the launch, an average of 3,145 visits to the website per day were recorded - around five times the number previously and the equivalent of one visit to the website every 27 seconds.

Nicola Parish, TPR's executive director of frontline regulation, said: "The dramatic increase in the number of people visiting ScamSmart for information is very encouraging but this is not the end of the campaign.

"Every pension holder is a potential scam victim so it's vital that we continue spreading the word about scammers and how they operate to prevent more people handing over their funds to criminals."

What to watch for

The two regulators are urging all pension holders to be on their guard against pension scams as new research suggests that half (52%) of 45 to 65-year-olds with a pension do not think they are likely to be targeted by a pension scam.

The most common reasons given were that they believe they are too savvy to be scammed (21%) or that they do not think they have enough money saved in their pension (18%).

Research from the FCA estimates more than 10 million UK adults have received an unsolicited pension offer in just one year.

Mark Steward, the FCA's executive director of enforcement and market oversight, said: "Our research shows that many pension holders believe they are too savvy to be scammed.

"But pension scams are often very sophisticated and difficult to spot.

"Scammers will target people from all walks of life and with any size pension.

"The best way to protect yourself is to always check the FCA register to make sure that anyone offering you pension advice or any other financial service is authorised by the FCA."

Who's fighting the scammers

The FCA and TPR are part of Project Bloom, a task force working to combat pension scams.

The task force includes the Department for Work and Pensions, the Treasury, the Serious Fraud Office, City of London Police, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, the Pensions Advisory Service and the National Crime Agency.

The Treasury has laid regulations that will ban pension cold calling early in 2019.

Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, said: "Pension scams are devastating for people and can rob them of the retirement they planned.

"Raising awareness of how these heartless criminals operate is key to tackling fraud, and the response to this campaign is encouraging.

"I would urge savers to always exercise caution and seek independent guidance or advice before making important financial decisions - free, impartial guidance is available from Pension Wise or the Pensions Advisory Service."

Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, said: "By launching a dedicated campaign warning about the dangers of scams - including a highly effective television advert - the regulators have already helped boost awareness among consumers.

"Ultimately improving engagement and understanding of scams is the most effective way to tackle the problem in the long term.

"The research published today tells us more work still needs to be done on this front, with many people aged 45 to 65 years old still seemingly oblivious to the fact they are prime targets for pension scammers."

The FCA and TPR are urging people to be ScamSmart with their pension and always check who they are dealing with.

4 steps to stay safe

The regulators recommend four steps to protect yourself from pension scams:

1. Reject unexpected pension offers whether made online, on social media or over the phone.

2. Check who you are dealing with before changing your pension arrangements - check the FCA register or call the FCA contact centre on 0800 111 6768 to see if the firm you are dealing with is authorised by the FCA.

3. Do not be rushed or pressured into making any decision about your pension.

4. Consider getting impartial information and advice.

- If you think you have been a victim of a pension scam, report it. Visit www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart to find out more.

(1st January 2019)


NURSE DUPED OUT OF HER £4,000 SAVINGS WHILE SHE'S OFF SICK WARNS OVER "NUMBER SPOOFING" SCAM
(iNews, dated 30th November 2018 author Claudia Tanner)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/people/nurse-savings-number-spoofing-bank-scam-rbs-royal-bank-of-scotland/

A woman who was duped out of more than £4,100 is warning about a sophisticated scam in which she received texts that appeared to be from the same number as her bank's.

Nurse Thomas was conned out of her only savings after fraudsters pretended to call from Royal Bank of Scotland's (RBS's) fraud team to alert her to suspicious activity on her account.

While some readers have told i the telephone number they called from was the same as their bank's, in this case Holly's was from a withheld number.

But she then received text messages that seemed to be from the same text stream as RBS's.

She told i that the fraud had left her worrying how she would cope financially because she has spent the last year off work recovering from spinal surgery.

"My sick pay has just ran out and it's my little boy's birthday coming up, then Christmas," she said. "I had experienced genuine fraudulent activity on my account a few months ago and I know that what the scammers said to me this time was identical to what the bank says to you.

"The text messages from them were grouped in the same message on my iPhone as the genuine ones from RBS.

"They convinced me to transfer my savings to a new account they said they'd set up for me. They even booked me in for an appointment with my local branch to collect my new card."

The Nurse, from Nottingham, has since received a partial refund from RBS, but has been left nearly £1,350 short. RBS has been approached for comment.

New rules to protect customers

A total of £145 million was stolen through authorised push payment (APP) scams - where people are tricked into authorising a payment to another account - in the first half of 2018, say trade body UK Finance.

Unlike Holy, many victims of this type of fraud haven't had a penny of their money back because banks argue the customer is at fault for giving permission for the payment to go through.

Earlier this year, the The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) proposed a new scheme that would offer better protection for victims who took sufficient care - meaning thousands might soon be able to recoup their losses.

Under the rules, banks sign up to a code of practice that outlines the steps they need to take to protect consumers. If they don't meet these obligations, and a customer loses money as a result, they will need to reimburse them.

Banks have pledged to provide effective warnings to customers about to make a transfer. Those signing up also promise to act faster to stop suspicious payments in the first place and do more to prevent accounts being opened by fraudsters.

Banks are also rolling out a system called 'confirmation of payee', which will warn customers when they make a transaction if the name they enter as the account owner doesn't match the bank's records.

Six things police and banks will never ask for over the phone or online

1. They will never phone and ask you for your PIN or full banking password

2. They will never ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them for safe-keeping or to aid an investigation.

3. They will never ask you to transfer money to a safe account for fraud or investigation reasons.

4. They will never send someone to your home to collect cash, PIN, cards or cheque books.

5. They will never ask you to purchase goods using your card and then hand them over for safe-keeping.

6. The police or your bank will never ask you to lie about why you are withdrawing or transferring money.

uaware comment

I always assume that newspaper articles are there to inform. Well in the case of this article the details it provided would help other scammers to scam the same person again. The article provided the victims full name, their geographic location and age. Further simple checks on websites like Ancestry and "192.com" would fill in the blanks.

(1st January 2019)


LLOYDS CUSTOMER LOSES £5,200 IN EMAIL SCAM - BUT CAN'T GET REFUND
(Guardian, dated 1st December 2018 author Miles Brignall)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/money/2018/dec/01/lloyds-customer-loses-5200-in-email-scam-but-cant-get-refund

Lloyds Bank is refusing to compensate a customer who lost £5,200 to an email scam despite the money being transferred to another account at the same bank that a police investigation found had probably been opened fraudulently.

Surrey businesswoman Kate Levers is the latest victim of a fast-growing email scam, where a fraudster hacks into a company's emails and poses as a legitimate contractor requiring payment, but to a new account.

Levers, the finance director of a refurbishment firm, Demand and Supply, is preparing to take Lloyds to court to reclaim the loss, and plans to remove six business and personal accounts from the bank in protest. She has been a customer for 40 years.

The fraud occurred after she set up a bank transfer which she had been expecting. She then received a second email from the contractor asking her to make the payment to a different account. The second email was not genuine, and the new Lloyds account to which she sent the £5,200 was controlled by fraudsters. Previous victims of this scam have lost significantly larger sums.

Her case highlights the need for everyone to sign up to two-step verification on their email, and never to trust an email that asks for a payment to be made to a different account. It also shows how the receiving banks will deny liability, even if one of their accounts was used to launder the money.

Levers' case is unusual because, unlike most other email fraud victims who are ignored by the authorities, she managed to persuade the police to investigate. The lead officer in the Metropolitan police's Falcon (anti-fraud) unit told her that the Lloyds account used to process her firm's payment had been opened using a cloned identity.

An officer told her in an email: "Genuine details may have been fraudulently used to obtain the ID document used to open the account and I advised Lloyds as such.

"Organised crime networks employ people to enter the UK for very short periods of time, with the sole intention of opening fraudulent accounts. They play no part in, and often have no knowledge of, the fraud itself. The matter is complicated by the fact that false identities and documents are used to open these accounts."

Levers and her adviser, the fraud recovery specialist, Jack Buster, believe that Lloyds failed to carry out proper checks when the account was opened, and as a result was negligent. The bank denies this.

"Based on the statement issued by Falcon, it probably means that someone went into the branch of Lloyds bank in Broadway, Stratford in east London, with an identity card that was not genuine. It's absurdly simple but this is how organised crime networks open bank accounts at all UK high street banks. It would have been a similar story with the utility bill which are so easy to fake. Had Lloyds done a thorough check, they would have discovered what the police did, that the details didn't match. But they didn't bother, the fraudster tricked the bank, and Kate Levers' business has lost her money. It is clear the bank should refund her," Buster says.

The bank rejects what the police told Levers, and said its account opening procedures are robust.

In a statement Lloyds said: "We have a great deal of sympathy for Mrs Levers who has been the victim of a crime. We blocked the account immediately once she reported the fraud which was the day after the payment was made. Unfortunately by this point, no funds remained in the beneficiary account. We have fully investigated this case and all the evidence which indicates this was a scam where a genuine account, operational for a number of years, was unfortunately then used to carry out this fraud."

MPs hear evidence on online fraud

The frequent ways in which banks refuse to refund the victims of email and other online frauds has been laid bare in evidence presented to a parliamentary investigation.

Richard Emery, an independent expert who helps consumers fight their banks, told the Treasury select committee on Tuesday that the banks are mostly "dismissive and uncaring" - and often deny liability - when a customer is the victim of an email fraud or other similar scam.

Appearing alongside Richard Piggin, from the consumer group Which?, Emery says the banks frequently insist the scam victim was "grossly negligent" and on that basis refuse to refund a customer.

Banks typically rely upon a definition of gross negligence that critics say is wide open to interpretation. They argue that the victim may have been subjected to an incredibly sophisticated scam, which in some cases exploits a weakness in the bank's online operation.

The banks are supposed to refund any payment that is not "authorised" by the customer, but frequently do not, and instead will revert to the the gross negligence defence.

Emery said all the banks are bad in this regard but named Santander and Metro Bank as the banks who fight hardest against refunding customers who have been the victim of fraud.

Consumers and businesses are currently losing about £300m a year to authorised push payment frauds as they are known, the session was told. There were over 20,000 reported cases in the first half of 2018, according to UK Finance, which tracks bank fraud.

Emery told MPs that all the banks have also allowed the use of so-called "mule" accounts - particularly students accounts - to be used to funnel money stolen in this way. He said accounts that might have had a few pounds in them for a few years were suddenly receiving hundreds of thousands of pounds - and this was going unnoticed by the banks.

He told MPs that he understood that Lloyds Bank alone has identified 13,000 accounts that have been used as mule accounts.

As previously reported by Guardian Money, Emery said the introduction of faster payments had been a huge boon for fraudsters as they have allowed money to be quickly moved around the financial system.

He has called for the banks to offer a 24-hour delay on payments of £500 or more to new beneficiaries, and for the Financial Conduct Authority to set out in black and white what constitutes "gross negligence". This would encourage the banks to do more to prevent frauds in the first place, he argued.

UK Finance, which represents the banks, says the industry's fraud protection systems stopped £2 out of every £3 of attempted unauthorised fraud last year.

"Banks will always make every effort to help a customer recover any stolen funds and the industry has introduced new standards on how banks respond to scam victims. We are also working closely with the regulator and consumer groups on a new voluntary code to better protect customers from the threat of authorised push payment scams."

(1st January 2019)


NOVEMBER 2018


NEW BREAKTHROUGHS IN COMBATING TECH SUPPORT SCAMS [Extract]
(Microsoft, dated 29th November 2018 author Courtney Gregoire)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2018/11/29/new-breakthroughs-in-combatting-tech-support-scams/

On Nov. 27 and 28, over 100 local India law enforcement officials from Gurgaon and Noida raided 16 call center locations identified as engaged in tech support fraud by Microsoft, resulting in 39 arrests so far. These call center operations fraudulently represented themselves as affiliated with a number of respected companies including Microsoft, Apple, Google, Dell and HP. The New York Times reports that Senior Superintendent of Police Ajay Pal Sharma stated "the scammers had extracted money from thousands of victims, most of whom were American or Canadian." Microsoft alone has received over 7,000 victim reports associated with these 16 locations from over 15 countries.

Anyone may receive an unwanted phone call or experience a pop-up window on your device with a "warning" that your computer has a problem requiring immediate tech support. These messages are often very convincing and use scare tactics to entice consumers into contacting a fraudulent "tech support" call center. Call center operators typically encourage the victim to provide remote access to their device for "further diagnosis" before charging the victim a fee - typically between $150 - $499 - for unnecessary tech support services. In addition to losing money, victims leave their computer vulnerable to other attacks, such as malware, during a remote access session.

Recent law enforcement successes in India build on a solid track record of global law enforcement taking action to combat the multiple layers of tech support fraud supported by referrals from Microsoft and other industry partners. For example, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and multiple partners announced 16 separate civil and criminal enforcement actions against tech support fraudsters in May 2017 as part of "Operation Tech Trap." And, in June 2017, the City of London Police announced the arrest of four individuals engaged in computer software services fraud.

In 2014, Microsoft launched an online "report a scam" portal to enable victims to share their tech support fraud experiences directly with our Digital Crimes Unit team. The reports have been a critical starting point for our international investigations and referrals. Our data analytics and innovation team has added additional tools to proactively hunt and pull data from approximately 150,000 suspicious pop-ups daily targeting millions of people and use machine learning to identify those related to tech support fraud.

People who have experienced tech support scams should know they aren't alone, but there are steps you can take to identify and help defend yourself against criminals looking to impersonate legitimate companies. According to our recently released 2018 global survey, three out of five consumers have experienced a tech support scam in the previous 12 months.

The best thing you can do to help protect yourself from fraud is to educate yourself. If you receive a notification or call from someone claiming to be from a reputable software company, here are a few key tips to keep in mind:

- Be wary of any unsolicited phone call or pop-up message on your device.

- Microsoft will never proactively reach out to you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support.

- Any communication we have with you must be initiated by you.

- Do not call the phone number in a pop-up window on your device and be cautious about clicking on notifications asking you to scan your computer or download software. Many scammers try to fool you into thinking their notifications are legitimate.

- Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer.

- If skeptical, take the person's information down and immediately report it to your local authorities.

(1st December 2018)


PHISHING WARNING : IF YOU WORK IN THIS ONE INDUSTRY YOU'RE MORE LIKELY TO BE A TARGET
(ZD Net, dated 28th November 2018 author Danny Palmer)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.zdnet.com/article/phishing-warning-if-you-work-in-this-one-industry-youre-more-likely-to-be-a-target/

Hackers are launching cyber attacks against companies in the pharmaceutical sector more than any other, and campaigns against firms who make drugs have more than doubled in the last year.

The figures come from researchers at security company Proofpoint who have analysed attacks against Fortune Global 500 companies and found that over the course of the last quarter, pharmaceuticals companies were the most targeted, with an average of 71 email fraud attacks per company.

It represents a 149 percent jump in the number of fraudulent business email compromise and phishing attacks against the sector in the same period last year.

Drug companies are a tempting target for cyber criminals because of the intellectual property they hold on new compounds and medicines. If an attacker can get their hands on information about promising research this could be very a very lucrative offering on the black market.

But organisations in all sectors are under attack from email fraudsters, with a large increase in attempted attacks detected across all sectors - up 80-percent compared with the same quarter in 2017 according to the security company.

In many cases attackers are attempting to trick selected employees into letting down their guard and allowing them into the network.

SEE: What is phishing? Everything you need to know to protect yourself from scam emails and more

It's also common for attackers to spoof the email addresses of contacts or high profile individuals in the company in an effort to trick users into giving up data - or transferring large amounts of money. It may sound like a simple form of attack, but the reason the numbers have risen by such a significant amount is because they're proving to be successful. Many of the most high profile and costly attacks in recent years have started with a humble phishing email.

Behind pharmaceuticals, construction firms were the second most attacked during the previous quarter, averaging 61 attacks each. Real estate came third, with those in the sector targeted by an average of 54 attacks during the quarter.

Over the course of the whole year, drug companies are the top target again, with companies in the sector reporting an average of 282 attacks. Real estate is just behind with 277 attacks per company.

Proofpoint suggest a number of ways that organisations can help to protect themselves from attacks, such as training users to spot and report malicious emails and having a back up plan in place in the event of a user falling victim to an attack.

(1st December 2018)


HUNDREDS OF MILITARY SERVICE MEMBERS FOOLED INTO PAYING $560K IN PORN EXTORTION SCHEME
(Washington Examier, daed 28th November 2018 author Diana Stancy Correll)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/hundreds-of-military-service-members-fooled-into-paying-560-000-in-porn-extortion-scheme

uaware Note : This is another example of how criminals are targeting different groups with the same ploy.

More than 400 U.S. military service members were tricked into believing they possessed child porn and surrendered more than $560,000 in order to avoid charges as part of a plot conducted by South Carolina inmates.

"With nothing more than smart phones and a few keystrokes, South Carolina inmates along with outside accomplices victimized hundreds of people," Daniel Andrews, director of the Computer Crime Investigative Unit of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, announced on Wednesday.

According to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, South Carolina inmates established fabricated online female personas on social media forums and online dating website and then singled out 442 service members from the Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps to extort them for money.

The inmates then pretended to step in as either the father of the female or police officers and claim that the female was a minor after the service members responded to the photos and requested money for the family to prevent them from pressing charges for obtaining child pornography, NCIS said.

Arrest warrants had been executed and summonses served by agents from military criminal investigative organizations for money laundering, extortion, and wire fraud. U.S. District Attorney Sherri Lydon said 15 people were indicted. NCIS told the Washington Examiner five arrests were made and five people were served summonses on Wednesday. More than 250 additional individuals are being investigated and could be prosecuted.

The incident was investigated as part of an investigation called Operation Surprise Party, spearheaded by NCIS since January 2017. The Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Army Criminal Investigation Command, and Air Force Office of Special Investigations were also involved with the investigation, as were several outside civilian law enforcement partners.

"This enforcement operation sends a clear message about our unwavering commitment to protect our nation's service members so they can focus on their mission of winning wars and defending the American way of life. Working with our fellow federal agencies and state partners, we will continue efforts to stamp out sexual extortion impacting our communities," Andrews said.

(1st December 2018)


CRIMNALS ARE USING THIS ADVERTISING SCAM TO TRY TO STEAL MONEY IN BRISTOL
(Britol Post, dated 26th November 2018 author Hannah Baker)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/business/criminals-using-advertising-scam-try-2259551

Small businesses in Bristol are being warned to stay on their guard against a scam after local companies were targeted by criminals.

Not-for-profit business support organisation Brave Enterprise says cold callers have contacted several Bristol businesses to sell advertising space in a bogus publication for what they claim is a good cause.

Callers give the impression that the publisher is working with local charities, emergency services, crime prevention or community health initiatives, according to the national cyber-crime reporting centre Action Fraud.

Sometimes the caller will say that a business has placed an order previously, or that someone else in the firm has agreed to take out advertising space.

The fraudsters may also send the business invoices, whether or not the victim has agreed to advertise.

Nathan Thomas, who recently set up a French polishing business in Staple Hill, was approached by the scammers.

He said: "I have been approached twice by a woman claiming to be calling from a crime prevention magazine. She claimed that I had agreed to put an advert in the publications a few months before and had agreed to pay for the ad, which is nonsense.

"She said she first phoned me in May but I hadn't even set up my business then so wouldn't have had anything to advertise.

"When I told her I hadn't agreed to advertise I was threatened with court action and a visit by the bailiffs to recover the money.

"So I got in touch again with BRAVE and they confirmed that it was a scam and that quite a few people had been targeted.

"My concern is that some people may feel threatened by the prospect of court action and will pay money to these criminals so that they leave them alone."

Liz Sands, director of BRAVE Enterprise, added: "A number of our small businesses clients have been targeted by this type of fraud and one nearly paid money to the scammers involved.

"We want to warn others that these fraudsters are targeting new start-ups in the Bristol area so beware of anyone claiming to represent charities or the emergency services, and certainly don't send any money unless you're absolutely sure the caller is genuine."

To check whether a phone number has been reported as a scam, visit who-called.co.uk

To report a scam call or too get advice about cyber crime, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk

(1st December 2018)


THOUSANDS TARGETED BY TV LICENCE REFUND SCAM
(Which?, dated 23rd November 2018 author Hannah Walsh)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.which.co.uk/news/2018/11/thousands-targeted-by-tv-license-refund-scam/

uaware note : The actual article provides examples of scammers emails.

The UK's national fraud and cyber reporting centre is warning the public of a surge in TV Licensing refund emails.

Action Fraud is reporting that it received hundreds of reports of scam TV Licensing refund or payment issue emails in just a matter of days, adding up to more than 2,500 complaints throughout September and October 2018.

The fake emails are being sent by scammers in a bid to steal bank account and personal details.

How does the TV Licensing refund email scam work?

The emails claim that TV Licensing have been trying to get hold of the victim regarding a refund for an over-payment or that a refund is owed, but due to invalid account details it hasn't been paid.

The fraudsters include links to convincing-looking cloned TV Licensing websites designed to harvest bank account and credit card details.

We asked Action Fraud for examples of these scams. Look out for emails that don't include your correct name or that contain spelling or grammatical errors.

How does the TV Licensing payment issue scam email work?

Other fraudulent TV licence emails doing the rounds, state that the receiver's billing information records are out of date and need to be updated. As with the refund emails, these include a prominent link to a near-identical clone of the real TV Licensing website.

Victims who fall for these scams are asked for a lengthy list of personal and financial information:

- Full name
- Date of birth
- Address
- Phone number
- Email
- Mother's maiden name
- Credit or bank card number and details
- TV licence account number.

Once the victim submits this information, it goes straight to the scammers.

How to spot a TV licence scam

TV Licensing has issued several tips for identifying a genuine email from them:

- Check that the email contains your name TV Licensing will always include your name in any emails they send you.

- Check the email subject line Anything along the lines of 'Action required', 'Security alert', 'System upgrade', 'There is a secure message waiting for you', and so on, should be treated as suspect.

- Check the email address Does the email address look like one that TV Licensing use? For example, donotreply@tvlicensing.co.uk. Look closely, as often the address may be similar.

- Check for a change in style Often the scammers will take the real emails and amend them. Look out for changes in the wording used, especially if it seems too casual or familiar.

- Check for spelling and grammar Are there any spelling mistakes, missing full stops or other grammatical errors?

- Check the links go to the TV Licensing website Hover over the links in the email to see their destination and check the web address carefully. If you're not sure, go directly to the TV Licensing website.

TV Licensing will never ask you to reply to an email to provide bank details or personal information, and you should be wary of any correspondence that does.

What to do if you've entered your personal details

If you've entered personal details, you need to be extra vigilant.

- If you receive any suspicious emails or odd postal messaging going forward, ignore them - they could be from a scammer hoping you'll fall for their next scam.

- Keep an eye on your credit report and bank accounts - scammers can use personal information to steal your identity and open new accounts or take out credit.

- The scammer could also add your details to a 'suckers lists' of people who are liable to fall for a future scams, commonly sold on the dark web.

Whatever form a message comes in, make sure you don't give away any bank details or passwords. Read our guide on how to spot an email scam for top tips about identifying email scams :

www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-to-spot-an-email-scam

(1st December 2018)


FAKE TESCO COMPETITION EMAIL SCAM TRICKS YOU INTO HANDING OVER BANK DETAILS
(Coventry Telegraph, dated 23rd November 2018 author James Rodger)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/fake-tesco-email-competktion-scam-15452972

Scammers claiming to be from Tesco are running a fake competition in an attempt to steal people's bank details.

Fraudsters are targeting potential victims with an email asking them to fill in a survey to be in with a chance of winning prizes.

The link takes you to a form on an external website where it asks you to hand over your personal details.

'Winners' are then asked to choose one of three prizes and to pay £4.95 to cover the postage costs.

But instead of receiving your chosen prize, you gift the scammers your personal details instead.

One Tesco customer, who wishes to remain anonymous, contacted the Daily Mail to warn others not to fall for the scam.

They warned that the email was sent from a "very authentic Tesco site" and that they qualified to be entered into a prize draw if they filled out a customer satisfaction survey.

"I opted for the CBD oil. The winner was asked to only pay postage of £4.95. I clicked the link for the goods which did not lead to the product I had selected (CBD oil)," they told the Daily Mail.

"I became suspicious and called Tesco customer service department, which had no idea about the offer - it was a scam. I sent the real Tesco the email and pics of the scam Tesco site."

The supermarket confirmed that the email is a fake and has urged customers not to open it.

It added that it only ever ran competitions with accredited marketing agencies and would never ask for money in exchange for a reward.

Tesco also warns on its website that it doesn't run any competitions via email or social media offering free vouchers or rewards for liking, sharing and commenting on posts.

The retailer also warns about fake 'Tesco Offers' pages that pop up on Facebook, saying: "We don't have a separate 'offers' page.

"The fake voucher giveaway is just the bait used to trick people in engaging with the bogus page and there are no real prizes up for grabs."

Customers can report a scam to the Tesco customer service team on 0800 505555.

(1st December 2018)


FAKE DENTIST TARGETED PENSIONERS AND GAVE THEM BAD DENTURES
(Metro, dated 23rd November 2018 author Martine Berg Olsen)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://metro.co.uk/2018/11/23/fake-dentist-targeted-pensioners-and-gave-them-bad-dentures-8171988/

A conman who claimed he was a dentist targeted pensioners and gave them fake dentures.

Charlie Von Klemperer, who took out an advert in a local newspaper advertising his dentistry service, was caught after a woman complained about her dentures following a sting operation at a care home, a court heard.

The 66-year-old, claimed the General Dental Council (GDC) was just being 'difficult' and argued that he was qualified.

The GDC launched an undercover investigation and exposed Von Klemperer after getting him to visit a care home to measure up a lady for her false teeth.

Von Klemperer had repeatedly attempted to register with GDC under different names, but was never accepted, Portsmouth Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Christopher Prior said the fake dentist took out adverts offering his dentistry services knowing he was not authorised to do so.

Mr Prior told the court Von Klemperer was caught out when he took £225 from an old lady for fitting her dentures. She complained after having issues with them.

Mr Prior told the court: 'An employee contacted the man purporting to be Mr Smith and arranged for him to attend a care home in Bexhill-on-Sea. 'She gave the impression her mother required a new set of dentures.

'The defendant attended purporting to be Mr Smith, confirmed that he was a dental professional, thus giving rise to the fraud.

'He was arrested and gave his name as Von Klemperer. In searching his property a record book, a diary, was found - there were a great number of names.'

The court heard all the clients were contacted, with a further two victims of the denture fraud being found - one having lost £400, while the other was charged £399 but did not pay.

Von Klemperer, of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, admitted three charges of fraud between 2016 and 2017.

In mitigation, the court heard a number of his clients were contacted after he was arrested and only a small number complained.

Von Klemperer is trained in podiatry and is making £3,000 a month while also practising as a foot care specialist.

Judge Timothy Mousley QC sentenced Von Klemperer to 150 hours of unpaid work and ordered he complete days of rehabilitation and to repay his two victims who paid him for dentures.

The judge told him: 'The letter you've written me shows remorse.

'I have some hesitation accepting that as genuine as, of course, the letter is written by someone who is an accomplished fraudster and has been for most of his life.'

uaware - further information

General Dental Council : https://www.gdc-uk.org/

Find a NHS dentist : https://www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/Dentists/LocationSearch/3

(1st December 2018)


YOUNG AND LOOKING FOR WORK - BEWARE THE NANNY SCAM AND OTHER FAKE CHEQUE FRAUD
(Chicago Sun Times, dated 23rd November 2018 author Alexandria Jacobson)

Full article [Option 1] :

https://chicago.suntimes.com/business/fake-checks-debit-card-fraud-nanny-scam-college-students/

uaware note : This is a USA article, but the scam is internationally transferable and similar to the HMRC / iTune scam

When Samantha Stahl, a Columbia College Chicago graduate student, was offered a $450-a-week nanny job, she didn't hesitate to take it.

She often babysat for extra cash, finding work through Care.com, a website where families can post jobs and caregivers post their profiles and references.

That's where she was hired last year by someone posting under the names "Brenda and Cody Davies" - supposedly a couple moving from Ontario to Chicago with their 2-year-old son.

"It really sounded all legit because of all the details she was giving me and the location of where they were moving," says Stahl, 24, who was living in Wrigleyville and since has moved to New York. "It just sounded real."

But it wasn't. And this latest version of a fake-check scam that consumer experts call the nanny scam, usually targeting younger people looking to make a little money, ended up costing Stahl $1,500.

Contacted by text, Stahl says she was asked if she could help with a few errands to set up the house before the couple arrived from Canada. Stahl was sent a check for $2,000. "Brenda" told her to keep $450 for her first week's pay and use the rest to buy Apple gift cards she said were for family members' birthdays. Stahl deposited the check in her bank account and bought $1,550 in gift cards.

Then, Stahl's new employer asked her to scratch off the gift card codes and text photos of the numbers, supposedly just so the family wouldn't have to wait to receive their gifts.

That made Stahl suspicious. She put the woman off, saying she couldn't do that right away because she was swamped with schoolwork.

The next day, her bank alerted her that the $2,000 check - a fake - had bounced.

Stahl tried to confront "Brenda" about the bad check, but the woman disappeared.

Stahl was glad she hadn't divulged the codes, but she was still on the hook to her bank for the $1,550 for a lot of gift cards she didn't need.

"It's really crazy how people think they can prey on young adults," she says. "But I can see how easy it is because we want the money."

The nanny scam is one of a burgeoning series of cons that involve getting people to send money to scammers via gift cards or reloadable debit cards.

These things are big business. According to the Federal Trade Commission, reported losses from gift card and reloadable debit card scams have amounted to $53 million this year just by September. That's up from $40 million in 2017 and $27 million in 2016.

Young people lose money to these scams at a much higher rate than older consumers do, according to the FTC. Of those who reported losing money to fake cheque scams, 36 percent were under 30.

Con artists like to use gift cards because, once they have the codes to them, they can grab the value in a transaction that's fast, anonymous and irreversible.

In the nanny scam version of the scam, fraudsters look for victims on "Nanny" or childminding websites. They say they're moving to the nanny's area, need someone to care for a child, a parent or even a pet, and they give a story about why they need to send the nanny a cheque in advance.

Or, in another version of the ruse, the scammer "accidentally" sends a check for more than needed to buy supplies and asks the nanny to wire back the overpayment. The counterfeit check bounces, and the nanny is stuck.

"If someone sends you a check and asks you to deposit it and then to send money to some third party for whatever reason, that's always going to be a scam. Every time," says Todd Kossow, the FTC's Midwest regional director.

"The fact that the money appears in your account does not mean the check is cleared. By law (US), the bank has to make the funds available. And it can take as much as a week or longer for the bank actually to determine that the check is phony."

(1st December 2018)


IRISH FARMERS WARNED TO PROTECT THEMSELVES AGAINST ONLINE SCAMS
(Irish Mirror, datd 22nd November 2018 author Aakanksha Surve)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/irish-farmers-online-scam-money-13627415

uaware note: This form of scam can easily be committed within the UK

Irish farmers have been warned to protect themselves against online scams.

Older farmers in particular have been warned to look out for one of the most common scams called "Goods Not Received".

In this scam, farmers order and pay for products online but never receive the delivery.

A Limerick farmer was recently scammed out of a "considerable amount of money" when he tried to buy hay, the Irish Independent reports.

The farmer paid the money into the seller's bank account but never received the bales of hay.

Denise Cusack, FarmIreland Ulster Bank's Community Protection Advisor, warned farmers to do their research well regarding the website and sellers, and look for reviews if possible.

Ms Cusack said: "Remember seeing is believing, where possible view the item you are buying or look for relevant documentation before handing over any money."

Another scam that farmers need to be aware of is "The Overpayment Scam" where legitimate sellers are targeted.

The scammer pays using a cheque or draft paying a higher price than what was agreed upon.

Ms Cusack said: "The seller then receives an email to inform them a mistake has been made and they have been overpaid in error.

"The fraudster asks the seller to return all or part of the money electronically, as quickly as possible."

The original cheque and draft, which is forged or counterfeit, will be rejected so the seller loses money.

Other scams include fraudsters calling or texting pretending to be from their bank, gardai, or other companies to fish out personal information and scam them out of money.

"They often use sophisticated technology to make the number appear like it's a genuine number," she said.

(1st December 2018)


RBS CUSTOMER LOST THOUSANDS OF POUNDS IN SCAM
(BBC News, dated 21st November 2018 author David Quinn)

Full article [Option 1]: www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46274644

A Royal Bank of Scotland customer had more than £4,300 stolen from her account by a fraudulent caller who answered one of her security questions wrongly, BBC Watchdog Live has found.

For more than a year, the bank insisted Charlotte Higman had been aware of the transaction and refused to refund her.

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) backed RBS after the initial complaint.

But earlier this month, RBS apologised and issued Charlotte a full refund, after Watchdog Live's investigation.

'I feel really angry'

Charlotte, from Totnes in Devon, believes that RBS repeatedly failed to pick up on evidence, including warnings raised in its own security processes.

In a recording of the fraudulent phone call obtained by Watchdog Live, a woman can be heard incorrectly answering a security question relating to Charlotte's occupation.

Despite this, a transaction of £4,318 is approved by the bank and it is only after the caller requests a second transaction, and is unable to answer additional security questions, that a warning is raised on Charlotte's account.

The bank's own records show that the phone call, in January 2017, was marked as a "potential account takeover" and the caller failed the bank's voice recognition checks. Despite this, the initial transaction was not reversed.

After reporting the call to the police, Charlotte discovered her phone line was diverted on the day of the call, explaining why the bank believed they were speaking to her at her home address.

"I just feel really angry that someone's been able to do it that easily," Charlotte told Watchdog.

"The bank said that the person was in the home, they did the transactions from the home and they passed all the security questions correctly - and that's why they believed that I'd done it."

Charlotte's case pre-dates a new voluntary code of conduct on such scams which most of the banks have signed up to.

In essence, the code says that if a customer - or the bank - has failed to heed warning signs, they will be liable for any subsequent loss.

Under the code, RBS would have been obliged to pay up.

The industry is still consulting on the issue, and the code is expected to be finalised next year.

Fraud lawyer Arun Chauhan told the programme: "I have a lot of sympathy for Charlotte,

"You can hear what [the caller has] tried to do is put together two transactions for the full balance of the account and the bank just don't pick it up as a warning sign.

"They know at the end this is fraud, but they've done nothing about the first transaction and that's why Charlotte should be so critical of the bank."

According to fraud prevention service Cifas, facility takeover fraud - when a fraudster abuses personal data to hijack someone's existing account or services - rose 7% last year to more than 24,000 reported cases.

Bank accounts remain the most targeted product for fraudsters, with more than 100,000 reported cases in the UK last year.

This is how the fraud on Charlotte was carried out:

- Bank records show the fraudster initially calls the bank, posing as Charlotte, and asks for her account to be reset for security reasons. Staff follow the bank's usual security protocol and call Charlotte's landline number, unaware the call has been diverted to a mobile phone

- The security reset is processed despite the caller answering a security question incorrectly. The caller then requests that more than £4,300 should be transferred to another account and the bank allows the transfer

- During the same 23-minute call, the caller requests a second transfer of a similar amount is made to a different account. This time security questions are flagged as being answered incorrectly and the transfer is denied, but the bank does not ask for the original transfer to be recalled

- The bank maintained that because it had called Charlotte's home phone number to verify her identity, it was clear she was aware of the transactions. Following an investigation by Devon and Cornwall Police, it was discovered that the fraudster had made a call to Charlotte's landline provider to fraudulently divert the number to a mobile phone number in a different part of the UK

The FOS warned banks earlier this year that customers should not automatically be blamed for money lost through scams.

It added that fraudsters' growing sophistication meant it was wrong to assume losses were because of customer carelessness.

The FOS aims to resolve issues for customers relating to financial services including bank accounts, insurance, loans, credit and debit cards and investments. Last year, it was contacted by more than two million people.

'Fair and reasonable'

A FOS spokesperson said: "We have made it clear to the banks that it's not fair to automatically blame a customer when they've lost money due to a scam, especially given the sophisticated way criminals exploit banks' security systems.

"When we look at complaints, we have to carefully weigh up the evidence provided by both parties to decide what we think is fair and reasonable in all the circumstances.

"We're pleased that Charlotte's complaint has now been resolved, and she's got her money back. If you've been the victim of a scam, and you feel your bank should have done more to help, please get in touch with us."

After being contacted by Watchdog Live, an RBS spokesperson said: "We would like to apologise to Mrs Higman that the service provided fell short of the high standards we expect.

"On review of Mrs Higman's case, and in light of new information provided to us, we have refunded Mrs Higman in full for her loss."

(1st December 2018)


INTERNET PORN USERS TARGETED IN BLACKMAIL SCAM INVOLVING EMAILS AND WEBCAMS
(Gazette Live, dated 21st November 2018 author Naomi Corrigan)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/internet-porn-users-targeted-blackmail-15445553

Internet porn viewers are being warned about a blackmail scam.

Cyber crime detectives are investigating several emails which threaten to expose people for viewing pornographic material online.

The criminal sends an email claiming to have installed spyware and filmed the recipient engaging in intimate acts via the webcam.

They threaten to send the footage to family and friends unless a fee is paid.

Cleveland Police said the email seems credible as it often contains a genuine password that the victim has used for one of their online accounts.

However the password has likely been stolen in a data breach.

he force has received eight reports from victims in the last year. Officers believe it may be more widespread with people too embarrassed to come forward.

Detective Constable Will Galloway said: "These emails make people really believe that they have been spied on, particularly if they have been indulging in what has been claimed.

"The messages are intimidating, threatening, and seek to cause fear and panic. Emails are sent out at random in the hope that an unsuspecting victim takes the bait and pays thousands.

"People can protect themselves by not clicking on any links in the email, not paying the demanded fee and not responding.

"I would encourage victims of this scam to contact action fraud, the national police team who are looking at these cyber scams."

Action Fraud

Website : www.actionfraud.police.uk/

Telephone : 0300 123 2040

(1st December 2018)


THE MILLIONS LOST TO FRAUDSTERS IN THE LAST THREE YEARS ACCORDING TO NORTHUMBRIA POLICE
(Chronicle Live, dated 19th November 2018 author Ben O'Connell)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/revealed-millions-lost-fraudsters-last-15435147

Unwitting victims in the North East lost more than £8.7million to fraudsters in the last three years, figures have shown.

Freedom of Information (FOI) data from Northumbria Police shows there were 4,730 cases of fraud against individuals (excluding businesses) in the region over a three-year period.

The Northumbria figures - which reflect that of other police forces across the UK - shows that those most likely to be victims are those aged 22 to 37, despite the common view fraudsters usually target the old and vulnerable.

The data, compiled by online finance broker Solution Loans, shows 20 per cent of personal frauds committed in the last three years were done so at the expense of those in the 18-29 age bracket, compared to just nine per cent aged 60 to 69.

Collectively, those aged 18-39 were the victims in 35 per cent of fraud cases.

This is put down to younger people's wider use of the internet and social media; millennials spend more time online overall than their older peers and are much more likely to be on social media, which is increasingly where fraudsters operate.

Previous research from the Policy Network has shown that 80 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds are willing to share their email address online and as many as 29 per cent were willing to divulge their mother's maiden name, a common security question.

In the Northumbria force area, the average lost to fraud was £1,389, however, 14 of the area's 4,730 fraud victims lost £100,000 or more. In total, £8,702,093 was lost to fraud in the three-year period covered by the data.

The force also reported 127 judicial outcomes to all fraud cases (against businesses and individuals) between October 2017 and March 2018.

Earlier this year, speaking to Northumberland County Council, Chief Constable Winton Keenan said: "The truth is, the world of policing is becoming more challenging. The public, those you represent, have really high expectations of what we can and should do for them.

"Unfortunately some of those expectations we have for all the right reasons are becoming ever more difficult to honour and that's going to increase because the complexity of crime, as you will all know, is changing massively (for example, cyber crime)."

(1st December 2018)


FAKE PSYCHIATRIST CASE PUTS THOUSANDS OF DOCTORS UNDER SCRUTINY
(Guardian, dated 19th November 2018 author Patrick Greenfield)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/nov/19/thousands-of-doctors-under-scrutiny-after-fake-qualifications-case

The records of up to 3,000 doctors are being reviewed after it emerged that a woman worked as a NHS consultant psychiatrist for 22 years with fake qualifications before she was convicted of trying to defraud a patient.

Zholia Alemi, 56, was jailed for five years last month for faking an 87-year-old patient's will as part of an attempt to inherit her £1.3m estate after they met at a dementia clinic in Workington, Cumbria in 2016.

Following the trial, an investigation by the Cumbrian newspaper News and Star revealed Alemi had been working in the UK for more than two decades with forged qualifications from the University of Auckland.

The convicted fraudster had failed the first year of medical school in New Zealand in 1992, but subsequently managed to register as a doctor with the General Medical Council (GMC) with a forged degree certificate, forged primary medical qualification and a fake letter of recommendation from her most recent job in Pakistan, under a visa scheme that has since been discontinued.

The investigation has prompted an urgent review of all doctors who registered with the GMC under the scheme, which allowed graduates of medical schools in some Commonwealth countries to work in the UK without having to pass an exam.

The GMC said it was incredibly rare case but started a review after the News and Star made them aware of the details of Alemi's faked qualifications.

In October, a court heard how Alemi befriended Gillian Belham, then 84, who was struggling to deal with the recent death of her husband. Alemi redrafted the pensioner's will and fraudulently applied for power of attorney over her estate. The consultant psychiatrist was found guilty of four fraud and theft charges at Carlisle Crown court and was jailed for five years.

In response to the cases, Charlie Massey, the chief executive of the GMC, said: "It is extremely concerning that a person used a fraudulent qualification to join the register and we are working to understand how this happened. We have brought this to the attention of police and other agencies, including NHS England, so that they may also take any necessary action to support patients and answer any questions they may have.

"Our processes are far stronger now, with rigorous testing in place to ensure those joining the register are fit to work in the UK. It is clear that in this case the steps taken in the 1990s were inadequate and we apologise for any risk arising to patients as a result. We are confident that, 23 years on, our systems are robust and would identify any fraudulent attempt to join the medical register.

"Patients deserve good care from appropriately qualified professionals and place a great deal of trust in doctors. To exploit that trust and the respected name of the profession is abhorrent."

A Cumbria police spokesman told the News and Star: "Cumbria Constabulary is liaising with the General Medical Council and will be commencing further criminal investigations relating to allegations of fraud and any potential further offences. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time."

(1st December 2018)


HACKERS TARGET BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPERS LOOKNG FOR BEST ONLINE DEALS WITH HUNDREDS OF FAKE APPS
(Independent, dated 16th November 2018 author Anthony Cuthbertson)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/black-friday-apps-best-online-deals-cyber-monday-2018-riskiq-hackers-cyber-security-a8636811.html

Fake Black Friday and Cyber Monday apps have been spreading online, as cyber criminals seek to cash in on the annual shopping bonanza.

A report from cyber security firm RiskIQ found that Black Friday is a "feast for threat actors," with brand names of the five leading retailers used in malicious and fraudulent mobile apps.

These apps seek to fool people into sharing their login credentials or credit card details in the hope of finding the best Black Friday deals.

"For shoppers, what starts as an attempt to fulfil their holiday shopping checklist for pennies on the dollar can turn into a financial nightmare," the report states.

"With more people than ever poised to partake in this year's November shopping frenzy, attackers will capitalize by using the brand names of leading e-tailers to exploit users looking for Black Friday deals and coupons by creating fake mobile apps and landing pages to fool consumers into downloading malware."

The potential financial rewards for cyber criminals is enormous, with figures from Adobe Digital Index revealing online shoppers spent $19.6 billion in 2017.

This year, hackers pose an especially significant risk given the rise of Magecart, a collection of credit card-skimming groups that have already targeted sites like British Airways and Ticketmaster.

"Magecart attacks are surging - RiskIQ's automatic detections of instances of Magecart breaches pings us almost hourly," RiskIQ researcher Yonathan Klijnsma wrote in a September report on Magecart.

"Meanwhile, we're seeing attackers evolve and improve over time, setting their sights on breaches of large brands."

RiskIQ detected an average of 89,837 monthly instances of Magecart between August and October 2018. Of Black Friday-specific apps, more than 5 per cent of the 4,331 apps analysed were found to be malicious.

The names of the retailers used in the names of the scam apps were not listed in the report, though it is likely they sought to capitalise on the popularity of firms like Amazon and eBay.

"The top-10 most trafficked brands averaged over 17 blacklisted apps containing both its branded terms and 'Black Friday,' in the title or description, showing clear intent by threat actors to leverage the shopping holiday," the report states.

"For brands, what begins as an event that significantly boosts sales can turn into a security fiasco that erodes the trust of customers and prospects."

Shoppers are advised to only download apps from official app stores like Google Play and Apple's App Store, while remaining wary of any Black Friday-related links spreading on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Luis Corrons, a cyber expert from the security firm Avast, warned that even some apps listed on official stores could pose a risk to people.

"In the past, Avast has found fake apps on the Google Play Store that use logos and developer names closely resembling or identical to popular apps, in order to trick people into downloading them," he said in an email to The Independent.

Mr Corrons also warned that fake apps would be just one way criminals are likely to target consumers on Black Friday.

"Finding a discount is always exciting, but shoppers should be cautious of offers that are far below the market price, as this can indicate an untrustworthy deal," he said.

"Whether it be on social media or an online ad, shoppers should be careful when it comes to unknown shops, especially if they are promoting sales at ridiculously low prices."

(1st December 2018)


FRAUDSTERS ARE CLONING HMRC PHONE NUMBERS TO "LEGITIMISE" SCAM ATTEMPTS
(This is Money, dated 9th November 2018 author Angelique Ruzicka)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/beatthescammers/article-6363589/Fraudsters-cloning-HMRC-phone-numbers-legitimise-scams-fleece-people-money.html

Fraudsters are cloning Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs contact numbers to help pass scam attempts off as 'legitimate' it has warned.

The aim is to then steal thousands of pounds from unsuspecting victims who go on to believe the ruse - and This is Money has received examples of this happening.

Criminals call potential victims using Voice over Internet Protocol technologies to copy the taxman number (usually 0300 200 3300) and cruelly pass themselves off as HMRC employees that are conducting audits and catching out tax evaders.

They tell their target they haven't paid their taxes in previous years and they need to make an immediate transfer of the 'outstanding' monies, or risk legal action and prison.

Some smartphones even display that the number comes from the HMRC making the scam more believable to people who then transfer money to criminals out of fear.

If the victim isn't home or doesn't answer the phone, the scammers aren't put off.

They often leave voice messages or send emails purporting to be from the HMRC and demanding immediate call backs.

An HMRC spokesperson told This is Money: 'We are well aware that fraudsters are trying to spoof our real numbers in order to legitimatise their crimes. We encourage people, as with any scam, to be vigilant.

'We will never call you out of the blue asking for money. If you're in doubt, you can put the phone down and call us back.

'You can report this scam to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk or Action Fraud at 0300 123 2040. All our phone numbers are listed on gov.uk if people want to call us.'

Reports of a surge in taxman number cloning comes after our report last week in which a mum of two lost £2,900 from her HSBC savings,

It came after a scammer persuaded her that he was calling from the HMRC and threatened her with legal action and arrest.

Another reader from Surrey wrote in soon after our report conveying a similar story of how his wife was targeted by 'HMRC' fraudsters and lost more than £2,400.

She also banks with HSBC.

He said: 'My wife has just last week been involved in the exact same scam, and some of the similarities are really terrifying.

'I finished early last week and got home to find my wife and daughter both crying.

He added: 'My wife was on the phone and refused to tell me what was happening other than she was being investigated for tax evasion by HMRC, and that she was being monitored and wasn't allowed to speak to anyone else about the case as it would break the terms of their agreement.

'I eventually managed to convince her that this could not be genuine, but by that point the damage had already been done.

'They had been keeping her on the phone to make sure the payment she had made (£2,486) earlier on had gone through.'

A HSBC UK spokesperson said: 'Scammers are expert manipulators and use a range of techniques to find and use public and private information about their victims, both before and during contact with them, without them realising.

'They then use this information within different scenarios to convince people that a bank transfer is necessary and make it appear plausible and legitimate.

'In this case, there's nothing to suggest the scammer already had access to specific financial information about the customer.

'After being notified of the scam we acted quickly to contact the receiving bank, making it aware of the transaction in question and the suspected fraudulent activity.

'It is then up to the receiving bank to investigate and return funds to the customer.'

Number spoofing is a fairly simple technique for fraudsters. They clone the telephone number of an organisation they wish to impersonate and make it appear on the caller ID display seen by their intended victim.

Websites that offer this type of service are easy to find.

The scammer gains trust by drawing attention to the number on the display and uses this as proof of identity in order to disguise the fraud.

Many may not realise how easy it is for a fraudster to make a telephone number appear it is coming from a bank or a government organisation.

HMRC tips on how to identify a scam

- Recognise the signs - genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details.

- Stay safe - don't give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you weren't expecting.

- Take action - forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and texts to 60599, or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report any suspicious calls or use their online fraud reporting tool.

- HMRC debt management teams do contact members of the public by phone about paying outstanding debts.

- If a customer isn't confident that the call is from HMRC, it will ask them to call back. Depending on the circumstances and to give the customer confidence it is actually HMRC calling, information may be disclosed to the caller which only HMRC is party to.

- Calls from the majority of HMRC offices will leave caller identification data, i.e. the number the caller has used to contact you from.

- For up to date advice on scam HMRC phone calls, visit GOV.UK.

- HMRC will call people about outstanding tax bills, and sometimes use automated messages, however this would include your taxpayer reference number. If you are uncertain of the caller hang up and call HMRC directly to check - you can confirm our call centre numbers on GOV.UK if you are unsure. For tax credits it does not include your details in any voicemail messages.

Beat the Scammers

In 2016, This is Money launched its Beat the Scammers section, in a bid to help readers stay one step ahead of the latest fraud trends.

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/beatthescammers/index.html

This HMRC prison scam is yet another example of how criminals adapt and attempt to play on fear in order to deceive people out of their hard-earned cash.

(1st December 2018)



IF SHADOW HOME SECRETARY DIANE ABBOTT CAN BE REELED IN BY PHISHERS, TRULY NO ONE IS SAFE
(The Register, dated 8th November 2018 author Andrew Orlowski)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theregister.co.uk/2018/11/08/abbott_pc_support_scam_confession/

While fraudsters traditionally prey on the gullible and feeble-minded, their wicked ways have ensnared British Labour MP Diane Abbott.

The UK Shadow Home Secretary admitted to handing over control of her computer to a stranger after a random caller asked her to install Remote PC. It's a common scam. Once the miscreant has control of the PC, they often attempt to steal sensitive information like passwords and bank details.

As Home Secretary - note that Ladbrokes offers 4-1 on Labour being the next government - Ms Abbott would be responsible for cybersecurity, as well as crime and policing. She would also have to decide whether Britain implements an identity card system, an idea currently being revived in the context of "digital government".


Yes. Sadly I was initially taken in
- Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) November 6, 2018


----------------------------------------

We asked her office if Ms Abbott would consider helping to publicise the menace of PC Support fraud. Perhaps as its public face?

(1st December 2018)


PAYPAL SNUBBED ME AFTER A FRAUDSTER SHUT MY ACCOUNT
(Guardian, dated 7th November 2018 author Anna Tims)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/money/2018/nov/07/paypal-snubbed-me-after-a-fraudster-shut-my-account

Question


An unauthorised transaction was made on my PayPal account and £220 was used to buy a Flightgiftcard. The fraudster then closed my account. PayPal opened an appeal and stated that the money should be put back into my account within 48 hours. I was then sent an email explaining that my appeal had been denied as I am no longer a PayPal customer. This is because the fraudster had closed my account. After three weeks of chasing, PayPal advised me to ask my bank to raise a dispute since I'm no longer a PayPal customer.

The bank told me that it couldn't help as the fraud occurred on my PayPal account, not on my debit card.

IB, Cardiff



Response

This is a disgraceful case. For nearly a month PayPal washed its hands of you, declaring that it had closed your complaint because your account had been terminated.

It then erroneously claimed its hands were tied because your bank had issued a chargeback request (it hadn't) and, finally, that your bank had refused your chargeback request and returned the funds to the merchant (it hadn't).

Only when the Observer intervened did it discover that it had messed up. "Due to human error, the unauthorised payment on the customer's PayPal account was not appropriately dealt with," says a spokesperson. "We have apologised and issued a goodwill credit to her account for the inconvenience caused." The stolen money has now been refunded.

(1st December 2018)


FRAUDSTERS POSED AS DEBT ADVISORS TO FLEECE ME OUT OF £5,000
(Mirror, dated 5th November 2018 author Dean Durham)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/fraudsters-posed-debt-advisors-fleece-13523245

Scams always increase this time of year in the run up to Christmas and consumers need to be more vigilant.

Richard, a reader from North Wales recently started to receive debt collection letters from two different companies, both claiming that he had arrears on two credit cards.

One letter referred to a card from three years ago and the second from five years ago.

Neither letter actually stated details of the card so Richard could not make further enquiries or ascertain if the information was correct.

In both cases the letters started to get, in Richards words 'heavy' and he was concerned.

Also, in both cases every time he tried to call the debt collection company he couldn't get through.

Richard then received a call on 3rd October from a man who announced himself as Stephen Gage from Consumer Debt Assistance.

He told Richard that his organisation helps consumers who are pursued for debts through the courts and that they had received notification that legal proceedings had been issued against him in the Caernaerfon County Court.

Richard knew nothing about this as he had not received any notification.

Mr Gage then explained that this was not unusual as the courts often took a long time to send out paperwork.

Mr Gage then threw on his cape and explained how he could wade in, like a superhero, and solve all of Richards problems.

He asked if he was being chased for any other debts. In response, Richard told him that he was being chased by two debt collection companies, who between them were claiming £13,750.

Gage explained that the court proceedings was in relation to one of these debts and that it was highly likely that the other would also go to the courts soon.

He then explained what he could do to help, which in short was to negotiate on his behalf to reduce the two debts.

Naturally Richard didn't want to pay anything as he wasn't sure they were genuine debts.

Gage explained that the best thing to do would be to agree a deal to get them off his back and then to prove the debts were not Richards and claim the money back. Richard agreed.

Two days later Gage gave him the 'good news' that he had negotiated with both companies and all Richard had to do was transfer £5,000 to him and both matters were solved.

Richard made the transfer and the rest is obvious - he found out it was all a scam. A neighbour put a note through everyone's door warning that someone had tried to scam them and it was the same person, same story.

(1st December 2018)


USE OF PERSONAL DATA TO 'RIP OFF' ONLINE SHOPPERS SPARKS INQUIRY
(Observer, dated 4th November 2018 author Sarah Butler)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/money/2018/nov/04/inquiry-personal-data-dynamic-pricing-consumer-fairness

The government is launching an inquiry into the use of personal data to set individual prices for holidays, cars and household goods, amid rising fears of a consumer rip-off.

The research, supported by the competition watchdog, will explore the prevalence of "dynamic pricing" based on information gathered about an individual, such as location, marital status, birthday or travel history. With about 17% of retail sales now made online, according to the Office for National Statistics, there is rising concern about the use of technology, including artificial intelligence and bots, to "personalise" prices, to the disadvantage of some shoppers.

It has become common for online prices to fluctuate depending on time of day or availability - whether for gig tickets or Uber taxis. Now digital labels have begun to appear in shops, offering the potential to bring "surge pricing" into analogue sales.

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), said: "With more of us shopping online, it's important we understand how advances in technology impact consumers … so we can understand how best to protect people from unfair practices where they exist. We will also use the results in our ongoing efforts to help vulnerable consumers."

The issue was raised at a meeting last week of the new Consumer Forum, which brought together watchdogs, including the CMA, Ofcom, Ofgem and the Civil Aviation Authority, with consumer minister Kelly Tolhurst. The chancellor, Philip Hammond, has asked a panel of experts led by Jason Furman, a former adviser to Barack Obama, to examine competition in the digital economy, including how machine learning and algorithms are used to set prices and whether firms could gang up to disadvantage consumers. The group's call for evidence also says it wants to learn more about how consumers pay for "free" services by handing over their data.

Business secretary Greg Clark said: "UK businesses are leading the way in harnessing new technologies … But companies should not abuse this technology and data to treat consumers, particularly vulnerable ones, unfairly."

(1st December 2018)


HMRC CALLED TO SAY IT HAD ISSUED AN ARREST WARRANT IN MY NAME. IS THIS A SCAM ?
(Telegraph, dated 3rd November 2018 author Jessica Gorst-Williams

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/money/jessica-investigates/hmrc-called-say-had-issued-arrest-warrant-name-scam/


On returning home today, I found a message on my answering machine claiming to be from HMRC.

The message stated that an arrest warrant had been issued under my name and I should press "one" to speak to my case officer.

I took no action as I considered this to be yet another scam.

However, I feel this should be highlighted as some people could be very frightened to receive such a call.

RM, Midlothian


Authors Response

I understand HMRC has heard from many other members of the public who have had similar calls.

HMRC says: "Phone scams are widely reported, and generally attempt to target elderly and vulnerable people. We are a well-known brand, which criminals abuse to add credibility to their scams.

"If someone calls you claiming to be from HMRC saying that you will be arrested, that we are filing a lawsuit against you, or even that you are owed a tax refund, and asks for information such as your name, credit card or bank details, then it's a scam."

However, HMRC adds that its debt management teams do contact members of the public by phone about paying outstanding debts.

Such communications, though, would not come out of the blue as the person being called would already know about the issue.

Also HMRC itself will call people about outstanding tax bills, and does sometimes use automated messages, but these automated calls would include the taxpayer reference number.

If there is any uncertainty, call HMRC on one of the call centre numbers listed at gov.uk.

(1st December 2018)


YOU CAN BE ROBBED BY PHONE : AVOID A £100 PHONE CALL
(U3A / Third Age Matters, dated Winter 2018)
www.u2a.org.uk

An 89 year old friend, a U3A member, recently answered a phone call saying that her provider (not BT) had gone down and to press 1 to get advice.

This she did. In the ensuing silence, she began to be suspicious. When she checked her account, she found that the call had cost her £100.

Her son phoned the provider and argued successfully that this fraud had taken place in their name and they had some responsibility. The charge was removed from her account.

A few days later I received a recorded message that my BT service was "compromised". For advice I had to press 1, and to get another supplier press 2. I put the phone down and immediately dialed 1572, BT's free Call Protect service, to get the number of the last caller into the "junk" box.

Scam callers are becoming more sophisticated and numerous. They know their target, where they live and whether they live alone. Most scam calls occur around lunchtime and in the afternoon - when the people at home to receive them are mostly within the U3A age range.

BT stresses the importance of informing the provider after receiving a scam call. BT now has a special investigation department dedicated to eliminating scam calls and callers.

Submitted by : K Kinder, North Yorkshire

Call Blocker

For £50 you can buy a phone that blocks all nuisance calls, including those from con merchants. I have one and it works.

Submitted by : M Hathaway, Northumberland

Scam call

What a timely article on phone scams. The day after I received my copy of the U3A magazine arrived, I received a phone call purporting to be from Microsoft regarding my computer, which I was then able to report to the Action Fraud organisation.

Submitted by : D Balchin, Surrey

(1st December 2018)



OCTOBER 2018

NATIONAL TRADING STANDARDS - SCAM ALERT SUMMARY Q3

-----------------------
SCAMMERS HAVE STARTED USING FAKE SPOTIFY EMAIL TO STEAL PEOPLE'S APPLE IDs
(Business Insider, dated 19th October 2018 author Antonio Villas-Boas)

Full article [Option 1]:

http://uk.businessinsider.com/fake-spotify-email-phishing-scam-apple-id-2018-10?mc_cid=3b4f432a0e&mc_eid=f46eab0a3f

A new scam is targeting people by disguising itself as a Spotify email asking you to verify your subscription information after being charged for a year's subscription of Spotify's Premium streaming service.

Potential victims aren't charged for Spotify's Premium service, but may click the link in the email because they're surprised to receive the email.

The link leads you to a fake Apple ID login site that expects you to use your Apple ID credentials.

Once you try to log in, your Apple ID credentials are likely sent to the scammers.

A new phishing scam is targeting people by using a fake Spotify email in order to get you to hand over your Apple ID.

The email contains the fake confirmation of a year's subscription to Spotify's Premium streaming service - it's likely intended to prey on your surprise that you may have been erroneously charged. The email prompts victims to click a link to cancel or "review your subscription."

-----------------------
WARNING FROM TRADING STANDARDS ABOUT HOME INSULATION SCHEMES
(Dated 19th October 2018)

East Sussex Trading Standards are warning residents to be vigilant about companies who are cold calling and claiming to offer a home insulation scheme which is supported by East Sussex County Council. However, it is possible that similar improper approaches may be made anywhere across the county.

It is not in the remit for East Sussex County Council to support schemes that involve cold calling, and companies claiming that they do are misleading residents and may be breaking the law.

-----------------------
UK COMPANY EMAILS BEING HIJACKED FOR PHISHING
(ITProportal, dated 21st September 2018 author Sead Fadilpasic)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.itproportal.com/news/uk-company-emails-being-hijacked-for-phishing/?mc_cid=2022f3544b&mc_eid=f46eab0a3f

There has been a significant rise in stolen corporate email accounts that are being used in phishing attempts. This is according to a new report by security experts Barracuda.

The security firm is claiming email accounts from employees all over the UK are being stolen. Hackers would then log into these accounts remotely and, posing as the email's legitimate owner, try to 'phish' out any valuable information.

Besides phishing for valuable information, the attackers can also use their disguise to try and get the victim to click on a malicious link, which would end up downloading a piece of malware onto the machine.

-----------------------
VIRGIN MEDIA PHISHING EMAILS
(Dated September 2018)

Phishing emails have been sent to the Virgin Media clients asking them to update their billing details. The company have said they had not sent them and asked the people not to respond to them.

-----------------------
THIS HARD TO SPOT ONLINE SCAM MAKES YOU THINK YOU'RE GETTING FREE AIRLINE TICKETS
(Market Watch, dated 4th September 2018 author Kari Paul)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.marketwatch.com/story/this-hard-to-spot-online-booking-scam-makes-you-think-youre-getting-free-airline-tickets-2018-08-31?mc_cid=34e9f01c39&mc_eid=f46eab0a3f

If an airline ticket deal you've seen recently seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Fake websites that appear to offer free tickets for Delta Airlines, easyJet and Ryanair are actually part of a phishing scam designed to glean people's sensitive details, according to a report released Aug. 13 by cyber data solution company Farsight Security.

Farsight researchers said that after Delta was informed of the scam, the website disappeared, leading the researchers to believe Delta told the web host disable it. Delta did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The fake sites advertising free tickets for Ryanair and easyJet remain online. Ryanair did not respond to a request for comment.

-----------------------
PASSPORT SERVICE WEBSITE OPERATOR SENTENCED
(Dated August 2018)

A man who operated websites which conned consumers out of £1.6m has been handed a one year suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay £200,000 within 28 days at Leeds Crown Court. The sentence comes after he pleaded guilty to breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 following a National Trading Standards investigation.

The defendant was known by the name Richard Howard (aged 32 of Colliers Wood, Wimbledon) when operating his websites which misled consumers, however after National Trading Standards opened their investigation he changed his name to George Orwell. His one year prison sentence is suspended for two years and he must pay £200,000 within 28 days or face prison. The investigating officers are based with City of York Council and are supported by digital forensics specialists based with North Yorkshire County Council, and City of York Council brought the prosecution.

-----------------------
OVER £700K HAS BEEN SAVED FROM SCAMS IN THAMES VALLEY
(Dated August 2018)

Local Banks, Police and Trading Standards have been working together to spot victims when they visit their local branch.

Branch staff, call handlers, police and trading standards officers have all been trained to identify victims.

Since it was introduced by Thames Valley Police in February 2018, a total of 73 emergency calls have now been placed and responded to through the scheme.

Banking Protocol enables bank branch staff to contact police if they suspect a customer is in the process of being scammed, with an immediate priority response to the branch.

Across the country the Banking Protocol has now led to a total of 197 arrests and prevented almost £25 million in fraud, while 3,682 emergency calls have now been placed and responded to through the scheme.

As well as stopping fraud taking place, the scheme ensures a consistent response to potential victims and gives them extra support to prevent them becoming a victim in the future.

UK Finance has led the development and implementation of the Banking Protocol, with support from the National Trading Standards Scam team and the Joint Fraud Taskforce.

----------------------
POTENTIAL PHISHING SCAM IMPERSONATING MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
Dated August 2018)

The MOD has been made aware of a possible phishing fraud. Targets of the fraud have received emails purporting to originate within the MOD attempting to make contact or seeking money.

Anyone who receives suspicious emails that might match this profile should take the following action:

- Not to respond to the suspicious communication, or cease all further correspondence if they have already responded

- Report it to Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre which can be contacted at www.actionfraud.police.uk or on 0300 123 2040.

-----------------------
(1st November 2018)


MOBILE PHONE SHOP STAFF "ENABLING SIM SWAP SCAMS"
(BBC News, dated 31st October 2018)

Full article [Option 1]: www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/business-46047714

Staff in mobile phone shops have become key to the execution of "Sim swap" scams, Watchdog Live has discovered.

Undercover filming revealed that O2 and Vodafone employees are bypassing basic ID checks and handing over replacement Sim cards to potential criminals.

Once fraudsters gain control of a mobile number, they can intercept SMS text messages from banks containing security codes.

Scammers have drained thousands of pounds from victims' bank accounts .

O2 told the BBC it currently only asks for photo ID when replacing Sims on a monthly contract, and that customers on Pay As You Go contracts would always receive an authorisation code alerting them that someone is trying to access their number.

However, that did not happen with any of the numbers being used by the Watchdog Live team, who were able to walk out with a replacement Sim in almost every case.

O2 says it did send out authorisation codes, but they were not received by the victims' smartphones.

Vodafone said that it takes Sim swap fraud "extremely seriously" and that it is disappointed that two of its employees did not follow established security check procedures, despite being given mandatory training, reinforced by regular reminders to the contrary.

'A state of shock'

Previously, in some countries, Sim swap scams were used by scammers to ring and text premium numbers to run up large mobile phone bills .

But now that more online services use two-factor authentication, which requires text messages to be sent to mobile phones, there is more at risk.

Olga from Buckinghamshire had £2,000 taken from her bank account, after a fraudster managed to successfully request a replacement Sim for her mobile number without her knowing anything about it.

"It was like a state of shock and my first thought was that there must be some sort of error," Olga told Watchdog. "I was just sobbing down the phone saying all my money's been stolen."

Initially, Olga's bank refused to refund her the money, blaming her for not keeping her details safe.

But it eventually became clear that the fraudster had found a way in to her account after being given a replacement Sim card by EE.

Watchdog's undercover visits found that staff in EE and Three stores always stuck to their security policies by demanding photo ID.

How the scam works

Sim swap scams occur when a criminal is able to convince a mobile operator to issue them with a replacement Sim card, by claiming a false identity and pretending that their mobile phone has been either lost or stolen.

Criminals are able to do this using people's personal details that have been stolen using malware or cyber-attacks. Many of these details are then sold on the dark web .

The victim's Sim card stops working and the criminal can then access any online service that requires security codes to be sent to a user's mobile phone.

Security researchers have long believed that UK crime gangs are behind these scams, as the fraudsters manage to trick banks by logging onto mobile banking systems from locations close to the victim's home address .

In the past, this scam has been perpetrated by fraudsters calling the customer service call centres of mobile operators, as well as by hackers using fake mobile base station equipment bought from the black market .

While the scam has been in existence for at least three years - BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme demonstrated that they could attack bank accounts in 2016 - the number of cases of Sim swap fraud have rocketed by 60% since 2016.

(1st November 2018)


BRITS GET WISE TO CONMEN - UNLESS THEY EMAIL FIRST
(Mirror, dated 31st October 2018 author Vicky Shaw)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/brits-wise-conmen-unless-email-13511910

People could be more at risk of falling for an email scam than a more "traditional" con where a rogue trader turns up on their doorstep, research suggests.

More than a quarter (28%) of people would go ahead with a request for payment received by email without calling the supplier directly to check the details, a survey from Nationwide Building Society found.

This was a much bigger percentage than the 5% of people who said they would take the advice of, and pay, someone claiming to be a builder who knocked on their door and advised them that work urgently needed to be carried out.

With this type of con, criminals knock on someone's door unexpectedly offering their services.

Fraudsters convince homeowners to pay for work that is overpriced, poor quality, not necessary or not carried out.

The dangerous email con

Nationwide said it also wants to raise awareness around invoice scams that can be the result of emails being hacked - where criminals intercept personal emails, change the account details on an invoice to their own and resend.

The survey found that while 22% of those aged 55 and over would not check an email invoice via a phone call to the supplier - potentially putting themselves at risk of fraud - this increased to 37% of 25 to 34-year-olds who would not check.

In general, people who transfer money from their bank account directly to a fraudster run the risk of never seeing their money again - as they have authorised the payment.

Stuart Skinner, Nationwide's director of fraud, said: "Criminals are not complacent, which is why people need to learn about new ways in which scammers are trying to get their hands on their hard-earned money.

"Scams constantly evolve and people need to understand how they could be targeted. Just because an email looks genuine, it doesn't mean it is and just because someone isn't physically at your doorstep, it doesn't make the threat any less real."

Pauline Smith, director of Action Fraud, said: "Fraudsters will often pose as well-known companies or people you know to trick you into parting with information and money.

"To prevent this from happening, always check the source of emails that request payment for goods before passing on any personal information. If something feels wrong, it's usually right to question it."

More than 2,000 people were surveyed.

Here are Nationwide Building Society's tips for avoiding scams:

1. Do not rush to get work done by someone knocking on your door - take your time to do your research and look out for neighbours who may be more likely to feel pressurised.

2. Fake invoices received by email can be very convincing - check personally using separate contact details before parting with your money.

3. Report suspect activity to Action Fraud. Nationwide also has fraud awareness events in branches.

(1st November 2018)


FRAUDSTER TRIED TO OPEN 62 BANK ACCOUNTS USING OTHER PEOPLE'S PERSONAL INFORMATION
(Wales Online, dated 30th October 2018 author Jason Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/fraudster-tried-open-62-bank-15345280

A man used other people's personal details to try to open more than 60 bank accounts, a court has heard.

Carl Winston Jones began making dozens of applications to banks just two days after getting out of prison following his release from a sentence for doing exactly the same thing.

Swansea Crown Court heard Jones' plan was to use the overdraft facilities on each account, transferring cash up to the limit on each one to other accounts, and then withdrawing it.

Tom Scapens, prosecuting, said that between July 10 and September 4 this year Jones made online applications to open 43 accounts with Lloyds Group banks, and another 19 with HSBC, under various names.

On August 31 he managed to successfully transfer £1,000 from one of the new accounts to a different account using the name Mr Worswick, and then withdraw the cash.

Two days later, the 32-year-old tried another transfer from a different account but the transaction was picked-up by the bank, and the alarm raised.

Mr Scapens said that had Jones been successful in getting all the accounts set up and their overdraft facilities used to the full, the scam could have been worth £92,500.

The court heard police went to Jones' house on September 26, and during a search of the property found a list of people's personal details that Jones had been using in the applications.

The officers also found a quantity of amphetamine on his bed.

During his subsequent police interview he answered all questions "no comment".

Jones, who also goes by the name Carl Daniels, of March Hywel, Cilfrew, Neath, had previously pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation, converting criminal property, and possession of amphetamine when he appeared by videolink from Swansea prison for sentencing.

The court heard that in May this year Jones was jailed for the same offences - fraud by false representation and converting criminal property - which had involved opening multiple accounts with HSBC. On that occasion he had got away with £13,650.

He had been released from that sentence two days before his latest offending began.

Jones also had a previous conviction for supplying the drug ecstasy in 2009, for which he had received a suspended sentence.

No mention was made in court of where or how Jones obtained the personal details he used in the frauds.

Lee Davies, for Jones, said a friend of the defendant's had shown the Swansea-born dad-of-three how to apply for multiple accounts using people's information.

But he said banks were good at spotting such fraudulent applications, and "very few" of his client's attempts had been successful.

Judge Paul Thomas told Jones his actions had been "brazen", starting as they did so soon after his release from prison for the same offence.

Giving the defendant credit for his guilty pleas the judge sentenced Jones to 28 months in prison for the fraud and to 28 months for converting criminal property - the sentences will run concurrently, making a total of 28 months.

Jones will serve half that time in custody before being released on licence.

The judge ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the lists of personal details, and of the amphetamine.

Speaking after the sentencing detective constable Ben O'Shea, who investigated the case for the dedicated card and payment crime unit (DCPCU), a specialist police unit sponsored by the banking industry, said the case should send out a clear message to others tempted to engage in such activity.

He said: "This convicted fraudster began offending again as soon as he was released from prison.

"Now thanks to the work of the DCPCU he was been swiftly brought to justice.

"This sends a clear message to any would-be fraudsters that you will be caught and punished."

uaware comment

Many reading this article would be lead to believe that this was victimless crime. I mean, banks will just claim off their insurance won't they ! Well, if this miscruant was using actual peoples details, they are the victims. Effectively the crook was stealing peoples identities. If he took further action, such as going overdrawn on the bank accounts or forfeiting after taking out a loan; that would affect the credit rating of the individuals (victims) his forged.

So, in the future the victims will not be able to take out a loan, hire a mobile phone, get a mortgage, set up a gas electricity or water account. That is just the tangible things, what about the victims health ?

28 months sentence, out in 14 !

(1st November 2018)


AS THOUSANDS REPORT BEING VICTIMS OF VILE "RANSOMWARE" COMPUTER ATTACKS, HERE'S HOW TO STAY SAFE
(Mail on Sunday, dated 29th October 2018 author Toby Walne)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/money/guides/article-6323857/As-thousands-report-victims-vile-ransomware-computer-attacks-heres-stay-safe.html?ito=1490

Victims of vile 'ransomware' computer attacks are being urged to ignore the sick demands - or face yet more blackmail threats.

Hundreds of readers have contacted The Mail on Sunday in the past few days to share their horror at receiving a twisted demand for money to avoid embarrassing details of their private life being exposed to everyone - even though they have done nothing wrong.

The vast majority of those targeted have ignored the unpleasant messages - as they should - but not everyone.

The new web crime, revealed in The Mail on Sunday last week, involves emails from criminals claiming the recipient has been caught watching an adult website and that this act has been captured on their computer camera.

To make it appear credible the blackmail threat also includes personal information about the target, such as online passwords and phone numbers. There is then a financial ransom demand - £250 or more - that must be paid in Bitcoins to stop private details and images being shared with family, friends and work colleagues.

Stuart Peck is cyber security strategist at computer consultancy ZeroDayLab. He says 'If an attacker had really managed to compromise your computer they would not want you to know about it. These emails rely on panic and intimidation that threaten to destroy your life. If you pay up the attacker will know you have something to hide.'

Once on the criminal's radar, you can then be put on a 'sucker list' where further demands for money will be made - and your details sold to other criminals who know you are susceptible to online and phone fraud attacks. For those concerned about being a target of a 'ransomware' attack, Peck has some basic, but effective, advice.

He says: 'You can always find a small piece of paper to stick over the camera of your laptop, tablet or possibly even smartphone. This way you can be certain no one is watching you with a view to subjecting you to a ransomware attack.'

A key reason why many 'ransomware' targets are stressed by the experience is a nagging fear criminals have indeed hacked into their computer - confirmed by their knowledge of passwords and phone numbers. Peck adds: 'Unfortunately such private information can come from public breaches and be picked up for free by criminals. If you have been compromised in the past change passwords immediately.'

To find if you have been hacked from such a breach, Peck suggests that you visit haveibeenpwned.com - a website set up by Australian security researcher and blogger Troy Hunt who wants to stamp out the crime. Tap in your personal email address and the website will indicate whether any personal information may have been leaked.

The most recent high-profile data breach was at British Airways. Last week, the airline confirmed a cyber attack earlier this year had been more extensive than initially indicated, potentially affecting 565,000 passengers rather than the 380,000 it had first suggested. Hackers could have stolen personal and financial details provided by passengers when booking flights.

In another major data loss, 50 million Facebook accounts were compromised, giving hackers potential access to user names and passwords. Although it is impossible to protect yourself from a data breach you can be vigilant about any of your personal details landing in the lap of hackers.

Hackers try to steal personal details by 'phishing' - tricking you into parting with information such as passwords and bank account details. They might pretend to be an organisation such as your bank, favourite internet shopping website, an online payment system such as PayPal or even the taxman.

Typically, they state there has been a security breach and that you must not share your private information with anyone but them. They then use the details to empty your bank account.

You should also be wary of clicking on an 'unsubscribe' link. Before proceeding, check the email has been sent from the company it claims to be. Click on the 'address' the email was sent from - usually a fake sender will have a different name from the company it reports to be, with a foreign suffix rather than more common 'co.uk' or 'com' endings.

Clicking on pop-ups claiming to offer you extra security - such as anti-virus software - should also be avoided. They could be crooks.

Much of the headache of fending off cyber criminals can be avoided by installing security software. But never download software offered in a pop-up window as it may be 'malware'. This is the term for malicious software used by criminals looking to plant viruses on someone's computer, enabling them to steal key personal data.

Anti-virus software can be downloaded for free from providers such as Avira and Sophos to stop such unwanted pop-ups. Packages from security software firms such as McAfee, Intego, Norton and Bitdefender cost around £30 a year. These should stop viruses getting into your computer - though they will not necessarily prevent 'ransomware' threats.

(1st November 2018)


MAN GETS SURPRISE PARCEL WITH £260 BILL AND IS TOLD TO "PAY UP" OR GO TO COURT
(Mirror, dated 21st October 2018 author Dean Durham)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/man-receives-out-blue-parcel-13444922

Reader George from Sheffield received a shock this week when he received court papers served on him by an unscrupulous trader.

On 27th June George received an unexpected parcel containing an electric blanket and an invoice for £259.99 payable in 14 days.

George called the number but there was no answer.

For the next three weeks he continued to try the number, and, on each occasion, no-one answered.

He then received a debt collection letter stating that he had 7 days to pay in full, failing which court proceedings would follow.

Again, George tried to call the number without success. All then went very quiet.

There was no return address with the packaging/invoice but there was a phone number displayed.

Then on 11 th October George received a further letter this time containing court papers claiming payment of the £259.99 plus £125 solicitor costs and £25 court fee.

George contacted me for help.

I've immediately told George that this is a scam, but rather than taking his money he's in the unique situation where the fraudster is the one that's lost out this time.

Here's why: George did not order the electric blanket, so this is classed as 'unsolicited goods'.

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 state that where a consumer receives unsolicited goods they are treated as an unconditional gift - meaning that you do not have to pay for them or return them.

These court proceedings are therefore doomed to failure. Its also worth mentioning that George has now seen the same electric blanket for sale in Argos for £109.99.

In contrast to George's story, Helen from Leeds was sent two pairs of trainers by Sports Direct 'by mistake'.

She asked me if she was entitled to keep them and I advised that she wasn't, as they had been sent to her in error and Sports Direct were therefore entitled to get them back or receive payment.

However, in these circumstances Helen did not have to pay the cost of sending the trainers back.

(1st November 2018)


HOW SCAMMERS ARE USING DECEPTIVE "SPOOFING" TECHNOLOGY TO MAKE CALLS APPEARING TO BE FROM YOUR BANK
(Daily Mail, dated 20th October 2018 author Victoria Bischoff)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6296639/How-scammers-using-deceptive-spoofing-technology-make-calls-appearing-bank.html

Scammers are using cheap and widely available technology to make calls and send texts which appear to come from your bank.

The deception, known as spoofing, lets the caller choose what phone number is displayed on the recipient's phone when they call up.

It means a fraudster could find out the number of the victim's bank and make it flash up on the recipient's phone when they call - even though they are in fact calling from an entirely different number.

Text messages can also be 'spoofed' to make it look as if your bank is messaging when it is actually coming from a scammer's phone.

A Daily Mail investigation has discovered that with a simple Google search anyone can access a host of online services which allow people to make spoof calls and text messages.

Experts warn that while these websites and mobile apps advertise themselves as a harmless way to 'prank your friends', they can just as easily be used by people for more sinister purposes.

Money Mail has heard from scores of bank transfer victims who said fraudsters had managed to convince them they were really calling from their bank. They told them to check the number they were calling from against the one on the back of their debit or credit card or on the firm's official website.

When it matched, the victim was reassured the call was genuine and followed the caller's instructions to transfer vast sums of money out of their account.

One provider of the spoofing service - CrazyCall - allows people to change their caller ID and alter the sound of their voice to make it higher or lower pitch.

On its website it says: 'CrazyCall is the ultimate tool for making prank calls and fooling your friends. You can change your caller ID, so when you call someone he sees on his caller ID display the number you selected.'

It sounds like harmless fun but for just 75p per minute (plus an access charge) Money Mail was successfully able to use the site to call a landline from a mobile phone and make it look as though the call was coming from Lloyds' customer service number.

So if someone picked up the phone they would think the call was coming from their bank. Some services block official numbers such as those belonging to certain banks and the taxman. But even then not all numbers are barred.

For example, British website Fakemyphone.co.uk prevented users from posing as most major UK banks.

But it was possible to make it look as though the HMRC income tax office was calling. And using the US version of that site - Spoofmyphone.com - Money Mail was still able to call a UK landline from a UK mobile phone and make the HSBC customer service number flash up on the caller ID.

Separately, experts said fraudsters can use other legitimate services - that allow people to make calls and send messages over the internet - to send texts which appear in the same chain as previous genuine messages from their bank.

It means it is often impossible for customers to tell if a text message is really from their bank.

As part of the Mail's Stop The Bank Scammers campaign, we called on telecom providers to do more to identify and stop scam text messages getting through.

Just last month Money Mail revealed how even a top fraud chief at Britain's biggest bank can sometimes not tell the difference between a fake and genuine text message.

Regarding the fake texts which appear in the same chain as past real messages from your bank, Scott McGready, from the National Cyber Security Tactical Advice team which aids law enforcement, said: 'A fraudster only has to learn a few lines of basic code - rules that instruct a computer to do something - and they can use these systems to make it look as though a text message has been sent by a legitimate company such as a bank.

'The infrastructure behind the whole mobile system needs overhauling. If Royal Mail can stop suspicious letters being posted through people's letterboxes, why can't mobile phone companies do the same thing? We need a spam folder for text messages like people have for their emails so people know to be cautious.'

Gareth Shaw, from consumer group Which?, said: 'People lose life-changing sums of money after falling victim to this type of scam, which is becoming increasingly difficult to spot.'

Spoofmyphone.com and CrazyCall did not respond to requests for comment.

The City of London police said number spoofing apps and websites are legal. However, it is illegal to use them to commit a crime.

(1st November 2018)


FRAUDSTERS TARGETNG OAP's IN KENT
(Heart FM, dated 20th October 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.heart.co.uk/kent/news/local/fraudsters-targeting-oaps-in-kent/

There's a warning to elderly residents in Kent to be on the look out for rogue traders.

It's after a man demanded £3000 to clear a pensioners drains.

He called at her door in an area close to Robin Hood Lane- claiming that a neighbour had already agreed to have their drains cleaned and had gone to the bank to get money.

But when pressed to provide details the fraudster refused citing data protection laws.
Lukcily the woman refused to hand over any money and called police.

Sergeant Andy Gallon said:

'This man appears to be targeting elderly people by cold calling and demanding cash up front. Often in these circumstances any work that is subsequently carried out is either completely unnecessary or substandard. Our advice remains the same for anyone dealing with cold callers. Do not deal with people who knock on your door offering work on your home or garden and if you have any concerns about their behaviour call the police.'

Kent Police is reminding residents of further steps to take to deter rogue traders, who may also offer services such as cleaning driveways or roof and guttering repairs:

- Genuine companies will not expect cash in advance or tell you to go to the bank to withdraw money.

- Use reputable traders who are members of the KCC Trading Standards approved trader scheme, run in partnership with Checkatrade.

- Ask for quotes in writing and check that the tradesperson is from the company they say they are from.

- Ring at least three traders to get a feel for an average price for the job.

- Call 101 to report any problems involving suspected rogue traders or call the Citizens Advice Consumer Services Consumer Direct on 03454 040506.

uaware comment

These rogue traders may be operating in Kent this week, but they may be knocking on your door tomorrow !

(1st November 2018)


BANKS TACKLE FRAUD WITH NEW NAME CHECK SAFEGUARD TO HELP PROTECT CUSTOMERS FROM TRANFERRING MONEY TO CROOKS
(Daily Mail, dated 18th October 2018 author Angelique Ruzicka)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/money/beatthescammers/article-6290327/New-check-safeguard-help-prevent-people-transferring-cash-fraudsters.html?ito=1490

A long-awaited name check safeguard will be launched next year to help fight fraud and alert bank customers to suspicious transactions if the name of someone they are paying does not match the account details they're filling in online.

It is hoped the new 'confirmation of payee' service will help tackle authorised push payment fraud - which happens when people are tricked into making a bank transfer directly to a criminal.

Paul Horlock, chief executive of new payment body Pay.UK, said: 'Confirmation of payee will let you check you have the correct name for the person or business you're paying, giving better protection against certain types of fraud, and helping to stop accidental mistakes too.'

'When someone is setting up a new payment, if the name matches, there will be confirmation of this - which could be a green tick, for example.'

Gareth Shaw, Which? money expert, welcomed the move but added: 'Customers will wonder why banks have dragged their heels and not implemented this system years ago, as it could have prevented a significant amount of fraud.

'With losses to bank transfer fraud increasing drastically it's clear this measure can't come in soon enough.'

Figures from trade association UK Finance show that in the first half of 2018 consumers lost £92.9million because of APP fraud.

Currently, the account name is not checked when sending an electronic payment - but under the new service banks will check the name on the account when someone is setting up a new payment or amending an existing one.

Consumers will be warned if the details do not match up - which should help prevent payments being made to fraudsters or even prevent mistakes.

Banks, building societies, and other payment providers will be able to roll out confirmation of payee during 2019 as a way for their customers to check who they are paying.

Pay.UK said the move will reduce the risk of errors and certain types of fraud, such as malicious redirection invoice scams where, by posing as a legitimate business known to customer, people are convinced to redirect a payment to an account controlled by a fraudster.

Victims end up losing huge amounts of money because their bank made the transfer on their instructions - unlike in cases when payments are fraudulently made without customers' authorisation and banks are generally obliged to give a refund.

Horlock said: 'Sending a payment with an incorrect sort code or account number is like addressing a letter with the wrong post code.

'Even if you have used the correct name it won't reach the intended destination - and fraudsters have become increasingly sophisticated in using this to trick people into sending money to the wrong account.

'If the name does not match, it is then up to the sender to decide whether or not to proceed with the payment - but the risks will have been made clear to them beforehand.'

Account providers have previously been criticised for not doing more to shoulder the burden when victims lose money as scams become increasingly sophisticated.

A new industry code is also being developed which could help victims of APP fraud get their money back when they have shown a requisite level of care.

However, someone who makes a payment despite being told the name does not match may risk being judged not to have taken due care - ruling out any form of compensation.

The confirmation of payee won't be the solution to all types of crime. It doesn't, for example, tackle scams where people are tricked into paying up-front for goods which never arrive.

Shaw added: 'While we await its introduction, it's crucial that an agreement is reached on the funding mechanism to reimburse all victims of bank transfer fraud who have been left out of pocket through no fault of their own.'

A spokesman for trade association UK Finance said: 'Pay.UK's announcement provides some useful clarity on the development of confirmation of payee, which will play an important role in preventing fraudsters from tricking victims into sending money to the wrong account.'

He said the industry will continue working with other bodies to ensure the plans can be put into place.

He added: 'At the same time, the industry will continue fighting fraud on every front, investing millions in advanced security systems to protect customers and supporting law enforcement in combating the organised criminal groups responsible for fraud.'

Six ways to outfox the cyber--criminals (Compiled by Laura Shannon)

- ASSUME any caller claiming to be your bank or utility provider could be a fraudster. It might sound unfair and the call may be genuine - but being sceptical from the start could help protect you.

- CALL your bank back on a different phone line if you are not sure a call is authentic. Use the phone number on the back of your credit or debit card. If calling from the same phone wait at least five minutes for the current call to be disconnected. Otherwise a fraudster could simply stay on the line while you dial.

- KNOW the hallmarks of fraud. There will be convincing lies throughout a scam and the perpetrators will sound intelligent and authoritative. But typical requests include being asked to: provide a code, a PIN, move money to a different account, repay a sum accidentally put in to your account, reveal passwords or allow remote access to your computer. Do not comply.

- BE careful about what links you click on emails, or what attachments you open. Scammers know how to imitate your friends or big brands in messages. These links could contain viruses that, once on your computer, allow fraudsters to spy on you when you enter log-in details for online banking. Or they will pose as big brands and demand personal information that you should not surrender.

- UPDATE anti-virus software on your computer and regularly change passwords on online accounts.

- LEARN more ways to protect yourself with help from websites such as takefive-stopfraud.org.uk and getsafeonline.org.

-----------------------
NEW NAME CHECK SAFEGUARD TO HELP PREVENT PEOPLE TRANSFERRING CASH TO FRAUDSTERS
(Yorkshire Evening Post, dated 18th October 2018 author Andrew Hutchinson)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/new-name-check-safeguard-to-help-prevent-people-transferring-cash-to-fraudsters-1-9402430

Bank customers will be warned if the name of someone they are trying to pay does not match the account details - in the latest step to combat scams where people are tricked into transferring money to a fraudster.

Payments body Pay.UK has unveiled details of how the new "confirmation of payee" service will work.
Currently, the account name is not checked when sending an electronic payment - but under the new service banks will check the name on the account when someone is setting up a new payment or amending an existing one.

Consumers will be warned if the details do not match up - which should help prevent payments being made to fraudsters or simply when a mistake has been made.

Banks, building societies, and other payment providers will be able to roll out confirmation of payee during 2019 as a way for their customers to check who they are paying.

Consumer group Which? welcomed the move - but said customers will wonder why banks have "dragged their heels" and not put it in place before.

Pay.UK said the move will reduce the risk of errors and certain types of fraud, such as malicious redirection invoice scams where, by posing as a legitimate business known to customer, people are convinced to redirect a payment to an account controlled by a fraudster.

It is part of wider efforts to combat authorised push payment (APP) fraud - which happens when people are tricked into making a bank transfer directly to a criminal.

Victims can end up losing huge amounts of money because their bank made the transfer on their instructions - unlike in cases when when payments are fraudulently made without customers' authorisation and banks are generally obliged to give a refund.

Paul Horlock, chief executive of Pay.UK, said: "Sending a payment with an incorrect sort code or account number is like addressing a letter with the wrong post code.

"Even if you have used the correct name it won't reach the intended destination - and fraudsters have become increasingly sophisticated in using this to trick people into sending money to the wrong account.

"Confirmation of payee will let you check you have the correct name for the person or business you're paying, giving better protection against certain types of fraud, and helping to stop accidental mistakes too."

When someone is setting up a new payment, if the name matches, there will be confirmation of this - which could be a green tick, for example

If the name does not match, it is then up to the sender to decide whether or not to proceed with the payment - but the risks will have been made clear to them beforehand.

Alongside these changes, a new industry code is being developed which could help victims of APP fraud get their money back when they have shown a requisite level of care.

Someone who makes a payment despite being told the name does not match may risk not being judged not to have taken due care - potentially making it more likely they will never see their money again.

There will be some scams which confirmation of payee cannot address - such as when people are tricked into paying up-front for goods which never arrive.

Figures from trade association UK Finance show that in the first half of 2018 consumers lost £92.9 million because of APP fraud.

Account providers have previously been criticised for not doing more to shoulder the burden when victims lose money as scams become increasingly sophisticated.Pay.UK was previously known as the New Payment System Operator.

Gareth Shaw, Which? money expert, said: "It's right that banks and building societies have finally been forced to introduce this much-needed check at the point of transfer. However, customers will wonder why banks have dragged their heels and not implemented this system years ago, as it could have prevented a significant amount of fraud.

"With losses to bank transfer fraud increasing drastically it's clear this measure can't come in soon enough.

"While we await its introduction, it's crucial that an agreement is reached on the funding mechanism to reimburse all victims of bank transfer fraud who have been left out of pocket through no fault of their own."

------------------------

(1st November 2018)


BANKS TO CHECK ACCOUNT NAMES TO BEAT TRANSFER FRAUD
(Guardian, dated 18th October 2018 author Rupert Jones)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/money/2018/oct/18/banks-to-check-account-names-to-beat-transfer

Name checks will be carried out when UK bank customers send money to other people from next year in a bid to halt a rising tide of bank transfer fraud.

At the moment, anyone wanting to transfer money is asked for the recipient's account name, account number and sort code. However, the bank does not currently check if the account name is correct.

In recent years, fraudsters "have become increasingly sophisticated in using this to trick people into sending money to the wrong account," said the UK's payments operator, Pay.UK.

It added that the new measures should help prevent many fraudulent payments from being made by "introducing another hurdle" for criminals and issuing effective warnings about the risks of sending money to an account where the name does not match.

From next year, the so-called "confirmation of payee" system will mean customers can check they are paying the right person.

When a customer sets up a new payment or amends an existing one, there will be three possible outcomes. If they used the correct account name, they will receive confirmation that the details match, and can proceed with the payment.

If they used a similar name to the account holder, they will be provided with the actual name to check. They can then update the details and try again, or contact the intended recipient to check the details. But if the customer enters the wrong name for the account holder, they will be told the details do not match and advised to contact the person or organisation they are trying to pay.

In the past few years, fraud in the UK payments industry has soared as criminals develop increasingly sophisticated tactics to steal cash. Criminals have been hacking into the email accounts of builders, solicitors or other tradespeople that the consumer has legitimately employed, then getting them to send large amounts of money to criminal accounts.

The Guardian has featured a number of these cases, which are also known as "authorised push payment" scams or email intercept fraud. In October 2017 it emerged that an Essex couple lost £120,000 after sending money to what they thought was their solicitor's bank account.

It is understood the new regime is expected to be in place for many, but not all, banks by the middle of 2019.

Gareth Shaw from the consumer group Which? said: "It's right that banks and building societies have finally been forced to introduce this much-needed check at the point of transfer.

"However, customers will wonder why banks have dragged their heels and not implemented this system years ago."

(1st November 2018)


NO ONE SAFE FROM FINANCIAL CROOKS - HOW YOUNG BRITS ARE TURNED INTO CRIMINALS
(Mirror, dated 17th October 2018 author Tricia Phillips)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/no-one-safe-financial-crooks-13427072

No one is safe from financial crooks but the under 21s are fast becoming the key target for fraudsters.

There has been a 24% increase in the cases of younger people falling victim to identity fraud over the past year, new research reveals.

And a worrying 26% rise in the numbers of under 21s being persuaded, or duped, into acting as money mules for rogues.

The latest figures from Cifas, the UK's leading fraud prevention service, also show that more than a third of victims of plastic payment card fraud on debit, credit or store cards were younger people.

Chief Executive Officer of Cifas, Mike Haley, said: "Our new figures are alarming to say the least. Young people are increasingly at risk of becoming victims of identity fraud, with little idea of how to protect themselves.

"We're calling on bank in particular to ensure that they are providing young people with the necessary knowledge to prevent them falling victim to fraud - or becoming fraud perpetrators."

Some £236million was lost to scams in 2017 and financial firms such as Lloyds Banking Group have 24/7 fraud teams dedicated to trying to protect customers from the every-increasing risk from financial fraud.

Their mule hunting team has frozen more than £1million from crooks trying to trick people into receiving and transferring cash.

Paul Davis, Retail Fraud Director, Lloyds Banking Group, said: ""We have sophisticated, multi-layered defences in place to help protect our customers from scammers.

"Fighting financial fraud is a concerted effort between the banks, the police and all of us - the more we all know about how to spot it, the safer we will all be."

We all need to be on our guard to try and keep ourselves safe from clever crooks who keep coming up with sophisticated scams that even the experts sometimes find hard to spot.

What is identity theft?

Crooks gather personal information about a person such as name, address, date of birth - often information they can gain very easily via social media sites - so they can impersonate someone to get access to their financial accounts or to take out credit in a victim's name.

They will use every trick in the book to try and get people to give them personal and financial information and to gain access to someone's computer and financial accounts.

Becoming a victim of ID theft causes havoc to peoples' lives and can take months, sometimes years to get finances back on track. It can lead to people being unable to access any credit or to end up being hit with extortionate rates of interest on the products they do get offered.

5 ways to stay safe

1. Keep a regular eye on your credit report. You can then spot if anyone else is trying to access credit in your name and shut it down immediately.

2. Make sure anti-virus software is kept updated on all of your devices.

3. Use different passwords for each account - and choose them carefully, mixing upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.

4. Check your bank statement regularly for signs of fraudulent activity.

5. Only carry out financial transactions or access financial accounts over a secure internet connection - never on free WiFi in cafes, on trains or other public places.

What is a money mule

This is where an individual allows their bank account to be used to facilitate the movement of criminal funds, a form of money laundering which carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 14 years.

Social media is a key place for criminals to recruit money mules with offers of quick and easy way to make some cash.

The consequences of getting caught moving fraudulent funds are serious. Mules will be left with no bank account, a damaged credit score and that will mean they won't be able to apply for a mortgage, loan or even a mobile phone contract in the future.

There is also the risk of up to 14 years in prison.

Don't Be Fooled is a partnership between Financial Fraud Action Uk and Cifas to inform students and young people about the risks of giving out their bank details to try and help deter them from becoming money mules.

How to keep yourself safe

- No legitimate company will ever ask yo to use your own bank account to transfer their money.

- Be especially wary of these types of offers from people or companies overseas - this will make it harder for your to find out if they are legitimate.

(1st November 2018)


IF YOU'VE BEEN SENT BANK DETAILS BY EMAIL, BE WARNED
(Guardian, dated 17th October 2018 author Anna Tims)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/money/2018/oct/17/push-payment-fraud-protection

Both of these letters are depressingly similar and should be a warning to everyone who banks online.

------------------------
I transferred £20,000 into our pension plan, but the money never arrived. I had asked my financial adviser at Brewin Dolphin for the relevant bank details and he sent them by email. It seems it was intercepted and the bank details changed so the transfer went into someone else's account.
Brewin Dolphin says its email system has not been corrupted. My provider says my email address has not been compromised in the last six months. My bank has tried to recover the money but says it has vanished.

CC, Fort William, Highland

------------------------

I had some building work on my flat. The builder emailed me his bank details, but, before I'd paid, he emailed again to ask if part of the amount could be paid into a different (Lloyds Bank) account. I duly transferred £6,300. However, the request was fraudulent.

The builder's PC had been hacked, and he noticed I had replied to an email that had not been sent by him. It was then too late to stop the payment, but I immediately alerted my bank (HSBC) and also reported it online to Action Fraud.

The fraudster continued to email me, asking if I was going to make another payment, and this, too, I reported. However, I now seem to have reached a dead end.

Action Fraud says it cannot provide updates within three months of a complaint. Lloyds Bank says it cannot deal direct with me, and HSBC has passed me to its "fraud complex complaints team" (which doesn't appear to have a phone number or email address and won't give me a contact name). This tells me that Lloyds won't provide details of the beneficiary account due to data protection, but that some of my money is still there. To recoup it, it says, is a civil matter I'd have to pursue in the courts.

I cannot understand why HSBC will not act on my behalf, at least to ascertain how much is remaining in the account.

JV, Exeter
------------------------

Both of you are victims of an increasingly prevalent scam whereby criminals hack into personal or business email accounts, intercept any messages concerning pending payments and send an email from the hacked account changing the details in their favour.

The scam cost consumers £145.4m in the first half of this year, according to UK Finance. It's known as "push-payment fraud" and, unlike credit card or direct debit payments, there is no protection for customers who lose out.

This could change. A code proposed by the Payment Systems Regulator last month might require banks to reimburse victims - provided they were not negligent when making the payment - although the code would be voluntary and it's not clear who will fund the compensation.

In the meantime, you have both been left in legal and regulatory limbo. In CC's case, Brewin Dolphin maintains its system was not compromised and therefore the hacker must have targeted your account.

It points out that the Have I Been Pwned website, which checks whether emails have been affected by data breaches, shows your email has been compromised five times.

Moreover, the scam email you received contained a different domain name to Brewin Dolphin's. Ordinarily, the Financial Ombudsman Service can investigate whether a company has dealt reasonably with such a complaint, but not in your case because email hacking isn't a regulated activity.

Unless you can stomach the prospect of challenging Brewin Dolphin's system security through legal action there is, excruciatingly, nothing more you can do.

The problem for JV was that the fraud only came to light four days after the payment.

HSBC says it contacted Lloyds immediately and Lloyds says it froze the beneficiary account, but, by then, contrary to what you were told, the money had apparently vanished.

Depressingly, the authorities have been of no help. Action Fraud eventually told you that, due to overload, it would not be investigating and referred you to the police.

The police replied that they, too, could not do anything "because of the high level of fraud reporting and limited police resources to investigate economic crime".

HSBC referred you to the Ombudsman but the response was the same, and it is yet to investigate.

Precaution, therefore, is the only protection. If details are sent by email, and particularly if they suddenly change, ring the person or company to check they are bona fide. When possible, pay by credit card - or even by cheque, which can, at least, be stopped.

(1st November 2018)


DATING SITE SCAM VICTIMS LOSE £2,000 TO FRAUDSTERS
(BBC News, dated 17th October 2018 author Kevin Peachey)

Full article [Option 1]: www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45877516

The majority of those tricked in "rom-cons" after meeting people on dating sites lost more than £2,000, research by Barclays suggests.
Fraud experts have said that thousands of people have lost millions of pounds in online dating scams.

Barclays found those aged 45 to 64 were most likely to be victims, according to reports it has received from people tricked into making payments.

Dating site users are being urged not to take everything at face value.

The bank suggested that many people were judging those they met online based on their social media profile, their job, or simply trusting them too soon.

"While millions of us take to dating websites and apps to find true love, criminals are getting ready to pounce on anyone who lets their guard down," said Jodie Gilbert, head of digital safety at Barclays.

"We must all remain aware whilst looking for the warning signs, such as someone asking you to help them out of an 'unfortunate situation' by sending money."

The bank said its figures showed that 37% of those who had lost money had paid more than £5,000 to a fraudster.

The BBC has highlighted a number of cases in recent years including one woman who lost more than £300,000 and said she felt emotionally "brutalised". She thought she was paying money to her new love interest for food, rent and medical bills.

In another case, a lonely 86-year-old man said he was left suicidal after a woman he messaged through online dating, but had never met, conned him out of £6,000.

Online safety advice (Source: Action Fraud)

- Criminals who commit romance fraud trawl through profiles and piece together information such as wealth and lifestyle, in order to manipulate their victims

- Police can investigate and help to provide support, but often cannot get the money back

- It is very simple for fraudsters to cover their tracks by masking IP addresses and using unregistered phone numbers

- Never send money to someone online you have never met

- Think twice about posting personal information which could be used to manipulate or bribe you,

Action Fraud : https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/


(1st November 2018)


VILE FRAUDSTER FLEECED MORE THAN £32,000 FROM ELDERLY VICTIMS WITH LIES OF FAMILY DEATHS
(Derby Telegraph, dated 16th October 2018 author Martin Naylor)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/derby-news/vile-fraudster-fleeced-more-32000-2100606

A "Svengali-like" fraudster from Derby who fleeced more than £32,000 from elderly and vulnerable pensioners has been described by a judge as "deceitful and dishonest beyond measure".

Conman Shaun Rafferty span lie after lie to his main victim, an 88-year-old city man, telling him his own son had been involved in a suicide attempt, his sister had died and his daughter had been seriously injured in a road accident.

When the police first became involved, the 47-year-old, of Mayvale Grove, told the man he would tell the police how the pensioner had sexually assaulted him.

Then, while under investigation for stealing more than £30,000 from that victim, he targeted female pensioners, one of whom suffered with dementia.

He took that woman, who was aged 78, to her bank in St Peters Street, telling staff there he was her grandson and asking for them to provide him with a debit card so he could access her account.

'You fleeced them mercilessly'

Jailing him for 40 months, Judge Shaun Smith QC said: "You are a user and manipulator who is deceitful and dishonest beyond measure.

"You quite deliberately targeted elderly and vulnerable people, one of who had dementia.

"The victims were aged between 78 and 88 and you fleeced them mercilessly.

"In terms of the male victim, he is a good Christian man who felt good about giving you money because he thought he was helping you.

"One of the many sad things about the case is that he genuinely wanted to help you, and he thought he was, and you fleeced him.

'How low can a human being go?'

"You span stories about family members who had died, been raped and suffered serious injuries.

"And one time you tried to scare him by saying you would go to the police to say he had sexually assaulted you.

"How low and despicable can a human being go than to do that to an 88-year-old man who, at that stage, had given you something in the region of £20,000?"

Rafferty's 'despicable' crimes

Sarah Allen, prosecuting, said the main offence against the 88-year-old man spanned from December 2016 to September 2017.

She said they started speaking to each other through a chance meeting in the street, but within days Rafferty had gained the man's trust enough to start asking him for money.

Miss Allen spent more than 30 minutes outlining a number of occasions when Rafferty told lies to the man, a committed Christian, who was later to tell police he saw him as "a Svengali-like" figure.

She said: "He told him his sister had died in Ireland and that he needed money to fly him and his family to the funeral.

"He told him his son had died and he needed £100 for a new suit.

"On another occasion he said he needed money to take his daughter to Skegness on holiday, but the following day he came back for more money saying she had been involved in a road accident on the way to Skegness that saw her cousin killed."

###Withdrew money without receipts

Miss Allen said for the first few months Rafferty would accompany the victim to the cash point machine and told him not to order receipts for the withdrawals.

She said the bank became suspicious when the victim began internet banking and frequent transfers were made into Rafferty's two bank accounts.

Miss Allen said the other five victims had smaller amounts of money taken from them by Rafferty when they paid him upfront for jobs he never carried out.

He pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud.

Victim personal statements were read out for some of the pensioners.

'I wanted to help him'

The man said: "He told me a number of stories and I believed them.

"I am a Christian man, I wanted to help him, I didn't believe that anyone would lie about the death of a family member."

The son of the dementia-suffering victim, in his statement, said: "How can someone do this to a 78-year-old woman in her condition?

"I feel deep anger that someone can behave in such a callous manner."

Simon Molyneux, for Rafferty, said his client has a 13-year-old daughter and a wife who had written a letter to then judge on his behalf.

In this, she said she had been "destroyed by his drug addiction".

Mr Molyneux said: "He knows he going to serve a considerable prison sentence that he richly deserves."

(1st November 2018)


FRAUDSTER JAILED FOR £1m REFUGEE HOSPITAL SCAM
(Daily Mail, dated 15th October 2018 author Press Association)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-6278145/Fraudster-jailed-1m-refugee-hospital-scam.html

A fraudster has been jailed after he took a £1 million loan meant for humanitarian work and spent it on motorbikes and a Jaguar car.

Keith Morgan, 61, convinced a New York City-based investment manager the money would be spent to set up a mobile field hospital for refugees.

He told would-be investors he was a successful investment specialist who had dealt with billion-pound transactions and owned prime real estate in Hollywood where he planned to build and sell homes worth 50 million dollars (£38 million).

One investor in the US was taken in by Morgan's lies, and handed over £998,900 thinking it would be used to help set up the mobile hospital.

Cardiff Crown Court heard Morgan immediately laundered the money and made a number of extravagant purchases, including a £68,000 Jaguar and two motorbikes costing a total of £17,000.

South Wales Police began investigating Morgan when his bank alerted them about the large sum of money deposited in his account.

He was arrested and on Monday was found guilty of fraud and two counts of money laundering.

Morgan, from Church Village, Rhondda Cynon Taff, was jailed for eight years and eight months.

Approximately £750,000 from his fraud has been recovered.

After the sentencing Detective Constable Neil Richards said: "This was a long and complex case but which had at its core a relatively simple concept - a persuasive conman who managed to obtain, fraudulently, a huge sum of money which he then attempted to spend.

"We are pleased that the majority of the money has been recovered, although work will continue to attempt to get the remainder back as well.

"I want to pay tribute to colleagues in South Wales Police as well as the banks involved, and partners across the world, who have helped us pursue this investigation."

uaware comment

Sometimes an act of goodwill is not what it seems. Check with the Charity Commission before donating to a charity you have never heard of.

(1st November 2018)


TWO LOTS OF SCAM PREVENTION ADVICE

EIGHT SCAMS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT - AND HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THEM
(Cheshire Live, dated 15th October 2018 author Andrew Cain)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.cheshire-live.co.uk/news/chester-cheshire-news/eight-scams-you-need-know-15282351

Cheshire police have announced that this week they are carrying out a week of action against rogue traders, fraudsters and scammers , who employ cunning tricks to try and con people, often the vulnerable or elderly, out of their hard-earned money and savings.

There has been a number of scams in the news recently, many of which we report on here at Cheshire Live , and always these reports tell people of the warning signs you need to watch out for so you know when you're being conned.

But the tricks used by fraudsters are getting more and more sophisticated, and in some cases scammers are adapting their tricks to keep up with the modern world.

With that in mind, here are eight scams which have been in the news recently, some which have been around for years and some which are brand new.

They have been featured on this website and some of our sister titles, along with advice on what to watch out for to make sure you don't fall victim to the con artists.

iTune scams

Cheshire police are warning that fraudsters can call vulnerable people on the phone, claiming that the victim has an outstanding debt or balance to be paid, and saying that they will be arrested if they do not pay. The victim is then told to go out and buy iTunes vouchers from a high street store, and call the fraudster back to give them the voucher codes to 'settle their debt'.

Between April 1, 2015 and March 31, 2018, 11,329 incidents involving iTunes vouchers have been reported nationally, resulting in £6,561,380 being lost to fraudsters. But Detective Chief Inspector Karen Jaundrill said: "As part of our ongoing work to prevent this type of fraud we're working closely with supermarkets and convenience stores to prevent vulnerable residents from purchasing large quantities of vouchers.

"I'd also urge residents to talk to any vulnerable friends or family about the scam to help ensure that nobody else falls victim.

"The message is clear - no reputable company, nor any government organisations, would ever call you and ask you to settle a balance over the phone using vouchers, nor would they threaten to arrest you."

2. Police officer impersonation scam

A Macclesfield business was called last week (Monday, October 8) by someone claiming to be called 'Mark Shepherd', who said he was a police officer calling from Cheshire Constabulary. The caller asked the person who answered to sponsor a company named Prevent by buying advertising space, saying Prevent go into schools to provide online safety lessons for children.

But police warned that even if the company is genuine, they do not work with them, with PC Bryan Dutton saying: "We do not work with this company and aren't aware of them working with schools in Cheshire. We also do not support or affiliate ourselves to any companies which cold call businesses or members of the public.

"If you receive a call requesting money and you cannot verify who they are then we would advise you don't give out any bank details, funds or personal details."

While fraudsters may not always pose as police officers they may still create a fictitious identity, so the message of verifying that people are who they say they are is still a valid one.

3. Bogus builders

Bogus workmen are some of the most common fraudsters you will hear about. They often target vulnerable members of the community and offer to do work on their properties which doesn't actually need doing - often at an extortionate price.

One recent case saw an elderly Winsford man in his 90s conned out of £200 by bogus builders, who called at his home and quoted him £4,000 for a roof repair.

Once again, police issued a number of pieces of advice on how to stay safe from this type of fraud, including never letting strangers into your house, asking cold callers for identification to prove where they say they are from, and checking they are genuine by calling the company they claim to be from.

4. PayPal Facebook scam

According to our sister site Somerset Live , scammers have reportedly been targeting potential victims through Facebook messenger, posing as the victims' friends by hacking their Facebook account and asking for the details of the victims' PayPal account.

The hacking of a friend's account has the potential to fool Facebook users who don't notice a difference in the language their friend uses, but if you are approached by a friend's account asking for any personal details, let the friend know in person that their account may have been hacked, and do not part with any money.

5. Fortnite Vbucks scam

Fraudsters have been targeting children who play the massively popular online video game Fortnite, with Cheshire police backing a recent warning aimed at parents of young gamers.

Scammers have been offering the lure of free Vbucks - the virtual currency used to pay for add-ons within the game - as a way of accessing people's accounts, and similarly to the aforementioned iTunes scam they are asked to purchase Steam Cards in order to pay for the processing of tax refunds or rebates, PPI refunds, administrative costs for processing loans and for providing anti-virus software.

Director of Action Fraud Pauline Smith said: "It is vital that both parents and those playing games online are able to spot the signs of fraud, as fraudsters will go to great lengths to try to steal your money. If you are downloading or purchasing game add-ons, make sure you use the official website. You should never reveal your password or banking details to someone you don't know, or be tempted to click on unknown links."

6. Rogue traders

Like bogus workmen, rogue traders are a common type of fraudster, with con artists selling goods that seem too good to be true, or often suspiciously cheap. Our sister website the Manchester Evening News recently highlighted a case where a man was conned out of thousands of pounds by rogue traders who sold him two TVs out the back of a van on a retail park in Trafford, before following him home and demanding the TVs back, but not returning his money. They said they would deliver two more TV sets the next day to replace them but they never returned, and the victim was instead bombarded with phone calls, saying he owed the company £4,000 to 'release the TVs from a container in Holyhead'.

GMP Altrincham said following this case: "Trading Standards advice is NEVER to do business in this way and only ever to use reputable traders."

7. Computer pop-up scams

Fraudsters have been conning people out of millions of pounds using computer pop-ups, by getting people to click on links to 'fix' the problem, before stealing their bank details.

The Manchester Evening News reported recently that Action Fraud said 22,000 victims have fallen for to the computer software service scam in the last year, with fraudsters netting a total of £21m. Action Fraud have now launched a joint campaign alongside the City of London Police to advise people on how to protect themselves from scams like this.

City of London Police temporary Det Chief Insp, Lara Xenoudakis said: "These fraudsters prey on vulnerable victims, doing everything they can to convince them there is something wrong with their computer. They use this as a way to gain immediate and in some cases multiple payments from the victim."

8. 'Ghost broking' car insurance scam

Drivers have been targeted by con artists in a scam centred around offers of dodgy car insurance.

According to the Liverpool Echo , these 'ghost brokers' have been known to approach victims through social media claiming they can negotiate better prices for car insurance, only for them to find out after an accident that their cover is actually illegitimate and therefore useless.

The fraudsters will often target young drivers and students, who are known to have higher insurance premiums on their cars, and a national awareness campaign has been launched to raise awareness of this type of fraud, led by the City of London Police and supported by Merseyside Police.

------------------------
8 MONEY SCAMS AND THE WARNING SIGNS WELL ALL NEED TO LOOK OUT FOR
(Mirror, dated 12th October 2018 author Vicky Shaw)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/8-money-scams-warning-signs-13404812

Anyone can fall prey to a fraudster - so learning more about the tricks scammers use is a key line of defence, writes Vicky Shaw

Could you spot the tricks scammers use? It may be harder than you think, as frauds become increasingly sophisticated.

Consumers lost £92.9 million to scams - where they were tricked into transferring money directly to a fraudster - in the first half of 2018 alone.

And adding insult to injury, people who have been tricked in this way may sadly never see their money again.

A voluntary code for banks to follow has just been proposed, which could give people more help in getting their money back.

However, victims may still find themselves out of pocket - so it's always best, if at all possible, to avoid falling for a fraud in the first place.

Nationwide Building Society recently found that three in 10 (30%) people would be willing to transfer their own money into another account 'to keep it safe' if asked by someone they thought was from the police - even though the police or a bank would never ask anyone to do this.

Stuart Skinner, director of fraud at Nationwide, whose branches are running fraud awareness events, says: "The key to thwarting the scam artists and fraudsters is education. We'd urge people to learn as much as they can about the tricks that scammers use."

Here are some of the warning signs to spot, highlighted by trade association UK Finance...

1. Purchase scam

The victim pays up-front for goods or services that are never received. These scams often happen online, such as when someone uses an auction website or social media.

A warning sign could be if you spot something of high value, such as a car, phone or computer, advertised at a low price. Fake holiday rentals and concert tickets may also be advertised online.

Victims may be persuaded by the fraudster to pay for the goods via direct bank transfer, instead of using websites' secure payment options.

2. Advance fee scam

With this scam, victims may be tricked into parting with their money as a 'fee' after being promised a larger reward.

Criminals may claim they have won an overseas lottery, or that gold or jewellery is being held at customs - and a fee must be paid to release money or goods which don't really exist.

3. Investment scam

People are persuaded to move their money into a fictitious fund, or to pay for a fake investment. The criminal usually offers high returns to entice them. These scams include investment in items such as gold, property, carbon credits, land banks and wine.

4. Romance scam

The victim is convinced to make a payment to a person they have met, often online through social media or dating websites, and with whom they believe they are in a relationship.

The 'relationship' is often developed over a long period and the person is convinced to make multiple, generally smaller, payments to the criminal.

5. Invoice and mandate scam

Scammers step into the middle of people's legitimate transactions to swipe money that was intended for someone else.

Someone could be paying a solicitor or a builder, for example, but the criminal intervenes and convinces the victim to redirect the payment into their account instead.

The criminal may persuade their victim that the bank details of the person they intended to pay have changed. Businesses can also be tricked by this scam, when trying to pay a supplier.

6. Impersonation scam

Someone pretends to be from the police or the victim's bank, to convince them to make a payment.

Often, they will claim there has been a fraud on the victim's account and they need to transfer the money to a 'safe account' to protect their funds.

However, the criminal actually controls the recipient account.

Criminals may pose as the police and ask the individual to take part in an undercover operation to investigate 'fraudulent' activity.

7. Pretending to be from a legitimate company

Fraudsters pose as organisations such as utility companies, communications service providers or government departments, and claim that the victim must to settle a fictitious fine or to return an erroneous refund.

The scams can often involve the criminal requesting remote access to the victim's computer.

8. CEO fraud

This mostly affects businesses. Criminals may access a company's email system or use spoofing software to email a member of the finance team, with what appears to be a legitimate email from the chief executive with a request to change payment details or make an urgent payment to a new account.

------------------------
(1st November 2018)


FRAUDSTER BEFRIENDED POORLY ORDER WOMEN BEFORE TAKING THEIR CASH AND JEWELLERY
(Teeside Live, dated 13th October 2018 author Gareth Lightfoot)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/fraudster-befriended-poorly-older-women-15271221

A fraudster who swindled or stole from women with serious health conditions has started a long prison sentence.

Douglas Gribbin, 42, subjected a 68-year-old widow with a serious illness to an "elaborate deception" as he stole her jewellery and bank card.

He took her and her late husband's wedding rings and pawned them in December last year, having befriended her and become a "permanent fixture in her life".

The swindler first approached her pointing out a problem with the drive of her Middlesbrough home, said prosecutor Victoria Lamballe.

He later dug up her driveway and replaced pipes for £1,300 and the woman, who had breathing difficulties and could not walk any distance, was pleased with the work.

Gribben started visiting her almost daily and she came to regard him as a friend, Teesside Crown Court heard.

'She had not eaten for five days'

She paid him hundreds of pounds to pave her drive, fix a handrail and produce a portfolio of photos. At one point he drove her to a bank to withdraw £800 for him.

Gribben continually promised the work but it was never done.

He stole her bank card and withdrew more than £2,000 from her account in November and December, at one point intercepting her mail carrying a new PIN.

He pretended to deal with the bank on her behalf as she struggled financially without access to the account, once telling him she had not eaten for five days.

'At the end of her tether'

The deceit dawned on the woman when she contacted her bank to find she was £9 overdrawn when she should have had thousands of pounds.

She discovered jewellery of sentimental value were missing.

Gribbin also knocked on the door of a couple in their 60s in Hartlepool as a salesman, saying their driveway needed renovation.

He was paid £11,450 for legitimate work on the driveway and back garden in November 2016, and the couple were happy with it.

But when they noticed weeds growing through their driveway, which Gribbin had promised would not happen, he offered to carry out more work on the house for £7,000.

Diagnosed with motor neurone disease

The 65-year-old woman who lived there handed over thousands of pounds, including £5,400 in January and February 2017.

When she asked for some money back, he made a partial repayment and claimed he was at risk of bankruptcy.

Shortly after she was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, Gribbin texted her while she was on holiday saying weather had stopped some of the work.

Her health worsened to the extent that she would not walk or speak and could communicate only by typing through a tablet.

She texted him arranging work dates, only for him not to turn up.

Spent the money on other things

Despite being told the extent of her condition, Gribbin did not complete the work and confessed he had spent the money on other things.

He claimed he would repay it and lied to the couple repeatedly about why he had not turned up.

He claimed it was a legitimate business deal gone wrong, not a fraud, and said he always intended to pay the money back.

Finally he cold-called a 75-year-old Stockton woman and said he would carry out work for £1,075, which he did not do, and got her to sign contracts which breached consumer protection regulations.

###Previously left pensioner with just 7p

Gribbin, of Moorcock Close, Bankfields, Middlesbrough, admitted two charges of fraud, one of theft, two of possessing criminal property and three of unfair trading.

He was jailed for 20 months for theft after he helped himself to £3,000 from a 73-year-old woman's bank account to feed a cocaine habit.

She had given him her card and PIN to do shopping, but she found she had just 7p in her account when she wanted to treat her grandson.

The vulnerable pensioner, who had suffered a stroke and needed care, was hospitalised four weeks after the theft came to light.

In 2016, a judge told him: "It would be an outrage if you walked out of this court."

This time Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, jailed Gribbin for five-and-a-half years.

Gribbin was given a 10-year restraining order banning him from contacting victims or going to their homes.

(1st November 2018)


NOW WE ARE GOING TO BE IN FOR SOME FUN !

uaware comment

So instead of looking at the faults and fixing them the Government is going to rely on the open market to come up with a reliable and safe password verification system. Who is going to host that system ? Commercial organisations work to a price and that price could be poor system security. Month after month there are articles describing how this bank, airline or NHS has had customers / patients accounts hacked. No one seems to have asked if there is any commonality in these failures.

Now we are going to "rely" on commercial organisations to provide security for the UK's benefits system verification. Who pays up when benefits go fruadulently astray and claimants go without for months ?

----------------------------------

UK.GOV WITHDRAWS LIFE SUPPORT FROM FLAGSHIP DIGITAL IDENTITY SYSTEM
(The Register, dated 10th October 2018 author Andrew Orlowski)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theregister.co.uk/2018/10/10/govt_withdraws_life_support_from_gds_flagship/

It's official: the UK state's expensive-but-comatose digital identity system Verify has been taken off life support.

The minister responsible confirmed to Parliament yesterday that it will halt funding for the project after cash has been exhausted - and it's up to the private sector to decide whether to keep the vegetable alive.

But it's an unenviable option. The government can no longer guarantee that Verify will be an exclusive or even preferred ID system for public services.

"The Government expects that commercial organisations will create and reuse digital identities, and accelerate the creation of an interoperable digital identity market," said Oliver Dowden, Minister for the Implementation [sic] at the Cabinet Office. "This is therefore the last investment that the Government will provide to directly support the GOV.UK Verify programme. It will be the responsibility of the private sector to invest to ensure the delivery of this product beyond the [stated] period."

It's no surprise - Verify lost the confidence of Whitehall years ago. The project was launched in 2011 (as "Identity Assurance") with the goal of providing a single sign-on ID for public services ranging from tax collection to benefits. The goal was to have 20 million users by 2020. Consultants and the Cabinet Office's Nudge Unit dreamed (PDF) of it playing a role for consumers, too.

"The days of creating different user names and passwords for every new website are numbered, thank goodness," promised GDS Maximum Leader Mike Bracken* in November 2011.

A successful identity framework would mean departments didn't have to roll their own. But that's exactly what happened. HMRC was obliged to extend the ageing Government Gateway itself, and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decided Verify couldn't cut the mustard for the Universal Credits system, as we exclusively revealed here. DWP also had to develop its own identity system. The other big service, the NHS, never took Identity Assurance/Verify serious in the first place.

People had problems too, as the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones found in 2014. Two years later, the success rate for creating new identity accounts was just 72 per cent.

How it all went wrong

The Cabinet Office and GDS were putting a brave face on it right to the end - while attempting to conceal the cost of the failure.

In July, public administration watchdog the Infrastructure and Projects Authority downgraded its likelihood of success.

Unlike most of the other major projects for which data is provided, the government did not list the budget for the year or the whole life cost of Verify, instead stating: "Exempt under Section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (Commercial Interests)."

Over seven years, no one outside The Reg gave the failure as much scrutiny as blogger David Moss. Last year he noted that GDS - originally intended to end the consultancy racket - was providing lots of work for outside consultants. If the government was slow to cotton on to the flop, that's because the Cabinet Office kept its lack of progress hidden as best it could.

Asked to list the main reasons Verify failed, Moss included lack of technical knowledge ("GDS dressing up in Google's clothes doesn't make them Google"), lack of experience, and poor social and interpersonal skills that alienated Whitehall clients.

"We may all hate office politics but you better be good at it if you want to get anywhere," said Moss.

Some of the blame-shifting that characterised Bracken's GDS is evidenced in a Cabinet Office statement. "User volumes have been lower than forecast due to slower than anticipated digital transformation across government," the department said. "Work is underway to develop cross-government agreement on the approach to digital identity in the intermediate term."

(1st November 2018)


LAPTOP REPAIR WARNING THAT COULD COST YOU £1,000 IN A SECOND
(Mirror, dated 9th October 2018 author Emma Munbodh)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/laptop-repair-warning-could-cost-13387764

"Good morning, this is a call from Microsoft Tech Support to fix your computer, have you got a moment?"

Millions of people experience issues with temperamental phones, routers and laptops every single day - from slow downloads to computer viruses - it's incredibly common.

That's why receiving a seemingly helpful a call from a Microsoft expert trying to fix it can make perfect sense.

Until you realise it's not them.

In a new warning, the UK's anti-fraud agency has issued an alert to consumers over the 'computer software' scams that are conning people out of money - and their data - every single day.

This type of fraud can start with either a phone call, an email or a pop-up message appearing on your computer, stating there is something wrong with your device or internet connection that needs to be addressed.

They may pose as a reputable company, such as Microsoft, Google or Samsung, or may even call under the guise of a well known broadband supplier.

In some cases you might be told you have won the 'Microsoft Lottery' or that you need to supply credit card information to 'validate your copy of Windows'. There have also been instances where fraudsters have used this method to watch the user type in passwords for services such as online banking.

However, somewhere along the call, there will either be a demand for a payment to fix the problem, or a request for access to install harmful software onto your computer.

Over the past 12 months, Action Fraud has received 22,609 reports of this type of scam with a total of £21,365,360 being lost to fraudsters. That's almost £1,000 each.

It said figures by the City of London Police's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau found men and women are equally susceptible - but the average victim is 63 and living in either London or Bristol.

"These fraudsters prey on vulnerable victims, doing everything they can to convince them there is something wrong with their computer," explained City of London Police's detective chief inspector, Lara Xenoudakis.

"They use this as a way to gain immediate and in some cases multiple payments from the victim.

"We are asking people to do everything they can to protect themselves from this type of fraud and stop fraudsters from thinking that this is an easy way to make money from unsuspecting victims."

How to protect yourself from Computer Software Service fraud

- Computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer.
Fraudsters make these phone calls to try to steal from you and damage your computer with malware. Treat all unsolicited phone calls with scepticism and don't give out any personal information.

- Computer firms tend not to send out unsolicited communication about security updates, although they do send security software updates. If in doubt, don't open the email.

- Computer firms do not request credit card information to validate copies of software. Nor do they ask for any personally identifying information, including credit card details.

- More specifically, Microsoft does not request credit card information to validate copies of Windows nor will it ever ask for any personally identifying information, including personal banking details to verify a download or transaction.

- The 'Microsoft Lottery' does not exist -so it's not true if you're told you've won.

(1st November 2018)


RUTHLESS PAIR BEHIND £8m CASH-FOR-CRASH SCAM WHO SET UP 250 ROAD COLLISIONS
(Daily Mail, dated 9th October 2018 author Sebastian Murphy-Bates)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6257579/Ruthless-pair-8million-cash-crash-scam-jailed-total-12-years.html

Two men behind a cash-for-crash scam that may have topped £8million and involved 250 collisions were today slammed by a judge who said all insurance customers will pay for the fraud through higher premiums.

Boota Ram masterminded the sophisticated, large-scale fraud by orchestrating crashes with innocent drivers, mainly on mini-roundabouts.

The 38-year-old from Slough used false driving licences and fake documents to make claims against dozens of insurance companies for fabricated injuries or vehicle damage.

Police found the baker's car boot crammed with items necessary to make claims including dozens of fake IDs and insurance documents, with a judge branding the vehicle a 'mobile fraudster's office'.

Ram's laptop contained an immaculate spreadsheet with information for more than 500 claims, some so old the insurance firms had no details on whether they had paid out, prosecutor Michael Rogues told Reading Crown Court.

An estimate based on the spreadsheet puts the potential extent of the frauds at more than £8million. But the proven profit of the fraud based on corroborating documents from insurance companies was £4million.

Ram was handed a nine-year prison sentence after a jury convicted him of conspiracy to commit fraud over a three-year period. He was jailed in his absence after absconding part way through the trial.

His nephew, Gagandeep Gagandeep, was jailed for three years for his part in the conspiracy.

The 30-year-old deposited and withdrew claims money through his accounts, applying for insurance on cars he bought for the scam. He also took damaged cars to scrap yards.

Judge Paul Dugdale said every person in the UK would feel the impact of this significant fraud through increased insurance premiums.

'This involved a fraud which lasted three years and it involved the two defendants and a number of others carrying out induced accidents, manufactured accidents, where the fraudster's car was deliberately driven into cars driven by innocent parties who were not involved in the fraud in any way,' he said.

'This was so the fraudsters could fake insurance claims for personal injury which were dishonest.

'When Ram was arrested the contents of a car parked on his driveway can be described as a mobile fraudsters office.

'Not only was there a cost to the individuals involved in the incidents, the loss because of this kind of fraud affects almost every person in this country who drives a car.

'Insurance companies do not absorb this kind of loss. They find it forms part of their profit and loss operations and when costs increase they just pass it on to their customers who pay the higher premiums.

'Nobody should think that a conspiracy like this affects insurance companies alone. Ordinary people pay insurance premiums and they themselves become victims of this sort of conspiracy.

'It is no surprise that ordinary people who pay insurance premiums get very angry and its quite understandable in this situation. People go to work every day, perhaps each year they have to work out carefully each month how much they can afford.

'It will have a particular affect on the people of the Slough area where postcodes are taken into consideration will also be directly affected by having to pay higher premiums.

'The most aggravating factor is that for each claim it involved at first a deliberate crash where the car deliberately hit another car driven by somebody who was completely innocent.

'The collisions were not at speed and mainly on mini roundabouts. But each time a fraudster caused a collision they would not have known who was in the car, whether they be a robust driver, a vulnerable driver, a young driver or a driver with children in the car. Indeed on one occasion there were two young children in the car.'

Judge Dugdale said he had to pass sentence on Ram despite the fact he vanished from the courtroom and was suspected of being in London, because he did not think he would be picked up by police for up to 15 years due to high number of false drivers licences and false documentation he had.

'Ram gave evidence and said he was innocent and he was guilty of stupidity, laying the blame on a man called Daljit Singh. I believe Boota Ram and Daljit Singh were one and the same person.'

Ram, of Slough, Berkshire, was convicted by a unanimous jury of one count of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of possession of articles for use in fraud.

Gagandeep, of Slough, Berkshire, was convicted by unanimous jury of one count of conspiracy to defraud.

Mohammed Popat, 56, of Slough, Berkshire, was cleared of one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and one count of conspiracy to drive dangerously.

------------------------
See also

FRAUDSTER WHO DELIBERATELY CAUSED 250 CRASHES GOES ON THE RUN FROM COURT
(In Your Area, dated 11th October 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.inyourarea.co.uk/news/fraudster-who-deliberately-caused-250-crashes-goes-on-the-run-from-court/

------------------------
(1st November 2018)


PARENTS WARNED ABOUT FORTNITE FRAUDSTERS TARGETING CHILDREN PLAYING ONLINE GAME
(Stoke Sentinel, dated 8th October 2018 author Jonathan Bamber)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.stokesentinel.co.uk/news/stoke-on-trent-news/parents-warned-fortnite-fraudsters-targeting-2083127

Staffordshire Police are warning parents to be on their guard as a growing number of children playing the popular online Fortnite game have been targeted by fraudsters.

Fortnite gamers are drawn in to the scam by an advert on a social media channel which claims that by following a web link and entering some information they will receive free Vbucks - the in-game currency.

The fraudsters ask the victims for information about their account which allows them to log in and create fraudulent charges.

They also ask for the gamers' phone numbers in return for Vbucks and then sign the victim up to a premium rate subscription service, selling access to other people's Fortnite accounts, and offering Vbucks for free and then charging for it.

Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, received 35 reports of Fortnite-related fraud between April 1, 2017 and March 31 this year, with a total loss of £5,119, an average of £146 per person.

In the same period it received 37 reports of fraud involving Steam Cards - giftcards used on the digital game distrubution platform Steam - with a total loss of £44,455.98, an average of £123.88 per victim.

That scam involves fraudsters calling victims and claiming to be from well-known organisations. The victims are told to buy Steam Cards in order to pay for the processing of tax fund rebates, PPI refunds, administrative costs for processing loans and providing anti-virus software. The victim is asked to read out the serial code on the back of the card over the phone.

Action Fraud director Pauline Smith said: "It is vital that both parents and those playing games online are able to spot the signs of fraud, as fraudsters will go to great lengths to try to steal your money. It is also important that parents make their children aware of the threat of fraud online.

"If you are downloading or purchasing game add-ons, make sure you use the official website. You should never reveal your password or banking details to someone you don't know, or be tempted to click on links to unknown. If you think you have been a victim of fraud, contact Action Fraud."

A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: "We are supporting Action Fraud by warning parents and online gamers of the risk of fraud involving Steam Cards and Fortnite.

"Please do not provide personal details under the premise of free Vbucks, and if you are downloading or purchasing game add-ons make sure that you use the official website."

Many members of the public believe it is easy for young gamers to become victims of fraud.

Dad Mark Turner, aged 60, of Blythe Bridge, said: "Adults get scammed so what chance have teenagers got. I do not understand how there is not the technology to take these fraudulent links down straight away."

Paul Mountford, aged 47, of Hanley, said: "It is so easy for teenagers to be scammed and be talked into using their parent's credit card."

His son, James Mountford, aged 14, added: "I have played Fortnite and it is easy to be the victim of fraud."

Mum Emma Johnson, aged 36, of Blurton, said: "If parents have not got passwords they are asking for it. On our X-Box, as soon as they go on something it has a password.

(1st November 2018)


EX-CIA CHIEF LEADS AIRBNB FRAUD CRACKDOWN AFTER CUSTOMER WERE CONNED INTO SENDING CASH TO SCAM ACCOUNTS
(Mail on Sunday, dated 6th October 2018 author Sally Hamilton)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/money/beatthescammers/article-6247363/Ex-CIA-chief-leads-Airbnb-fraud-crackdown-customers-conned-sending-cash.html?ito=1490

Holiday rentals giant Airbnb is stepping up security measures to help end the scourge of fraudsters using its website to dupe holidaymakers into sending cash to scam accounts.

The menace of fake Airbnb bookings was exposed last year by The Mail on Sunday after numerous families were tricked into transferring payments for seemingly genuine properties to conmen disguising themselves online as the real property owners.

Now, as the US-based company reports that booking numbers are exploding - ten million British holidaymakers alone arranged accommodation via its online service in 2017 - it has pledged to stamp out the practice.

As well as reinforcement measures such as ID checks and checking names against regulatory, terrorist and sanctions watchlists, the company has introduced stricter authentication requirements when customers log in from an unrecognised device.

It has also developed new guides to help guests and hosts protect themselves, compiled with the help of internet safety group Get Safe Online.

Nick Shapiro, global head of trust and risk management at Airbnb is former deputy chief of staff at the CIA.

He says: 'While we already take steps to help keep bad actors off our platform we think these guides will further protect customers.'

The growing band of booking websites rely on trust between owners and bookers. But some users have paid thousands of pounds for properties that turned out to be sham listings.

Among them were the Gilmour family from South London who handed over more than £5,000 to a fraudster posing as the real host of a luxury property on the Balearic island of Majorca.

Other victims are also hoodwinked by websites set up by fraudsters using photos and details lifted from genuine web pages.

In all cases the holidaymakers are tricked by convincing patter to send cash quickly by bank transfer to secure a booking.

Figures from Action Fraud reveal crooks stole £6.7 million from holidaymakers last year - but it is the tip of the iceberg as embarrassment means many frauds go unreported.

Airbnb checks the ID of members but this does not stop fraudsters from hijacking real profiles.

Customers using online marketplaces such as Airbnb can protect themselves by only communicating with owners through the booking website's private messaging system - and paying via the firm's own secure payment set-up.

But not all online marketplaces do ID checks or provide secure booking.

One way to be safe is to pay by credit card. Your bank may provide a refund if the booking proves fake.

If a bank transfer is the only option then do extra homework. Use Google maps to track down properties and search engines to verify an owner's details.

Report any holiday fraud to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

(1st November 2018)


ROGUE AIRPORT PARKING FIRM RUN BY A CONVICTED FRAUDSTER
(Daily Mail, dated 5th October 2018 author Stephen Wright)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6246001/Rogue-airport-parking-firm-run-convicted-fraudster-leaving-cars-unattended.html

A rogue airport parking firm run by a convicted conman is leaving holidaymakers' cars unattended on free public roads rather than in secure compounds.

Legacy Parking, which charges around £60 a week, says on its website that customers' vehicles are kept in a 'fenced and secured parking facility'.

But a six-month investigation into the company - where cars were monitored with tracking devices - revealed they are left unprotected on streets near Gatwick Airport in Sussex.

It is claimed the firm parks around 200 cars a week and is on course to make more than £200,000 profit in its first year of trading.

According to a dossier seen by the Daily Mail, the vehicles are kept on an industrial estate where car drivers park for free.

This week, the Mail saw dozens of cars there covered in dust, suggesting they had been parked for a long time while their owners were away on holiday. Pictures and tracking device data from the undercover investigation involving test deliveries of cars established that Legacy Parking leaves customers' vehicles there.

The company also uses two secure car parks which it does not have legitimate access to, according to sources. Its 'meet and greet' drivers are believed to use pin codes to gain unauthorised access.

Legacy Parking is owned and run by disgraced accountant ??????, who defrauded a former employer out of £155,000 to feed a gambling addiction and narrowly escaped a prison sentence five years ago.

Undercover footage shows ????? collecting a customer's vehicle from a car park at Gatwick in March. Evidence shows the car was later parked on a public street, not a safe compound.

Last night a furious customer called on trading standards officials to close down Patel's firm. Recruitment director Alex Ross-Scott, 31, who found out that his Audi A3 convertible had been parked on a public street, demanded tighter regulation of 'meet and greet' firms at Gatwick.

He was stunned when an investigator contacted him to say it had been kept on a street while he and his fiancée were on holiday in Portugal last month. Pictures show it was left on Whittle Way at the Manor Royal industrial estate near Gatwick.

Mr Ross-Scott, who lives in Sussex, said: 'We thought getting a meet and greet service meant the car would be parked in a 24-hour gated area. If anything had happened to my car, the insurer would not have covered it.

'The company should be closed down. It is misrepresentation of sale.' Last night Legacy failed to respond when asked to comment and ????? was said to be not at his home in Crawley.

Gatwick Airport said: 'Gatwick has never had a relationship with the company.' It recommended passengers use officially-approved car parks.

uaware comment

Official airport car park prices can be reasonable if you book online and are normally kept secure.

Also remember, if you use a bogus parking company your insurance will probably be invalid if any damage is caused.

You may also be liable if the bogus company driver commits an offence driving your car.

(1st November 2018)


SIX MEN JAILED IN BRITAIN OVER "PREDATORY" SOLAR ENERGY PANEL SCAM
(Reuters, dated 2nd October 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-fraud-solar/six-men-jailed-in-britain-over-predatory-solar-energy-panel-scam-idUSKCN1MC1NB

Six fraudsters were jailed in Britain on Tuesday for orchestrating a 17 million pound ($22 million) scam to sell and install solar energy panels, often targeting vulnerable people.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said it had brought the men to trial after the ringleaders - two brothers and former directors of Solar Energy Savings Limited - were caught during a routine police traffic stop after seven months on the run.

The men manipulated their victims with deceitful sales techniques, lies and false guarantees of reimbursement to misrepresent their deals and maximize sales. Around 1,500 victims lost up to 20,000 pounds each, the SFO said.

The men paid themselves almost two million pounds and drove Lamborghini and Porsche sports cars, had cosmetic surgery and took private flights to Switzerland and Italy.

They offered their victims a cashback scheme that falsely guaranteed that their costs would be invested and returned in a number of years. But in reality, the cash was transferred between a string of businesses in a scam so crude that investigators said the names of companies had been manually crossed out on certificates.

Ludovic Black, David Diaz, Steve Wilson, Robert Ross, Niall Hastie and Kenneth Reid received sentences of between three-and-a-half and seven-and-a-half years each.

"These men built predatory schemes to steal thousands from the hard-earned savings of vulnerable people while pretending to offer them a chance to improve their own financial security," said SFO director Lisa Osofsky.

(1st November 2018)



SEPTEMBER 2018

INSURANCE PLOYS

About 18 months ago I attended a course run by Trading Standards on Scams.

I was told that one of the tracts of a scammer / fraudster was their ability to gain the trust of the individual being scammed. On the basis of that trust the fraudster is then able to take advantage and illegally make a financial gain.

Trust and loyalty are on the "same side of the coin" literally. So are insurance companies scammers or are they just using a marketing ploy to increase their customer base ?

INSURERS FACE INQUIRY OVER FEARS THEY EXPLOIT LOYALTY
(The Sunday Times, 29th September 2018 author Andrew Ellson)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thetimes.co.uk/article/insurers-face-inquiry-over-fears-they-exploit-loyalty-c9fxhl578

The City watchdog will investigate home and car insurers in response to concerns that loyal customers are being exploited by huge increases in premiums every year.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said that it had been concerned for some time about longstanding customers being charged more for some financial products than those that had just joined.

The watchdog has powers to change how markets operate to increase competition and ensure that customers are treated fairly. Previous market studies have led to enforcement action.

Citizens Advice recently lodged a "super-complaint" with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), finding that households pay almost £900 a year too much for staying loyal to mobile phone, broadband, insurance, savings and mortgage providers.

The authority must publicly respond to the the complaint within 90 days. The CMA said that it would work with the relevant regulators in each area.

Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the FCA, said: "Citizens Advice has raised a number of important issues and we will work closely with the Competition and Markets Authority as it investigates this super-complaint.

"We expect firms to look after the interests of all customers and treat them fairly, whether they are new or longstanding. It is important to get balance right so that existing customers do not miss out on the benefits of competition and innovation, including when they purchase or renew their general insurance products.

"The study was have announced today will help us examine the issues we have already identified in the markets in more detail."

The average cost of hom insurance incrased by almost 8 per cent- triple the rate of inflation - in the year to April, according to the consumer group Which ? It did not differentiate between new and existing customers but the average increase for those who did not shop around is likely to have been significantly higher.

The super-complaint raised concerns about competition in the mortgage and savings markets but the FCA said that it had already undertaken work in these areas. It did not indicate whether it intended to complete further investigations into these markets.

The Association of British Insurers says that it had already taken voluntary action to ensure that longstanding customers did not lose out. Huw Evans, its director general, said: " This includes commitments from firms to review premiums charged to customers who have been with them for five years and the industry publishing a report on progress within two years."

This year the FCA said that it was taking action against insurers who failed to show the insurance premium that customers had paid the previous year.

In April the watchdog said that it had found that some companies, including the RAC, were still failing to implement the rules. The RAC agreed to contact affected customers.

Further reading (uaware additions)

THE £900-A-YEAR COST OF BEING TOO LOYAL (Extract)
(The Sunday Times, dated 29th September 2018 author Mark Atherton)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-900-a-year-cost-of-being-too-loyal-m2pmjzttd

Home Insurance

The Golden rule is never to automatically accept your renewal quote. Insurers will typically bump up your renewal premium and hope that you dont notice. Go on to price comparison sites and find out whats on offer. Ideally you should use several sites, because each might have a slightly different approach. Its also important to check out those insurers, such as Direct Line and Aviva, that can offer competitive rates, but don't appear comparison sites.

Money Saving Expert, a price comparison site, looked at the best time to buy home insurance and found you could get the cheapest price about three weeks before the renewal. The average annual premium for a combined buildings and contents policy was £148 if you bought 21 days before renewal, but £180 if you left it until the day itself.

Gary Cafell, th money editor at Money Saving Expert, says: "knowing when to pounce is a game-changer".

Car insurance

Again, never accept a standard renewal quote from your insurer. By searching price comparison sites you will almost certainly be able to get a better deal. Ifyou are midway through your policy you might be able to make money by switching., if you can cancel your existing policy for a modest fee and get the rest of the years premiums refunded.

The time when you are likely to be quoted the cheapest premium is 21 days before your renewal date.

(5th October 2018)


REFUND HOPES RISE FOR PUSH PAYMENT SCAM VICTIMS
(BBC News, dated 28th September 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45664980

More consumers who fall victim to "push" payment scams may be reimbursed by their bank under proposed new rules.

A draft voluntary code for banks aims to prevent "Authorised Push Payment" (APP) scams.

Such scams trick account holders into authorising a payment to another account - usually a fraudster.

At the moment banks typically refund only about a fifth of the money that goes missing, leaving some thousands of pounds out of pocket.

The new code establishes the principle that if customers take "the requisite level of care", they should be reimbursed by their bank.

But consumers will still have to prove that they took "reasonable steps" to make sure that the person they paid was who they thought they were.

At the same time the payments regulator has announced that a new tool to counter such fraud, known as "confirmation of payee" should be in place by July next year.

'Significant win'

Consumer rights group Which? initiated a super-complaint about APP scams two years ago.

Jenni Allen, managing director of Which? Money, said the call to reimburse innocent victims of such scams was a "significant win" for consumers.

But she warned the new code would only be judged a success if banks protected more customers from scams and "swiftly" reimbursed those targeted by criminals.

"It's simply unacceptable that in cases where banks claim they could not have done anything more, it will still be the victim who is left to bear the cost - often with devastating consequences."

One APP victim was Angelene Bungay of Shrewsbury, who was duped into paying £13,000 to someone posing as the builder carrying out her loft conversion.

Her bank said that despite Mrs Bungay being one of a growing number of APP victims, she would not be refunded.

Questions


The code aims to make it harder for criminals to commit push payment fraud, and sets out how consumers can get better protection and support from their banks.

But it lists eight ways that banks can justifiably refuse to reimburse customers who have been defrauded.

These include cases where customers:

- refuse to heed warnings from their bank
- "recklessly share" their security credentials
- fail to take steps to make sure they person they paid was who they thought they were
- fail to be honest with their bank
- are "grossly negligent"
- fail to heed a confirmation of payee result (see below)

Questions also remain about who is liable when both the bank and the customer appear to have taken all the necessary steps to prevent fraud.

What is confirmation of payee?


Under the current system, anyone making an online payment to another person has to enter their name, their sort code and their account number.

But as long as the sort code and the account number match up, the payment will go through. In other words the name on the account is not checked by the bank.

Under the confirmation of payee system, a message will bounce back to customers, saying " Did you mean to pay Joe Bloggs?" - giving the actual name of the account-holder.

This should stop fraudsters posing under false names. This system is now due to come in by July 2019.

Consultation


A draft is open for consultation until 15 November and the final version is intended to be agreed by early next year. In the meantime five banks have said they will start to implement the draft code.

Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance, which represents banks, said the industry would work with partners to identify a sustainable way to reimburse consumers.

"It is vital that we get the right outcome for customers... while ensuring innocent victims and customers are not penalised for the criminal actions of others," he said.

Financial services firms "have now got a clear sighting shot as to the overall direction of travel" in terms of reimbursement for fraud, he said, while consumers should have greater consistency in being able to get money back.

Some of the issues must be resolved by new regulation, rather than a voluntary code alone, UK Finance added.

-----------------------
FRAUDSTERS STEAL £500m FROM UK BANK CUSTOMERS DURING FIRST HALF OF 2018
(London Evening Standard, dated 25th September 2018 author Sophie Williams)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/fraudsters-steal-500m-from-uk-bank-customers-during-first-half-of-2018-a3944651.html

Fraudsters have stolen more than £500 million from British bank customers during the first half of 2018.

According to trade body UK Finance, £145 million of that was lost through unauthorised push payment (APP) scams. These scams involve people being tricked into authorising a payment to another bank account.

The remaining £358 million was stolen using unauthorised transactions carried out by a third party and not the account holder.

Most victims of unauthorised fraud receive a full refund however there is no legal protection for those duped by APP scams.

UK Finance said that £30.9 million of the £145 million lost through APP scams this year had been returned to customers.

Almost two thirds of reported APP scams in the first six months of the year were purchase scams. This is where victims pay in advance for a product or service such as a car or holiday rental which is not received or does not exist.

This type of fraud often takes place online, through auction websites or social media.

There were also 3,866 reported cases of impersonation scams, where the criminal claims to be from the police, bank or another organisation in order to trick the victim into transferring money.

The nature of these scams means victims are often persuaded to transfer significant sums of money, with the average loss in police and bank impersonation fraud amounting to £11,402.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said the figures showed scams posed a "major threat" to the UK.

"The criminals behind it target their victims indiscriminately and the proceeds go on to fund terrorism, people smuggling and drug trafficking, whether or not the individual is refunded," she said.

She added that the industry was taking action to tackle the problem, by investing in security systems and cyber defences, as well as bringing in new standards to ensure victims get support from their payment providers.

The organisation said financial institutions had prevented two-thirds of unauthorised fraud in the first half of 2018.

But Gareth Shaw, money expert at consumer group Which?, said banks' efforts had been "woefully insufficient".

"It's now two years since our super-complaint highlighted the lack of protection for victims of bank transfer scams, but these shocking figures show just how widespread the problem still is," he said.

"Banks... have not done enough to protect their customers, who continue to lose life-changing sums of money to ever-more sophisticated crooks.

"The Payment Systems Regulator has rightly committed to introducing a reimbursement scheme for victims. It's about time that banks step up and properly compensate customers who have lost money through no fault of their own."

-----------------------
(5th October 2018)


NEW HMRC SCAM WARNING AFTER 200% SURGE IN COMPLAINTS OVER TAX FRAUD EMAILS
(Mirror, dated 26th September 2018 author James Andrews)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/hmrc-scam-warning-after-200-13313800

No one likes paying tax, so the news you are due an unexpected rebate of hundreds of pounds is something that will see hearts leap across the land.

Except it's fake - and rather than getting a nice little windfall, you'll be handing your details straight to scammers.

"We identified an error in the calculation of your tax from the last payment," one example of the email pretending to be from HMRC reads. It adds that £675.95 has already been sent back.

Then comes the hook.

"In order for us to return the excess payment, we need to confirm a few extra details."

To get the money you need to click on the link, then put in your details on the scammer's site - and as soon as they have that information they will either use it to steal cash from you, or sell the details to someone else who will.

Sadly, the example of the scam sent to one of Mirror Online's team is far from the only one.

"We had a 200% increase on searches based on the previous week," consumer complaints site Resolver told Mirror Money.

Do not trust it

Complaints site Resolver points out vigilant consumers can beat this sort of scam if they know what to look out for.

"HMRC never contact customers who are due a tax refund by email. They always send letters via post," Resolver founder James Walker explained.

"HMRC do sometimes contact you by text, but they'll never ask for any personal details or financial information. Beware of texts directing you to follow a link.

"If you've received an email or text claiming to be from HMRC, you should send it to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and then delete it straight away.

"You should never open any attachments or links in one of these emails."

When HMRC will contact you about a tax refunds

HM Revenue and Customs will never use texts or emails to:

- Tell you about a tax rebate or penalty

- Ask for personal or payment information

The tax body also said it would never put a figure on the alleged non-payment in the message itself.

If it does get in touch via phone, email or text, it will ask the customer to log into their account.

If HMRC needs to contact you about anything confidential they'll write to you instead.

I've replied to an email: What should I do?


Contact the HMRC security team if you think you've given any personal information away in reply to a suspicious email or text.

Include brief details of what you disclosed (for example name, address, HMRC User ID, password) but don't give your personal details in the email.

To contact HMRC's security team, email security.custcon@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk , or report any phishing activity to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk .

HMRC tax contact numbers

You can call 0300 200 3600 anytime Monday to Friday between 8am and 8pm, 8am to 4pm on Saturdays and 9am to 5pm on Sundays.

Report a fraudulent HMRC email or text message

- You can forward any suspicious emails to HMRC's phishing team: phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk .

- If you receive a text, forward it on to 60599. Text messages will be charged at your network rate

What to do if you think you've been scammed

If you receive an email, call or correspondence that seems suspicious, or if you see any unusual information on your account, do not ignore it.

Change your passwords and report your concerns to Action Fraud - they'll be able to look into the case for you : www.actionfraud.police.uk

Where you believe your bank details may have been compromised, notify your bank as soon as possible.

You can also request a copy of your credit report - this will list your entire six year financial history - including any misuse of your personal information, such as an unidentified loan application.

Review every entry on your credit report and if you see an account or even a credit search from a company that you do not recognise, notify the credit reference agency. They all offer a free service to victims of fraud.

(5th October 2018)


HOW BANKS ARE HANGING US OUT TO DRY
(This is Money, dated 26th September 2018 authors Victoria Bischoff and Amelia Murray)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/article-6207845/Banks-plan-dodge-refunds-scams-costing-families-1million-day-EXPOSED-leaked-letter.html

Their plan to dodge refunds for scams costing families £1million a day are EXPOSED in leaked letter

- Letter was sent by Stephen Jones, chief executive of trade body UK Finance
- Claimed it wasn't right that banks should be 'financially responsible' for scams
- Spokesmen for UK Finance and Payment Systems Regulator refused to comment

Shameless banks have mounted a secret lobbying campaign to avoid having to refund victims of fraud.

Watchdogs will spell out tomorrow the steps banks must take to tackle scams costing families £1million a day.

It was hoped the measures would include a proper compensation fund.

However a letter leaked to MoneyMail reveals that banks have told regulators and government officials they should not be made responsible. Figures published yesterday show that around £145million was lost to 'authorised push payment' fraud in the first six months of the year. Only £31million was refunded.

Many of the victims were persuaded by fraudsters to transfer cash to another account for safety - only to see it vanish.

'The banks are shameless,' said Suzanne Raftery, a former Scotland Yard detective and fraud expert at Requite Solutions. 'They often don't care about the devastation these scams cause for people. They care about money.'

Gareth Shaw, of Which? Money, said: 'It's two years since we highlighted a real lack of protection for people targeted through no fault of their own - but people are still losing life-changing sums of money every day and action from the banks has been woefully insufficient.

'The finance industry and regulator must quickly introduce measures to stop these scams from happening in the first place and commit to reimbursing all victims who are not at fault - otherwise they risk further eroding trust in the banking system.'

f fraud continued at the current rate, banks would be on the hook for an extra £200million of losses this year.

The biggest five, Lloyds, RBS, Barclays, HSBC and Standard Chartered, made profits of £9.3billion between them in the second quarter of the year.

The Mail is campaigning for clearer rules to protect victims, help them to trace their stolen money as well as get access to compensation.

The leaked letter was sent last month by Stephen Jones, chief executive of trade body UK Finance, to a number of officials including Andrew Bailey, who heads the Financial Conduct Authority.

Mr Jones said: 'I speak for all payment service providers (banks) involved to date when I state that they do not believe they should be required to compensate a consumer for the (presently) unquantifiable 'residual risk' to which your letter refers.

'This is not because they do not wish a consumer who has acted reasonably to be reimbursed in such circumstances.

'They do. It is because PSPs do not accept they should or could be automatically liable for this risk.'

He claimed it was not right that banks should be 'financially responsible' for scams that start with data breaches in other sectors such as telecoms and retail.

He warned that a code of conduct that did not put more onus on the customer might lead to more fraud. It is not known whether the rules will demand better compensation for victims.

The code is the result of eight months of work by banks, charities and consumer rights organisations, which were part of a steering group appointed by the Payment Systems Regulator.

The rules are likely to include giving customers timely warnings if they notice suspicious activity on their account and taking measures to prevent criminals opening accounts in the first place.

The idea is that if banks then fail to meet these minimum standards of care they must refund victims.

The proposed code, which should come into force at the start of next year, will be voluntary but it is expected that most major banks will sign up. It will also include a requirement for customers to take reasonable steps to protect themselves against fraudsters.

If they behave recklessly or negligently banks would not be expected to refund them.

However, experts say that most scams these days are so sophisticated that even the smartest of people are at risk of being conned.

But while banks admit that it is right that these victims should be refunded, they refuse to accept this is their responsibility.

Nicky Morgan, the Tory chairman of the Commons Treasury committee, said: 'As online banking and payments become more prevalent, millions of customers are exposed to the risk of economic crime. As part of the Treasury committee's inquiry into economic crime, we'll look at how consumers are affected, and the response of the regulators and financial institutions, including banks.

'Whilst we all have a responsibility to protect ourselves against fraud, financial institutions also have a role to play in stamping out such criminal behaviour.'

John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, said: 'For too long banks have been able to place the blame on intelligent and careful individuals when they are conned by sophisticated fraudsters manipulating the banks' processes.

'It is high time the financial services industry faced up to the fact that these people are not wilfully making payments - they are being tricked and the results are devastating.

'Banks need to face up to the problem and reimburse their customers when they fall victim to scams instead of washing their hands of them. I am in full support of the Daily Mail's campaign.'

When the code is published the steering group is expected to continue to work together over the next couple of months in a bid to find a solution for a compensation scheme for 'authorised fraud' victims.

Spokesmen for UK Finance and the Payment Systems Regulator refused to comment.

OUR 6-POINT MANIFESTO TO STOP THE SCAMMERS

1. Follow the stolen money

Criminals bounce stolen money from account to account - often within the same bank - so it becomes 'lost'.

At present, once money leaves someone's account it is typically gone for good.

Banks must set up an industry-wide system that enables them to trace where that stolen money goes - to give them a chance of clawing it back.

2. Make banks accountable

If they have not done enough to stop fraudsters opening accounts they use to store stolen funds - for example if scammers have used fake ID - the banks must be responsible for the losses and refund the missing money.

3. Set up fraud hotlines

All banks must have a dedicated fraud hotline that victims can call 24 hours a day / seven days a week.

Currently delays reduce the already small chances of banks being able to claw bank their money.

4. Phone firms must help

Telecom providers should identify and stop scam text messages and calls getting through.

Untold numbers of victims are caught out because the scam message appears within a sting of genuine communications from their bank.

5. Watchdogs with teeth

The Payment Systems Regulator should draw up clear rules on exactly when banks should refund fraud victims - and police these rules strictly.

The Financial Ombudsman should be given more power to investigate fraud regardless of who the customer banks with.

6. Compensate victims

A total of £130million is sitting in frozen bank accounts once used by criminals. With a simple change in the law it could be used to compensate victims.

HOW TO AVOID BEING SCAMMED

- Hang up on ALL cold callers.

- If you are worried that your bank really might need to talk to you, put down the phone and call it using the number on the back of your bank card or on its website.

- Use a different telephone from the one the call came in on - fraudsters often remain on the line after people hang up. If you have to use the same phone, wait at least 30 minutes before calling back.

- Remember banks will NEVER ask customers to move money to another account to keep it safe from fraudsters.

- Be suspicious if the caller seems to be in a rush and eager for the transaction to go through quickly.

- Never disclose personal information even if the caller sounds convincing and appears to know personal details.

- Never respond directly to unsolicited emails or texts.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU'RE AT RISK

- Call your bank straight away but only on a number taken from your bank card or its website.

- Tell the call handler that you think you have been scammed and ask for the money to be recalled straight away.

- Do not ask for the fraud team as there may be a queue - the crime can always be investigated later.

- If the money has already gone out of your account, tell the call handler to contact the receiving bank and freeze the money so it cannot be cleared from the account.

- Note the time of the call and any time spent waiting in telephone queues. If there are delays this could be used to support a complaint later.

- Write down everything about the fraud. Ask the bank to explain what happened to the money when it left the account.

(5th October 2018)


TOP TIPS TO AVOID BEING TRICKED BY FRAUDSTERS INTO PARTING WITH YOUR CASH
(Daily Record, dated 25th September 2018 author Vicky Shaw)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/top-tips-avoid-being-tricked-13306108

A cold-calling fraudster can sound very convincing, but there may be some warning signs that could help you spot that someone is about to attempt to steal your cash.

To avoid falling victim to a scam, people are being urged to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign - which is backed by major banks and financial services providers.

To help you out even further, we've gathered together a handy list of their advice - detailing out the things to look out for to avoid getting scammed:

The 'nice guy' routine:


Previous research by Take Five delved into the techniques financial fraudsters commonly use to trick people into handing over financial or personal information over the phone, often when they are posing as someone in authority such as a fraud detection manager or a police officer .

It found that while many people are more likely to trust a stranger over the phone if they sound like a "nice person", in fact a caller acknowledging someone's concerns and sounding apologetic can be the hallmark of a scam.

Using your information against you:


Looking at evidence from real-life scam phone calls, it found fraudsters will use snippets of information about their targets, gathered together from different sources, to sound like they know what they are talking about.

Creating a sense of urgency:

Alarm bells should also start ringing if the caller suddenly switches tempo and starts piling on the pressure - perhaps by creating a false sense of urgency and making their victim think they need to act quickly so they have no time to think it through.

If you start to have doubts or something does not feel right, put the phone down.

There are also some common types of scam to watch out for.

These include purchase scams, when victims pay up-front for goods, often after seeing them on auction websites or social media that are never received.

Criminals also advertise fake holidays and concert tickets.

A warning sign could be if you are asked to pay by directly bank transfer instead of a website's secure payment options.

People may also be persuaded to part with their cash after being convinced this will result in the release of a much larger payment back to them, for example after being tricked into believing they have won an overseas lottery or that valuables are waiting for them at customs and a fee must be paid to release the goods.

General advice:

- A genuine bank or organisation will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your Pin, full password or to move money to another account.

- Only give out your personal or financial details to use a service that you have given your consent to, that you trust and that you are expecting to be contacted by.

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

- Always question uninvited approaches in case it is a scam. Instead, contact the company directly using a known email or phone number.

(5th October 2018)


SCAMMERS STOLE £800,000 A DAY FROM VICTIMS OF BANK TRANSFER FRAUD
(The Telegraph, dated 25th September 2018 author Sam Meadows)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/scammers-stole-800000-day-victims-bank-transfer-fraud/

Scammers stole £800,000 every day in the first six months of this year, according to new figures released by the banking trade body.

UK Finance, which tracks bank data on bank transfer fraud, last night announced that £145.4m was lost to so-called "authorised push payment" fraud between January and June.

This type of crime is Britain's fastest growing and the announcement suggests that 2018 will see a sharp increase in the amount stolen from 2017, when victims lost £236m over the whole year. Telegraph Money has been campaigning for banks to do more to help victims of bank transfer fraud.

By far the most common fraud of this type is purchase fraud, whereby a victim believes they are paying for a legitimate service or item, with £19.4m lost in 21,483 cases. There were also around 4,000 cases of impersonation, in which a criminal will pose as a trusted third party to redirect a payment, for example a solicitor or bank.

Investment fraud resulted in £20.9m of losses while 571 victims were tricked by romance scams for an average loss of £9,282.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance said data breaches are increasingly fuelling fraud.

"Fraud and scams pose a major threat to our country," she added. "The criminals behind it target their victims indiscriminately and the proceeds go on to fund terrorism, people smuggling and drug trafficking, whether or not the individual is refunded. Every part of society must help to stamp out this menace."

Tony Blake, head of fraud prevention at the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit, a specialist police squad, said: "Criminals are after your money and they are clever at getting it, impersonating people and organisations to groom even the savviest into acting.

"If you get a call, text, email or social media message asking for your personal or financial details or to transfer money, it could be a scam so stop, think and 'take five'.

"Check every request is genuine by doing some research and contact the organisation using the details from their official website, a latest bill or statement."

A further £358m was lost to "unauthorised" fraud, which relates to transactions made without the victims' knowledge.

Victims are usually refunded by banks in these circumstances, but transfers due to authorised push payment scams are made willingly, and so banks are often reluctant to reimburse victims.

A forthcoming reimbursement code is set to force banks to take more responsibility in these cases.

The UK Finance figures also reveal that the finance industry prevented £705.7m of unauthorised fraud in this time period, a total of £2 in every £3 attempted by fraudsters.

-----------------------
DON'T FALL FOR THE SCAMMERS, POLICE WARN AS FAKE MESSAGES COST LONDONS £860K
(London Evening Standard, dated 26th September 2018 author Justin Davenport)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/don-t-fall-for-the-scammers-police-warn-as-fake-messages-cost-londoners-860k-a3946206.html

Londoners were tricked out of more than £860,000 last year by conmen claiming to be offering help to fix computer problems, new figures show.

A total of 1,073 people in the capital fell victim to crooks pretending to be from "tech support" attached to big firms such as Microsoft or Apple . The problem is so serious that Microsoft has seconded an employee to work with City of London police's fraud intelligence unit to help combat the scammers.

The victims, mostly elderly, are targeted with either a phone call, an email or a pop-up message on their computer stating something is wrong with the machine or the internet connection. The message will claim to be from a group such as "'Microsoft Tech Support", or will ask for credit card information to "validate your copy of Windows".

A demand for payment to fix the issue follows, or criminals install software to access personal and financial details.

Another scam tells people they have won the "Microsoft Lottery". Action Fraud, the reporting centre for cyber crime, has launched a campaign to help people avoid becoming a victim. Londoners lost a total of £862,585 in the financial year 2017/18. City police's fraud intelligence bureau said the average age of victims was 63. There were 22,609 reports of such frauds across Britain, with losses of £21.3 million, but officials believe the figures are far greater as many people do not report cases.

Lara Xenoudakis, temporary detective chief inspector at City of London police, said: "These fraudsters prey on vulnerable victims, doing everything they can to convince them there is something wrong with their computer as a way to gain immediate and in some cases multiple payments from the victim."

Police urged computer users to treat all phones calls and messages with suspicion as firms never make unsolicited calls to help fix a problem, never request credit card details to validate software, and never ask for personally identifying information, including card details.

------------------------
(5th October 2018)


FEWER THAN ONE IN 20 FRAUD CRIMES COMMITTED IN THE UK ARE EVER SOLVED
(iNews, dated 25th September 2018 author Andy Jones)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/money/fewer-than-one-in-20-fraud-crimes-committed-in-the-uk-are-ever-solved/

Fewer than one in 20 reported fraud crimes are being solved in the UK according to research by consumer watchdog Which.

Figures obtained from UK police forces through FOI requests also reveal most regional forces have seen a substantial drop in their fraud investigation success rates - with some solving almost 40 per cent fewer cases during 2016 than they did in 2014.

In the first six months of 2018, Brits were defrauded by £145m - losing a total of almost £1m a day. The figure was 50 per cent greater in the same period of 2017, according to trade body UK Finance.

Banks logged almost 35,000 cases of push payment fraud in the year to July - a rate of almost 200 a day - with just £31m of the stolen £145m returned to customers.

Gareth Shaw, an expert at Which? Money, says banks need to do more to protect vulnerable customers, many of whom have no access to branches or one-to-one advice. "Consumers continue to lose life-changing sums of money with few protections as more and more of us are encouraged to do our banking online.

"The regulator and industry must now seize the opportunity to introduce a reimbursement scheme that delivers for victims of push-payment scams who have lost money through no fault of their own. But ultimately, banks should be doing much more to protect their customers against scams in the first place."

Man waits to find if he will get any of £15,000 stolen cash returned

As i reported this month, Jack Armstrong, 25, from Altrincham, Greater Manchester was conned out of £15,000 by an elaborate fraud which conned him using a fake Amazon Prime email and a phone call claiming to be from his bank. Mr Armstrong even checked the number online and it matched the anti-fraud number commonly used by his bank, Natwest. The caller convinced him his Natwest accounts were at risk after £400 had been fraudulently spent at Argos online.

The thieves had already "phished" part of his details by sending him a fake request from Amazon Prime that asked for his bank sort code, account number, mother's maiden name and mobile number two weeks before. The final call, pretending to be from Natwest, then got other security questions including his date of birth.

The following day, Mr Armstrong's bank card was declined when he tried to buy something, and he discovered all his money had been swiped and moved to another bank. He has been left with no money to pay his bills and mortgage, and has been forced to borrow from family.

He told i: "I became suspicious when a man who said his name was Andrew from the Natwest Fraud Team rang me. So I Googled the number he'd called me from, but what confused me is that it was the same as the official fraud team's number. "I had never heard of this type of fraud and wasn't aware they could do that, so I'd like to warn other people about it."

He is yet to discover if he will receive any of the £15,000 back. Many banks refuse to pay cash lost to fraudsters if victims have willingly given away their bank details or transferred cash on demand, even if the victim has been 'told' to do so because they believed their account was at risk.

For advice on how to protect your personal details as well as your bank account speak to your bank or visit Get Safe Online : www.getsafeonline.org/

(5th October 2018)


EXCLUSIVE : MORE THAN 96% OF REPORTED FRAUD CASES GO UNSOLVED
(Which?, dated 24th September 2018 author Josh Robbins)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.which.co.uk/news/2018/09/exclusive-more-than-96-of-reported-fraud-cases-go-unsolved/

More than 96% of cases reported to the UK's national fraud reporting centre Action Fraud go unsolved, exclusive Which? Money analysis can reveal.

Less than one in 20 crimes handled by Action Fraud result in a suspect being charged, cautioned or dealt with some other way by the justice system, according to official statistics.

Our Which? investigation reveals the low-rate of success for solving fraud cases and explains how Action Fraud works, and what to do if you're targeted.

Police losing the battle against fraud

Exclusive Which? research found that less than 4% of crimes reported to Action Fraud are solved, and probably much less.

Our estimate is based on two statistics.

The first is the proportion of crimes reported to the Action Fraud, which are then forwarded to local police for investigation. This can be worked out by comparing the number of Action Fraud crime reports against the number of forwarded cases in each year, which are published annually.

Around 25% of cases have been forwarded in the last four years. That means 75% of Action Fraud crime reports are closed unsolved without ever being sent to a local force for investigation - typically because there is no viable line of enquiry.

The second - and crucial - figure relates to how many fraud investigations local police are solving. This cannot be found in routine publications, making it unique among crime groups. Furthermore, we don't feel this lack of transparency has been explained adequately.

But we unearthed some data tucked away in the appendix of a written submission to the Home Affairs Select Committee by the City of London Police. It showed that in 2016-17, local police solved 3.1% of fraud cases, while 85% were unsolved, and in 12.1% of cases were ongoing.

Combining these secondary figures with the 25% dissemination rate, we concluded that 0.8% of Action Fraud cases are solved, 96.3% are unsolved unsolved and 3% of cases are ongoing.

----Original article has a graphic that describes figures--------------

Fraud solved less often than other crimes

Comparing our research with other crime statistics shows that police solve significantly less fraud cases than any other crime group.

Alarmingly this comes as fraud offences continue to rise. UK residents are now more likely to be victims of fraud and cyber crime than any type of offence, according to the ONS.

Fraud and cyber crime offences are now ten times more common than burglary.

Fraud policing vs other crime groups 2016/17 (Interpretation of graph figures)

Drug offences : 80%
Possession of weapons offences : 59%
Misc. crimes against society : 29&
Sexual offences : 9%
Public order offences : 21%
Violence against the person : 20%
Robbery : 13%
Theft offences : 12%
Criminal damage and arson :11%
Action Fraud : 3.1%

What is Action Fraud?


A scam carried out online or over the phone can snare victims right across the country.

For this reason, a centralised fraud-policing system was established in 2009. Action Fraud, and its sibling agency, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), are at the heart of this process.

Both are branches of the City of London Police, which has expertise in battling economic crime.

Most victims of fraud in the UK should report an incident directly to Action Fraud. Individual reports are then passed on to the NFIB, where connected crimes are pooled into a single investigation package.

The NFIB doesn't go after offenders. Instead, it assesses whether there is a viable line of enquiry and, if so, forwards the investigation to another agency. In most cases, this is a local police force, typically the one where the suspect resides.

How are local police tackling fraud?

Which? Money sent Freedom of Information requests to local police forces, asking them about the outcomes of fraud investigations conducted in the last four years. We received responses from 30 of them.

The data was messy and inconsistent in some cases, so it would be unfair and inaccurate to compare local forces based on what they sent back.

However, the responses we received show a general decline in police performance against fraud at almost every force. Nearly all of them saw their solved rate fall by more than 20% between 2014 and 2016, while 10 of them saw performance fall by more than 40%.

Local police proportion of fraud cases solved in 2017 (Original article shows figures for 4 years)

Avon and Somerset * : 33%
Cambridgeshire : 14%
Cleveland : 36%
Cumbria : 27%
Derbyshire * : 48%
Devon and Cornwall : 22%
Durham * : 38%
Dyfed Powys : 21%
Essex : NA (2016 - 19%)
Gloucestershire : 16%
Greater Manchester : 5%
Herts * : 53%
Leicestershire : 11%

Note : We don't believe this data justifies comparing individual forces. Forces marked with an asterix [*] disclosed a very low number of crimes and should be treated with extra caution. Significant differences between forces are likely to be due to the complicated fraud reporting model: we believe some forces have only included frauds directly recorded, and not those passed on by Action Fraud/ NFIB, while some included both, and others only included NFIB crimes. Ongoing investigations and those forwarded to other agencies aren't included. a Many 2017 investigations are still ongoing, meaning these numbers are likely to change. Source: FOIs to 43 local forces (30 responses).

The local police force figures look much healthier than our "less than 4% solved" discovery because they do not include the 75% of cases that the NFIB never forwards on.

In addition, these figures may include frauds directly acted on by local police without being forwarded on by Action Fraud, further explaining inconsistencies with our main analysis.


Why are so few fraud cases being solved?

To start with, fraud is difficult to investigate because offenders are often 'invisible'. More and more of our financial transactions take place on the internet, so criminals have set up camp online. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that around 55% of frauds have a digital element.

Although investigators may have cutting-edge technologies to track down online or telephone fraudsters, it's an uphill struggle. The offender might not be based in the UK, and there may only be a social media account or web address to look into.

In contrast, a detective working on a robbery investigation will have a head start if there are eye witness reports and CCTV evidence - or if an offender is caught red-handed, as they typically are in weapons and drugs cases.

These difficulties are compounded by the reality that police forces must prioritise. Fraud can be a devastating, life-changing event for victims. But this has to be weighed against the threat, risk and harm of other offences, including violent crime.

To make matters worse, police budgets and officer numbers have been significantly cut in recent years, and officers say this has had an effect on their ability to deliver justice.

Det Supt Alex Rothwell from City of London Police told us: 'Whereas perhaps the traditional view of policing is detecting crime, the police now spend a significant proportion of their time dealing with social issues, mental health and so on. Balancing all of that against the need to investigate fraud is a challenge.'

But the City of London Police emphasises much of its work goes beyond catching criminals. It also disrupts websites, telephone numbers and bank accounts linked to fraud.

Detectives interviewed by Which? were also keen to stress the increasing role local police play in victim care. The ONS estimates that 15% of bank and credit card fraud victims have been successfully targeted before. Providing appropriate care and advice to a victim in the aftermath of a fraud is therefore crucial to preventing further crimes.

The NFIB provides all local forces with profiles of specific groups deemed vulnerable to fraud within their jurisdiction - these can be used to safeguard at-risk groups.

How to report a fraud

If you're the victim of fraud, it's important that you inform law enforcement. This is vital to helping investigators to build as complete a picture as possible of the UK fraud threat.

In most cases, you should go directly to Action Fraud - you can report online, or by calling 0300 123 2040. You should also do this if you have information that could help local police identify a fraudster.

www.actionfraud.police.uk

(5th October 2018)


FAKE COMPUTER HELP FRAUDSTERS STEAL £21m FROM 22,000 VICTIMS IN UK
(Sky News, dated 24th September 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://news.sky.com/story/fake-computer-help-fraudsters-steal-21m-from-22000-victims-in-uk-11505453

More than £21m has been stolen from over 22,000 people in the UK by fraudsters offering fake help with computer issues, according to new figures.

Action Fraud, the specialist nationwide reporting point for cyber crime run by City of London police, has launched a campaign to educate people about Computer Software Service fraud.

It can start with either a phone call, an email or a pop-up message appearing on your computer, telling you there's something wrong with it or with your internet connection, and claiming that it needs to be fixed.

The scammers will then demand payment to fix the issue, or they will trick victims into installing software on their computer which could allow the criminals to access personal and financial details.

Action Fraud stated it received 22,609 reports of Computer Software Service fraud with a total of £21,365,360 being lost over the last financial year.

According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, men and women are equally susceptible to being targeted by the fraudsters, and victims are on average 63 years old.

The bureau's figures show that people living in London and Bristol are most likely to fall victim too.

Fraud became the most common type of crime in England and Wales in 2016 because of the increasing profits to be made through cyber fraud and computer misuse.

Protection advice from Action Fraud and City of London Police will be issued on their social media channels to help people learn how to protect themselves.

The forces are also encouraging businesses to warn customers that they will never be contacted in that way if any issues are detected.

City of London Police's Lara Xenoudakis said: "These fraudsters prey on vulnerable victims, doing everything they can to convince them there is something wrong with their computer.

"They use this as a way to gain immediate and in some cases multiple payments from the victim.

"During this campaign week, we are asking people to do everything they can to protect themselves from this type of fraud and stop fraudsters from thinking that this is an easy way to make money from unsuspecting victims."

Warning advice

- Computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer. Fraudsters make these phone calls to try to steal from you and damage your computer with malware. Treat all unsolicited phone calls with scepticism and don't give out any personal information.

- Computer firms tend not to send out unsolicited communication about security updates, although they do send security software updates. If in doubt, don't open the email, click the link or download any attachments.

- Computer firms do not request credit card information to validate copies of software. Nor do they ask for any personally identifying information, including credit card details.

(5th October 2018)


AN IMMORAL BETRAYAL OF LOYAL CUSTOMERS
(Daily Mail, dated 24th September 2018 author Ruth Sunderland)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-6203177/An-immoral-betrayal-loyal-customers.html

The nightmare begins with a seemingly innocuous call or email, purporting to be from your bank, a solicitor, an online retailer or even from the police.

You are drawn into an entirely credible conversation and in good faith disclose security information - passwords, PINs, account details - before making a transfer of funds. And then the contents of your account disappear into the ether.

Banks describe it as 'authorised push-payment fraud' - financial jargon that does no justice to the cruelty of the scam, or the misery it inflicts. It is a huge criminal enterprise that infects the whole high street banking system.

As the Mail reveals today, Britons will have been fleeced of at least £300million this year alone if current rates are maintained, with thousands of victims.

Unlike with debit or credit card fraud - in which there is a limit on liability once you have informed the card issuer - banks will often refuse to refund a single penny.

Your losses are likely to be deemed to be entirely your own fault - hence the term 'authorised'.

It is grotesquely disproportionate that banks making billions of pounds in profit between them can abandon loyal customers in this way.

A central compensation fund would go some way to addressing the injustice - not least because it's the banks that are making their customers vulnerable to fraudsters through relentless pressure to shift accounts online.

For them it's far cheaper than maintaining a branch network. Branches are closing at the rate of 60 a month, and even ATM machines are being mothballed due to cost-cutting, despite vociferous protests from communities that are being turned into banking deserts.

Many victims are elderly and vulnerable, but by no means all. We are all finding our way with new and constantly evolving technology, and even the most astute customers can be ensnared in the web of deceit. Those taken in have even included finance professionals.

I shudder at the memory of how I almost gave away security information at the prompting of an authentic-looking email, supposedly from Amazon. It said there was a problem with an order and asked me to submit my payment details again.

At the last minute I checked the order number on the email against my Amazon account and realised it was bogus. I also refuse to bank online - despite constant blandishments to do so - until I am persuaded that fraud safety nets are vastly improved.

The banks expect us to exist in a permanent state of hypervigilance and instead of doing their utmost to protect our accounts and help defrauded customers they eschew responsibility. Victims are blamed even though they did not recklessly divulge information, but were inveigled into doing so by sophisticated and practised criminals.

All they are guilty of is an unguarded moment - hardly a crime that deserves to be punished with the loss of thousands of pounds of savings. Technically, the banks may be within their rights, but their stance is unsympathetic, unethical - and yes, immoral.

They boast of state-of-the-art detection systems that are supposed to identify and block unusual transactions. So when these fail to prevent push-payment fraud, they must share in the responsibility.

And how is it that legitimate savers are put through the third degree when trying to open a new account, but fraudsters somehow find it easy to operate accounts to receive their illicit transfers? Why are the banks that receive the cash extracted by deception able to hide behind data protection rules and refuse to co-operate in efforts to retrieve and return it?

The truth is that while the banks aren't footing the bill for these scams, there is little incentive to stop them, or bring the guilty to book.

New technology can give real benefits to customers in terms of convenience, lower costs and help with money management. But it will come to naught if we cannot be confident in the security of the technology - and if we are abandoned by our banks the moment fraudsters pounce.

------------------------

YES, IT IS UP TO THE BANKS TO PROTECT US FROM FRAUD - BUT IT'LL BE A LONG TIME BEFORE THEY DO
(Independent, dated 25th September 2018 author James Moore)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.independent.co.uk/voices/fraud-banks-crime-push-payment-scams-internet-dark-web-data-a8553966.html

"There's one born every minute, and stupidity has always been a capital crime. Can we really expect the banks to make good losses people incur through their own foolishness?"

Some £145m went up in smoke due to unauthorised push payment scams, in which people were conned into transferring money to other accounts in the first half of 2018.

You will usually be refunded in the event of your falling victim to people using your bank details to make transactions without your knowledge - all too common in an era of identity and data theft (£358m was lost this way).

However, if you consciously click on the "pay" button, and your money vanishes, it's a different story.

Many would argue that's the way it should be. If people are daft enough to send £10,000 to deposed Prince Whathisname, after receiving an email promising 10 times that if he can just recover the funds that have been locked up in various banks as a result of his country's internal strife, then more fool them.

If we ask banks to refund people suckered like that, if we order them to indulge in hand holding, we'll all pay more. They will pass on the costs they incur. Their services will become harder and less convenient to use as they seek to protect their bottom lines.

That misses the point. Scams like the aforementioned still net the occasional victim. There are billions of people on the planet. Send enough emails out and you'll eventually hook someone. It's why they are so popular and enduring.

But there are plenty of more sophisticated fraudsters capable of drawing in even those people who might otherwise seem quite savvy. Find out that someone's moving house? Why not target their deposit. Given how stressful the process is, you stand a good chance of catching them unawares if you contact them at the right time, and then it's cha-ching!

People's personal finances are the repositories of their hopes and dreams. They can be quite vulnerable when it looks like those hopes and dreams are about to be realised, through the purchase of a dream home, a car or a holiday cottage.

Most of us want to believe that people are basically decent, despite all evidence to the contrary. We can thus very easily become prey to clever crooks brokering such purchases who then vanish - pop - after our savings have been transferred.

The internet is manna from heaven for this type of vermin. It loads the dice in the huckster's favour to an alarming degree.

Companies' addiction to collecting our data, and their carelessness with it, helps them find out about us. There are "suckers" lists traded around the dark web to help them zero in on the vulnerable; past victims and the like.

But even the savvy can get caught. Want to check out a web address or a person or a bank account you're paying into? Banks and other organisations aren't always helpful.

I found that out when I was caught up in the Ticketmaster data theft. As a result, I was told I could have my details monitored by Experian. To do this I had to click on a link. I was wary about. It looked suspect. So I contacted Ticketmaster to check it out. The calls centre was hopeless and it was only after kicking up a fuss that I established it as legitimate.

I've since been told by Experian that my data's being passed around. Would I like to sign up for something called Cifas? Well yes, yes I would. Could you send me details please, Experian?

Computer says no (at least so far). The data monitoring specialist ain't so hot at responding to requests for information about, you know, data monitoring.

You see where I'm going with this? No? Then let me explain.

Stuff like this happens all the time. If it has put at risk a hard bitten, cynical, cautious, financially sophisticated journalist like me, if even I'm struggling to protect myself, how on earth is nice Mrs Nelmes at the bottom of the road going to manage in this dangerous new world?

The answer is that she's not, especially not if her name's on the mug's list and some arsehole who looks legit tricks her into paying them for a holiday she was hoping to treat Mr Nelmes with on their anniversary.

Reforms are coming. One, called "confirmation of payee", is designed to prevent people from being tricked into paying the wrong person. A "request to pay" asking consumers to approve regulator payments is also due. But not until 2020. And neither is a cure.

Banks need to do more, and perhaps a lot more, even if the net result is costlier and more fiddly banking, because the simple fact is we're all at risk and until they act we will remain so, even if we're careful.

(5th October 2018)


MAN WHO SOLD FAKE TRIPADVISOR REVIEWS GOES TO PRISON
(NZ Herald, dated 23rd September 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/news/article.cfm?c_id=7&objectid=12124563

An Italian court sentenced a prolific TripAdvisor fake reviewer to prison for nine months in what the company called one of the first cases of review fraud leading to a criminal conviction.

TripAdvisor detected and blocked more than 1000 attempts to submit fraudulent reviews by PromoSalento, an online marketing site targeting hospitality businesses, the company said in a pair of statements Tuesday. Some reviews were posted and later deleted for hundreds of properties.

The scheme by the man, who was not named, was to write and sell the reviews to companies to boost their prominence.

Sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, and commerce giants like Amazon, have gone on the offensive against fraudulent paid online reviews, saying they mislead consumers and undermine buyer confidence in retailers.

The ruling in Italy is a signal that both companies and courts may be getting more serious about the elaborate and lucrative operation of fake review sales, said Tommy Noonan, founder of ReviewMeta, a website that helps consumers spot suspicious Amazon reviews.

TripAdvisor hosts more than 661 million reviews of travel destinations around the globe, according to the company.

The Criminal Court of Lecce decided that using a false identity to write fraudulent reviews violated Italian law, the company said. The man was also ordered to pay about US$9300 in costs and damages. The company submitted extensive evidence of the man's activity after an investigation.

"We see this as a landmark ruling for the Internet. Writing fake reviews has always been fraud, but this is the first time we've seen someone sent to jail as a result," said Brad Young, an attorney for TripAdvisor.

The company said the man was alone in his scheme. TripAdvisor said it penalised customers of the scheme by lowering their popularity ranking or flagging their profile to consumers with a red badge on their page.

Online consumer reviews have become the lifeblood for retailers and businesses looking to draw shoppers. About half of adult consumers in the United States routinely read reviews before buying something for the first time, Pew Research Center found in 2015.

(5th October 2018)


FAKE TV LICENSING OFFERS
(Action Fraud, dated 21st September 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

Watch out for these fake TV Licensing emails.

We've seen a sharp increase in reports about fake TV Licensing emails claiming to offer refunds. The emails state that the refund cannot be processed due to "invalid account details". The links provided in the emails lead to phishing websites designed to steal personal and financial details.

Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it's a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

----------------------

Bogus example :

TV License - still pending

After the last annual calculation we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tv license refund. Due to invalid account records, we were unable to credit your account.

Please submit the tv license request and allow us 2-4 weeks for the amount to be credit to your account.

Click "refund me now" and follow the steps in order to have us process your request.

>>>Link<<<

Best regards

TV License

-----------------------
(5th October 2018)


WARNING OVER "NUMBER SPOOFING" SCAM THAT COST THE MAN £15,000
(iNEWS, dated 17th September 2018 author Claudia Tanner)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/money/spoofing-scam-fraud-15000/

A man has lost all his savings after falling victim to a sophisticated scam combining email phishing and 'number spoofing'.

Jack Armstrong has had more than £15,000 wiped from his current and business accounts after giving personal information to a fraudster appearing to call from a legitimate number belonging to his bank, Natwest.

The caller convinced him his accounts were at risk after £400 had been fraudulently spent at Argos online. Two days before, Mr Armstrong had entered his bank account details online after he was sent an email that looked to be from Amazon Prime.

The 25-year-old - who lost money he'd made through a side-line glamping business - has been left with no money to pay his bills and mortgage, and has been forced to borrow from family.

He is speaking out to urge others not to fall for the trick.

He told i: "I became suspicious when a man who said his name was Andrew from the Natwest Fraud Team rang me. So I Googled the number he'd called me from, but what confused me is that it was the same as the official fraud team's number.

"I had never heard of this type of fraud and wasn't aware they could do that, so I'd like to warn other people about it."

Phishing scam

Action Fraud says that 'phishing, vishing and smishing' is: "Any website, online service, phone call or text message that poses as a company or brand you recognise."

These scams are designed to convince you to hand over valuable personal details or your money, or download something that infects your computer.

The three terms are all plays on the word 'fishing' - the fraudsters fish for potential victims by sending emails, social media messages or text messages or making phone calls with urgent messages in the hope of persuading someone to visit the bogus website.

Mr Armstrong, from Altrincham, Greater Manchester, said he didn't realise until it was too late that he'd entered his bank sort code, account number, mother's maiden name and mobile number into a fake Amazon Prime site two weeks ago.

Then two days later, the sales worker got the call purporting to be from Natwest that asked further security questions including his date of birth.

It was the following day after Mr Armstrong's bank card was declined when he tried to buy something that he discovered all his money had been swiped and moved to another bank.

Mr Armstrong has been told by his bank that it is now investigating his case which could take up to 45 working days.

A spokesperson for Natwest said: "We sympathise with Mr Armstrong and appreciate that this has been an extremely distressing experience for him. In response to Mr Armstrong informing us of the scam, we took prompt action in an attempt to recover funds on a best endeavours basis, unfortunately no funds remained at the beneficiary bank."

She reminded customers to never make a payment or divulge full security credentials at the request of someone over the phone purporting to be from the bank and said Natwest will never ask a customer to move money to another account to keep it safe from fraud.

It is possible for malicious callers to make an incoming call look like it is coming from a legitimate source, such as the recognised bank number, she added, and recommended customers call back from a device different to which they received the call on.


How to tell if an email is a phishing scam (Source : Action Fraud)

A favourite phishing tactic among cybercriminals is to spoof the display name of an email. To check the sender's real email address you'll need to open the email. Next to the display email name you should find a link entitled 'details' or 'view detail' which will show you the real email address of the sender.

Other warning signs:

- The email does not use your proper name, but uses a non-specific greeting like "dear customer".

- A sense of urgency; for example the threat that unless you act immediately your account may be closed.

- A prominent website link. These can be forged or seem very similar to the proper address, but even a single character's difference means a different website.

- A request for personal information such as user name, password or bank details.

- The email contains spelling and grammatical errors.

- You weren't expecting to get an email from the company that appears to have sent it.

- The entire text of the email is contained within an image rather than the usual text format.

- The image contains an embedded hyperlink to a bogus site.

The grounds a bank can refuse to refund a fraudulent transaction

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the UK's finance watchdog, states that banks can generally only refuse a refund for an unauthorised payment if:

- It can prove you authorised the transaction - though your bank cannot simply say that use of your password, card or PIN conclusively proves you authorised a payment.

- It can prove you are at fault because you acted fraudulently or because you deliberately, or with 'gross negligence', failed to protect the details of your card, PIN or password in a way that allowed the transaction.

- You told your bank about an unauthorised payment 13 months or more after the date it left your account, so make sure you contact the bank as soon as possible.

- If the payment was from an overdrawn current account or a credit card payment, your bank can only refuse a refund for an unauthorised payment if:

- It can prove the debtor (the customer), or someone acting on their behalf, authorised the transaction though a firm cannot simply say that use of a password, card and PIN conclusively proves a customer authorised a payment.

- The loss was due to the use of a credit token by a person who acquired it with the debtor's consent.

(5th October 2018)


THIS NEW PHISHING ATTACK USES AN OLD TRICK TO STEAL PASSWORDS AND CREDIT CARD DETAILS
(ZDNET, dated 17th September 2018 author Danny Palmer)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.zdnet.com/article/this-new-phishing-attack-uses-an-old-trick-to-steal-passwords-and-credit-card-details/

A new phishing campaign is using an old trick in an effort to steal login credentials, payment details and other sensitive information from victims by claiming to offer them a tax refund which can only be claimed online.

The message claims to be the UK government's tax office, HMRC, and tells potential victims that they're due a tax refund of £542.94 "directly" onto their credit card.

In an attempt to pressure targets into falling for the scheme, they're told that the link to the "customer" portal" expires on the day the message is received -- the hope is that this will panic victims into thinking they'll miss out on a sizeable cash payment. The phishing scam was uncovered by Malwarebytes

The isn't exactly sophisticated -- not only is the subject line extremely poorly formatted and sent from an email address which has nothing to do with government, the attackers have put little effort into the fake HMRC website used to scoop up credentials.

Before reaching this site, those who click through to the 'portal' are first faced with a fake Outlook login page which asks victims for their username and password in what's purely an attempt to steal credentials.

After victims hand over their email and password, they're taken to a fake 'refund' website which only contains boxes for entering information. Victims are asked to enter their full name, address, phone number, date of birth, mother's maiden name and full credit card details -- including the security code.

Essentially, the attackers are harvesting all the data required for not just stealing bank details, but login credentials which could be used to access other accounts, as well as vast amounts of personal information which could easily be exploited for identity theft and fraud -- or sold onto others on underground forums.

Tax scams are a common means of cyber criminals attempting to extort information or money from victims: HMRC states it will never offer a repayment or ask for personal information via email.

However, when people get tempted by the prospect of receiving a payment, they can often lower their defences -- even by low-level attacks like this phishing scam.

"These attacks can afford to be crude, as the main pressure point is the temptation of an easy cash windfall tied to a tight deadline. Not knowing that HMRC don't issue refund notifications in this manner would also contribute to people submitting details," Chris Boyd, lead malware intelligence analyst at Malwarebytes told ZDNet.

While this phishing attack might seem basic, attackers wouldn't put time into distributing emails if it didn't work. Phishing remains an effective means of conducting cyber attacks at a number of levels, ranging from low-level scams like this, to high-level hacking and espionage campaigns by nation-state level attackers.

Indeed, a recent report by the US Department of Justice concluded that some of the biggest cyber attacks in recent years -- including the North Korean attacks against Sony and the Swift banking network -- started with a simple phishing email.

(5th October 2018)


I WAS DUPED BY A COPYCAT WEBSITE - CAN I GET MY MONEY BACK ?
(The Guardian, dated 16th September 2018 author Rebecca Smithers)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/money/2018/sep/16/us-esta-visa-waiver-application-web-copycat-sites

Question

I wish I had read your recent article on copycat websites. I have just fallen victim to one over a recent Esta application. When I applied for my first one, five years ago, I am sure such sites did not exist - or maybe I was just lucky to avoid them. This time I thought I had selected the official website, so it was quite a good fake. I have certainly learnt my lesson. Having paid $99 for "assistance", which I did not need (when the cost of the Esta is only $14), is there any way I can get some, or all, of the overpayment back?

Response

Under the terms of the Esta visa waiver programme, all Britons entering the US are required to apply online at least 72 hours prior to travel and pay a $14 fee. Since April 2016, you also need to hold a biometric passport with a built-in chip. Unfortunately, you have been duped by a copycat website which offers services from government departments or local government, such as paying congestion charges, applying for passports or the European health insurance card … but is not official. Although they are not illegal, they often - as you found - charge a substantial premium for the same service as the official website. They trap the unwary by looking uncannily like the real thing and often appear at the top of internet search results. They justify their fees on the fact they check documents but you are eligible for a refund as you were misled.

However, there are illegal, fake websites which simply take the money and leave consumers with nothing to show for it. At least you did get your Esta. Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act you are eligible for a refund for breach of contract, but your transaction is below the £100 limit. Talk to your credit card company and explain what has happened.

To help others, report this website to Action Fraud, online or (if you are in the UK) on 0300 123 2040. It is interested in any of these websites where they are charging for more than just the basic service ... fraud or not. It will then be passed to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau to see if it can be used as part of a police investigation.

(5th October 2018)


FRAUD VICTIM : "I'M DEAF BUT THE BANK REFUSED TO TALK TO US"
(The Guardian, dated 15th September 2018 author Miles Brignall)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/money/2018/sep/15/fraud-victim-deaf-metro-bank

A profoundly deaf woman who lost £8,371 when fraudsters took over her mobile phone and used it to empty her bank account, says her faith in the banking system - and Metro Bank in particular - has been left in tatters.

Louise Harte, who only uses sign language to communicate, says two months on she still has no idea how fraudsters were able to convince staff at the network Three to hand over her service, and how they then accessed her bank account.

The justice system worker is furious that bank staff flatly refused to discuss the theft with her and her son - who is a sign language interpreter - when they went in to a branch.

Her case will shock mobile banking users who receive codes to check if payments are valid. It also exposes how some banks refuse to refund unwitting victims of fraud - and the obstacles suffered by deaf or disabled people when dealing with big companies.

Problems began for Harte, from Edgware in London, in July when she returned from holiday in Cyprus and discovered her mobile phone no longer worked. She now knows that while she had been abroad, someone had gone into the Three mobile store in Woolwich, south-east London, posing as her. They somehow persuaded staff to give them a new sim card with her number. The reason her phone no longer worked was because her service had been swapped to the new sim card - that was in the fraudster's possession.

Within a few hours, the same gang logged into her Metro account from a computer in the Maidenhead area, and removed the £8,371. To authorise this transfer, Metro sent a verification code to Harte's mobile, but as this was in the hands of the fraudster, it went through. However, a second payment was blocked "as suspicious".

Harte and her son say they have been blocked at every turn. When she initially visited the Three store on London's Oxford Street, staff failed to disclose that the sim-swap had even taken place. She says she was left "humiliated" by staff who forced her to talk over the phone in front of other customers.

"I have never felt so small and embarrassed. I can only liken it to forcing a wheelchair user to walk when forcing a deaf person to speak," she told Money.

Staff at the bank also refused to talk to her son, despite Harte asking staff to add him to her account a year previously.

"I am deaf but the bank did not take this into consideration and made no attempt to adapt to my needs," she says. "This led to confusion, misunderstandings and, frankly, atrocious customer service."

After four weeks of worry and disputes, the bank revealed (at a meeting when it brought in an interpreter) that it had been able to recover £5,700 of her money, but the rest, she was told, was lost.

Metro refused to refund her losses, arguing that only she had access to her online bank details, with the implication that she must have been negligent. This echoes an earlier case Money reported in February, when the bank refused to refund a Kent businessman who lost £20,000 when his EE mobile service was taken over by fraudsters.

Last week, the Financial Ombudsman Service warned it would no longer tolerate banks refusing refunds in cases where the consumer had no role in making the payment out of their account.

The good news is that following Guardian Money's intervention Metro has now refunded Harte the £2,671. It has also offered her £250 compensation, but she has dismissed this as derisory.

"I still have no idea how or why fraudsters have targeted me," she says. "I don't understand how someone was able to walk out of a Three shop with my mobile service, or to log in to my bank account. I simply don't trust these firms to look after my interests."

A Metro Bank spokeswoman said: "We understand and appreciate the impact fraud has on victims and we have taken the opportunity to fully review Ms Harte's case. Our investigation has shown that a fraudster was able to ascertain her online banking security credentials and her card details. Although we made every effort to take her disability into account, by communicating with her over email and offering to arrange meetings with a sign language interpreter present, we are sorry that we didn't meet her expectations during her time of need. As a gesture of goodwill, we have therefore decided to refund the outstanding £2,671."

A Three spokesperson apologised and admitted her experience had not been up to its "usual standards". It has offered few details and no compensation. "We have been looking at ways to improve our service for deaf customers, having recently partnered with Sign Solutions to pilot an in-store video relay service which we hope to roll out more widely in future."

(5th October 2018)


FRAUDSTER POSED AS WARRINGTON BOROUGH COUNCIL OFFICER TO STEAL BANK DETAILS
(Warrington Guardian, dated 14th September 2018 author Jessica Farrington)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.warringtonguardian.co.uk/news/16858727.fraudster-posed-as-warrington-borough-council-officer-to-steal-bank-details/

Warrington Trading Standards are warning residents to be on their guard following a call at 5pm last Friday, September 7.

The caller was described as a well-spoken, polite, male, with a northern lilt who said he was from Warrington Borough Council.

He claimed that a computer error had resulted in the resident paying too much council tax.

Council chiefs say the caller checked the resident's identity and asked for his date of birth and referred to him by a similar sounding but incorrect surname.

The resident provided his date of birth and corrected the surname.

He was told that a computer mistake meant the council owed £127 and that he could arrange immediate payment straight back into the victim's bank account and requested the debit card number.

The resident became suspicious and suggested a cheque could be sent instead.

He then asked the caller for his name and council extension number so that he could ring the council and ask to be reconnected to him for verification.

The fraudster then hung up.

A spokesman said: "Warrington Borough Council can confirm that this call was not from them and urge residents to be on their guard regarding calls from anyone attempting to gain bank details."

Any similar incidents can be reported to Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040 0506 or Action Fraud actionfraud.police.uk.

(5th October 2018)


FAKE NETFLIX EMAILS
(Action Fraud, dated 14th September 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

We've seen an increase in reports about fake Netflix emails claiming that there's an issue with your account, or that your account has been suspended. The email states that you need to "update" your account details in order to resolve the problem. The link in the emails leads to genuine-looking Netflix phishing websites designed to steal your username and password, as well as payment details.

Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it's a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

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

(5th October 2018)


FRAUDSTER SOLD ELDERLY DEMENTIA COUPLES HOME AND SPENT 350K LIFE SAVINGS WHILE PRETENDING TO BE THEIR SOME
(Daily Record, dated 11th September 2018 author Tom Kershaw)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/fraudster-sold-elderly-dementia-couples-13225477

A ruthless conman preyed on a vulnerable elderly couple by selling their home from under them and plundering their life savings which together totalled up to £350,000.

Syed Arfat Bukhari, 37, had wormed his way into the lives of an ex-Merchant Navy man and his wife of 40 years who both suffered from dementia .

Evil Bukhari had even sold the retired couple's home from under them after sifting through paperwork at their home.

The con artist began the sophisticated plotting by 'doing errands' for the couple who have asked not to be named.

He coerced the couple to take out loans and he spent cash on business class tickets to Dubai, designer clothes, watches and a new hair transplant.

But when the police were alerted to the defendant's schemes - brazen Bukhari told cops that he was the couple's adopted son.

The couple's son, 55, said: "I keep thinking its a bad dream and I'm going to wake up.

"I'm spending two to three hours every day chasing the various financial institutions to keep them updated an try and get my parents money back.

"I feel angry towards him, it's been hard listening to him trying to minimise what he has done on court.

"To an extent, dad's condition has protected him because he doesn't know what has happened, it's me who has the sleepless nights."

The couple, from Preston, Lancashire, who are in their 80s and have four children between them, had worked all their lives and saved to be comfortable in their retirement.

But unknown to their loved ones, Bukhari was gathering all the information he needed to steal their savings and sell their home - at £50,000 less than what it was worth.

During the process, he had tricked the confused couple into signing a genuine document delivered by couriers.

Bukhari eventually fleeced them out of £350,000 during a prolonged fraud during which he cynically befriended the couple during a seven month period starting in November 2017.

He spent their £150,000 life savings and then sold their house for around £200,000.

However, the couple are still living in the Preston property - though it is legally not theirs anymore - and their family is battling to recoup their stolen savings.

The son added: "It's been awful.

"Every time I'm sorting through my dad's financial affairs he asks what I'm doing and I have to tell him he's been conned - each time the shock and upset is exactly the same as the first time.

"His condition means he can have a full conversation with you, but as soon as you walk out of a room he doesn't realise you were there because his short-term memory capacity is affected.

"He is a very private, proud man and never shared his financial situation with anybody."

The son was increasingly suspicious and visited Lloyds Bank with his concerns - only to learn his dad had never taken out any loans.

The police were contacted, and a week later they broke the devastating news their home had been sold without their knowledge at Christmas by someone posing as their son.

The couple then had letters asking them to move out.

As the search began for Bukhari he was described as having a receding hairline - but when he was later detained he had treated himself to hair implants.

He was arrested on the tarmac at Manchester Aiport on another 'all expenses paid' trip to Dubai.

Lancashire Police said Bukhari had "taken over" his victims lives.

It is believed he started doing 'errands' for the couple, but due to the man's short-term memory being affected he could not remember

Bukhari, from Withington, Greater Manchester, was jailed for seven years and 11 months at Preston Crown Court after admitting fraud.

-----------------------

Further information - uaware

Suspicious about weird transactions in your bank account - contact your bank and contact CIFAS.
CIFAS : www.cifas.org.uk/

Curious about who is looking at your house on land registry. Register free for land registry alerts, at: https://www.gov.uk/protect-land-property-from-fraud

-----------------------

(5th October 2018)


  THE CLEVER ARGOS TEXT SCAM WHICH ALMOST COST A COUPLE HUNDREDS OF POUNDS
(Daily Post, dated 10th September 2018 author Lottie Gibbons)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailypost.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/clever-argos-text-scam-almost-15132400

A duped couple are warning others to be vigilant after they were almost conned out of hundreds of pounds from a caller who appeared to be from Argos.

Anita Smith and her husband who fell victim to a scam almost lost £409 after they were tricked into handing over card details to a telephone scammer.

Her husband, who did not wish to be identified, received a text from what appeared to be Argos, asking him to call an 0800 number regarding an urgent matter over his Argos Card.

Not suspecting anything out of the ordinary, he was asked a series of questions by someone claiming to be a customer representative, the Liverpool Echo reports .

He handed over details including his name, address, date of birth, card number and the pin on the back of his card.

According to Anita, the representative said: "Oh good news, we are able to offer you more credit."

Anita's husband usually receives a letter from Argos regarding any changes, raising initial suspicions.

Asking how much credit he could receive, the representative said: "Oh dear, it's not telling me how much.

"Can you please go on your Argos app and click on credit."

Following her instructions, Anita's husband was alarmed when a message on the app said "Sorry we are unable to process this right now."

However, the representative told Anita's husband to ring back in two weeks as the additional credit was still in process.

Immediately, the couple suspected something was not right and rang Argos' official customer service number, but it rang through.

Speaking to the Echo , she said: "He had a strong suspicion something wasn't right."

To his shock the next morning, Anita's husband received an email from Argos thanking him for his order, totalling £409.

He rang Argos customer service as soon as he received the email, who managed to block his account and stop the order being collected from a store.

Anita's husband was lucky, as his account was later unblocked and he managed to receive a refund - but many customers could be caught out.

Speaking to the ECHO, Argos said: "Customers should always be mindful of phishing scams.

"This message is not from Argos and we are advising customers to delete it."

While Action Fraud weren't able to comment on the specific case, they offered some advice on how to protect yourself from phising and spot the signs.

Protect yourself


- Don't assume anyone who's sent you an email or text message - or has called your phone or left you a voicemail message - is who they say they are.

- If a phone call or voicemail, email or text message asks you to make a payment, log in to an online account or offers you a deal, be cautious. Real banks never email you for passwords or any other sensitive information by clicking on a link and visiting a website. If you get a call from someone who claims to be from your bank, don't give away any personal details.

- Make sure your spam filter is on your emails. If you find a suspicious email, mark it as spam and delete it to keep out similar emails in future.

- If in doubt, check it's genuine by asking the company itself. Never call numbers or follow links provided in suspicious emails; find the official website or customer support number using a separate browser and search engine.

Spot the signs

- Their spelling, grammar, graphic design or image quality is poor quality. They may use odd 'spe11lings' or 'cApiTals' in the email subject to fool your spam filter.

- If they know your email address but not your name, it'll begin with something like 'To our valued customer', or 'Dear...' followed by your email address.

- The website or email address doesn't look right; authentic website addresses are usually short and don't use irrelevant words or phrases. Businesses and organisations don't use web-based addresses such as Gmail or Yahoo.

- Money's been taken from your account, or there are withdrawals or purchases on your bank statement that you don't remember making.

(5th October 2018)


PEOPLE MUST NOW OPT IN TO RECEIVE NUISANCE CALLS AS NEW RULES CRACK DOWN ON "MENACE"
(Indpendent, dated 8th September 2018 author Lizzie Dearden)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/ppi-calls-personal-injury-ban-fines-government-laws-a8528591.html

People must now opt in to receive nuisance calls on PPI and personal injury claims as part of a government crackdown on the "menace".

Companies that continue to make unsolicited calls in violation of the new rules will be fined up to £500,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

People previously had to opt out of the communications by registering with the free Telephone Preference Service or withdrawing consent from each company individually.

But the new powers will force firms to ensure they have the recipient's consent before calling.

British adults have received 2.7 billion unsolicited calls, texts and emails offering to help them make a claim in the past year, the Financial Conduct Authority found - an average of 50 per person.

They include calls claiming people have had recent road accidents and bought mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI).

Margot James, the minister for digital, said the new rules brought authorities "one step closer to ending the menace of nuisance calls".

"This is a big boost for the Information Commissioner's Office and will help them crack down on the cold call sharks," she added.

"Individuals will be able to opt-in to receiving these calls by consenting to be contacted by claims companies when enquiring about settling a claim, or when seeking claims advice.

"These new measures together with the strengthened Data Protection Act, will curb the number of nuisance calls received by consumers."

Anyone receiving unwanted calls can report them to the Information Commissioner's Office for investigation.

Andy Curry, enforcement manager at the watchdog, said cold calls texts and emails "can cause real distress to people".

"This amendment to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations will increase our ability to take action against those companies who deliberately flout the law and cause real upset and harm," he added.

Previous changes made it easier for regulators to fine those breaching direct marketing rules, forced companies to display their number when calling customers and increased fines for wrongdoers.

The government has also consulted on new measures to make the managers of companies that plague people with unsolicited nuisance calls personally liable for breaking the law and subject to fines of up to half a million pounds.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: "Nuisance calls have plagued millions for years and our research revealed more than seven in 10 believe that they received unsolicited calls last month.

"While the new rules are welcome, they must be enforced to stop companies flouting the law with these dodgy practices. The government must also urgently deliver on its promise to hold those responsible personally accountable."

11th September 2018)


SCAM KITS COSTING £170 USED TO CON 500 BRITS A DAY BY CREATING FAKE EMAILS TO STEAL PASSWORDS
(Mirror, dated 2nd September 2018 author Nick Sommerlad)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/scam-kits-costing-just-170-13183491

Crooks can buy scam kits to access the identities of one million Britons, and the tools to con them, for as little as £170.

The easily available packages use fake emails to take control of computers, usernames and passwords, a Mirror investigation found.

Nearly 500 people a day fall victim to identity fraud, according to Cifas fraud prevention service figures.

And we found some of the sophisticated tools in the scam kit can be bought online for as little as £1.58.

Cyber-security expert Simon Migliano said: "It's possible to start a criminal career in online fraud for less than the price of a coffee."

He added: "Fraudsters can buy an impressive set of hacking tools that would permit a cyber-crime spree, from infecting people with malware to hacking wi-fi networks, all with a view to commit identity theft.

"This is an alarmingly low barrier of entry to fraud. Some sellers even throw in a free hacking manual."

Criminals set up and sell phishing pages for around £2. These are fake log-in pages for popular online retailers such as Amazon and Tesco.

They are spread by spam emails sent to unsuspecting consumers. Crooks can buy genuine email addresses in bulk on the dark web.

Fraud cost Britain £6.8billion last year, the UK Fraud Costs Measurement Committee's annual fraud indicator showed. There were 600 million scam attempts in 2017, with three in four people targeted, Santander UK research found.

Two in three received phishing emails. We also found names, addr­esses, bank card details and even passwords being openly offered online as a "free sample" by criminals offering to sell thousands more.

And research by top10vpn.com, which reviews virtual private networks, found the cost of hacking tools are dropping on the dark web.

Mr Migliano, research chief, said: "Online fraud is increasing year on year. There's certainly a correlation.

"It's easier than ever for criminals to get their hands on powerful malware. [They] can buy everything off-the-peg on the dark web."

here were some 3.6 million fraud cases and two million computer misuse offences in the 12 months to September 2017, the Crime Survey for England and Wales showed.

Mass marketing fraud is calculated to be costing £4.5billion a year, and identity fraud at £1.3billion.

Labour MP Anna Turley, who sits on the Commons Business Select Committee, said: "It's horrifying to think of how many Brits have had usernames and passwords stolen.

"It's also deeply worrying that this fraud is so cheap and accessible. The Government must urgently take action to tackle this and to beef up our defence against cyber crime."

How to protect ourselves

The first thing to do is have a good up-to-date antivirus software on your computer, says Data Security Expert Graeme Batsman.

This won't stop everything but it can make a difference.

Do some research and don't be afraid to pay for something that is good. Spending £30 is not much compared with the cost of your computer or data.

On passwords, they don't need to be overly complicated. An easy way to make a secure password is a passphrase. So instead of numbers, letters and characters, use four or five words to form a short phrase.

But some data security is still analogue and a bit of effort can make all the difference.

I shred everything. A simple cross shredder instantly makes personal documents leaving your home more secure.

You should also take the time to wipe your hard drives and USB sticks - you can get software for free online that will help. But it can be much quicker, and more satisfying, to do it yourself with magnets and a hammer.

What the hackers are using

Experts at top10vpn.com found a set of tools that could set up a wannabe hacker.

Anonymity tools - £10.51: Rookies can pay to cover their tracks with a range of these.

Carding software - £33.83:Allows crooks to clone credit and debit cards.

Cryptocurrency fraud malware - £5.01: "Mines" cryptocurrencies, making money for fraudsters.

Keylogger - £1.58L Captures every keystroke on your computer.

Malware - £37.43: Includes nasty ransomware that locks up your computer, permanently encrypting its contents until ransom is paid.

Phishing page - £2.07: Fake log-in pages for the most popular online retailers.

Remote access trojan - £8.47: Allows a hacker to take full control of your computer.

Wi-fi hacking software - £2.29: Used to test the security of your wireless network.

Email leads - £70.70: More than 1.4 million co.uk email addresses to target with phishing scams and malware.

11th September 2018)


AUGUST 2018


NEW TACTIC SCAMMERS ARE USING TO TRICK PEOPLE INTO MAKING FALSE INSURANCE CLAIMS - WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET THIS CALL
(Mirror, dated 29th August 2018 author Vicky Shaw)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/new-tactic-scammers-using-trick-13158911

The Association of British Insurers said cold callers are ringing people up out of the blue and luring them into paying for false policies.

Scammers are cold-calling people about personal injury claims and pretending to be from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the trade association has warned.

The ABI said it has been contacted by people who have reported receiving cold calls from those purporting to have some sort of connection with the ABI.

Fraudsters are trying to encourage people to make fake claims, it said.

It said it would never contact people in this way about a personal injury claim or endorse a claims management firm.

ABI spokesman Anthony Wright said: "Any cold callers saying they are connected with the ABI are cowboys trying to scam honest people into making a fake claim.

"We want the public to know that the Association of British Insurers will never contact members of the public in this way and does not endorse any claims management firm.

"If someone does contact you about a personal injury claim saying they work with the ABI, our advice is to just put the phone down."

Nuisance calls and texts can be reported to the Information Commissioner's Office.

(11th September 2018)


HACKER CLAIMS TO HAVE STOLEN DETAILS OF 20,000 SUPERDRUG CUSTOMERS
(Coventry Live, dated 22nd August 2018 authors Charlotte Ikonen and Fionnula Hainey)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/uk-world-news/superdrug-hack-15058012

Superdrug say it is working to establish the exact number of accounts that may have been affected

A hacker claims they have obtained details of around 20,000 Superdrug customers.

The high street pharmacy confirmed that 386 of accounts had been compromised after it was contacted by the mystery hacker.

Superdrug say it is working to establish the exact number of accounts that may have been affected.

A spokeswoman for the chain said: "The hacker shared a number of details with us to try and 'prove' he had customer information - we were then able to verify they were Superdrug customers from their email and log-in," reports the Daily Star.

Superdrug said customers' names, addresses and in some cases dates of birth, phone number and points balances may have been accessed, but no payment or card information had been taken.

Customers who may have had their data harvested were sent an email and asked to change their passwords.

They were also advised to change them regularly in future.

"We have contacted the Police and Action Fraud (the UK's national fraud and cyber crime arm) and will be offering them all the information they need for their investigation as we continue to take the responsibility of safeguarding our customers' data incredibly seriously," the firm said.

In a separate tweet it added: "To customers who have received an email from us today, this email is genuine. We recommend you follow the steps outlined."

One angry customer replied: "Not even an apology. Your responsibility to keep our information safe. Disappointed."

Another said: "What a cagey and cryptic tweet, something you're embarrassed to talk about?"

Last year, retailer Dixons Carphone, which owns a number of electrical and tech brands including Currys and PC World, was subject to one of the biggest data breaches in history.

Around 10million records containing personal data were accessed.

In 2015, mobile network TalkTalk was targeted by hackers who exploited a flaw in the company's website, resulting in 157,000 records being accessed.

Uaware futher information

In a very much similar article (this time on Leicestershire Live), the following additional information was provided :

----------------------
For further information on the Superdrug breach, call Superdrug Customer Services on 03456 710 709 or email help@superdrug.com
----------------------

www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/business/superdrug-customers-personal-details-including-1924054

(11th September 2018)


THE HMRC SCAM THAT CONNED ONE MAN OUT OF £1,000
(Wales online, dated 17th August 2018 author Alex Wood)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.walesonline.co.uk/news/uk-news/itunes-scam-conning-victims-out-15040801

People are being conned out of thousands of pounds by scammers posing as HM Revenue and Customs staff.

The scam involves people being told to buy £10 iTunes vouchers or face being arrested.

It happened to Melvyn Vernon who was conned out of £1,000 after he bought 100 iTunes vouchers from his local supermarket.

Mr Vernon was ordered not to tell anyone what he was doing and to stay on the phone at all times by the scammer who posed as a "UK tax official".

In each case, the scammers call their victim and demand immediate payment of unpaid tax.

Mr Vernon, 58, told the Bristol Post : "They said if I don't pay them £1,000 straightaway, I would have the police at my door within 45 minutes and I would have to go to court.

"The scammer phoned me on my mobile and he knew my name. He said he was from the UK tax office and said I owed them £3,828.

"I had to go to Sainsbury's and buy £1,000 worth of iTunes store vouchers. He asked me to do it, so I bought 100 £10 gift cards.

"It scared me to death. I had to stay on the phone the whole time and then when I got back to my flat, I had to spend ages giving him the codes for him to redeem.

"He has been calling me for the remaining amount of money ever since."

It was only after providing the scammer with the voucher codes - which Mr Vernon said took at least an hour to complete - that the 58-year-old decided to contact the police.

His report was forwarded to Action Fraud, who have since highlighted the scam as a wider concern.

The scam has been operating in the Bristol area but there are fears it is also happening elsewhere across the UK.

A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said: "Thankfully none of the people who came into the police station have fallen for this con but the fraudsters are so convincing they've been left worried.

"We're keen to make sure others know how to deal with this."

How to protect yourself

- If you get this sort of unexpected call, end it immediately. If you are concerned about your tax status, contact HMRC directly using a number from the phone book, HMRC correspondence you know to be genuine, or from www.gov.uk

- Do you suspect you have been contacted by a fraudster? Report it and receive a police crime reference number by calling Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or using the online fraud reporting tool on their website, www.actionfraud.police.uk

- Their website also has more information, including an A to Z of common scams.

- Police have also asked individuals to help their vulnerable elderly relatives or friends keep their finances secure, and ensure they know about this scam.

(11th September 2018)


CITY POLICE SQUAD FOILS £25m OF FRAUDULENT ONLINE SCAMS IN JUST SIX MONTHS
(London Evening Standard, dated 17th August 2018 author Tristan Kirk)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/city-police-squad-foils-25m-of-fraudulent-online-scams-a3912896.html

A specialist police unit backed by the City has foiled £25 million of frauds in the past six months, it was announced today.

The Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU) tackles crooked bank staff, online card fraud and scams, to bolster the security of the banking industry.

Figures released today show that 26 fraudsters were convicted between January and June this year thanks to DCPCU efforts, and seven organised crime groups were targeted.

The unit stopped frauds totalling £25 million in the first six months of this year, bringing the total to £540 million since its inception in 2002.

One of those brought to justice was 26-year-old Barclays cashier Rasad Salam, who helped fraudsters target singer Emeli Sandé.

Salam, who worked at a branch in Whitechapel, acted as the "inside man" by passing on the details of Sandé's ex-husband with whom she shared a bank account.

The cashier, from Forest Gate, admitted nine charges of fraud, including £4,500 taken from the singer's account, and was given a 12-month suspended jail sentence at Inner London crown court in July.

A representative for Emeli Sandé? said the singer was not a signatory on the bank account targeted, however this was not what was said in court.

Another of the unit's targets, online fraudster Surendiran Ganesharajah, 30, was jailed for 32 months in January for a £14,000 delivery scam on John Lewis. He used stolen bank card details, bought over the dark web, to order goods from the firm and was caught using £3,000 of stolen Harrods gift cards to buy designer shoes.

Detective Chief Inspector Glyn Whittick, who works in the DCPCU, said its success was due to "close co-operation" between financial institutions, City of London police, the Met and the Home Office.

"Criminal gangs are increasingly sophisticated and taking advantage of new technologies to commit fraud online," he added. "But with close co-operation between law enforcement and the industry, we can stay one step ahead and ensure there is no place for fraudsters to hide."

The unit carried out raids across the UK in June as part of a Europe-wide crackdown on online fraud.

(11th September 2018)


BRTISH WATCHDOG SAYS CRYPTOCURRENCY SCAMS ON THE RISE
(Reuters, dated 17th August 2018 author Reuters staff)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-markets-cryptocurrencies/british-watchdog-says-cryptocurrency-scams-on-the-rise-idUSKBN1L216K

Cryptocurrency scams are using images of celebrities and upmarket London addresses to hoodwink consumers into parting with cash, Britain's Financial Conduct Authority has said.
The warning, first made in June, was reposted on the FCA's website on Friday.

Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether are not regulated in Britain, and the FCA said it has received a rising number of reports about investment scams that claim to offer high returns.

"UK consumers are being increasingly targeted by cryptocurrency-related investment scams," the FCA said in a statement.

"Cryptocurrency fraudsters tend to advertise on social media, often using the images of celebrities or well-known individuals to promote cryptocurrency investments."

The ads link to websites for investments either using cryptocurrencies or traditional cash.

"The firms operating the scams are usually based outside of the UK but will claim to have a UK presence, often a prestigious City of London address," the FCA said.

Given that cryptocurrencies are not regulated, consumers are unlikely to get their money back, and are not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, the watchdog said.

(11th September 2018)


BOGUS OVERSEAS OFFICERS
(Action Fraud, dated 17th August 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

Fraudsters are contacting overseas students and visitors who are in the UK via their mobile phone or social network account and purporting to represent UK or foreign law enforcement.

After fraudsters have claimed to work with their respective embassy or government, they tell the victim that there is evidence in the form of forged documentation or parcels which implicate them in a crime such as money laundering, fraud or immigration offences.

After demanding further personal details from the victim such as their name, current address and copies of personal documentation, they threaten the victim by suggesting a warrant exists for their arrest which will result in their deportation and imprisonment unless they transfer a payment to them in order to cancel the arrest or pay a fine. Once the money is transferred, all contact between the victim and the fraudster is severed.

What You Need To Do:

- Police will never ask you to withdraw to transfer money so "it can be checked", neither would they demand money to in order to cancel an arrest.

- Do not be tricked into giving a fraudster access to your personal or financial details no matter who they say they are; protect your information and have the confidence to question and refuse unusual requests.

- If you have made a payment to someone claiming to be the police or government department, and you think you might be a victim of fraud, you can report it to Action Fraud any time of the day or night using our online fraud reporting tool. You can also get advice about fraud or cyber-crime by calling 0300 123 2040.

- If you are a student you can ask your Student Union or University for advice, help and support.

(11th September 2018)


MOVING PLEA FROM DETECTIVE FIGHTING THE RAMPANT "BOGUS POLICE OFFICER" FRAUD
(Mirror, dated 16th August 2018 author Andrew Penman)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/moving-plea-detective-fighting-rampant-13085545

This was a cry from the heart.

"Help me after an incredibly frustrating few days," tweeted Supt Alun Morgan of South Wales Police.

"If you do one thing tonight, tell someone of senior years you care for or live near to NEVER agree to withdraw money from a bank for the police to look after"

He was responding to a spate of so-called courier frauds in the area - more than a dozen in Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan in one week plus three more in Cardiff.

The fraud works when callers posing as police officers persuade people that their bank account has been compromised and they must withdraw cash and hand it to a supposed police courier who'll take it away for safekeeping.

The bogus officers sometimes threaten arrest if victims don't comply.

While most victims are elderly, officers stress that anyone could potentially fall for the sophisticated and well-rehearsed scam.

"I am appalled by this type or criminality, it is upsetting even to the most hardened detective," said Supt Morgan.

"I have a dedicated team who have been given a clear direction to only focus on this particularly cruel type of offending - we are talking of people's life savings in some cases - and let me first say that a number of positive lines of enquiry are already underway."

He urged: "It is very important to raise awareness of this deception and vital that we reach out with your help to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

"Police officers will never contact you asking for personal financial information and we will never ask you to withdraw money."

South Wales Police recently released a video of retired Penarth teacher Margaret Turner, who'd lost £20,000 to what she called the "ghastly" fraud.

"My message to other people who receive a call of this nature is to tell the police at once," she said.

"Don't give the fraudsters anything."

Typically for this scam, one bogus sergeant advised her to call to check the veracity of his story but kept the phone line open, so when Margaret dialed she unknowingly spoke to another member of the gang, also posing as an officer.

She only realised that she'd been defrauded when her account went into the red.

Here's the official police advise:

Do:

- Obtain details of caller including name, rank, collar number and station;

- Ask what police force they identify themselves as working for;

- Note any contact details from caller display or via 1471 after the call has ended;

- Obtain the main force control room number from the phonebook, internet or directory enquiries;

- Terminate the call advising you will contact the force control room directly to confirm their identity and be put through to them internally. (Ring a family member first to ensure the line has disconnected from the initial caller);

- If anyone calls at your address following on from this communication please call 999 immediately.

Never:

- Provide any details of bank cards, account numbers, financial circumstances or personal details;

- Agree to make purchases or obtain funds from accounts to hand over to couriers;

- Hand over your bank cards or account paperwork;

Anyone who thinks they may have fallen victim to a scammer should report it via 101, or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

(11th September 2018)


AIRPORT "MEET AND GREET" PARKING FIRM FINED AFTER TRACKER REVEALED WHERE CAR WAS REALLY KEPT
(Manchester Evening News, dated 15th August 2018 author Charlotte Cox)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/manchester-airport-parking-meet-greet-15031333

NOTE: This article describes an example of a airport parking scam. The defendents name has been blanked (****) as they have stated they will appeal.

A meet and greet boss has been fined by magistrates after a council sting found a car in his firm's care was parked on the streets around Manchester Airport.

Mr ****, director of PPS Manchester Ltd - which is not affiliated to the airport - was rumbled after Trading Standards officers placed a tracker in a car and pretended to be customers.

Officers claim the tracker showed the vehicle had been parked on Greenwood Road in Woodhouse Park, Wythenshawe - and not in a secure car park as advertised.

Both director Mr **** and his firm PPS Manchester Ltd were found guilty at Manchester magistrates court of 'engaging in a misleading action', under consumer protection laws. Total fines and costs came to £3,567.

After the hearing, Mr **** - who denied the charge but was found guilty after a trial - said he intends to appeal the case.

Describing the investigation as a 'witch hunt', he told the Manchester Evening News: "PPS has served Manchester Airport Customers for 18 years and had never been to court before. It is one of the best companies on Manchester Airport with an impeccable reputation."

A council spokesman said in a statement how their sting was carried out.

He said: "In 2016, Manchester City Council's Trading Standards team fitted a tracking device to a vehicle and booked a three day airport parking service through the PPS Manchester website.

"The tracker showed the car had been parked on Greenwood Road in Woodhouse Park and clearly not in a secure car park as advertised.

"The company's website claimed that cars are kept on a concrete surface surrounded by fencing, patrolled 24 hours a day by security guards and under the watch of CCTV.

"Returning the following day, trading standards officers found the car in the same position before picking up the vehicle from a PPS Manchester driver the next day.

"Under interview, Mr **** claimed the cars were safe and secure as it was parked outside of his home address, and claimed the promise on the website referred to a period of time when the business was based at another location close to the airport.

"He also claimed that if the booking had been for longer, the vehicle would have been moved to one of three secure car parks that he had exclusive use of."

The sting was part of an ongoing operation to deal with several meet and greet firms following resident complaints over cars being left on streets.

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Manchester Council's Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, said: "I hope this sends a clear message to other illegal operators that deceiving customers will not be tolerated. We are doing everything we can to find you, investigate you and where possible, we will prosecute."

He said holidaymakers should research firms before booking and look out for the certified 'Buy with Confidence' mark.

Mr ****, Manchester, was personally fined £425 as sole director of PPS Manchester Limited and was ordered to pay £1,000 court costs and a victim of crime surcharge of £42.

PPS Manchester Limited was also fined £1,000 after being found guilty of engaging in a misleading action, and ordered to pay court costs of £1,000 along with a victims of crime surcharge of £100.

Mr ****'s offence comes under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading regulations.

The prosecution follows a string of stories by the M.E.N into meet and greet firms who have lost, damaged and parked cars on streets around the airport.

###'It's a witch hunt' says company boss

Mr ****, who said he sold the company in 2016, described the council's investigation as a 'witch hunt', adding: "PPS has served Manchester Airport Customers for 18 years and had never been to court before.

"It is one of the best companies on Manchester Airport with an impeccable reputation. Trading Standards failed to bring a single complaint about the company."

He said he intended to appeal the case.

He said PPS Manchester Ltd, which stands for Premier Parking Services, had only parked the car on Greenwood Road, outside his neighbour's home, for a valet because the booking had come from a (council officer's name) at a Manchester Council email address. For this reason, he said, the customer was 'treated like a celebrity'.

(11th September 2018)


CRIMINALS A BIT LESS INTERESTED IN NICKING BRITS' IDENTITIES THIS YEAR
(The Register, dated 15th August 2018 author John Leyden)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theregister.co.uk/2018/08/15/id_fraud_sitrep/

New figures reveal UK identity fraud dropped during the first six months of 2018 to reach a four-year low.

Cifas members recorded 84,463 cases of identity fraud in the first six months of the year, a 5 per cent drop compared to the same period in 2017 (89,199). Despite the reduction, identity fraud still represents over half of all fraud recorded by the UK's not-for-profit fraud data sharing organisation, with the vast majority (87 per cent) of identity frauds perpetrated online.

Reductions were also seen in fraudulent attempts to obtain bank accounts and mobile phone contracts. Fraudulent bank account opening scams fell from 24,759 in the first half of 2017 to 21,877 in the same period in 2018, a drop of 12 per cent. There was an even sharper 34 per cent reduction in attempts to obtain mobile phone contracts 6,000.

It's not altogether good news - both plastic card and online retail account fraud increased in the first six months of 2018.

Identity fraudsters applying for plastic card accounts rose 12 per cent from 29,851 in January to June 2017 to 33,305 in the first half of 2018. Identity fraud against online retail accounts rose by 24 per cent to reach 6,329 in 1H '18.
How cybercrims scrape enough data to become your nan

Identity fraud happens when a fraudster poses as an innocent individual to buy a product or open an account in their name. Victims may not even realise they have been targeted until a bill arrives for something they did not buy or they experience problems with their credit rating. Fraudsters need access to their victim's personal information such as name, date of birth, address, existing bank account etc in order to impersonate victims.

Fraudsters get hold of this info in a variety of ways, from stealing mail through to hacking, obtaining data on the dark and surface web, exploiting personal information on social media, or though social engineering - where victims are tricked into handing over personal information to someone pretending to be from their bank, the police or another trusted party.

Sandra Peaston, director of strategy, policy and insight at Cifas, said the figures show ID fraudsters are switching tactics.

"Identity fraud cases reached record levels in 2017, therefore it is positive that we have seen an overall reduction in the first six months of the year," she said. "However, these new figures demonstrate that identity fraudsters adapt quickly to try and circumvent security measures. The re-targeting of plastic cards, following a drop in 2017, is a prime example of this."

She added: "With identity fraud remaining uncomfortably high, more personal information available online, and increasing numbers of data breaches, the protection of personal data must be viewed as a collective responsibility. Everyone should play their part, from individuals and organisations taking steps to protect personal data to businesses ensuring their fraud prevention practices effectively defend against evolving tactics employed by identity fraudsters."

Cifas's data comes from identity fraud cases that have been recorded on the National Fraud Database by more than 400 organisations.

The number of victims aged under 21 in Cifas' figures rose from 1,012 in 1H17 to 1,309 in 1H18. The number of victims aged over 60 increased 8 per cent to 14,261. The ages of victims is not universally recorded in all cases so these figures are less than definitive.

(11th September 2018)


MORRISONS AND SAINSBURYS CUSTOMERS WARNED OVER NEW WHATSAPP SCAM PROMISING SHOPPING VOUCHER
(Mirror, dated 12th August 2018 author Lauren MacDougall)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/morrisons-sainsburys-customers-warned-over-13070755

Fraudsters are luring Morrisons and Sainsbury's customers into parting with their personal details in a new WhatsApp scam.

Consumer group Which? has issued a warning to shoppers over the bogus offers. The message tells unassuming customers that they could collect a free £150 voucher to spend in either Morrisons or Sainsbury's.

One message read: "I just received a free £150 gift voucher from Morrisons.

"Get yours before the offer ends.

"Thank me later."

It then links to a webpage used by the scammers to collect personal details, Kent Live reported.

The website address shared in scam messages usually contains the name of the supermarket or brand, leading people to believe the page is real.

But clicking on the link will take victims to an online survey asking for personal information including email address, home address and phone number before the bogus "free gift voucher" can be sent.

When the survey is complete, customers are asked to select WhatsApp friends to share the deal with and the promotional message and link is sent to all of those contacts.

A spokesperson for Morrisons confirmed the latest "offer" is indeed a scam, while Sainsbury's warned its customers to be vigilant.

A spokesman said: "Customers should always be mindful of phishing scams.

"This message is not from Sainsbury's and we are advising customers to delete it.

"Which? advise that if you're not sure whether the link or offer in a WhatsApp message is legitimate, not to click on it.The experts say you should contact the company directly to ask if the deal is genuine and warn the person who sent it to you.

They add: "If you have entered personal details, you need to be extra vigilant. If you receive any suspicious emails or odd postal messaging going forward, ignore them - they could be from a scammer hoping you'll fall for their next scam.

"Keep an eye on your credit report and bank accounts - scammers can use personal information to steal your identity and open new accounts or take out credit.

"Whatever form a message comes in, make sure you don't give away any bank details or passwords."

(11th September 2018)


INTERNET ROUTER "HACK" SCAM TARGETS UK HOMES
(Which ?, dated 12th August 2018 author Andrew Laughlin)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.which.co.uk/news/2018/08/internet-router-hack-scam-targets-uk-homes/

With broadband now a utility, much like electricity or gas, the humble internet router has become a new target for the scammers.

Which? members have contacted us about a new strain of attempted fraud that is similar to the 'Microsoft scam', but instead sees fraudsters masquerading as your internet provider and claiming that your router has been hacked.

Here, we alert you to the details of the router scam and show you how to protect yourself.

The router scam

In the scam, someone calls you supposedly from the technical support team of internet service providers, BT, Sky or TalkTalk. The caller advises you that there's a problem with your router, either that it's been 'compromised in several different countries' or that it just isn't working properly. Either way, they claim it has to be changed.

To create a sense of urgency, the caller advises that your home internet will have to be shut down within 24 hours unless you take action.

The scammers then claim that they, supposedly being the internet provider, are so sorry about the issues with the router that they want to refund a sum of money. They then move into a traditional scam aimed at tricking you into making a payment, securing your bank details or gaining access to your online bank account.

How to avoid falling victim to a router scam


- Treat all unsolicited phone calls with caution. If you have any doubt, just hang up and call your internet provider directly. Ensure you only get the number from the official website and don't call any number given by the fraudsters.

- Check your router. If they say there's a problem with your router, go check for yourself. If you don't have any internet problems, hang up.

- Don't ever give someone access to your computer unless they have 100% proven their credentials and identity. You wouldn't let just anyone in your home, so the same should apply with your laptop.

- Don't give your bank details over the phone. Your internet provider would have these details already, so there's no good reason why they would want them again.

- Warn others. If you've been targeted or know someone who has, alert other people to the scam so that they can avoid falling victim. If you use social networks, though, try to avoid revealing too much personal information.

Another strain of the 'Microsoft scam'

We contacted Action Fraud and it said that it was aware of similar cases. This falls into the broad category of 'computer software service fraud', more commonly referred to as the 'Microsoft scam', because the Windows software maker is so commonly used as the conduit for the deception.

In the Microsoft scam, a caller rings up and asks for you by name. They say they are a computer-security expert and warn that your PC, laptop or tablet has been infected with malware or has some other issue. They claim that they want to help you fix the problem.

Fraudsters often use name of well-known brands, such as Microsoft, as it's likely that the victim will have a PC running Windows in their home. With so many people now having broadband, it's unsurprising that fraudsters are now masquerading as the UK's biggest internet service providers, BT, Sky and TalkTalk.

While it is possible that your internet provider may contact directly, you should always exert caution when someone calls or emails you up out of the blue. For more help and advice on how to avoid tech scams and fraud, head over to our Computing Helpdesk website :

https://computing.which.co.uk/hc/en-gb/sections/201568505-Scams

(11th September 2018)


CARD AND ACCOUNT FRAUD JUMPS ALMOST 40% IN A YEAR
(Independent, dated 9th August 2018 author Kate Hughes)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/card-account-fraud-jumps-40-year-stolen-cybercrime-theft-take-five-a8484521.html

Almost five million people had money stolen from their bank or credit card account last year, at a cost of around £840 each, according to shocking new figures.

More than £2bn has been snatched from about one in 10 British adults, new data from Compare the Market has revealed, and online payments are the weakest link.

More than a quarter of frauds took place online last year and 27 per cent of victims don't know or remember how they were hacked.

The level of cyber fraud in the UK has fallen over the past 12 months, but the amount of money stolen has increased.

More than half of fraud victims have had money stolen in the last year, compared with the 5.5 million people who were victims of fraud between May 2016 and May 2017.

Criminal strategies are rapidly evolving as social media and software technology do.

The figures come after 95 arrests were made across Europe earlier this summer following a joint law enforcement operation targeting online fraudsters. The suspects arrested during the operation are believed to be responsible for more than 20,000 fraudulent transactions using compromised credit cards, with an estimated value exceeding £7m.

"Fraudsters are increasingly targeting people through social media so it's vital that everyone follows the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and keeps their details safe," warns Detective Chief Inspector Glyn Whittick, head of the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit, which led the UK side of the operation. "People should also remember when shopping online that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is."

Here in the UK, concerns are growing among consumers over pre-populated debit or credit card details that many people use to make online purchases. A third of consumers' credit or debit card details are saved using web browsing "auto-fill" technology, and more than half are concerned about the safety of this technology.

"In the last two years, we have seen the average amount stolen from accounts soar from £475 in 2016 to £833 in 2018. This is an extremely worrying trend and suggests a significant rise in aggressive bank and credit card fraud," says Shakila Hashmi, head of money at Compare the Market.

"It is also worrying that so few people decide to take action by moving provider after an attack takes place. Whilst we do all have a responsibility to try keep our banking and card details secure, providers have a duty of care to ensure that their customers are as protected as possible.

"It is also vital that they jump on suspicious activity, something that our research suggests does not happen enough. According to our research, 44 per cent of people who had been hacked had to alert their credit card provider or bank about the incident."

However, there is evidence that Britons are beginning to change their behaviours as a result of worrying and growing levels of fraud.

Most consumers are now more likely to check their bank and credit card accounts regularly, and to have different passwords and pins for their various accounts, and most now won't give out their bank details over the phone.

But campaigners warn anyone can be a victim of fraud and nobody should relax no matter how clued up they believe they are.

"All of these measures need to be ramped up in order for people to lessen the chance of being hacked," adds Hashmi.

"However, if a provider has not spotted suspicious activity or has not dealt with a fraud to the best of their ability then it is vital that people vote with their feet and move to suppliers with a better client service rating."

How not to be a victim of fraud

1. Keep your contactless card safe and in sight, this will help guard against misuse.

2. Make sure the PIN protecting your card, smartphone or other payment device is strong and secure and, never use the same PIN to unlock your smartphone and to verify contactless payments.

3. Regularly check the transactions on your bank statements - this will help you to spot any fraudulent activity on your account, contactless or otherwise. Checking your statements will also help you keep track of your spending.

(11th September 2018)


INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS THREATENED WITH DEPORTATION IN FAKE HOME OFFICE SCAM
(Independent, dated 6th August 2018 author Eleanor Busby)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/home-office-scam-fake-phone-international-students-deport-chinese-indian-a8479901.html

Fraudsters posing as Home Office officials or as the police have been targeting international students and threatening to deport them unless they pay money upfront.

National organisations have issued urgent advice to help international students - who come from non-EU countries like India and China - to avoid falling victim to a recent phone scam.

Students have been told by fraudsters they face immediate deportation and a 10-year ban from the UK for failing to fill out paperwork correctly - unless they pay a fine of up to £6,500.

Some victims have already lost thousands of pounds to fraudsters to avoid disputes with UK authorities, according to recent University of Manchester Students' Union (SU) guidance.

It adds that fraudsters are using software which displays official Home Office or police numbers on the students' screens to make it look genuine.

"They might intimidate you by using phrases like 'deportation notice', 'late fee charges', '10-year ban to enter the UK' if you refuse immediate payment," the notice from Manchester SU says.

The National Indian Students and Alumni Union (Nisau) and the Chinese Students' and Scholars Association (Cssa) have also both published advisory statements on the latest targeted scam.

Fraudsters are "authoritative and persistent" and have told students not to hang up the phone as the authorities will assume they are "implicit in criminal activity", the Nisau advice says.

Riddi Viswanathan, international officer at Manchester SU, said on Twitter she was "absolutely appalled" international students were being "targeted" for money by fraudsters.

Yinbo Yu, international students' officer at the National Union of Students (NUS), told The Independent: "It is deeply troubling to hear of yet another scam targeting students who have come here to study from abroad.

"These fraudsters are nothing more than vultures, and the police must identify those involved and act accordingly.

"It's also worth remembering that universities have a duty of care towards their students, and could be doing much, much more to reassure students at risk that adequate protections are in place."

Victims should not make any payments or give any personal information to the caller. They should call their university international student support team and report the incident to Action Fraud.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "Legitimate Home Office officials will never contact individuals to demand payment over the phone for visa fees or fines.

"Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of fraud should contact the police."

Action Fraud UK has been approached for a comment.

(11th September 2018)


YOUNG MEN EAGER FOR ONLINE BARGAINS ARE BEING CONNED OUT OF MILLIONS BY CRIMINALS GANGS
(The Telegraph, dated 4th August 2018 author Steve Bird)

Full Article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/04/young-men-eager-online-bargains-conned-millions-criminal-gangs/

Tech-savvy men in their 30's have been conned out of more than £22 million by online fraudsters who persuade them to bag a bargain by cutting out the middleman.

An increasing number of young men are falling for fake internet shopping and auction adverts in a confidence trick run by a sophisticated network of international organised criminal gangs.

In London alone, there are nearly 7,000 online shopping fraud crimes committed every year, netting criminals in excess of £8 million.

The latest statistics from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau show men account for 61 per cent of online fraud victims, with those aged between 31 and 40 most likely to fall for the fraud.

And most are being duped by fake adverts for 'cut price' high end goods, including cars, laptops, mobile phones, expensive trainers and other fashion items.

The Metropolitan Police is launching a nationwide online campaign urging people using shopping and auction sites to think before they are rushed into buying a bargain that is simply too good to be true.

Detective Inspector Brendan Bannon, from the Metropolitan Police, said the criminal gangs tend to be based in Romania with foot soldiers in the UK who carefully price products just below genuine adverts and then make up a sob story about the need for a quick sale.

The network has 'fraudsters' posting fake adverts on sites like eBay or Gumtree, while 'mule herders' recruits 'mules' to set up fake bank accounts for the 'money launder' to processes the stolen cash.

The gang's fake accounts and emails are often based on well-known English names, like Amy or Lucy, that Britons are more likely to trust.

After emailing over a sob story, such as having an ill relative or needing to leave the country, they encourage a quick sale and insist on cutting out the website's secure payment system.

Police say "alarm bells should be ringing" when any seller asks a buyer to step away from the online auction or sales process. On average the fraudsters steal £1,200 from each victim.

In the last financial year, there were 6,879 reports of online shopping fraud in London, an increase of 946 - or 14 per cent - on the previous year.

Detective Inspector Bannon said: "People get taken over by greed and thinking they're getting a bargain - common sense goes out of the window."

Earlier this year, Dragoz Dragomir, was jailed after running a counterfeit ID factory with a an online fraud operation netting millions of pounds.

His gang posted hundreds of fake adverts for non-existent goods and services on website like eBay. Dragomir even created a fake driving licence for David Cameron, the former prime minister to show off his counterfeiting skills.

The bogus documents allowed them to open fake bank accounts for the money launderers. The vast sums of cash were filtered through bank accounts before his henchmen withdrew the cash in smaller sums at bank machines.

(11th September 2018)


WATCH OUT FOR THESE FAKE BRITISH GAS REFUND EMAILS
(Action Fraud, dated 3rd August 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

We've had an increase in reports about fake British Gas emails claiming to offer refunds. The links provided in the emails lead to genuine-looking British Gas phishing websites that are designed to steal the usernames and passwords for British Gas accounts.

Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it's a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

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

(11th September 2018)


ONLINE SHOPPING SCAMS "COST MILLIONS:
(London Evening Standard, dated 2nd August 2018 author Justin Davenport)
www.standard.co.uk [Option 1]

Londoners are being fleeced out of more than £8 million a year in online shopping scams.

Users of websites including Amazon, Gumtree and AutoTrader are being conned into paying for goods that do not exist, police have warned.

Ciminals lure buyers way from the main website pament process by offering hefty discounts if they pay direct.

Scotland yard said some 700 Londoners a month are being conned out of thousands of pounds trying to buy cars, laptops and mobile phones.

Last year there were 6,879 reports of online shopping fraud in London, a 14 per cent rise on the previous year. The racket now accounts for about a quarter of all reports of fraud in London.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Miles, of the Met Cyber crime unit , said: " Organised crime is getting into this area and you will see different people taking different roles : some will set up the ads for the goods, others will set up the bank accounts to collect the cash".

Detectives have identified 5,000 victims so far in one investigation into Romanian - organised group which is suspected of netting at least £15 million.
The inquiry has led to 74 arrests.

The average loss to each victim is said to be £1,200, but the total cost to Londoners last year was put at £8.3 million.

Adverts on shopping sites are planned to alert buyers to potential fraud.

----------------------
50,000 WEBSITES FOUND TO BE SELLING COUNTERFEIT GOODS, ACTION FRAUD REVEALS
(Mirror, dated 4th July author Emma Mumbodh)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/50000-websites-found-selling-counterfeit-12852933

More than 50,000 websites have been suspended for selling counterfeit goods, the UK's anti scams body has revealed.

City of London Police said tens of thousands of online retailers have been taken down for flogging fake goods such as designer bags, accessories and jewellery.

Since 2013, 22,084 clothing websites, 15,975 footwear websites and 3,591 brands selling bags, accessories and jewellery have been caught out, as part of Operation Ashiko - the Government's crackdown on illegitimate goods.

It follows a widespread campaign, dubbed there's more at stake when it's a fake, to protect customers from cut price online items that are often of poor quality and potentially dangerous.

The City of London Police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit, which is leading the operation, said many of these websites also contain harmful viruses and malware and your personal information is also at risk of being compromised.

Detective chief inspector Nicholas Court, of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, said: "Since the launch of Operation Ashiko in October 2013, we have been extremely successful in removing websites selling counterfeit products and as such protecting people from the risks of IP crime.

"The sheer number of website takedowns should act as a warning online shoppers that there's more at stake when it's a fake," he added.

"When consumers make purchases on illicit sites, they are unknowingly handing over their personal and payment details to criminals who often use these to commit further crime."

How to tell if a website is genuine

Action Fraud has identified a number of preventative steps to help protect customers from online shopping fraud.

Detective inspector Chris Felton told Mirror Money: "As with any online shopping, we would urge people to research a seller before paying any money. Search for reviews from people who have previously purchased from the seller and check the item description carefully. If you are unsure, ask the seller questions.

"To protect your money until you've resolved any problems with the seller, always pay suing a recognised service; never pay by money transfers."

Here are the signs to watch for:

- If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don't be fooled into thinking you're getting a great deal.

- Get the trader to tell you if they provide an after-sales service, warranty or guarantee. Most rogue traders don't.

- Make sure you understand how the website's feedback function works. Feedback will give you useful information about recent transactions other buyers have made.

- Check the item's description carefully - ask the seller questions if you're not sure of something.

- Be aware of phishing emails that look like they come from the online auction or payment site you're registered with, asking you to update your account details or re-enter them because your account has been suspended.

- Check the URL in the web browser. A tactic often used by fraudsters is to change the address very slightly (if they're spoofing an eBay site, for instance, they may have an address such as '. . . @ebayz.com' whereas the real site is '. . . @ebay.com')

- Read the terms and conditions carefully, including those relating to any dispute resolution procedures the site offers.

- Run the site through a search engine - often if a site is suspicious, there'll be people talking about it online.

Top tips to stay safe online

As record numbers of gift buyers get set to purchase online, BarclaysDigiSafe has shared the following tips to avoid being fleeced by festive fraudsters:

1. Look out for the padlock symbol and 'https' in the address bar on retailers' websites

2. Watch out for deals that look too good to be true

3. Never use public Wi-Fi to purchase shopping online

4. Never give out your PIN or online banking password - legitimate websites won't ask for it.

5. Keep an eye on your bank balance so that you can spot and report fraudulent transactions quickly

(11th September 2018)


WHY SO MANY PEOPLE FALL FOR SCAMS
(BBC Capital, dated 27th July 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.bbc.com/capital/story/20180727-why-so-many-people-fall-for-scams

Note : This article originally appeared on The Conversation, and is republished under a Creative Commons licence. The author is Stacey Wood, professor of psychology at Scripps College (Claremont, California, United States).

If you have a mailbox, you probably get junk mail. If you have an email account, you probably get spam. If you have a phone, you probably get robocalls.

Unwanted messages and solicitations bombard us on a regular basis. Most of us hit ignore or delete or toss junk mail in the rubbish knowing that these messages and solicitations are most likely so-called mass-market scams. Others aren't so lucky.

Scams cost individuals, organisations and governments trillions of dollars each year in estimated losses, and many victims endure depression and ill health. There is no other crime, in fact, that affects so many people from almost all ages, backgrounds and geographical locations.

But why do people fall prey to these scams? My colleagues and I set out to answer this question. Some of our findings are in line with other research, but others challenge common assumptions about fraud.

Scams on the rise


Sweepstakes, lottery and other mass-market scams have become surprisingly common in recent years.

The Better Business Bureau reported approximately 500,000 complaints related to just sweepstake and lottery scams over the past three years, with losses of almost $350 million.

In the past, scams like these were perpetrated by relatively small local players and often done face-to-face, perhaps at an investment seminar for a bogus real estate opportunity.

Scams still happen the old-fashioned way, but today many more are being coordinated by transnational teams, including by groups in Jamaica, Costa Rica, Canada and Nigeria.

In recent years, fraud has grown into a pervasive global criminal activity as technology has lowered its cost while simultaneously making it easier than ever to reach millions of consumers instantly.

It is also much harder to catch and prosecute these criminals. For example, a robocall may appear on your caller ID as if it's coming from your area code but in fact it's originating in India.

Why people get taken for a ride

In order to study consumer susceptibility to mass-market scams, my co-authors and I reviewed 25 "successful" mass-market scam solicitations, obtained from the Los Angeles Postal Inspector's office, in search for common themes.

For example, many of them included some type of familiar brand name, like Marriott or Costco, to increase their credibility and "authority." Scammers frequently use persuasion techniques like pretending to be a legitimate business and using local area codes to foster familiarity. Or they make time-sensitive claims to increase motivation. Some of the letters we reviewed were quite colourful and included images of money or prizes and past "winners." Others were much more businesslike and included legal-sounding text, to also create an aura of legitimacy.

We then crafted a prototype one-page solicitation letter that informed consumers they were "already a winner" and listed an "activation number" they would need to contact to claim their prize. We created four versions, which we assigned at random, intended to either manipulate authority ("We obtained your name from Target") or pressure ("Act by June 30th") to determine what persuasion factors motivated consumers more to respond.

The study was designed to replicate real scenarios - although participants knew they were part of an experiment - and examine factors that we suspected increased risk, such as comfort with math and numbers, loneliness and less income.

In our first experiment, we asked 211 participants to indicate their willingness to contact the activation number on the letter. They were then asked to rate the benefits and risks of responding to the letter on a 10-point scale and fill out a survey intended to identify their level of numeracy, social isolation, demographics and financial status.

We found that 48% of participants indicated some willingness to contact the number regardless of which type of letter they received. The consumers who indicated they would have responded to this solicitation tended to have fewer years of education and be younger. These participants also tended to rate the risks of contact as low and the benefits as high.

In a second experiment involving 291 individuals, we used the letters from the first one but added an activation fee to half of them. That is, some participants were informed that to "activate" their winnings they had to pay a $5 fee, while others were told it was $100. The rest saw no change from the previous experiment, and all other aspects of the design were identical except for a few additional survey questions related to participants' financial situations.

We hypothesised that individuals who were willing to call and pay $100 would mean they're especially vulnerable to this type of scam.

Even with the activation fee, 25% of our sample indicated some willingness to contact the number provided - including more than a fifth of those told it would cost $100.

Similar to the first experiment, individuals who rated the solicitation as having high benefits were more likely to signal intention to contact. We thought this experiment would help us identify some special vulnerable subtype, like the elderly, but instead, the interested consumers in both experiments were exactly the same - those who saw the potential for high benefits as outweighing the risks. There were no significant differences based on age, gender or other demographics we looked at.

Even though about 60% identified the solicitations as likely a scam, they also still viewed the opportunity as potentially beneficial. In some ways these advance fee scams may act as unofficial lotteries - a low cost of entry and a high chance of failure. While consumers are wary, they don't completely write off the possibility of a big payoff, and some clearly are willing to undertake the risk.

Unfortunately, consumers overestimate their ability to back out if the offer turns out to be a scam. Once potential "suckers" are identified by responding to an actual solicitation over the phone call or by clicking on a fraudulent ad, they may be relentlessly targeted by phone, email and mail.

What to do about scams?

For many, solicitations via junk mail, spam email and robocalls are just incredibly annoying. But for some, they're more than just a nuisance, they're a trap.

To best protect yourself from being targeted, you need to be careful and use resources to help avoid scams. There are some services and apps intended to assist in screening calls and preventing identify theft. And some telephone companies allow you to opt in to such services. And more consumer education on the dangers of scams would help.

It is also important to resist clicking and responding to suspicious material in any way. Consumers who quickly identify a solicitation as a risk and dispose of it without wasting time are less vulnerable.

Given that the perception of benefits and risks were the most important factors in intention to comply, consumers should only focus on the risk and avoid getting sucked in by the potential benefits.

(11th September 2018)


CLEVER HSBC SCAM THAT MADE ONE MAJOR MISTAKE
(Mirror, dated 1st August 2018 author James Andrews)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/money/clever-hsbc-scam-made-one-13003234

Some scams are so laughable you wonder how anyone falls for them. Others catch even the canniest consumers out, seeing people lose thousands they will never see again.

So when I spotted an email purportedly from HSBC in my inbox with the title "James, Your account has security issues" - I took a look.

At first glance it's convincing.

--------------

"Dear James Andrews,

"We have received notice that you have recently attempted to withdraw the following amount from your checking account while in another country: £361.49.

"If this information is not correct, someone unknown may have access to your account. As a safety measure, please visit out website via the link below to very your personal information:"

Verify Information Here [link]

Once you have done his, our fraud department will work to resolve this issue. We are happy you have chosen us to do business with

Thank you,
HSBC Group

------------------

The e mail came with official looking header logo and footer

Yes, there's a minor mistake - "out" instead of "our", but that's easily missed.

What sparked my concern then? Well, it's what happened when I highlighted the text.

The fraudster had hidden a very large amount of non-sensical white text - on a white background - in an attempt to beat my spam filter.

That meant the actual content of the email read:

-------------------

"Dear James Andrews,Direct trade vape franzen, raclette semiotics blog fixie glossier snackwave literally. Thundercat

"Marfa pug selvage tbh butcher, offal +1 jean shorts scenester flexitarian tousled farm-to-table. Stumptown authentic microdosing blog echo park

"Weihaveireceivedinoticeithatiyouthavetrecentlytattemptedltolwithdrawltheifollowing amountifromtyourtcheckingtaccounttwhiletintanothertcountry: £361.49.

"Squid neutra health goth snackwave, cloud bread distillery gentrify church-key lomo. Hashtag narwhalbrooklyn copper mug, meditation artisan

"Iftthistinformationtistnottcorrect,tsomeonetunknowntmaythavetaccessttotyour account.tAstatsafetytmeasure,tpleasetvisittouttwebsitetviatthetlinktbelowttotverify your personal information:Photo booth 8-bit slow-carb pork belly air plant before they sold out, hella brooklyn.

"Deep v bespoke poutine lomo, roof party meggings pickled fixie gastropub four loko vape green juice tofu.Sriracha prism venmo food truck, deep v a"

------------------

Why would they do this?

A decade or so ago, as people used search engines more and more, programmers realised that computers read things that humans can't see.

As early search engines used something called "keyword density" - that is to say how often the page in question mentioned the word people were searching for - some developers started hiding key terms in text the same colour as the background.

That way the search engines read 32 instances of the term "credit cards" but the page looked like it only mentioned them once or twice, making it far more readable.

Search engines cottoned on pretty fast - and these tactics didn't work for long. But the truth behind it remains.

In this case, an email filter programmed to read emails and identify suspicious phrases is confused by this.

Additionally, if the same message is sent out to several people at the same time and they mark it as 'spam', your email provider will automatically place it in the junk folder.

But if these hidden words are randomised, then each time it was sent the email would look - at least to the computer - to be substantially new and even personalised to me.

"The use of 'white text' makes each email unique, and thus difficult to detect by spam-filters," a spokesman from Kapersky Lab confirmed to Mirror Money.

###How to spot it

Even without noticing the hidden text, there were reasons to be suspicious about this email.

Firstly, banks never ask you to enter your details over email - they have them already.

The most you'd get is someone asking you to confirm something with a simple "yes" or "no" and even that's rare.

Secondly, while the email said "HSBC", the actual address was "reply@camimia.info". It's always worth checking this.

And that's before we get to the hidden raclette.

I sent the email on to HSBC's official fraud reporting account - phishing@hsbc.co.uk - to try and ensure no one else is caught out.

"Although HSBC may send you emails from time to time, we never ask for your security information or your login details. We also never link from an email to a web page that asks for this information. If you receive an unsolicited email from HSBC, the chances are that it is a 'Phishing' email," HSBC replied.

"The key distinguishing features of such emails are:

"A request to the reader to log on to their banking service, via an embedded link

"A request for security information (typically not just random characters but the whole password, and card details as well...)"

###Staying safe in general

A rigid set of rules can prove problematic when it comes to spotting fraudsters - because they keep changing tactics.

"Phishing relies on social engineering, ie manipulating human psychology," explained David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab UK.

"So, there are always new ways to try and trick people, and just like road safety, it's best to adopt a security culture that will keep you safe in any situation - not just some that you've practised.

"For example, it's best never to click on links in e-mails; if you adopt this rule, you never need to rely on being able to distinguish a real from a phishing link."

He added: "Remember, if it looks important, and you're not sure, you should always call to check."

Here are Kaspersky Lab's top tips for staying safe:

- Use Internet security software - Installing updates as soon as they are available and using unique, complex passwords for online accounts.

- Set up multiple email addresses - It's a good idea to have at least two email addresses: A private email address only be used for personal correspondence - and never published on publicly accessible online resources; a second public email address for when you need to register on public forums and in chat rooms, or to subscribe to mailing lists and other internet services. Treat it as a temporary address and don't be afraid to change it if you start getting inundated with junk mail.

- Never respond to any unsolicited message or click on attachments or links - Most spammers verify receipt and log responses. The more you respond, the more spam you're likely to receive.

- Think before you click 'unsubscribe' - Spammers send fake unsubscribe letters in an attempt to collect active email addresses. If you click 'unsubscribe' in one of these letters, it may simply increase the amount of spam you receive. Do not click on 'unsubscribe' links in emails that come from unknown sources.

- Keep your browser updated - Make sure that you use the latest version of your web browser and that all of the latest Internet security patches have been applied.

- Use anti-spam filters - Only open email accounts with providers that include spam filtering. Choose an antivirus and Internet security solution that also includes advanced anti-spam features.

(11th September 2018)


JULY 2018


WATCH FOR THESE FAKE LINKEDIN EMAILS
(Action Fraud, dated 27th July 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

Watch out for fake LinkedIn emails. They are phishing attacks.

We've received multiple reports about these fake LinkedIn emails. They claim that your LinkedIn profile has appeared in multiple searches and provide links you can click on to get more details. These links lead to malicious websites designed to steal your personal and financial details.

Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it's a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

(1st August 2018)


PEPPA PIG WORLD WARNS PARENTS OF NEW WHATSAPP SCAM THAT OFFERS FIVE FREE PASSES
(The Sun, dated 23rd July 2018 author Zlata Rodionova)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thesun.co.uk/money/6841642/peppa-pig-world-warns-parents-of-new-whatsapp-scam-that-offers-five-free-passes/

PAULTONS theme park - home of Peppa Pig World - has warned parents of a new scam circulating on WhatsApp that offers claimants free tickets to the park.

The fake offer is luring potential visitors into handing over their personal details by giving them a chance to grab five press passes.

Clicking on it directs users to an online survey designed to steal their personal information like their bank details.

The company warned WhatsApp users in a message on Twitter. It comes after many schools broke up for the summer holiday this week.

Paultons Park said: "We have been advised that a message offering 5 free passes to 500 families to Paultons is being shared on WhatsApp.

"Please note this is not a genuine offer and is not associated with Paultons Park.

We advise that you do not click the link or share the message. PP."

It's not the first time scammers have used the messaging app to trick people into handing over their details by tempting them with spoof offers.

Earlier this year, WhatsApp was used to send fake vouchers to people, appearing to be from trusted chains such as Asda, Tesco and Aldi.

But when they clicked on the provided download link, they were directed to a website riddled with malicious software.

ust last week, Alton Towers issued a similar warning, after a fake giveaway offering free tickets to the theme park spread on WhatsApp, with users complaining of receiving a torrent of spam messages with links to a malicious website.

Another spin on the same scam features the Alton Towers resort logo with a button beneath it that shows how many free tickets are remaining.

Like other WhatsApp scam messages, it's full of grammatical errors: a dead giveaway that something dodgy is at play.

"We're giving 5 free passes to 500 families to celebrate our 110nd birthday!" reads the text below the image. (Bogus offer)

Clicking on it directs users to an online survey and encourages them to send it on to 20 of their friends.

Action Fraud, the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, suggests anyone who has fallen victim to this scam to report it online or call 0300 123 2040.

(1st August 2018)


SCAM VICTIMS THREATENED WITH "HACKED ADAULT CONTENT" - HERE IS HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
(Which?, dated 21st July 2018 author Danielle Richardson)

Full Article [Option 1]:

www.which.co.uk/news/2018/07/scam-victims-threatened-with-hacked-adult-content-heres-how-to-protect-yourself/

Scammers are finding new ways to target people, threatening to share compromising footage captured without victims' knowledge unless they transfer large sums of money, Action Fraud has warned.

At least 110 cases so far have been reported to the organisation, which is the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime and part of the City of London Police.

Which? explains what the scam is, what to do if you've been affected and how you can prevent becoming the next victim.

What are the scammers doing?


In a new tactic by scammers, the bribery begins with the cyber criminal emailing the victim with their own password as 'proof' that they have been hacked in some way.

In a twist straight out of dystopian sci-fi series 'Black Mirror', the hacker then claims to have discovered not just the victim's password, but also footage of adult content that they've been watching, footage of the victim watching it, plus details of their contacts on Facebook, Messenger and email.

The victim is left with the choice of sending a large Bitcoin payment to the hacker, or taking the risk that very private footage could be revealed to everyone they know.

Action Fraud has said there is currently no evidence to suggest that these videos have actually been made, although it's worth bearing in mind that it is possible for your webcam to be hacked.

The issue is also not necessarily specific to computers, Action Fraud has said.

While 110 instances of this fraud have been recorded so far, it could be the case that many more people have been too embarrassed to come forward.

If you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cyber crime, you should always report it to Action Fraud.

Could I be at risk?

It's suspected that, rather than actually hacking into individuals' computers and gaining access to their screens and passwords, fraudsters have actually gained victims' passwords from old data breaches.

These are incidents where people have signed up to various accounts, which have then been hacked, and the data has been sold on to a network of cyber criminals.

Several data breaches have taken place over the years, and not all of them hit the headlines.

Action Fraud recommends checking whether your details have been accessed on the website (Have I been pwned? : https://haveibeenpwned.com/) After entering your email address, it will tell you whether any sites holding your details have been hacked and which details could have been stolen.

In regards to this latest scam, Action Fraud has run some victims' email addresses through the site and found almost all affected accounts were identified as at risk.

I've received these emails. What should I do?


The police advise against paying criminals and you shouldn't email the fraudsters back.

Instead, report the incident to Action Fraud as a phishing attempt through the online form.

If you've received the email and have already paid the fine, report the incident to your local police force.

How to protect yourself from scammers


There are steps you can take to keep your identity safe online.

Action Fraud suggests doing the following:

_ Always use a strong and separate password for any account you set up. If possible, enable two-factor authentication (2FA).

- Regularly update your antivirus software and operating systems.

- Cover your webcam whenever it's not in use.

(1st August 2018)


A CRIMINAL POSING AS BT ENGINEER TOOK CONTROL OF MY COMPUTER AND ROBBED ME OF £7,800
(Daily Mail, dated 21st July 2018 author Jeff Prestridge)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/money/beatthescammers/article-5977457/A-criminal-posing-BT-engineer-took-control-computer-robbed-7-800.html

Fraudsters are using new tactics to plunder people's bank accounts. They include social engineering and computer takeover fraud.

When David Couldwell received a call on his landline from a BT engineer explaining that his internet router had been hacked and urgent security tests were needed, he was only too willing to help.

But unbeknown to David, the call was not from BT. It was from a fraudster who, by taking control of his computer remotely, removed almost £7,800 from his bank and saving accounts with NatWest.

The fraud David suffered is the new game in town. Such 'computer takeovers' are increasingly used by criminals developing new ways of emptying victims' bank accounts. Last year, we reported on a near identical case involving financial adviser Joanna Coull, who was also scammed out of £7,800.

According to the latest data on banking fraud from trade body UK Finance, last year £121 million was removed from customers' accounts by criminals who had gained unauthorised online access. This is a 19 per cent increase on the year before and more than double the figure five years ago.

By contrast fraud losses overall are falling, according to UK Finance, with banks and card companies preventing £2 in every £3 of attempted unauthorised fraud.

The report says that computer takeovers often result from criminals using 'social engineering' tactics to deceive and manipulate people into divulging key details.

The 'manipulation' stems from the criminal purporting to be from a trusted organisation, such as a person's bank, the police, a government department or utility firm. In many cases, they ring claiming there has been suspicious activity on the victim's bank account or there is an internet problem that needs fixing.

For the 'problem' to be resolved, the victim is asked for more details. This allows them to be tricked into giving away sufficient information for the criminals to gain remote access to their bank account and steal money.

For David Couldwell, the 'trusted' company was BT. Late last month, the 73-year-old was at home in Norfolk and took a call from a man claiming to be from the telecoms giant. The individual said the internet router which David and his wife Brenda use had been hacked and that he needed to carry out urgent tests. David, a retired computer manager, agreed and was reassured by the fact the caller proceeded to get the router to flash. But the fraudster had only just begun. He then asked if he could have access to David's computer to ensure no hacker had managed to log into it.

It was then the caller said David would receive £500 by way of a thank you for the inconvenience caused. The call was transferred to 'BT's accounts department' so it could effect the payment.

David was asked to provide his account details and then instructed to log in to his NatWest account to check the money had gone in. When he looked he found that £5,000 - not £500 - had been deposited. He was asked to refund the overpayment - to Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco. When he queried this, he was told BT was a global firm and had accounts worldwide.

By this stage, the fraudsters had taken control of his account - not just the main one but three others - including an Isa - that he either held in his own name or jointly with Brenda. The £5,000 was not a 'deposit' but money moved by the criminals from the other accounts to look as if it were a fresh credit.

By the time David discovered this and alerted NatWest to the fraud, it was too late. The criminals had extracted £7,767 from his accounts.

Initially, NatWest told David he would not get a full refund, holding him partly culpable. But last week it backtracked after The Mail on Sunday's intervention and agreed to refund the full loss.

David is grateful. He says: 'I am sure we would have had a long battle getting our money back had it not been for The Mail on Sunday. Maybe I should not have allowed myself to be tricked, but at the time I was convinced I was dealing with bona fide BT employees.'

He says the criminals tried the same scam on both his neighbours but failed.

On Friday, NatWest said: 'We appreciate this has been a distressing experience for the Couldwells. We take our responsibilities seriously in preventing fraud and remind customers to remain vigilant against scams.'

It added: 'Customers should never give anyone remote access to their computer and not divulge security details to someone over the phone. They should decline and report it to their bank immediately on a phone number they can trust.'

Katy Worobec, at UK Finance, said: 'Criminals have become adept at impersonating legitimate organisations such as banks and utility companies to trick people into giving away their bank details.

'Never let someone else have access to your computer remotely, especially if they have contacted you via an unsolicited phone call.'

BT said it was working with law enforcement agencies to bring fraudsters to justice.

WISE UP TO WAYS OF FOILING THE CYBER ATTACKERS

Be extremely wary of unsolicited approaches by phone, especially people claiming to offer refunds.

- Avoid letting someone you do not know have access to your computer, especially remotely.

- Do not log on to your bank account while someone else has remote control of your computer.

- Do not share passcodes or card reader codes with anyone.

- Do not share your Pin or online banking password, even by tapping them into a telephone keypad.

- Further details on how to combat financial fraud can be obtained from the 'Take 5 - To Stop Fraud' pages of the website of trade body UK Finance, available at: takefive-stopfraud.org.uk

(1st August 2018)


RISE IN FAKE AMAZON EMAILS
(Action Fraud, dated 20th July 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

These fake emails are after your Amazon login details!

We've had an increased number of reports about these fake emails purporting to be from Amazon. The subject line and content of the emails vary, but they all contain links leading to phishing websites designed to steal your Amazon login details.

Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it's a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.???????

(1st August 2018)


FRAUD - HERE'S HOW SCAMMERS GET AWAY WITH IT
(The Guardian, dated 7th July 2018 author Patrick Collinson)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/money/2018/jul/07/heres-how-scammers-get-away-with-it

Digital bank Monzo is one of the fastest-growing new banks in Britain, opening 750,000 accounts over the past two years. Now, in an extraordinarily candid move for a bank, it has thrown open its doors to Guardian Money to expose the scams and brazen criminality that threaten customers - and how it is fighting back. Some of the scams are shocking, others audacious - and one so simple we are banned from telling you about it.

The student 'mules'

Students are selling their bank accounts - giving someone else their account details such as logons - for as little as £50 to £100, often as they are finishing university and heading abroad for a period. These accounts are then used by fraudsters to evade the strict checking procedures when individuals try to open an account.

These "mule" accounts are a vital link for crooks moving money around the banking system. A common cry among victims of fraud is that banks must have an electronic record of where their money has gone. The mules are the way stolen money is transferred and laundered through the system.

Sometimes the scamsters ask students for their active cooperation - for example, they will tell them that £20,000 will come into their account and that they should send £19,800 to a different account, often overseas, and keep £200 themselves.

Monzo says it uses artificial-intelligence systems to flag up unusual sums and block accounts. But Tom Blomfield, the bank's chief executive, makes a plea to students: "Don't sell your identity. All you are doing is enabling money laundering."

Transaction attacks

On the Monday morning I visited Monzo's offices, just 12 hours earlier there had been a "pan enumeration" attack on its computer systems. This is where fraudsters, often based overseas, bombard a bank's computers, trying to guess passwords and logins, or attempting to do transactions by generating card expiry dates and three-digit CVCs (card verification codes) in the hope that some might break through.

Often the attacks begin in the middle of the night. I was shown a screen of transaction activity that spiked around midnight on a Sunday. Suddenly Monzo was being hit with 100 failed transactions a second. This went on for 10 minutes. I was told that the bank experienced "a few of these every month. Last night's attack could just be a warm-up," said an IT expert at the bank.

Monzo is aware that as a challenger bank it is high on the target list for fraudsters keen to exploit any gaps in its defences. But it also has an advantage - its new IT systems are better primed to deter fraud than the legacy systems of traditional banks. Monzo says that following Sunday's attack it had "new kill switches and triggers" in place within hours.

Blocking dodgy transfers and deposits


One of the saddest scams is when an older person is conned by a cold caller posing as their bank manager. They are told there has been suspicious activity on their account and that they need to switch their money to a safer place. The calls can be frighteningly convincing.

What Monzo sees is the other side of the equation - when a large sum from a big bank is deposited into a Monzo account (which later turns out to be a mule). Using sophisticated machine-learning techniques, Monzo says it is better able to identify suspicious deposits. In one instance, it froze thousands of pounds that had arrived into an account. "We blocked it and contacted the originating bank," says Blomfield. "But that bank [one of the biggest UK players] said it was all fine. Then it rang a few days later to say it looked like the customer had been conned. Luckily, we were able to return the money."

Frustratingly, there are few mechanisms for banks to communicate with each other. "In the US, there is a web portal for banks to contact each other on these issues. Here, it's just email, Blomfield adds. "Sometimes we are even told to use a fax."

Detecting data breaches


On 6 April, Monzo was contacted by 50 customers reporting fraudulent transactions. This was not remarkable in itself - Monzo has about 750,000 customers - and it replaced their cards immediately. But its financial crime and security team noticed a pattern. "About 70% of those affected had used their cards with the same online merchant between December of last year and April this year," a Monzo statement said. "That merchant was Ticketmaster. This seemed unusual, as overall only 0.8% of all our customers had used Ticketmaster.

"Within four-and-a-half hours, the team rolled out updates to our fraud systems to block suspicious transactions on other customers' cards. That evening, we reached out to other banks and the US Secret Service (which is responsible for credit card fraud in the US) to ask if they had seen anything similar. At the time, they hadn't."

The following week, it saw four more compromised cards - all had been used at Ticketmaster. "Given the pattern that was emerging, we decided to reach out to Ticketmaster directly," the statement continued. "On 12 April, Ticketmaster's security team visited the Monzo office so we could share the information we had gathered. They told us they would investigate internally."

Over the next few weeks it became obvious that something was happening with cards used on Ticketmaster. Confident that the ticket site had suffered a data breach, the bank contacted Mastercard and replaced every Monzo card - 6,000 - that had been used at Ticketmaster.

Meanwhile, on 19 April, Ticketmaster told Monzo it had found no evidence of a breach. But on 27 June, its customers were informed by that they could be at risk of fraud or identity theft, admitting a major breach had affected tens of thousands of people.

The question is why it took Ticketmaster so long to inform customers, given Monzo's warnings. Ticketmaster says: "When a bank or credit card provider alerts us to suspicious activity it is always investigated thoroughly with our acquiring bank, which processes card payments on our behalf. In this case, there was an investigation, but there was no evidence the issue originated with Ticketmaster."

Meet Fraudster No 1

In Monzo's financial crime unit at its London offices just off London's so-called "Silicon Roundabout", he is known as Fraudster No 1. I was shown his picture, name, full address (in south-west London), Facebook page and even photographs of the luxury goods he has snaffled with money looted from other people's accounts and ostentatiously posted on Instagram. Monzo has shared all these details with the police. Yet this man has not been apprehended. Why? Because, much to the frustration of Monzo's fraud team, the police are not interested because the sum stolen - £40,000 - is deemed not large enough to bother the authorities.

The man is known as Fraudster No 1 not because of the £40,000 he has stolen, but because he was the first account holder that the bank, which was founded in 2015, identified as a con man.

"He used the dark web to buy a few hundred stolen debit and credit cards," says Tom Blomfield, chief executive of Monzo. "He loaded cash stolen from those cards on to his Monzo prepaid card, then used that to buy goods. He's utterly brazen. He has posted on Instagram the high-value electricals he has bought with the money, from stores such as Maplin.

"He has stolen £40,000 from us. We have passed his details to the NCA [National Crime Agency]. It's so frustrating. He actually poses in pictures with his stolen gear. If someone smashed your windows and stole £40,000 from you, the police would be all over it. But nothing has been done to him."

In one extreme case, Monzo identified a man who was convicted for card fraud, who subsequently used a stolen debit card to pay his court fine. Unlike Fraudster No 1, at least he has been apprehended.

Monzo suspends or terminates accounts when it identifies fraud, but can't tell the "customer" of its suspicions. The response from the fraudsters is shocking. "They will go on to their Twitter feed and accuse us of being scammers," says Natasha Vernier, head of Monzo's financial crime unit. "We don't respond. They will call our customer centre and use every trick to try to get them to buckle and reopen the account, so they can continue defrauding others."

Call centre workers will hear sob stories from crooks who pretend that the account closure is causing them huge grief - to the extent that they even use recordings of babies crying, while screaming down the line that they need the money for baby food. The call centre workers have to stand firm and refuse to reopen the account.

Fancy a £5,000 refund?


A gang goes into a shop and distracts staff. One of them goes to the point-of-sale (POS) terminal, inserts their card and requests a refund. Monzo says it is aware of merchants losing up to £5,000 in this way, and banks do not cover them for it.

In a more basic version of the fraud, gangs grab a POS terminal in a shop, run out and try to process a refund outside.

Fuelling card crime


This is an extraordinary new fraud, which relies on petrol stations where there are no attendants - often at night - and where drivers can use a card to pay at the pump.

According to Monzo, it works like this: the customer has a card with £100 in their account. The card reader at the pump pre-authorises the person wanting to fill their car by taking an initial £1 payment, purely for card validation purposes. After that, the driver can fill up with up to £100 worth of petrol. The charge may take a day or two to be deducted from the person's account. The fraudster does the pre-authorisation again and again, with just £1 deducted each time, until the £100 on the card has been used up. The customer therefore gets 100 times £100 worth of petrol, at a deduction from the card of just £100. Only later is the £10,000 worth of petrol charged to the card, which does not have the funds and is therefore bounced.

Fraudsters are buying vans and retro-fitting them with huge tanks. Monzo says it knows of £56,000 worth of petrol stolen in this way. The loser here is the petrol station as, while the money initially comes off the card, it is then charged back to the forecourt operator.

The police are concerned about the prospect of vans carrying vast amounts of petrol.

Natasha Vernier, head of Monzo's financial crime unit, says that when other banks spot a new kind of fraud, they can take weeks to put in place technical patches to spot it on their systems. "When we first saw pay-at-pump fraud, we had a new rule in place in five hours," she says.

Your ears are the giveaway


Monzo requires that new account openers submit a photo of their identity document, plus a selfie video. It sends this to an ID verifier such as Jumio or Au10tix, which have software that checks whether the person in the ID photo is the same as the one in the selfie.

I was shown pictures of one male in his 20s who made four attempts to open an account at Monzo. He was identified as a fraudster on his first attempt. In later attempts his picture changes - it is still him, but with a beard, then a long beard, short hair on top, longer hair on top, and so on. Each time Monzo's systems identified him - because of his ears. According to Monzo, ear positions are the most difficult thing to fake.

(1st August 2018)


WATCH OUT FOR THESE FAKE ARGOS TEXTS
(Action Fraud, dated 6th July 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

These fake text messages purport to be from Argos and claim that you're owed a refund. The link in the messages lead to phishing websites designed to steal your personal information, as well as payment details.

Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case its a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

For more information on how to stay ecure online, visit www.cyberaware.co.uk

(1st August 2018)


JUNE 2018


NATIONAL TRADING STANDARDS - JUNE 2018 - SCAM NEWS
(Dated May / June 2018)

-----------------------
THE PEOPLE MOST LIKELY TO BE SCAMMED
(The Herald, dated 3rd June 2018 author Peter Swindon)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.heraldscotland.com/news/16266090.Revealed__the_people_most_likely_to_be_scammed/?mc_cid=9d7f8c7a7a&mc_eid=f46eab0a3f

HOW safe from the scammers do you think you are? Many of us are confident that we would never fall for crimes that can end up costing thousands of pounds.

However, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), which oversees 60 advice bureaux, says more of us are at risk than we might have thought, and a new campaign will warn four groups of people most at risk of being conned out of cash.

CAS says people aged over 70 are most at risk, but three other groups are also likely to fall victim to scammers - young people aged 16 to 24, life established people aged 45 to 60 and socially isolated people of all ages.

The organisation has launched Scams Awareness Month, which begins tomorrow, in the hope of helping people to spot the dangers.

CAS has seen a sharp increase in the number of victims coming forward in the last year. Lucy Manson, a Community Action Team manager with the organisation, said: "Scams can happen by phone, by mail, online or on your own doorstep, and they can cost people hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

"We've seen a 24 per cent increase over the last year in people reporting scams to the Scottish CAB network. That shows how big the problem is, but it is also an encouraging sign that people are coming forward to talk about their experience of being scammed, because that is the way we are going to beat the scammers.

"So, our message throughout this month is that we all need to be vigilant and watch out for scams." And the key messages?

Take your time before making any decisions to part with your cash. Don't be rushed into a decision.

Make sure you research the company first - for example by asking friends and family about them or researching them online.

Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

"If people are hit by a scam," Manson added, "they should talk about it to their friends and family and report it to the CAB service or to Trading Standards or the police, so we can warn other people about it."

THE VULNERABLE GROUPS

Over-70s

The average age of reported scam victims is 75 and those over 70 have the highest losses from a range of scams, targeted by landline, phone and mail. CAS research found the average financial loss for those aged between 75 to 79 is £4,500. Although older people often report scams, they can lack confidence in their ability to protect themselves against scammers, which makes them more vulnerable.

CAS advice: Be wary of cold callers and thoroughly check the ID of tradespeople on your doorstep. Be cautious when answering the phone to an unknown caller or opening unexpected letters.

Life established

People aged 45 to 60 are targets because they are more likely to own their own home and have access to financial assets, making them a likely target of investment scams. Seven out of ten people with income exceeding £25,000 say they have been contacted by someone trying to scam them, compared with four of out ten of whose earnings are less than £9,500 per year, according to research by CAS. A third of all victims of scams are aged 41 to 60.

While the life established are targeted by a wide range of scams, they are most vulnerable to phishing and other banking scams, property scams and pension liberation scams.

CAS advice: Be wary of deals that use persuasive messaging to sell you 'once in a lifetime' deals.

Young people

As digital natives, young people are confident when using the internet, leading them to feel they are unlikely to fall for online scams that target them through social media and website advertising. They are often found to be victims of online scams, such as subscription traps, job scams and identity fraud. But they are least likely to report a scam - CAS research found that more than half of adults aged 18 to 24 would be unlikely to report being conned, making them the largest group who are unlikely to take any action when encountering a scam.

CAS Advice: Be cautious of pop-ups on social media and websites that take you to an unknown site.

Socially isolated

People who are socially isolated can be the hardest to reach and often can't access the same support to protect themselves from scams as other groups. Although people who are socially isolated don't always report scams, they can be badly affected, both mentally and financially. It has been reported that the names and addresses of approximately 300,000 people nationally are on lists which are being sold between criminals to use as targets for scams. CAS research has found that nine out of ten people on these target lists are unaware that they are being targeted. Often, people who are socially isolated are not able to connect to support or help to prevent this.

CAS Advice: Be cautious of unknown callers and unexpected mail
.

I WAS CONNED OUT OF £3,500 AND I'M STRUGGLING TO MAKE ENDS MEET

A businessman has revealed he was conned out of £3,500 after his details and passwords were obtained by scammers.

Clifford Selbie, 48, from Glenrothes, runs a gardening business in Fife and agreed to an advertising deal with a magazine for emergency services personnel which cost him £250 a year.

The married father-of-three paid up front and the advert appeared for a year, then last year he received a call from someone claiming to be a debt collector who demanded thousands of pounds.

Selbie said: "They threatening to go to take my house over a £3,500 debt, unless I paid £2,500 immediately. Straight away alarm bells went off in my head and I told them if they called again I'd call the police, then I hung up.

"But they phoned me back and said they had my password, and it wasn't a simple password. When they read it out I just assumed it was legitimate.

"I protested and said I'd paid upfront, but they then threatened to get the police and go to my house and take what they wanted. I gave them bank details. They took the money twenty minutes later."

He later went online and discovered the magazine publisher had gone bust and his personal data had been sold on to scammers.

Selbie contacted his bank and the police but there was nothing they could do because he had willingly handed over the cash.

He has since to borrow money from relatives which he is struggling to pay back.

"I'm doing overtime, working an extra job as a forklift operator for a building company to get that money back. My gardening business is struggling too, because I can't afford to buy equipment and materials.

"I'm angry at the scammers, I'm angry at the company which went bust, I'm angry at the law because nothing can be done, I'm also disappointed at having my trust violated.

"I would say to anyone else contacted by so-called debt collectors to check a company still exists and make sure you get a letter from the company to confirm they have referred you to debt collector."

------------------------

ARRESTS MADE IN CRACKDOWN AGAINST ONLINE FRAUDSTERS
(London Loves Business, dated 20th June 2018 author LLB Reporter)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://londonlovesbusiness.com/arrests-made-in-crackdown-against-online-fraudsters/

Ninety five arrests have been made across Europe following a joint law enforcement operation targeting online fraudsters between 4 and 15 June 2018. The suspects arrested during the operation are believed to be responsible for more than 20,000 fraudulent transactions using compromised credit cards, with an estimated value exceeding EUR 8 million (£7 million). The action was coordinated by Europol, working closely with law enforcement, the banking industry and retailers across 28 countries.

The operations in the UK were led by officers from the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU). Nine search warrants were executed across the country, resulting in four interviews under caution and two arrests - one in Bolton and another in London. During the searches valuable intelligence was gathered and several devices that were suspected of being used to commit remote purchase fraud were seized. Ongoing investigations are now underway that are expected to result in further arrests and charges.

Several of the fraudsters targeted during the operations were using social media to commit remote purchase fraud. Often, criminals will offer goods to buyers for a heavily discounted price via social media and then use stolen card details to make the purchase. The buyers' card details are then usually stolen and passed on to other fraudsters.

The operation has been followed by the launch of an awareness-raising campaign on social media -#BuySafePaySafe - by Europol and law enforcement agencies across Europe. This complements UK Finance's Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, which provides customers with advice to help them stay safe from fraud and scams.

T/DCI Glyn Whittick, head of the DCPCU, commented: "The success of these operations shows how through close cooperation with our European partners, retailers and the financial sector, we are cracking down on the criminal gangs targeting consumers online.

"Ongoing investigations are now underway and we will continue to work together to bring those committing remote purchase fraud to justice.

"Fraudsters are increasingly targeting people through social media so it's vital that everyone follows the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and keeps their details safe. People should also remember when shopping online that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is."

------------------------

(17th July 2018)


IDENTITY THEFT WARNING AFTER MAJOR DATA BREACH AT TICKETMASTER
(The Guardian, dated 27th June 2018 authors Rupert Jones and Patrick Collinson)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/money/2018/jun/27/identity-theft-warning-after-major-data-breach-at-ticketmaster

UK customers of Ticketmaster have been warned they could be at risk of fraud or identity theft after the global ticketing group revealed a major data breach that has affected tens of thousands of people.

The company could face questions over whether there was a delay in disclosing the breach after it emerged that some UK banks have known about the incident since early April.

The Guardian understands that a number of Ticketmaster customers have already had fraudulent transactions debited from their accounts, with the fraudsters spending people's cash on money transfer service Xendpay, Uber gift cards and Netflix, among other items.

Ticketmaster said customers who bought concert, theatre and sporting event tickets between February and 23 June 2018 may have been affected by the incident, which involved malicious software being used to steal people's names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, payment details and Ticketmaster login details.

The breach also affects customers of two other UK websites owned by Ticketmaster: TicketWeb and the resale website Get Me In!.

The company said less than 5% of its global customer base had been caught up in the breach, and indicated the number directly affected was fewer than 40,000. However, Ticketmaster claims to serve more than 230 million customers a year globally.

Ticketmaster, part of the Live Nation Entertainment group, said that on 23 June it discovered that malware on a customer support product hosted by Inbenta Technologies, an external third-party supplier, was exporting UK customers' data to an unknown third-party. As a result, it said, some of its customers' personal or payment information may have been accessed by this third party.

Digital bank Monzo was the first to spot customers' cards were being compromised. It identified in April that the common factor behind a spike in frauds was that every customer who lost money had also had interaction with Ticketmaster.

On 12 April it warned Ticketmaster of the issue, but "couldn't get any traction" out of the company, according to Monzo's head of financial crime, Natasha Vernier.

In the meantime, Monzo contacted all customers who had ever dealt with Ticketmaster - about 5,000 - to replace their cards.

It also told banks that are part of the UK Finance group in April that it was aware of what appeared to be a significant data breach at Ticketmaster.

Monzo's experience suggests that anyone who has bought a ticket through Ticketmaster should check their accounts for unusual transactions involving Xendpay, Uber and Netflix. None of these companies were involved in the fraud itself, but were the means by which the fraudsters were able to steal money from people's accounts.

Ticketmaster did not give any further information about precisely which payment details may be affected, but it warned customers: "We recommend that you monitor your account statements for evidence of fraud or identity theft.

"If you are concerned or notice any suspicious activity on your account, you should contact your bank(s) and any credit card companies."

The company said: "Based on our investigation, we understand that only certain UK customers who purchased or attempted to purchase tickets may have been affected by the incident."

It added that forensic teams and security experts were "working around the clock" to understand how the data was compromised, and that it was working with the Information Commissioner's Office, credit card companies, banks and others.

A page on Inbenta's website - which appears to have been taken down - reveals that Ticketmaster turned to Inbenta because it was having to deal with large numbers of "repetitive questions" from customers "that fatigued agents and cost a lot of money to answer".

As a result, it said, "Ticketmaster now saves hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary incoming support emails and contact center calls".

Ticketmaster said it was offering affected customers a free 12-month identity monitoring service. There is a dedicated website, security.ticketmaster.co.uk, and customers can also email fan.help@ticketmaster.co.uk.

(17th July 2018)


SCAMMERS ARE POSING AS THE FINANCIAL OMBUDSMAN, WATCHDOG WARNS
(Money Saving Expert, dated 26th June 2018 author Callum Mason)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/banking/2018/06/scammers-are-calling-customers-customers-and-pretending-to-be-the-financial-ombudsman-watchdog-warns?mc_cid=ec1ce70734&mc_eid=f46eab0a3f

Scammers are pretending to be from the Financial Ombudsman Service to try and trick victims into handing over personal information, the watchdog has warned.

Fraudusters are falsely claiming to be calling from the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to try to persuade people to reveal details about their personal and financial circumstances - and they are even managing to make FOS's number appear on people's caller ID.

The ombudsman - which sorts out complaints between financial businesses and their customers - doesn't write to or phone people out of the blue to ask for personal information. It will only contact you if you've been in touch to register a complaint, and even then it would only speak to you about that complaint.

It's also a free service and would NEVER ask you for money. It also wouldn't pay you compensation directly.

I've been caught out - what should I do?

If you've been contacted by someone pretending to be from the FOS, you should contact the ombudsman on 0800 023 4567.

Remember though, even if this number appears on your caller ID when you get an incoming call, it isn't necessarily the FOS.

If you've given out personal information, call your bank and let it know.

You can also report the scam to the police through Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or report a scam anonymously on its website (https://actionfraud.police.uk/).

What does the FOS say?

A Financial Ombudsman Service spokesperson said: "Criminals use a wide range of tactics to defraud people, even stooping so low as to pretend to from our service. If you're suspicious about a call you've received, hang-up, check the line is clear, then call back by dialling our helpline number.

"We update our website whenever we hear fraudsters are actively trying to con people in our name; and pass the information we get from our customers onto Action Fraud - the agency that works closely with the police to tackle fraud crimes."

(17th July 2018)


CITY WATCHDOG BOOSTS FRAUD VICTIMS RIGHTS IN MAJOR VICTORY FOR WAR ON SCAMS
(Telegraph, dated 26th June 2018 author Sam Meadows)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/city-watchdog-boosts-fraud-victims-rights-major-victory-war/

Banks will now be forced to accept complaints from fraud victims if they have allowed criminals to open accounts, under proposals from the City watchdog.

In a major victory for Telegraph Money's Make Banks Act on Fraud campaign, the FCA has published plans which would allow you to complain to a bank despite not being a customer.

Bank transfer fraud, officially known as "authorised push payment" fraud, where a victim is tricked into sending money to scammers, has hit record levels with £236m stolen last year.

Telegraph Money has consistently called on the banks which received the stolen money, and often breached money laundering regulations by allowing an account to be opened with false credentials, to do more to support victims.

Most are told they must liaise with their own bank and are given spurious reasons, including data protection, for the recipient bank's silence.

Many of these sorts of scams involve life-changing sums. One of the most common types of case involves a criminal impersonating a conveyancer and stealing money for a house deposit. The worst case Telegraph Money has seen resulted in the victim losing £600,000.

If the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) proposed rules are adopted it would mean fraud victims could make an official complaint to the criminal's bank and, if they were unsatisfied with the response, then take the case to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Christopher Woolard, the watchdog's executive director of strategy, said: "The FCA takes push payment fraud and the harm it causes to consumers very seriously.

"Our proposals build on our work in this area, and seek to reduce the harm experienced by victims of push payment fraud where they believe the bank who received the money did not do enough to prevent it.

"We are proposing to require payment service providers to handle complaints about this in line with our complaint handling rules, and to provide the victims with access to the Financial Ombudsman Service."

The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) is currently working on an industry framework which will determine in what circumstances a bank or building society should refund victims or pay compensation. The finished document is expected later this year.

A spokesman said the body welcomed any changes which would help reduce the impact of bank transfer fraud on victims. "The PSR is driving a range of initiatives in this area, working with industry, consumer groups and other regulatory and government bodies to make it harder for criminals to commit this type of crime - but if they do occur, to reduce the impact on the victim," she added.

Telegraph Money has reported in the past on the unwillingness of recipient banks to support the victims of crime, even when they have allowed criminals to open accounts.

In one case Halifax held a victim's money for six months despite admitting the account in question belonged to fraudsters. It only refunded the £8,000 after pressure from Telegraph Money.

The FCA is welcoming comments on its proposals until September 26 and is expected to publish its final findings before the end of the year.

(17th July 2018)


THE MOSTON MAN WHO HAD THOUSANDS OF POUNDS OF WIDOWS CASH IN HIS ACCOUNT FOLLOWING BOGUS DOCTOR SCAM
(Manchester Evening News, dated 21st June 2018 author Paul Beard)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/moston-fraudster-who-cheated-lonely-14810080

A Moston man kept thousands of pounds belonging to a lonely widow in his account following an intricate scam involving a bogus doctor.

The woman was tricked into parting with more than £9,000 after being assured that 'Dr Marcus Harry' would be able to pay her back when he returned to the UK, a jury has heard.

She paid £4,000 into an account owned by Akinyemi Adigun, 35, from Attleboro Road, Moston, but he denied any involvement in the activity.

A jury at Warwick Crown Court found Adigun guilty of possessing criminal property.

Prosecutor Daniel Wright explained that the 'property' Adigun possessed was money paid into his bank account which was the proceeds of criminal activity.

He said that by September 2015 the victim, a Leamington woman, had been living alone for three years following the death of her husband.

"She found herself getting lonely and, at the suggestion of a friend, she joined a dating site for widows.

"She was contacted by 'Dr Marcus Harry,' who said he was a 50-year-old male from Bristol who was working overseas in Nepal.

"They hit it off, and within a month Dr Marcus Harry starts to ask for money from her. At first these were small amounts," said Mr Wright.

It began with a request over WhatsApp, asking her if she would mind getting him £50 of i-Tunes vouchers which he said he was unable to get hold of in Nepal.

She agreed, and bought a £50 voucher at Argos in Leamington before photographing it and sending the picture to him by e-mail.

Two weeks later Dr Harry told her he was planning to fly back to the UK on October 17, but was unable to get hold of the £1,000 he needed for the flight - so she agreed to send it to him on the basis that he would repay it on his return.

That money was transferred into the account of a woman called Jayne Chew, from Burnley, but although she had originally faced a similar charge, proceedings against her have ceased, said Mr Wight.

The victim also sent Dr Harry another £50, supposedly so he could top up his mobile phone.

"A few days later there were further requests. This time Dr Harry asked for £4,000 on the fifth of October because he said he had been fined for bringing gold into Dubai on his way back, and would not be released until he had paid a £25,000 fine."

She was reluctant, but he pleaded with her and said he would pay her back, and she transferred the £4,000 to the account of a co-defendant, Dare Moyo, who has pleaded guilty.

Dr Harry then claimed he had not been able to come up with all of the rest of the money, and persuaded the woman to transfer a further £4,000 which was paid into Adigun's account.

t initially went into his business account, but the same day £3,100 of it was transferred into his personal account and then back into the business account.

"Ultimately the £3,100 was transferred out with the payee reference 'Bro TJ.' The prosecutions say the remaining £900 was the defendant's cut.

"The prosecution say that what happened was a fraud, that she was duped, so whatever money flows from that is criminal property."

Adigun, who accepted the money had been transferred into his account, made no comment when he was arrested.

But in court he claimed it had been done at the request of a friend, a Nigerian national who had been living in the UK but had returned to Nigeria and needed the use of a UK bank account for the transfer of some money.

Adigun said he had agreed the man could use his account, and that he had no idea the money had come from a crime.

After the jury rejected his account and found him guilty, he was granted bail as the case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report, and he and Moyo (39) will be sentenced together at a later date.

(17th July 2018)


FOLLOW UP CALLS COMPUTER SOFTWARE SERVICE FRAUD
(Action Fraud, dated 20th June 2018)
www.Actionfraud.police.uk

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.

(17th July 2018)


WATCH OUT FOR THESE FAKE TEXTS ABOUT YOUR EE BILL
(Action Fraud, dated 19th June 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

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

(17th July 2018)


COURIER FRAUD
(Action Fraud, dated 15th June 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has identified an increasing number of reports submitted to Action Fraud from the public concerning courier fraud.

Fraudsters are contacting victims by telephone and purporting to be a police officer or bank official. To substantiate this claim, the caller might be able to confirm some easily obtainable basic details about the victim such as their full name and address. They may also offer a telephone number for the victim to call to check that they are genuine; this number is not genuine and simply redirects to the fraudster who pretends to be a different person. After some trust has been established, the fraudster will then, for example, suggest;

- Some money has been removed from a victim's bank account and staff at their local bank branch are responsible.
- Suspects have already been arrested but the "police" need money for evidence.
- A business such as a jewellers or currency exchange is operating fraudulently and they require assistance to help secure evidence.

Victims are then asked to cooperate in an investigation by attending their bank and withdrawing money, withdrawing foreign currency from an exchange or purchasing an expensive item to hand over to a courier for examination who will also be a fraudster. Again, to reassure the victim, a safe word might be communicated to the victim so the courier appears genuine.

At the time of handover, unsuspecting victims are promised the money they've handed over or spent will be reimbursed but in reality there is no further contact and the money is never seen again.

Protect Yourself

Your bank or the police will never:

- Phone and ask you for your PIN or full banking password.
- Ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them for safe-keeping, or send someone to your home to collect cash, PIN, cards or cheque books if you are a victim of fraud.

Don't assume an email or phone call is authentic

Just because someone knows your basic details (such as your name and address or even your mother's maiden name), it doesn't mean they are genuine. Be mindful of who you trust - criminals may try and trick you into their confidence by telling you that you've been a victim of fraud

Stay in control
If something feels wrong then it is usually right to question it. Have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for personal or financial information.

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

(17th July 2018)


FRAUDSTER RAN UP A 16k BILL - BUT THEY STILL GET SENT MORE CREDIT CARDS
(The Guardian, dated 5th June 2018 author Miles Brignall)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/money/2018/jun/05/identity-fraud-credit-card-scam-action-fraud-bank

Problem

I have been the victim of identity theft and card fraud over several months now. I have had a bank account opened in my name and four credit cards issued, two of which have been maxed out and run up more than £16,000.

I have reported events as they happen to Action Fraud and dealt with the banks directly to stop the accounts.

However, as there seems to be no end to the card applications being passed, I am wondering if something is going wrong with the reporting to the credit agencies that would flag up concerns attached to my name and address.

There is also the issue of how they are physically getting hold of the cards, as they have not come to the house. I have applied for an Experian report but it insists I send it several forms of ID. I have had to take days off work to sort it out.

Every time a white envelope comes through the door now, I feel sick.

SM, London

------------------------

Response

What a nightmare this has been, and our first reaction was that you must make sure you are registered with Cifas - the fraud prevention body that will warn any other bank that your ID has been used by thieves. This has since been done and should prevent any future applications succeeding.

The next thing to do is to get a copy of your credit file. You said you were having problems. We asked Experian's HQ to step in and it has now sorted this out and sent you a code that will enable you to see your file. You probably need to contact the other two credit agencies, Equifax and CallCredit, too.

Experian says that once you have established the fraudulent applications, its "victims of fraud team" will then dispute these entries directly with the lenders on your behalf, to help take away some of the legwork.

It says it will take some time to sort out, depending on the extent of the fraud.

However, once it is all done, your credit file should be restored. It also says you should consider adding a password to this report using a "notice of correction". This is an additional security measure that can be sensible if your identity has been compromised, particularly as not all lenders are members of Cifas - this was a new one to me and, I suspect, many others.

Lastly, I would be asking for compensation from the bank (HSBC) and the card providers to cover the days that it will take you to get it all resolved.

(17th July 2018)


CYBER CRIMINALS ARE TARGETING BOOKING.COM CUSTOMERS
(Daily Mail, dated 3rd June 2018 author Charlotte Dean)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5800323/Cyber-criminals-targeting-Booking-com-customers.html

Cyber thieves are sending Booking.com's partner properties bogus texts warning of a security breach in a bid to steal cash.

Victims of the scam were told via Whatsapp and text messages that due to a security breach they must change their account password.

However once they clicked on the link given in the message the hackers had full access to the customers booking details.

They then sent them a further message warning that a full payment for their holiday accommodation was needed with bank details to send it to.

Due to the thieves access to booking details including names, addresses, phone numbers, dates, prices and reference numbers the texts appeared legitimate.

Marketing manager David Watts, 35, of Newcastle, told the Sun: 'It looked very believable and I can believe people fell for it.'

However even if alert customers avoided falling for the scam the hackers still managed to retrieve personal data.

Booking.com reported that their systems were not compromised, but hotels it works with on a separate portal were and customers will be compensated. A spokesperson for the company told Mail Online "Security and the protection of our partner and customer data is a top priority...in this case, there has been no compromise on Booking.com systems. This property has been targeted by phishing emails sent by cyber criminals and by clicking on those emails, the property compromised its account. If customers have any questions, they can contact our customer service team" .

(17th July 2018)


FRAUDSTERS POSING AS BANKS IN DATA PROTECTION EMAILS PHISHING SCAM
(Independent, dated 25th May 2018 author Oliver Wheaton)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/gdpr-latest-updates-emails-fraud-data-protection-phishing-scam-a8368741.html?mc_cid=9d7f8c7a7a&mc_eid=f46eab0a3f

New data laws (GDPR) coming into force are being used by scammers to steal personal information, police have warned.

Customers of NatWest are among those targeted by the scammers, who have been sending fraudulent emails claiming to be from the bank.

Companies have been contacting their customers to give reassurance that they are adhering to the new General Data Protection Regulation laws. In addition, many companies are asking customers if they are happy to continue receiving emails.

However scammers have created fake emails telling customers their accounts could be terminated if they do not update their records, at which point they are directed to a site which steals any data they input.

These phishing scams are usually perpetrated to gain access to victims' bank accounts.

Action Fraud have released a statement confirming that banks will never ask for a pin, password or memorable information by text or email.

The agency has also pointed out that fraudulent GDPR emails will often contain poor spelling or grammar, as well as sub-quality design you would not expect in a legitimate email from a bank.

Fake emails might also fail to address you by name (instead starting with "Dear friend" or "Dear customer") or could come from a strange email address, such as a Gmail or Yahoo account.

The new GDPR law brought in on Friday after being passed by the European Parliament forces businesses to actively secure consent before using customers' personal data such as their name, phone number and email address.

Having been enshrined in the UK's upcoming Data Protection Bill, the laws will still apply after Brexit and apply to all businesses offering goods or services within the EU.

Several US websites including that of the Los Angeles Times have temporarily been made unavailable in EU counties as a precaution due to the law coming into effect.

(17th July 2018)


MAY 2018


LONDON POLICE SEIZE £500k IN BITCOIN FROM "CYBER CRIME WAVE" HACKER
(CCN, Dated 28th May 2018 author Conor Maloney)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.ccn.com/london-police-seize-500000-in-bitcoin-from-cyber-crime-wave-hacker/

Described by his sentencing judge as a "one man cybercrime wave", British hacker Grant West caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damages through his activities stealing and selling personal and financial information on the dark web.

West sent phishing emails under the guise of surveys from popular takeaway food delivery service Just Eat, offering food vouchers in exchange for completing a survey. The survey was a fake, and respondents were actually sending their personal details back to Grant so that he could sell them to the dark black market - the phishing scam alone netted West £180,000 or $240,000 which he then converted into Bitcoin. BBC reports that the scam cost the Just Eat company £200,000 or $265,000.

West also directly targeted over 100 other companies including major firms like Barclay's, Asda, Ladbrokes, Uber, and British Airways, hacking them for more customer data to sell. His Barclay's attacks resulted in West's clients fraudulently removing £84,000 or $110,000 from customer accounts and costing the bank £300,000 or $400,000 to remedy through new security measures. Similarly, West cost British Airways £400,000 or $530,000 after he hacked Avios accounts.

He reportedly used the money to pay for a new Audi worth £40,000 or $53,000 and several trips to Las Vegas among other luxuries.

West was arrested in 2017 on a first-class train to London in September 2017. Detectives from the Scotland Yard cybercrime unit chose the moment to end their two-year investigation carefully, making sure Grant was logged into his computer so and grabbing his arms before he could log out of his heavily encrypted cryptocurrency wallets and dark web accounts, which otherwise would be very difficult to link to him legally.

On the laptop, which belonged to West's girlfriend, police found the financial information of 100,000 people. A subsequent raid on his home revealed an SD card with the details of 63,000 credit and debit cards as well as 7 million email addresses and passwords, along with £25,000 or $33,000 in cash and half a kilogram of cannabis, which West was also selling on the dark web.

West went by the username Courvoisier, after the top-shelf brandy, selling stolen information and drugs on the now-defunct site Alpha Bay. He pled guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, computer misuse, and drug offenses on 2 May and on Friday May 25 Judge Michael Gledhill sentenced West to 10 years and eight months in prison.

Police accessed and seized over £500,000 or $667,000 worth of ill-gotten Bitcoin from West's girlfriend's device, and she was sentenced to community service for unauthorised access of computer material - however, according to Judge Gledhill, over £1.6 million or $2.13 million worth of West's cryptocurrency is still unaccounted for.

(16th July 2018)


TSB PORT OUT ALERT
(Action Fraud, dated 26th May 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

There has been an increase in reports made in May by TSB customers relating to "port-out" fraud. Fraudsters are number porting a victim's telephone number to a SIM card under their control and then using the number to access the victim's bank accounts.

The increase in the number of reports corresponds with the timing of TSB's computer system update, which resulted in 1.9 million users being locked out of their accounts. Opportunistic fraudsters are using TSB's system issue to target individuals, which follows the increase in phishing and smishing communications also targeting TSB customers this month. Victims' bank account and personal details including their phone number are collected by the fraudster, providing them with the information to execute the fraud.

Number porting is a genuine service provided by telecommunication companies. It allows customers to keep their existing phone number and transfer it to a new SIM card. The existing network provider sends the customer a Port Authorisation Code (PAC), that when presented to the new provider allows the number to be transferred across. This service can, however, be abused by fraudsters.

To gain control of the victim's phone number, fraudsters convince the victim's mobile phone network provider to swap their number on to a SIM card in the fraudster's control. Once the fraudster has control of the number they are able to intercept the victims' text messages, allowing them to use services linked to the victim's phone number. This can include requesting an online banking password reset or access to any two factor authentication services.

Victims have reported large losses as a result of this fraud. One victim initially dismissed text messages received from their network provider containing a PAC number. Two days later £6,000 was removed from the victim's TSB current account. The victim subsequently contacted their phone provider and was informed that someone contacted the provider purporting to be the victim and had cancelled their contract and transferred their number to a new SIM. This action allowed the banking fraud to take place.

Protect Yourself:

PAC Code notifications

If you receive an unsolicited notification about a PAC Code request, contact your network provider immediately to terminate the request. Also notify your bank about your phone number being compromised.

Clicking on links/files:


Don't be tricked into giving a fraudster access to your personal or financial details. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text. Remember, criminals can spoof the phone numbers and email addresses of companies you know and trust, such as your bank.

Requests to move money:


A genuine bank or organisation will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, full password or to move money to another account.

Port-out Fraud versus SIM Swapping


Port-out fraud is often incorrectly referred to as SIM swap fraud. SIM swap fraud works in a similar fashion, however, instead of porting the victim's number to a new network provider, the fraudster impersonates the victim and requests a new SIM card for their account. Once they have access to the new sim, they have access to the number.

(16th July 2018)


TSB PHISHING ATTACKS
(Action Fraud, dated 25th May 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

There has been a sharp rise in fraudsters sending out fake text messages (smishing) and phishing emails claiming to be from TSB. The increase in the number of reports corresponds with the timing of TSB's computer system update, which resulted in 1.9 million users being locked out of their accounts. Opportunistic fraudsters are using TSB's system issue to target people with this type of fraud.

Since the start of May there have been 321 phishing reports of TSB phishing made to Action Fraud. This is an increase of 970% on the previous month. In the same reporting period, there have been 51 reports of cybercrime to Action Fraud which mention TSB - an increase of 112% on the previous month.

Fraudsters are commonly using text messages as a way to defraud unsuspecting victims out of money. Known as smishing, this involves the victim receiving a text message purporting to be from TSB. The message requests that the recipient clicks onto a website link that leads to a phishing website designed to steal online banking details.

Although text messages are currently the most common delivery method, similar communications have been reported with fraudsters using email and telephone to defraud individuals.

In several cases, people have lost vast sums of money, with one victim losing £3,890 after initially receiving a text message claiming to be from TSB. Fraudsters used specialist software which changed the sender ID on the message so that it looked like it was from TSB. This added the spoofed text to an existing TSB message thread on the victim's phone.

The victim clicked on the link within the text message and entered their personal information. Armed with this information, the fraudsters then called the victim back and persuaded them to hand over their banking authentication code from their mobile phone. The fraudsters then moved all of the victim's savings to a current account and paid a suspicious company.

Protect Yourself:


Don't assume an email or text is authentic:


Always question uninvited approaches in case it's a scam. Phone numbers and email addresses can be spoofed, so always contact the company directly via a known email or phone number (such as the one on the back of your bank card).

Clicking on links/files

Don't be tricked into giving a fraudster access to your personal or financial details. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected text or email. Remember, a genuine bank will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your full PIN or password.

If you have received a suspicious TSB email, please do not respond to it, report it to us https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_phishing and also forward it to emailscams@tsb.co.uk

Every Report Matters. If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, report it to us online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Visit Take Five and Cyber Aware for more information about how to protect yourself online.

(16th July 2018)


GARDAI ISSUE WARNING OVER GDPR EMAIL SCAM
(Leinster Express, dated 23rd May 2018 author Justin Kelly)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.leinsterexpress.ie/news/crime-and-courts/314574/gardai-issue-warning-over-gdpr-email-scam.html

uaware note : Scams are international and travel !

The advent of the new General Data Protection Regulation on May 25 within the EU has seen online customers being asked by their service providers to update personal user agreements so that their services such as email updates or record maintenance can be continued.

However, cybercriminals have been trying to take advantage of this type of email on the continent, using it as an opportunity to exploit those agreements and sent fake GDPR notices to customers asking them to confirm login or personal information via online links so that they can continue to use the service being provided.

Recent enquires have already identified a string involving the sending of fake notices which allege to be from Airbnb asking customers to update details in order to continue their agreement.

Clicking on fake or fraudulent links within a phishing email can result in:

- Redirections to fake/infected sites for watering-hole attacks targeting specific online users or organisations
- Malicious attachments which appear to be GDPR related documents or invitations which attack the network or system
- Request for private or personal and financial information such as account details, credit card details, passwords etc.
- Harvesting of email account details which can be exploited for marketing or junk mail campaigns

Users and organisations who have agreements or connections with services for which they have supplied personal information should be aware of this potential threat. The Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau advises that before following any link which asks for personal or financial data, you should ensure

- you are careful before responding to unsolicited emails

- You have an agreement with the service sending you the email

- The email address used to send you the message is genuine and from the provider

- The link within the email is genuine by either hovering over it to ensure it leads to where it says it does, or by checking the page it leads to and its contents

- If still unsure contact the service provider or organisation and confirm that they sent the email

- Never supply banking or financial information via email

Gardaí have stated that banking institutions will never ask for personal information via email. If you receive one, the advice is to delete it and report it to your bank or financial institution. All incidents of phishing or theft of personal information should be reported to your Local Garda Station with a copy of the original email you received.

(16th July 2018)


HOPE FOR VICTIMS OF "HIJACKED HOMES" SCAMS AFTER SUCCESSFUL FRAUDS TRIPLE
(The Telegraph, dated 16th May 2018 author Sam Meadows)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/hope-victims-hijacked-homes-scams-successful-frauds-triple/

Those who have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds in so-called "home hijacking" scams - where criminals pose as the owner of a building to sell it - have been given fresh hope after a High Court ruling.

Development company Dreamvar successfully appealed to the High Court relating to a £1.1m fraud. Yesterday's decision places liability on the seller's solicitors for failing to carry out adequate identity checks.

According to Land Registry figures released last year, property hijackings are on the rise. The value of successful frauds rocketed from £7.2m in 2013 to £24.9m this time last year.

Suzanne Raftery, of Requite Solutions, a scam recovery business, said the frequency of cases was increasing, particularly in London where is it not uncommon for properties to be marketed for £1m or more.

She explained that criminals will typically rent a vacant property and begin to intercept the landlord's post before posing as the true owner and selling the house to a cash buyer. Often the Land Registry will be the first to recognise the crime, by which time it is usually too late.

Ms Raftery said: "It's very easy to pretend to be the seller of a property. The checks are pretty much non-existent, solicitors will check a passport and verify it's a picture of you but they often won't verify that it's a real passport. A good fake will get you through.

"The estate agents will then just go 'that's fine' and the sale can go ahead. If you're actually in a property it is much easier to intercept mail and you will have utility bills with your name on. A lot of people are actually renting property with the intention of committing this crime."

In the Dreamvar case, the company purchased a London property from a seemingly legitimate seller for £1.1m. It was only after the firm had already begun refurbishment work that the scam came to light.

Jerome O'Sullivan, a partner at Healys, the law firm that acted for Dreamvar, said the court had confirmed that the vendor's solicitor was best-placed to verify the seller's identity, and that solicitors who were negligent in this duty would have liability to the victim.

He told Telegraph Money that the conveyancers had not met the fraudsters posing as the owners and had accepted a week-old driving licence and a TV licence form as proof of identification.

The Land Registry has reportedly prevented hundreds of these cases in the past decade with a total value of more than £100m.

Ms Raftery, who is a former Metropolitan Police detective, said that cases in London were frequent given the value of homes in the capital. She said she had investigated a case worth £10m relating to the fake sale of a property in Kensington.

"In London even flats are worth a lot so it doesn't look out of the ordinary when someone says they own a £1m property. So it becomes a target for these criminals," she said.

Telegraph Money has reported extensively on conveyancing scams, also known as "Friday afternoon fraud" because of the day that many property purchases go through.

Often fraudsters will gain access to a buyer's email account or that of the solicitor, and insert themselves into the conversation shortly before money is due to be transferred "informing" the buyer of a change of bank account.

After transferring the money, which could be for a deposit or, in some cases, the total value of the property, the criminals will disappear - leaving the victim down tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds.

In one case reported by this newspaper in March, a 50-year-old restaurateur lost £600,000 to this sort of scam.

How to protect yourself


If you are the owner of a property then an easy and free way to secure it is to register for the Land Registry's alert service. This will notify you whenever someone makes a search for your property.

Ms Raftery said anyone looking to rent out a property should take this step.

In almost all cases the owner will regain control of their property, but this involves complex legal wrangling and could take a long time. It could also derail a sale if you had planned to sell in the near future.

If you are the buyer, there are some avenues you can take to attempt to recover your money, or prevent this from happening to you. Ms Raftery said you should ask your solicitor to check that the vendor's representatives had made the required checks.

If you have already been the victim of a scam you could take hope from the Dreamvar case. Mr O'Sullivan said the case put liability on to the vendor's solicitor if they had not carried out the required identity checks.

Another avenue could be to target the bank that allowed the criminal to open an account. Telegraph Money has campaigned for so-called "recipient banks" to take more responsibility when they have allowed a fraudster to open an account - usually with false or forged documents.

Some banks have paid refunds and compensation to victims in these circumstances, but there is currently no requirement for them to do so and responses are inconsistent.

Ms Raftery said: "If the bank hadn't allowed the proceeds to be laundered then this fraud just couldn't take place."

(16th July 2018)


COFFEE DRINKERS ARE BEING CONNED BY SUPPLIERS FRAUDULENTLY USING INFERIOR BEANS IN "ARABICA" PRODUCTS
(The Telegraph, dated 16th May 2018 author Telegraph Reporters)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/16/coffeedrinkers-conned-suppliers-fraudulently-using-inferior/

Coffee drinkers are being conned by suppliers fraudulently mixing inferior beans into products labelled 100% Arabica, scientists say.

A study by British researchers testing a new and more accurate method of testing coffee quality looked at coffee on sale at shops and supermarkets.

They found that a tenth of high quality products labelled "100% Arabica" contained significant levels of inferior and cheaper "Robusta" beans. Arabica coffee trades at twice the price of Robusta because of its superior taste.

Finding rogue Robusta in a sample labelled Arabica is not easy, especially after grinding and roasting.

The standard technique detects the fingerprint chemical 16-OMC, which is only found in Robusta coffee, but is costly and takes three days, making large scale surveillance impractical.

The new method takes only 30 minutes and is sensitive enough to detect just 1% Robusta in a blended coffee.

Lead scientist Dr Kate Kemsley, from the Quadram Institute, formerly known as the Institute of Food Research, said: "This is an important milestone for detecting fraud in coffee, as 1% is the generally accepted cut-off between trace contamination, which might be accidental, and more deliberate adulteration for economic gain."

For the study a total of 60 different coffee samples were purchased in consumer countries around the world, including 22 from the UK.

All were tested for 16-OMC using the new nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technique, which employs radio waves and strong magnetic fields to obtain detailed information about a substance's molecular composition.

"It was immediately obvious using our test that there were several suspicious samples, producing results that were consistent with the presence of substantial amounts of Robusta - far more than would be expected through unavoidable contamination," said Dr Kemsley.

Two of the samples flagged as "suspicious" were bought in the UK. One contained 1.6% Robusta and the other 21.7%. Other UK samples had notable levels of 16-OMC but fell below the "suspicious" threshold.

Suspicious samples were also obtained from the US, Italy, France and Estonia. One US sample was a third Robusta, despite being labelled 100% Arabica.

A spokesman for the Quadram Institute said it was not possible to name the brands involved. The research, published in the journal Food Chemistry, was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and had no support from the coffee industry.

Giles Chapman, head of intelligence at the Food Standards Agency's National Food Crime Unit, said: "We're always keen to understand how scientific advances expand the range of tools which can be used to validate the authenticity of food products sold to UK consumers.

"This piece of work has generated some interesting insights which we will be looking to explore further."

Chris Stemman, executive director of the British Coffee Association, said: "The BCA welcomes the new insights that the Quadrum Institute are able to provide in determining what types of coffee make up specific products on sale.

"This is an important and easily accessible tool that could potentially be applied as an assurance measure along the coffee supply chain, so that authenticity can be checked and validated at all stages from farm to cup.

"Supply chain integrity remains a key priority for the UK coffee industry and we welcome further research that looks into this in further depth. Currently there is no evidence to suggest that these findings have any impact on the vast majority of products that consumers buy and enjoy drinking every day in the UK."

(16th July 2018)


SHOPPER GIVEN FAKE £5 WARNS OTHERS TO BE CAREFUL - BUT COULD YOU TELL ITS NOT REAL ?
(Mirror, dated 13th May 2018 author Bronte Howard)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/shopper-given-fake-5-warns-12529348

The new plastic fiver has been around for almost two years but would you know if you were handed a fake one?

The new £5 note was released in September 2016 amid much fanfare as the first polymer currency ever issued by the Bank of England.

It's supposed to be the safest yet with a host of new security features.

But one man claims he was handed a counterfeit and is now warning other people to watch out.

Peter Fowler, 37, bought lunch in Port Talbot, south Wales, on Friday and was given a £5 note as part of his change.

But when he folded it up to put it into his wallet he said he noticed something strange, reports WalesOnline .

He said: "It felt like a plastic carrier bag. It felt like it was made out of thin plastic. I looked closer and saw the Big Ben was missing and part of the serial number and the Queen's face were coming off.

"When I compared it to a genuine note I already had I also saw the silver strips were green."

Mr Fowler, who works as a heating engineer, said that if he had been given the £5 note with other notes, he wouldn't have realised.

"At first glance, it looked real. People definitely need to pay attention when they're being handed their change," he said.

"A lot of people won't think twice when putting it in their pocket and it's a lot of money to lose."

So, how do you spot a fake note? This is the Bank of England's official guide to spotting a real one...

- Check the see through window and the portrait of the Queen.
- Check the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) is gold on the front of the note and silver on the back.
- Check the foil patch below the see through window changes from 'Five' to 'Pounds' when the note is tilted.
- Check the coronation crown appears 3D.
- Check the ultra-violet feature.
- Check the circular green foil patch on the back of the note which contains the word BLENHEIM.
- If you're worried about whether a note is fake, the Bank of England has a free smartphone app you can download to check.

(16th July 2018)


POLICE WINNING BATTLES IN WAR AGAINST THE FRAUDSTERS WHO POSE AS OFFICERS
(Mirror, dated 10th May 2018 author Andrew Penman)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/police-winning-battles-war-against-12513259

The bogus police officer scam continues to claim victims.

One 91-year-old woman lost almost £1,000 after being called by a supposed detective who said that her bank cards had been cloned and should be handed over to a police courier who would come to her home - this scam is sometimes known as courier fraud.

The cards were used in shops and a cash point in Epsom and Ewell, Surrey, before being cancelled. Surrey Police are keen to speak to a skinny man in a green cap captured on CCTV.

Meanwhile, in North Yorkshire there have been some great results in the fight against this scam.

Last week crooks convinced a man aged 78 that he must withdraw £13,000 from his supposedly compromised bank account to help with a police investigation.

Another man, aged 85, was persuaded to withdraw £8,000 and an 80-year-old woman was told she had to take out £7,500.

Worst of all was the attempt to extract £20,000 from an 86-year-old woman who lived in Knaresborough.

In all cases, staff at Lloyds, Barclays and Yorkshire Bank branches realised that something was wrong, prevented the transactions and contacted police.

"The fact that the Banking Protocol has prevented such significant amounts of money being lost to fraudsters this week shows how collaborating with the banks and building societies in North Yorkshire can make a real difference when it matters most," said Detective Inspector Jonathan Rowland, of North Yorkshire Police's Economic Crime Unit.

In three other cases, the intended victims, including a York woman aged 93, realised the calls were bogus and contacted their banks or the police.

Det Insp Rowland added: "It's also positive that our message is getting out there and that members of our community are recognising that these types of calls are not genuine.

"They absolutely did the right thing by ending the phone calls then either alerting the police or their banks.

"North Yorkshire Detectives from the forces Economic Crime Unit are investigating these crimes and doing everything possible to catch those responsible."

(16th July 2018)


FAKE HOTELS - THE NEW WEAPON OF CHOCE FOR FRAUDSTERS
(tnooz, dated 2nd May 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.tnooz.com/article/fake-hotels-the-new-weapon-of-choice-for-fraudsters/

Travel fraud is escalating at an unprecedented rate. In 2017 alone 4,700 travelers were impacted by fraud. The new findings from ABTA, the City of London Police and Get Safe Online also revealed accommodation booking to be one of the main types of travel fraud.

In many cases, the fraud was related to fake hotels - a scam in which a fraudster will list a fake hotel and then use stolen credit cards to make a booking via the online travel agent's (OTA) website. The OTA will then receive chargebacks for bookings after making a payment to the fake hotel. By this point, the fraudster will have withdrawn all the funds paid by the OTA and won't respond to any contact attempts, leaving the OTA with a financial loss.

This phenomenon is leaving both consumers and online travel agents (OTAs) frustrated and out of pocket. And the criminals are becoming more sophisticated and believable too. In recent months, the travel industry has witnessed an avalanche of fake chalet websites, with consumer press identifying how some criminal enterprises have conned unsuspecting holiday-makers out of tens of thousands of euros.

Another rising accommodation booking scam is 'inflated room prices', with instances of room prices being inflated dramatically followed by a spike in booking volume. This indicates collusion between a hotel and a fraudster. When hotels raise the cost of their rooms, fraudsters will use stolen card details to book rooms via an OTA. When the OTA receives chargebacks, the hotel can provide guest documentation that relinquishes responsibility of them being debited for the fraud. The result? The OTA takes the hit and the hotel and fraudsters split the winnings.

Combating accommodation booking fraud


Travel and tourism now accounts for 10.2 per cent of global GDP and continues to grow as prices reduce and online brands make it easier for consumers to spend. And, with hotel revPAR in Europe increasing 6% in 2017 compared to 2016, accommodation booking is a natural breeding ground for cybercriminals.

Our new research, "It Pays to Know", reveals that fraud is now costing travel intermediaries a whopping $21 billion each year. The rise of fake hotels and inflated room prices must be taken seriously.

There is some straightforward best practice advice that, if followed correctly, could limit OTA's exposure to accommodation booking fraud. This can be as simple as educating employees to recognise the warning signs of dodgy customers. Or it might be ensuring your company's payment solutions are up to date and offer protection and recovery mechanisms.

Virtual cards generally allow controls to be set that significantly decrease the risk of fraud, and they also help recover from it too. For example, Virtual Account Numbers (VANs) allow users to define booking and payment parameters, minimising the risk of fraud when paying travel suppliers. It also offers sophisticated chargeback capabilities, meaning funds may be recovered should fraud occur.

There's no getting away from the fact that fraud in the travel industry will continue to surge, with fraudsters becoming more creative in how they con consumers and OTAs. However, being aware of the signs for new types of fraud, and following simple steps to protect your business, will put you in the best position to reduce incidents and impact.

o learn more about how to better control fraud and lower the potential impact on profits, download our Fraud in travel payments report.

https://www.enett.com/insights/it-pays-to-know-fraud-whitepaper-form

uaware comment

Eight years ago we booked a hotel in Kensington through LastMinute. The hotel was meant to be a 4 star. It was a rush booking on the day and we only viewed the pictures on the Lastminute website rather than also checking rating sites. When we arrived we discovered it was a Georgian "boutique" hotel, but due to an electrical fault we were unable to stay there and a booking had been made a their sister hotel. A taxi had been arranged to take us to the other hotel which was 10 minutes drive away.

When we arrived at the other hotel we discovered it was a seedy hostel and refused the room. We also wrote a refusal letter at the reception desk and asked for a copy; the receptionist complied.

On contacting Lastminute we informed them that the original hotel was not a 4 star hotel, but a 4 star English Tourist Board bed and breakfast. Lastminute gave us a refund. Luckily we are Londoners and know the location of other hotels. Many other London visitors dont know the lie of the land and would have been duped.

Always double check hotel credentials, no matter where you are going.

(16th July 2018)


WHAT IS SYNTHETIC IDENTITY THEFT ?
(Nerdwallet, dated 27th April 2018 author Bev O'Shea)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/synthetic-identity-theft/

Note : This is a US article, so Social Security Number equals NI number. If someone steals a NI number in the UK, it gives them the right to work. There has been many cases of crooks registering themselves against details of deceased children to get NI Numbers. That scam is meant to have been blocked ???

Identity theft, or identity fraud, once meant crooks were churning out fake credit cards. But as that became easier to detect, a more insidious crime has evolved: the creation of completely new identities.

Known as "synthetic identity theft," it involves fraudsters using a combination of fake information, such as a fictitious name, and real data, like a child's Social Security number, to create fraudulent accounts.

It is a growing problem, says Eva Casey-Velasquez, president and CEO of the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center.

But the scope of the problem is difficult to determine because the crime can go undetected for years, she says. However, the rate of children's identity theft was more than 50 times that of adults, according to a 2011 report by Carnegie Mellon University's CyLab, which studied the identities of over 40,000 children. And that report was published before a change in the way Social Security numbers are issued made identity thieves' work a bit easier.

How does synthetic identity theft work?

First, thieves assemble an unused Social Security number - typically that of a minor - along with a fictitious name and birthdate, and an address controlled by the thief.

With those pieces in hand, identity thieves apply for a credit card. While an initial application will be turned down because the "applicant" doesn't have a credit profile, it creates a record of a "person" who doesn't actually exist. The next step is to add that "person" to a legitimate account, or more likely several.

One way to do that is by "piggybacking" - or becoming an authorized user - on a legitimate account, perhaps that of an accomplice or a patsy, who doesn't understand what's going on, Casey-Velasquez says.

A second, more pernicious piggybacking involves paying a credit-boosting company for the persona to be temporarily added as an authorized user to someone else's card - a card that has a long history and low utilization. It doesn't include getting a physical card or a card number or having charging privileges.

In time, there will be a credit history and score for this fictitious person, making it easier to qualify for credit. Casey-Velasquez said the identity often includes an occupation and income, and as long as it seems reasonable, it can go undetected by card issuers.

Over a period that can span years, identity thieves may make small charges and pay them off, thus building a good credit score and receiving higher credit limits.

Then, when they decide the limits are high enough, they do what is called a "bust-out" - suddenly charging the cards up to their limits, paying nothing and discarding the identity.

How do thieves get minors' Social Security numbers?


Taking over a child's Social Security number was made easier after the federal agency's switch to randomization in 2011. Before then, the digits were tied to birthdate and geography, so it was more difficult to use a child's Social Security number without it being discovered.

Now a child's number can more easily be used to establish a credit history. Minors are especially vulnerable because they are likely to have an unblemished credit history.

Some thieves have even been able to make made-up, random numbers work. Casey-Velasquez said criminals have used Social Security numbers that haven't even been issued yet - and when that number is eventually assigned to a newborn, parents find out that the number already has a credit history. In some cases, thieves get access to a child's stolen Social Security number.

And since address verification measures for credit applicants are often out of date, anyone with a printer can produce a fake utility bill for an abandoned property to "prove" the fictitious person lives there.

What are the uses of synthetic identity?


According to the Government Accountability Office, there are three main reasons people create these false identities:

- Identity fraud for nefarious activities: stealing money or benefits. This is the one that costs businesses the most in terms of credit card fraud.

- Identity fraud for residency or work: a false identity created to live or work in the U.S.

-Identity fraud for credit repair: the perpetrator combines his or her real name with an unblemished Social Security number to create an alternate credit history.

Who is most at risk?


Randomized Social Security numbers put children born after 2011 at especially high risk for synthetic identity theft - and the theft of a child's Social Security number can go undetected for years.

Only later, when a victim tries to apply for credit using that number, is he or she likely to discover it has been misused. For example, a high school student applying for a student loan or a first job might find their Social Security number is already in use. Then, it's their mess to clean up.

Anyone with a pristine credit history can be a target. Data breaches mean a lot of Social Security numbers are out there and up for sale. It's best to assume those digits aren't private and to try to ensure they aren't misused.

(16th July 2018)


HELP FOR HEROES FRAUDSTER HAS ASSETS SEIZED BY JUDGE
(BBC News, dated 30th April 2018)

Full article : www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-43954982

A bogus Help for Heroes collector who made thousands of pounds while pretending to be a serving soldier must pay back £725.

David Santini, 56, was caught while collecting money at an antiques fair when police became suspicious about the style of his military uniform.

Lincoln Crown Court heard he made £5,000 from his crimes, with a significant amount already seized.

He was jailed in November for 15 months after admitting two charges of fraud.

The hearing was told Santini, of North Drove, Quadring, near Spalding, had already been freed from jail under the early-release scheme.

He came to the attention of police who were patrolling the antiques fair at Newark Showground in Nottinghamshire in 2014.

During sentencing, the court heard he was unable to produce an armed forces identity card when challenged.

It was later discovered that he had served in the army but received a dishonourable discharge in 1983.

He also admitted conning £2,000 out of Patricia Taylor, a widow in her 70s, which she wanted to donate to a Lincolnshire-based veteran's charity.

The cash collected at Newark was already with police and Mrs Taylor's money had already been returned, the court previously heard.

Judge Andrew Easteal ordered £518 in cash and a further £207 in Santini's bank account to be confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

(16th July 2018)


HULL FRAUDSTER FORGED HUNDREDS OF CAR INSURANCE POLICIES AND FAKED NO CLAIMS DISCOUNT LETTERS
(Hull Daily Mail, dated 15th May 2018 author Sophie Corcoran)

Full article [Option 1]L:

www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hull-east-yorkshire-news/hull-fraudster-forged-hundreds-car-1570310

A fraudster made fake car insurance policies for hundreds of people and offered quotes to thousands.

Nigel Fox, 49, of Hull, admitted acting as a "ghost broker" and using false personal details to create numerous fake motor insurance policies.

He also forged no claims discount letters (NCDs), which he submitted to insurance companies to significantly lower the price of the premium.

Fox, who had been faking documents since 2009, had previously been employed as an insurance broker for a company in Hull, and he knew about insurance practices and the industry.

Fox told an investigation by City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) he did not change his contact work mobile number after he left his previous employment, and as a result, continued to receive calls from his customer base of 5,000 people.

He went on to admit he arranged policies for those who contacted him, and admitted he had made around 7,000 quotes for people who had contacted him. In a separate interview, Fox also stated that he intercepted motor insurance policies for "hundreds" of people from 2009-2015.

An investigator by a financial investigator for IFED identified a significant amount of financial transactions passing through bank accounts held by Fox during the years of his offences. It is estimated that Fox gained roughly £25,000.

Fox has been jailed for 12 months at Hull Crown Court.

City of London Police Detective Constable Peter Gartland, who led the IFED's investigation, said: "It's clear Fox used his prior knowledge of the insurance industry to deceive multiple insurance companies and manipulate their policies so that he could offer them at a cheaper price.

"On top of this, he defrauded a number of innocent members of the public with offers of fraudulent cheap insurance and exposed them to the direct harms caused by ghost broking, such as points on their licence and possible seizure of their car. It seems his fraudulent activity also helped facilitate local criminal gangs as their vehicles were insured to appear legitimate.

"This case is just one in a series of investigations where the IFB and the insurance industry has shared valuable intelligence with IFED to help us convict insurance fraudsters, including ghost brokers, and bring them to justice."

Head of investigations, Jason Potter, said: "Fox was a particularly manipulative individual who was willing to go to great lengths to deceive members of the public in order to line his own pockets. We are pleased that the collaborative work between IFB, IFED and our insurer members has been successful in bringing Fox's criminal activities to light.

"We hope that this sentencing sends a clear message to anyone considering carrying out an insurance fraud scam that the industry is committed to tackling this serious issue and we are dedicated to working together in order to ensure these fraudsters get the justice they deserve."

(16th July 2018)


PENSIONER, 85, FOOLED INTO MASSIVE CITY CENTRE SPENDING SPREE IN CRUEL ONLINE SCAM
(Birmingham Live, dated 1st May 2018 author Cathrina Hulse)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/pensioner-85-fooled-massive-city-14600062

A pensioner was scammed out of thousands of pounds and fooled into a £16,500 spending spree in Birmingham city centre by a conman she met on a gaming app.

The 85-year-old victim was drained of ever-increasing sums of money after handing over her name and address to a man she encountered on the 'Words with Friends' platform.

Police said the crook sent a 'friend' to her address to collect cash after they met on the app last October.

The scam only ended when police received a tip-off and visited the victim's home on April 9.

It was revealed that the she'd been taken into Birmingham city centre on April 3 and made to buy £16,500-worth of jewellery under false pretences.

Officers conducted CCTV checks at the store on Vittoria Street in the Jewellery Quarter .

They now want to trace a man who was spotted with the victim inside the shop.

Anyone with information should call West Midlands Police on 101, quoting 20WS/78872X/18.

To remain anonymous, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Last month, a Solihull pensioner was conned out of £500 in a cruel doorstep scam by a man claiming to be a council worker.

The elderly victim, from Shirley , handed over the cash after the con-artist knocked at his door earlier this month.

The fraudster said he was investigating a 'cowboy builder' job and that he would need £500 in 'court fees'.

The victim told Solihull Trading Standards that he paid the bogus official the money in order to get rid of him.

Shockingly, the brazen thief tried to con the pensioner out of more cash on March 14 and 15 but the victim did not have any money.

The ruthless crook even managed to obtain the pensioner's phone number and later harassed him for more cash.

(16th July 2018)


EBAY ACCUSED OF FAILING TO STOP SCAMS AS ANOTHER BUYER LOSES £1500
(The Telegraph, dated 28th April 2018 author Amelia Murray)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/ebay-accused-failing-stop-scams-another-buyer-loses-1500/

EBay has been accused of failing to protect users from scams and dodging responsibility for the number of fake listings it allows to be posted on its website. Shopping scams of all kinds are rife online.

More than 42,000 reports were made to Action Fraud, Britain's fraud reporting service, last year. The average loss was £1,349.

Yet a protective legal framework introduced almost 20 years ago and its own terms and conditions allow eBay, the multi-billion-pound online marketplace, to distance itself from the problem.

The e-Commerce Directive 2000 states that as long as the "service provider has no knowledge or control over the information that is transmitted" it is not liable for the accuracy of the listings. But sites must "act expeditiously" when "removing or disabling access to information on obtaining actual knowledge".

Sarah Miles, a partner at Nockolds, the law firm, said eBay "obviously relies" on this part of the directive as a "get-out clause" when accused of failing to combat fraud. EBay's own terms and conditions also allow it to shrug off responsibility.

It said that although it used "techniques" that aim to verify users, it was a "difficult" task. Therefore the company says it is "not responsible" for ensuring "the accuracy or truthfulness" of users or the information they provide.

Thousands of individuals have joined Facebook groups, such as eBay Vehicle Scam Alerts, which has more than 5,000 members, or forums to warn others.

They publicise suspicious email addresses used by criminals on eBay and to report scam listings, often featuring high-value items such as vehicles, before others are conned out of thousands of pounds.

###'An eBay fraudster stole £1,500 and they'd been reported before'

After Colin Labouchere lost £1,500 trying to buy an organ on eBay, he discovered that the fraudster's email address had been reported online months earlier.

Mr Labouchere, 79, spotted a Roland C-330 Classic organ listed on the site at the start of April.

Within the listing was an email address, which is against eBay's rules. This is to ensure that deals are not taken "off platform".

But the fraudster had managed to bypass the marketplace's systems by including the information in an image.

Criminals will try to get buyers to contact them directly so that eBay cannot intervene and they avoid detection.

The listing disappeared but Mr Labouchere emailed the seller and they agreed on £1,500, which the seller insisted was paid "through eBay".

Mr Labouchere, who said he was a regular user of eBay, received what appeared to be an invoice from eBay. He said he hadn't seen one before but believed it was genuine, and protected, so went ahead and paid by bank transfer.

The seller said he would arrange for a delivery the next week. But when the organ didn't arrive as expected, and the fraudster stopped responding to emails, Mr Labouchere knew he'd been conned.

He reported the crime to his bank, Action Fraud and eBay and found that someone had posted a list of email addresses used by eBay scammers on the Facebook page of Action Fraud in December last year, including the one he had corresponded with.

Mr Labouchere said: "If eBay had taken due care it would have picked up that the email address had been associated with another scam before."

###'The website can't seem to stop scam listings'

Peter Barrett spotted a number of suspicious listings for around 20 classic cars on eBay last October, all with a starting price of 99p.

The seller explained in the post he would offer a reasonable quick-sale price. Those interested were to contact the user directly over email.

Mr Barrett, 62, said the messages were almost identical and contained the same email address. He suspected a scam and contacted eBay. Eventually the ads got removed, he said, but they would soon reappear.

He said: "This has been going on since at least October last year. It's clearly a problem but eBay doesn't seem to be able to stop it."

Mr Barrett, who teaches computing at a junior school, said eBay "didn't seem to be that bothered" but he was concerned for new users of the service.

###Is eBay doing enough to protect users from fraudsters?

Chris Underhill, chief technical officer at Equiniti Cyber Security, said there was a "massive fraud team" at eBay, which should be "keeping on top of this".

He said it wouldn't be unreasonable for eBay to install software that detected text, such as email addresses, in images.

"You can hide all sorts of information in pictures but the technology that detects it is not that advanced," Mr Underhill added.

"It's not difficult for eBay to implement this software."

Telegraph Money reported how fraudsters used pictures to hide text on eBay in 2016 - yet fraudsters are still able to get away with it.

Ms Miles said until eBay was forced to take responsibility for the scams, which would "hit it in its pocket", the onus would be on users to keep themselves safe.

###How to protect yourself against eBay scams

Be suspicious of items with unrealistically low prices.

If you are buying a car arrange to see it before paying. Walk away if the seller refuses.

Don't email the seller directly, even if they offer you an "off platform" price. Use eBay's messaging service.

Be wary if the descriptive text is in a picture or screenshot. This is to stop buyers copying and pasting the text into a search engine to see if it has appeared elsewhere.

?Google the email address to see if it's been associated with a scam and report it to eBay if so.

?Don't pay by bank transfer, as the bank won't refund you if things go wrong; neither will eBay. PayPal is safer. Vehicles are not covered by eBay's money back guarantee.

If you've been tricked into making a bank transfer, on eBay or otherwise, read our guide which explains in detail what you should do.

For more tips about avoiding vehicle scams on eBay see here :

www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/i-scam-the-scammers-confessions-of-an-ebay-vigilante/

EBay's response

The firm said it continually invested in new technology and "works hard to protect customers from criminals who attempt to attack the entire industry".

It claimed to use a "combination of online and human detection methods" but said criminals "continue to actively try to engage in online fraud" and on "very rare occasions make it beyond listing". An eBay spokesman said the site had "redoubled" efforts to help users protect themselves.

(16th July 2018)


APRIL 2018


TV PROVIDER DISCOUNT FRAUD
(Action Fraud, dated 30th April 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) have noticed an increase in Action Fraud reports where fraudsters are offering a discount on Television service provider subscriptions. Fraudsters are cold-calling victims, purporting to be from a Television (TV) provider offering a discount on their monthly subscription. Victims have been told the following: their subscription needs to be renewed; that part or all, of the TV equipment has expired and they are due an upgrade on the equipment/subscription. In order to falsely process the discount, the fraudster asks victims to confirm or provide their bank account details. The scammers may also request the victim's identification documents, such as scanned copies of passports.

The fraudsters are using the following telephone numbers: "08447111444", "02035190197" and "08001514141". The fraudster's voices are reported to sound feminine and have an Asian accent.

Later victims make enquiries and then discover that their TV service provider did not call them and that the fraudster has made transactions using the victim's bank account details.

This type of fraud is nationwide. Since the beginning of this year (2018), there have been 300 Action Fraud Reports relating to this fraud. From the reports received, victims aged over 66 seem to be the most targeted.

What you need to do


- Don't assume a phone call or email is authentic: Just because someone knows your basic details (such as your name and address or even your mother's maiden name), it doesn't mean they are genuine. Criminals can exploit the names of well-known companies in order to make their scams appear genuine.

- Don't be rushed or pressured into making a decision: a genuine company won't force you to make a financial decisions on the spot. Always be wary if you're pressured to purchase a product or service quickly, and don't hesitate to question uninvited approaches in case it's a scam.

- Stay in control: Have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for personal or financial information. Always contact the company yourself using a known email or phone number, such as the one written on a bank statement or bill.

Visit Take Five (takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/advice/) and Cyber Aware (cyberaware.gov.uk) for more information about how to protect yourself online.

(1st May 2018)


MET PROBE POSTAL VOTING ABUSES IN KEY MARGINALS
(London Evening Standard, dated 25th April 2018 authors Nicholas Cecil and Joe Murphy)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/police-probe-launched-over-postal-vote-abuse-in-key-local-election-boroughs-a3823156.html

Scotland Yard is probing allegations of postal vote malpractices in a key borough for the May 3rd local elections, the Standard reveals today.

Eleven cases in Hammersmith and Fulham have been reported to police including some where residents say they have been issued with postal votes they did not request. Officers are understood to have spoken to some individuals who believe they were tricked into applying for a postal vote.

One woman thought that she was signing a petition about Charing Cross Hospital, it is claimed.

The allegations come amid a surge in people applying for postal votes in some marginal wards in the Labour-run borough. The Conservatives claim there have been huge increases in postal vote registration on several estates where Labour is strong.

Figures compiled by the Tories show postal vote registrations in Town ward, which has three Conservative councillors, rose from 1,268 before last year's general election to 2,005 this month. More specifically, in the Town ward "C" polling district which runs from Fulham Road towards Putney Bridge, the number jumped from 307 in March 2017 to 758 this month.

Conservatives say that on four estates in this district there have been big rises in postal vote registrations to 50 per cent of the electorate in Pulton Place, 42 per cent in Fulham Court, and 35 per cent on Barclay Close and Lancaster Court.

Greg Hands, Tory MP for Chelsea and Fulham, said: "Some people were signed up by the Labour Party and are telling us that they had not knowingly requested one [a postal vote] and do not want one." The Conservatives referred their concerns to the police.

The London Labour Party rejected accusations of wrongdoing against its campaign teams. A spokesman said: "This is a completely baseless allegation and a desperate, politically-motivated attempt by a Tory MP to use the police to grab a headline during a closely-fought election campaign."

A council spokesman said: "There are currently no concerns about the validity of any votes in Hammersmith and Fulham." Scotland Yard has been contacted for comment.

(1st May 2018)


FIFA 2018 WORLD CUP ALERT
(Action Fraud, dated 24th April 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

The 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place from 14th June - 15th July 2018. The worldwide demand for match tickets, flight tickets, and somewhere to stay throughout the competition is expected to be significant. Those planning to travel should exercise caution when considering the purchase of tickets or accommodation because the event is highly likely to be targeted by fraudsters looking to take advantage of unsuspecting fans.

Fraudsters will likely be posing as;

- Official World Cup ticket vendors or private individuals attempting to sell on a match ticket via online marketplace.

- A fraudulent website or operator offering non-existent flights or other transport to host cities.

- An accommodation booking service, hotel or operator, offering seemingly convenient accommodation in one of the host cities for the duration of the game.

- Lottery or competition organisers claiming that you've won a prize or cash related to the tournament.

Action Fraud received over six hundred reports and intelligence submissions in relation to the previous World Cup so it's vital that football fans exercise caution when considering a purchase or making a transaction.

Protect yourself:

- Listen to your instincts: If something feels wrong then it is usually right to question it. Fraudsters will use the promise of steep discounts to lure you into handing over your money or revealing personal/financial details.

- Clicking on links/files: Don't be tricked into giving a fraudster access to your personal or financial details, and never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

- Visit the Action Fraud website and take a look at their Ticket Fraud, Holiday Fraud and Lottery Fraud advice pages before making any decisions or bookings.

- For useful advice and information on the World Cup please visit the Government Guidance Pages: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/be-on-the-ball-world-cup-2018

Visit Take Five (takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/advice/) and Cyber Aware (cyberaware.gov.uk) for more information about how to protect yourself online.

(1st May 2018)


MARTIN LEWIS TO SUE FACEBOOK OVER FAKE ADS WHICH SCAM PEOPLE OUT OF THOUSANDS
(The Telegraph, dated 23rd April 2018 author Olivia Rudgard)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/22/martin-lewis-sue-facebook-fake-ads-scam-people-thousands/

MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis is to sue Facebook over scam adverts using his image.

The commentator and financial journalist is claiming defamation over allegations that the site is publishing scam adverts using his image causing vulnerable people to hand over thousands of pounds to criminals.

He said the company had hosted more than 50 of the scam ads and that it had failed to act because it was motivated by "greed".

Mr Lewis said the legal action, due to be launched on Monday, was the result of months of frustration with scammers who were piggybacking on his reputation and preying on Facebook users with outlandish get-rich-quick scams.

Supporters have handed over thousands of pounds in good faith, only to find the advert has nothing to do with Mr Lewis or his company.

"Vulnerable people are the ones being scammed and the ones being hurt," he told the Daily Telegraph. "It has to take some responsibility."

"It is not worth Facebook's while improving its systems. The company who is the leader in facial recognition, when it's been put on notice by someone that there is a scam and that that person never does adverts, it is not beyond its wit and wisdom to notify me of these adverts, and ask if they are legitimate.

"But its processes don't work like that - it wants to make it flexible and easy for anyone to be able to advertise - and it has done, including criminal scammers.

"Facebook has become this big agglomerated organisation where no-one seems to take care and responsibility."

Any damages won through the lawsuit will be donated to charity, by Mr Lewis said the legal action was not designed to win the case itself, but to force the company to change its policy on advertising, for example by having inbuilt settings notifying well-known people every time their image was used in an advert, requiring their approval.

He said he has repeatedly reported the adverts, only for new, almost identical ones to appear days later.

"I don't do ads, so an ad with me in it, does not have my permission. These are companies warned about by the FCA, warned about by Action Fraud - this is about as clear cut as it gets," he said.

"Why do I have to go through the time, cost and stress of doing the work? I have people spending half their week doing this. I'm not being paid by Facebook. It's making the money - if I'm going to have to do that can it pay me a fee to police it?

"It sees each advert as discrete, and the next day there's another one. They're not identical but it's the same thing. They say 'it's a new advert, you've got to report it'.

"It's distressing, and genuinely makes me feel physically sick when I hear someone has lost money because of this, and because they trusted me, and now they blame me. It is very upsetting, personally - not as upsetting as it is for the people who have lost money."

He said "fake ads" needed to be taken seriously alongside "fake news" as a threat to civil society.

"Our democracy is failing to protect vulnerable from scammers by appeasing one of the world's biggest and richest companies. That is a bit of a threat as well. There isn't enough focus on fake ads."

Solicitor Mark Lewis of Seddons, leading the lawsuit, said: "Facebook is not above the law - it cannot hide outside the UK and think that it is untouchable.

"Exemplary damages are being sought. This means we will ask the court to ensure they are substantial enough that Facebook can't simply see paying out damages as just the 'cost of business' and carry on regardless.

"It needs to be shown that the price of causing misery is very high."

A Facebook spokesperson said: "We do not allow adverts which are misleading or false on Facebook and have explained to Martin Lewis that he should report any adverts that infringe his rights and they will be removed.

"We are in direct contact with his team, offering to help and promptly investigating their requests, and only last week confirmed that several adverts and accounts that violated our Advertising Policies had been taken down."

What happens to victims of fraud

Victims are told to first report the scam or fraud to Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for cyber crime and fraud.

Action Fraud passes the report to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. The NFBI then analyses the case to find out if there are any viable lines of enquiry. If there are, the report is sent to the police for investigation.

The police unit may not have the resources to dedicate to investigating the fraud even if it receives the report.

According to independent charity, the Fraud Advisory Panel, victims outside of London have even less chance of their fraud cases being investigated.

If there are insufficient viable lines of enquiry for an investigation, the NFBI holds the report in case new leads emerge.

(1st May 2018)


FRAUDSTERS TARGET CASH-STRAPPED STUDENTS FOR USE AS "MONEY MULES"
(The Telegraph, dated 20th April 2018 author Adam Williams)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/personal-banking/current-accounts/fraudsters-target-cash-strapped-students-use-money-mules/

A growing number of young people are being lured into illegal work as "money mules".

Anti-fraud prevention service Cifas said there was a 27pc increase in the number of 14-24 year olds being used as money mules during 2017.

A money mule is a person who is used by criminals to move illegal funds between accounts, whether in person or electronically, in order to launder the money and evade authorities.

Young people are often used to transfer money. The National Fraud Database warned earlier this year that fraudsters were using popular messaging app WhatsApp to lure in unsuspecting youngsters.

Cifas said cash-strapped students were a particular target for the scam as criminals often promised large rewards for small amounts of work.

More than 32,000 bank accounts were highlighted as being subject to money laundering by money mules last year, an 11pc rise on 2016.

Dean Curtis, of financial crime firm LexisNexis Risk Solutions, said young people were engaging in illegal activity without considering the potential repercussions.

"To avoid banks' stringent identity fraud checks, criminals are increasingly turning to laundering their illicit funds through other people's bank accounts, and probably giving them great compensation for doing so," he said.

"This trend has already increased 11pc since 2016 and could easily continue to rise. More young people are being recruited in this manner, particularly among the student population, who are handing over their identities and banking credentials without understanding the implications."

Other data published by Cifas showed identity fraud reached an all-time high during 2017, with 174,523 cases recorded. It said 95pc of these cases involved the impersonation of an innocent victim.

Mike Haley, of Cifas, described the levels of fraud in the UK as "frighteningly high" and said criminals were using increasingly sophisticated techniques to find victims.

"As some targets become harder to crack, criminals turn to what they consider are softer targets. However, as fraudsters see their attempts become more difficult, the question will arise about where they will target next."

(1st May 2018)


FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 TICKET ALERT
(Action Fraud, dated 20th April 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

The 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place from 14th June - 15th July 2018. The worldwide demand for match tickets is expected to be significant. Action Fraud have been alerted to several websites which are offering World Cup Tickets for sale, some at highly inflated prices. A FIFA spokesperson said:

"FIFA regards the illicit sale and distribution of tickets as a very serious issue and it has been reminding all football fans that FIFA.com/tickets is the only official and legitimate website on which to buy 2018 FIFA World Cup tickets."

"FIFA has received various complaints and enquiries by customers of non-authorised ticket sales platforms, and has consistently confirmed that these companies cannot guarantee access to the stadiums as the respective tickets may be cancelled. Insofar customers are at risk of investing a high amount of money (also for travelling and accommodation) without having the certainty to actually be able to attend the matches."

FIFA have also warned that "any tickets obtained from any other source, such as ticket brokers, internet auctions or unofficial ticket exchange platforms, will be automatically rendered void and invalid".

Action Fraud received over six hundred reports and intelligence submissions in relation to the previous World Cup so it's vital that football fans exercise caution when considering a purchase or making a transaction.

Protect yourself:

- Don't take the risk. Tickets for the World Cup 2018 can only be purchased directly from FIFA. For more information, please visit www.FIFA.com/tickets.

- A FAN ID is required for fans to be able to enter the 2018 FIFA World Cup stadiums. Exercise caution if using a third party to obtain your FAN ID for you. You may be charged inflated costs for the service and your personal details may be compromised. For more information, please visit www.fan-id.ru.

- Visit the Take Five website for the latest guidance on how to avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

- For useful advice and information on the World Cup please visit the Government Guidance Pages; https://www.gov.uk/guidance/be-on-the-ball-world-cup-2018

(1st May 2018)


BRISTOL AIRPORT PARKNG FIRM "FAILS TO RETURN CARS"
(BBC News, dated 9th April 2018)

Full article : www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-43697408

Dozens of travellers returning to Bristol Airport were left stranded after a meet-and-greet parking company failed to return their cars.

Police said a "significant number of motorists had been unable to retrieve vehicles" after returning to the terminal between Friday and Sunday.

Bristol Airport said the firm involved - Absolutely Secure Airport Parking - was not connected with the airport.

The company is yet to respond to requests for a comment.

The Bristol Post reported that some customers found their "filthy" vehicles in lay-bys and fields.

Russell and Amanda Lewington, from Box in Wiltshire, called police on Friday morning after their calls to the company went unanswered.

They said dozens of other travellers who were in a similar situation had apparently booked the same service through different intermediaries.

Mrs Lewington said, when the company's owner eventually left with police to fetch the keys, he was taken ill.

She said: "People were getting more fractious but trying to stay calm because there were children waiting with us.

"Some people were returned their keys but had no idea where their cars were parked. Some found their cars in lay-bys near the airport."

After getting a taxi home, the Lewingtons eventually located their car through a WhatsApp social media group set up by another stranded passenger and collected it from a farmers' field about 15 miles from the airport on Saturday afternoon.

Lee Drinkwater, a Royal Marine from Exmouth in Devon, found his Mercedes nine hours after returning to the airport on Friday.

He said he was charged £35 by the company for 24 hours of secure parking.

"The vehicles were stored in lay-bys, farmers' fields, down dirt tracks. They were not in secure locations as advertised."

Mr Drinkwater said that up to 30 families were among those waiting for their cars on Friday.

"They were cold, tired and hungry," he added.

Other passengers took to social media to express their anger at the situation.

Writing on Facebook, Kim Price-Harris said: "Cars left in lay-bys or on farms covered in mud. They don't even know where people's cars are or their keys.

"Lots of people left stranded at the airport."

A spokesperson for Bristol Airport said: "While we have no control nor influence over the services provided by Absolutely Secure Airport Parking Bristol, our ground transportation team and on-site police unit provided assistance to passengers affected to help locate their vehicles."

Avon and Somerset Police said it was investigating but "keeping an open mind as to whether any criminal offences have been committed".

uaware comment

This may not be deemed as fraud, but it definitely is deception.

(1st May 2018)


HOLIDAYMAKERS WARNED ABOUT FAKE ACCOMMODATION BOOKINGS
(BBC News, dated 7th April 2018)

Full article : www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43669007

Holidaymakers are being warned about fraudsters who place false adverts on accommodation websites, conning them out of hundreds of pounds.

Last year, some 4,700 travellers fell victim to such scams, which included fake airline tickets.

On average those affected lost £1,500 each in 2017, according to the police, a 25% rise on the year before.

In many cases the fraudsters hack into accommodation websites and ask to be paid directly.

But as soon as payment is made, they disappear.

The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) is also warning about fake airline tickets that never arrive. Last year, most of the flights concerned were to Africa or Asia.

"I was petrified"


Last May, legal secretary Georgia Brown tried to book a holiday in Amsterdam for herself, her partner Jamie, and some friends.

She spotted an advert on an accommodation website, where the owner of the apartment was asking for a deposit of £915.

She corresponded with the man by email, and then sent the money off by bank transfer.

But she never heard from him again.

"At the time I was petrified. I thought someone had hacked into my bank account. It was really scary," she said.

She was also critical of the booking site involved.

"I just don't understand how this person was allowed to advertise on the website."

Georgia Brown eventually got her money back through her bank.

'Emotional impact'

In order to avoid being conned, Abta advises holidaymakers to:

- Do research. Check the holiday company's credentials, and look at several reviews of the property involved

- Check the web address is legitimate, and has not been altered. For example from co.uk to .org

- Be cautious about paying directly into an individual's bank account. Bank transfers are like paying by cash, so are difficult to trace. It is safer to use a debit or credit card

More than half of the victims of travel scams told Action Fraud that the experience had affected their mental health or financial well-being.

In some cases the impact was even more serious.

"The startling emotional impact of falling victim to holiday fraud is highlighted in the latest figures, as 575 people reported that the harm to them was so severe, they had to receive medical treatment or were at risk of bankruptcy," said Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud.

It follows earlier warnings this year about so-called "chalet fraud" for people booking ski-ing holidays.

On average those who were tricked into sending off money to reserve a chalet lost more than £2,000 each.

(1st May 2018)


ONLINE MARKETPLACE FRAUD ADVICE FOR SELLERS
(Action Fraud, dated 5th April 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

Action Fraud has received several reports indicating that sellers of items on online marketplace websites are falling victim to fraud by bogus buyers. Typically, the bogus buyers contact the seller wanting to purchase the item for sale and advise they will be sending the requested amount via PayPal or other electronic payment method. The seller then receives a fake, but official looking email stating they have been paid more than the asking price and to send the difference back to the buyer's bank account. In reality, no money has ever been sent to the seller; the bogus buyer has spoofed an email and purported to be an online payment company. All contact is then severed with the seller.

It is important to remember that selling anything could make you a target to these fraudsters however the NFIB has identified that those offering sofas, large furniture and homeware are particularly vulnerable.

Protection Advice


- Don't assume an email or phone call is authentic. Remember criminals can imitate any email address. Stay in control. Always use a trusted payment method online, such as Paypal, and have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for payment like bank transfers.

- Don't be rushed or pressured into making a decision. Always verify that you have received payment from the buyer before completing a sale.

- Listen to your instincts. Criminals will try and make unusual behaviour, like overpaying, seem like a genuine mistake.

Visit Take Five (takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/advice/) and Cyber Aware (cyberaware.gov.uk) for more information about how to protect yourself online.

If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

(1st May 2018)


MAGAZINE ADVERTISEMENT DEBT ALERT
(Action Fruad, dated 5th April 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

Victims receive a telephone call from someone purporting to be a bailiff enforcing a court judgement, attempting to recover funds for a non-existent debt. The fraudsters state the debt originates from the victim not paying a magazine advertisement subscription.

A variety of magazine names and publishers are being used by the fraudsters, who also commonly use the names of certified Bailiff Enforcement Agents such "Scott Davis", "Stephen King" and "Mark Taylor". These are names of certified Bailiff Enforcement Agents employed by debt enforcement companies.

The fraudsters request that the debt be repaid by bank transfer. If the victim refuses, they threaten to visit the victim's home or place of work to recover the debt that is owed.

Once the money has been transferred, victims are not provided with receipt details of the payment or contact details. Later when victims make enquiries, they'll discover that the debt did not exist, and often that no advertisement was placed.

This type of fraud is nationwide. Since 2017, there have been 52 Action Fraud Reports relating to this fraud. From the reports received, there are a range of different businesses and individuals being targeted.

Protection Advice:

1. Listen to your instinct: just because someone knows your basic details, such as your name and address, it doesn't mean they are genuine.

2. Stay in control: always question cold callers: always contact the companies directly using a known email or phone number.

3. Don't be rushed or pressured into making a decision: a legitimate company will be prepared to wait whilst you verify information.

If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Visit Take Five (takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/advice/) and Cyber Aware (cyberaware.gov.uk) for more information about how to protect yourself online.

(1st May 2018)


MARCH 2018


HOSPITAL LOCKSMITH DEFRAUDED NHS OUT OF £600K BY HIRING HIS OWN FIRM TO SUPPLY GOODS AT MARKED UP PRICES
(Telegraph, dated 27th March 2018 author Telegraph Reporters)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/27/hospital-locksmith-defrauded-nhs-600k-hiring-firm-supply-goods/

The chief locksmith at a major hospital trust defrauded it out of nearly £600,000 by hiring his own supply firm and charging a 1,200 per cent mark-up on goods, a court heard.

Andrew Taylor, who was the main locksmith for Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust in London, was found guilty of fraud by abuse of position at Inner London Crown Court and jailed for six years.

The 55-year-old, of London, was responsible for obtaining a best value quotes for locksmith supplies, but purchased locksmith materials from a company that he owned himself.

According to the NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA), which investigated the case, he failed to declare a conflict of interest and charged "extortionate" mark-up prices, some up to 1,200%.

Taylor started to work at the hospital trust as a carpenter in 1998 and was appointed permanent locksmith in 2006. Between 2007 and 2013, a company called Surety Security supplied Guy's and St Thomas' with locksmith materials.

Investigators found that apart from two very low value jobs, Surety Security had no customer other than Guy's and St Thomas'. It was later discovered that the company was owned and controlled by Taylor.

When the deception was discovered Taylor was suspended, and resigned before disciplinary procedures were completed.

The NHSCFA said Taylor abused his position of trust to defraud his employer of £598,524.27.

It is the first conviction secured by the NHSCFA since its establishment as a special health authority in November 2017.

"This is a significant and rewarding outcome for the NHSCFA, and sends a clear message that we will intervene and take action against those who commit fraud against the NHS and who take money originally intended for patient care for their own personal gain," said Sue Frith, interim chief executive of the NHSCFA.

"Andrew Taylor exploited his position at Guy's and St Thomas' to satisfy his own greed and personal lifestyle.

"The sentence imposed today should act as a clear deterrent to anyone else who thinks that NHS funds are there for their own gain, instead of being there to meet the healthcare needs of everyone.

"The NHSCFA's action now continues to pursue the money taken by Taylor in order to return it to the NHS."

(1st April 2018)


FALSE TELEPHONE PREFERENCE SERVICE CALLS
(Action Fraud, dated 16th March 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

Fraudsters are cold-calling victims, falsely stating that they are calling from one of the well-known UK telecommunication service providers. They call victims claiming to provide a 'Telephone Preference Service' - an enhanced call-barring service, which includes barring international call centres.

The fraudsters ask victims to confirm/provide their bank account details, informing them that there is a one-off charge for the service. Victims instead see monthly debits deducted from their accounts, which they have not authorised. The fraudsters often target elderly victims.

In all instances, direct debits are set up without following proper procedure. The victim is not sent written confirmation of the direct debit instruction, which is supposed to be sent within three days.

On occasions when victims attempted to call back, the telephone number provided by the fraudster was either unable to be reached or the victim's direct debit cancellation request was refused.

During 2017, there were 493 Action Fraud Reports relating to this fraud.

Protect yourself:


- There is only one Telephone Preference Service (TPS). The TPS is the only official UK 'do-not-call' register for opting out of live telesales calls. It is FREE to sign-up to the register. TPS never charge for registration. You can register for this service at http://www.tpsonline.org.uk.

- You will receive postal confirmation of genuine direct debits. If you notice unauthorised payments leaving your account, you should contact your bank promptly.

- Always be wary of providing personal information, or confirming that personal information the caller already claims to hold is correct. Always be certain that you know who you talking to. If in doubt hang up immediately.

If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

(1st April 2018)


HOW YOU COULD BE A VICTIM OF GHOST-BROKING - A CAR INSURANCE SCCAM YOU MAY HAVE NEVER HEARD OF
(Liverpool Echo, dated 12th March 2018 author Caroline Jones)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/how-you-could-victim-ghost-14396682

Sorting out your car insurance can be enough of a nightmare without falling foul of a scam in the process.

But there's a scheme you'll want to be aware of when deciding where to get your policy from - and it's been doing the rounds for a little while now.

Not everyone, however, has heard of ghost-broking, which makes it very difficult for motorists to remain vigilant about what has been described as an "extremely complex" scam.

Here, we explain what it is and how you can avoid being fooled by it:

So, just what is ghost-broking?

Ghost brokers are fraudsters who sell drivers apparently cheap motor insurance deals but issue policies that aren't worth the paper they're written on, says the Insurance Fraud Bureau.

They may use some of the drivers' correct details but often falsify information, such as the address or age, to benefit from lower premiums.

Typically the scam works in one of two ways:

- Policies are bought from legitimate insurance companies using false information and then doctored before being sold on to customers;

- Fake policy documents designed to look like they have been issued by legitimate insurance companies are created and sold on to customers.

The consequences of buying a fake insurance policy can be the same as having no policy at all:

- Your car may be seized by police;
- You'll pay a fixed penalty notice of £300;
- You'll have to buy valid insurance and pay at least £150 to get your car back from the pound;
- You could be liable for any damage you cause while driving without insurance, which could include compensation if you injure someone.

So, how can I beat the fraudsters?

Advice from the Insurance Fraud Bureau says:

Find a legitimate broker via the BIBA website and check that your insurance adviser is on the Financial Services Register - www.biba.org.uk

Beware of buying insurance policies from unusual sources such as social networks, newsagents or bars and pubs;

Check your insurer is a Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) member - www.mib.org.uk

It's also worth bearing in mind that some of the bogus websites set up by scammers appear genuine, while others are clearly fake and are usually advertised through social media.

People should ensure websites are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) before handing over details or money. Report any suspicious activity to the fraud bureau on 0800 422 0421.

(1st April 2018)


THIS HORRIBLE E-MAIL SCAM COULD TRY TO TRICK YOU WHILE YOU ARE AT WORK
(Liverpool Echo, dated 9th March 2018 author Caroline Jones)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/horrible-e-mail-scam-could-14391120

It's fair to say that keeping an eye out for scams is becoming an important part of our daily routine.

Once upon a time, many of us would recognise a scam from miles away - and we would be on the alert for the promise of too-good-to-be-true lottery wins or appeals for money which just didn't make sense.

But, now, more and more of us are on the lookout for seemingly routine e-mails, text messages and communications via social media which could have a hidden agenda lurking behind them.

And, today, Action Fraud has tweeted about yet another nasty scam which is trying to trick us - this time while we're at work. It's called spear phishing and it's important not to be fooled by it.

So, what exactly is spear phishing?

Basically, this involves fraudsters sending e-mails - which appear to be from a known or trusted sender - in order to induce targeted individuals to reveal confidential information.

In the most recent case revealed by Action Fraud, an e-mail was sent to a worker which appeared to be from a senior member of staff within the same organisation.

It said in its tweet: "Spear phishing campaign targets businesses with fake payment requests. (In this case), the spoofed e-mail purports to be from a senior staff member within the recipient's organisation and requests that a new 'faster payment' be set up.

"The attachment doesn't contain malware and the bank details are fake. It works when victims email back the criminals after unsuccessfully trying to pay. Fraudsters then get in contact and send over real bank details.

"Remember, criminals can spoof e-mail address to make it appear as though an e-mail was sent by a person or company you know.

"Ensure that your organisation has established procedures in place to verify and corroborate all payment requests."

How can I protect myself from scams like this?

Phishing, vishing and smishing scams come in the form of any website, online service, phone call or text message that poses as a company or brand you recognise.

Any contact like this is designed to convince you to hand over valuable personal details or your money, or download something that infects your computer.

This is advice from Action Fraud about how to protect yourself:

- Don't assume anyone who's sent you an email or text message - or has called your phone or left you a voicemail message - is who they say they are.

- If a phone call or voicemail, email or text message asks you to make a payment, log in to an online account or offers you a deal, be cautious. Real banks never email you for passwords or any other sensitive information by clicking on a link and visiting a website. If you get a call from someone who claims to be from your bank, don't give away any personal details.

- Make sure your spam filter is on your emails. If you find a suspicious email, mark it as spam and delete it to keep out similar emails in future.

- If in doubt, check it's genuine by asking the company itself. Never call numbers or follow links provided in suspicious e-mails; find the official website or customer support number using a separate browser and search engine.

If you think you have been a victim of fraud, you should report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting https://actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud

(1st April 2018)


WHATSAPP FRAUDSTERS TURNING "NAIVE" YOUNG PEOPLE INTO MONEY MULES
(Telegraph, dated 7th March 2018 author Sara Spary)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/07/whatsapp-fraudsters-turning-naive-young-people-money-mules/

WhatsApp fraudsters are targeting 'naive' young people and turning them into money mules.

New data, compiled from the National Fraud Database by not-for-profit fraud prevention body, Cifas, suggests in the past year there has there has been a "sharp rise" the number of 18 to 24 year olds being tricked into using their bank accounts to transfer the proceeds of crime.

According to the figures, there were 8,652 cases of 'misuse of facility' between January and the end of September this year, a 75 per cent rise.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Sandra Peaston, Assistant Director at Cifas, said social media was being increasingly tool used by fraudsters to convert young people into accidental money launderers - by offering them fake money making schemes or even fake job offers, and then convincing people "who don't ask many questions" to transfer money as a favour.

"The use of social media is one of the things we know is happening... be that by instant messages, or via adverts on YouTube.

Ms Peaston said they were known to be using messaging apps such as WhatsApp to communicate with would-be victims.

Cifas is launching a 'Don't Be Fooled' campaign alongside UK Finance that aims to deter young people - in particular, students - from becoming money mules.

UK Finance added: "If an offer of easy money sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

(1st April 2018)


SIX JAILED FOR RUNNING £37m "COPYCAT WEBSITE" FRAUD
(The Guardian, dated 6th March 2018 author Rebecca Smithers)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/06/six-jailed-for-running-37m-copycat-website

Six people have been given jail sentences after defrauding the public out of more than £37m in one of the largest UK online crime cases brought to court.

The group set up and operated a number of "copycat websites", which impersonated official government services to sell passports, driving licences and other key documents for hugely inflated prices. The convictions and sentences followed one of the biggest investigations undertaken by the National Trading Standards eCrime Team.

The convictions and sentences were handed down following two trials - one in July 2017 and another that ended this week. The convictions and sentences relating to the July 2017 trial can only now be reported.

The individuals - who received sentences of varying lengths - are Peter Hall, Claire Hall, Syed Bilal Zaidi, Collette Ferrow, Liam Hincks and Kerry Mill, all of various addresses across the UK.

The July 2017 trial heard how the defendants set up copycat websites through the company Tadservices Limited between January 2011 and November 2014. These mimicked official websites run by 11 government agencies and departments and manipulated search engine results to appear more genuine.

Hundreds of thousands of purchasers were duped into paying more than they needed for new or replacement passports, visas, birth and death certificates, driving licences, driving tests, car tax discs and the London congestion charge.

The criminals also set up websites that mimicked the American, Cambodian, Sri Lankan, Turkish and Vietnamese official visa sites where travellers could apply and pay for electronic visas. It is believed that in addition to UK consumers, Indian, Turkish and US citizens were also defrauded.

The illegal profits funded a glamorous lifestyle for the defendants, with extravagant spending on expensive cars and luxury holidays. At one stage Claire Hall was preparing to buy a house for £1.4m in cash when the authorities intervened.

"These convictions represent an important milestone in the fight against online fraud," said Lord Harris, the chair of National Trading Standards. "This was a huge fraud and a very large number of people lost money as a result of the malicious actions of these criminals."

Handing down sentence on Tuesday, Judge Sean Morris said: "The internet is now the most frequently used marketplace. It is full of busy people in a rush who don't have time. There is a lot of money to be made by dishonest people out of the honest people who don't have time to check that a site is an official government service."

(1st April 2018)


POLICE REITERATE WARNING OVER FAKE OFFICER SCAM
(Penarth Times, dated 6th March 2018 author anon)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.penarthtimes.co.uk/news/16067489.Police_reiterate_warning_over_fake_officer_scam/?ref=rss

People are continuing to be scammed in the Vale of Glamorgan by someone claiming to be a police detective, prompting police to reiterate their warning not to hand money over to the fraudster.

The individual masquerading as a police officer has been targeting individuals with an elaborate story, before attempting to get victims to hand over significant amounts of money.

In the past fortnight, South Wales Police has seen a marked increase in the number of people reporting calls of this nature. In Cardiff, at least eight reports were received in two days, while in the Vale of Glamorgan reports have been made on an almost daily basis. Force-wide, the number of similar reports has also increased.

In some of the instances, the victims were told their cards had been cloned or they had been victim of fraud, and they were asked to provide their bank details. During other calls, the victims were told a family member had been arrested, while others were told to visit cashpoints and draw out thousands of pounds or purchase expensive items to hand over to a 'courier' who would collect the money from their home.

In all of the cases, the person calling claimed to be a detective and was so convincing that some of those contacted handed over the money or bank details requested.

Detective Inspector Paul Raikes, said: "These scammers are extremely persuasive and convincing and are often very successful in duping people in to handing over substantial amounts of money.

"Many of this week's victims have been elderly, but the truth is anyone can be targeted by these scammers and I'd urge everyone to be on their guard and to talk to their friends and loved ones about the scams. The more awareness there is of them, the less successful these fraudsters will be. Anything suspicious should be reported to us immediately."

Detective Inspector Paul Giess, from the Economic Crime Unit, added: "While many of the victims in these cases have been elderly or vulnerable, I cannot stress enough how sophisticated and well-rehearsed these scammers are, and any one of us could fall victim to their con if we are not vigilant.

"My message to the public is simple - the police, or any other legitimate organisation for that matter - will never contact you in this manner. All calls of this nature are a scam, and the person receiving the call should hang up as soon as possible."

To minimise the risk of falling victims to fraudsters, the public are encouraged to remember these simple tips:

Do:

- Obtain details of caller including name, rank, collar number and station
- Ascertain what Police force they identify themselves as working for
- Note any contact details from caller display or via 1471 after the call has concluded
- Obtain the main force control room number from the phonebook, internet or directory enquiries service
- Terminate the call advising you will contact the force control room directly to confirm their identity and be put through to them internally. (Ring a family member first to ensure the line has disconnected from the initial caller)
- If anyone calls at your address following on from this communication please call 999

Don't:


- Provide any details of bank cards, account numbers, financial circumstances or personal details
- Agree to make purchases or obtain funds from accounts to hand over to couriers
- Hand over your bank cards or account paperwork

Anyone who thinks they may have fallen victim to a scammer should report it via 101, or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

(1st April 2018)


KENT MAN JAILED AFTER TRYING TO CON ELDERLY MAN OUT OF THOUSANDS
(Kent online, dated 6th March 2018 author Kentonline Reporter)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.kentonline.co.uk/gravesend/news/bank-staff-thwart-fraudsters-theft-161086/

A fraudster who tried to con an elderly man out of thousands of pounds was thwarted by suspicious bank staff who stopped the victim withdrawing cash.

Aaron Wiltshire, 31, of Page Crescent, Slade Green, attempted to convince the victim - aged in his 90s - that he needed to hand over money for work to his home.

Maidstone Crown Court heard a man knocked on the victim's front door in Old Perry Street, Northfleet on January 17 last year claiming to live nearby.

He said there was a problem causing his water to turn brown, and he thought it may also be affecting him.
Two days later, a different man knocked on the victim's door and claimed there was a problem with the victim's water which would require a lot of specialist equipment.

This man, later identified as Aaron Wiltshire, said it would cost around £9,000 to repair.

The victim gave the man his mobile phone number and later that day he received a call from a man discussing the repairs.

The man told the victim he would need a £3,000 deposit, and believing the man, the victim went to the NatWest bank in Gravesend to withdraw the money. But staff would not release the funds as they felt it was suspicious.

The following day, Wiltshire visited the victim's home and took him via a number of taxis to banks in Dartford to withdraw funds up to £1,700. Returning to his address, Wiltshire then told the man that he wanted more cash.

The victim told Wiltshire he had no further money and wrote out a cheque for £19,800, which Wiltshire took before leaving.

Later that night the victim was contacted by an officer at Kent Police. The victim then cancelled the cheque and his cards.

The next day Wiltshire went back to the victim's address asking why he cancelled the cheque.

The victim told him that he did not wish to go ahead with the work. The man was also told that solicitors would be contacted over the breach of contract. Wiltshire then ripped up the cheque before leaving.

Following an investigation by Kent Police, Wiltshire was identified through CCTV and was arrested and later charged with fraud.

He has now been jailed for four years after being found guilty by a jury of two counts of fraud by false representation, with an additional four weeks for breaching a suspended sentence.

The judge praised the bank staff for their actions.

Investigating officer PC Colin Bassett said: "Wiltshire preyed on a vulnerable man on numerous occasions pressurising him to hand over thousands of pounds of cash without any care for the victim.

"I'd like to echo the judge's sentiments and commend the staff at the bank for stopping the first large transaction and passing on their concerns. Had it not been for those staff then this case would have had a very different outcome and who knows where it would have stopped.

"If anyone thinks they have been a victim of fraud or believes someone they know may be being targeted then please do get in touch with Kent Police so officers can investigate fully."

(1st April 2018)


ROYAL MAIL HALTS THREE MILLION SCAM LETTERS
(BBC News, dated 5th March 2018 author Kevin Peachey)

Full article : www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43289354

Hoards of scam letters are being seized before reaching the letterboxes of vulnerable potential victims, according to Royal Mail.

The delivery service received stinging criticism from government and campaigners after the Royal Mail logo was found on scam letters.

It prompted a series of changes which the service said had halted three million letters in just over a year.

Fake lotteries and bogus clairvoyants have used mass mail drops in the past.

The BBC has reported cases in which people have lost tens of thousands of pounds to these postal scammers.

Impounding letters

An investigation by the Daily Mail in 2016 alleged that scammers paid companies to print their scam letters in bulk.

If printed abroad, the letters were then taken to the UK where firms sorted and mass transported them to Royal Mail, which made the final delivery to people's homes. The Royal Mail logo was printed on the envelopes.

The issue led Royal Mail to be hauled before a government minister.

The service said it faced difficulties owing to the law which made it an offence to open postal items to look at the contents. Once envelopes were sealed, neither Royal Mail nor the intermediary companies delivering the mail to Royal Mail for final delivery were permitted to open them and assess the content, it said.

However, staff were trained to spot potential scam letters, and a series of new initiatives - including an industry-wide code of practice - have been launched since 2016.

Changes to terms and conditions governing bulk mail contracts in March 2017 meant Royal Mail could follow up on solid intelligence by refusing to carry mail suspected to be fraudulent.

The next month it started to contact, by Special Delivery, households receiving high volumes of scam mail, and impounded scam letters at its distribution centres before it reached the customers' letterboxes.

"We are committed to doing everything we can to stop this fraudulent material from reaching UK households," said Stephen Agar, managing director of letters at Royal Mail.

"We continue to deploy a range of different initiatives to keep one step ahead of the scammers."

The initiative does not cover electronic mail, and many con-artists have turned to email and social media to blitz potential victims with similar scams.

(1st April 2018)


WREXHAM MAN ADMITS ROLE IN £37m COPYCAT WEBSITE SCAM
(The Leader, dated 12th March 2018 author Rory Sheeham)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.leaderlive.co.uk/news/16080666.Wrexham_man_admits_role_in___37m_copycat_website_scam/

A MAN from Wrexham has admitted his role in a £37 million copycat website fraud scam.

Six people have been sentenced to a total of more than 35 years in prison after being convicted of defrauding UK consumers out of more than £37m in one of the largest UK online crime cases.

They operated a number of 'copycat websites', impersonating official government services to sell passports, driving licences and other key documents for vastly inflated prices.

The convictions and sentences follow one of the biggest investigations undertaken by the National Trading Standards eCrime Team.

These sentences were handed down following two trials - one in July 2017 and the other in March 2018.

The convictions and sentences relating to the July 2017 trial can only be reported now due reporting restrictions which were in place.

Liam Hincks, 28, of St Albans Heights, Tanyfron, pleaded guilty before the July 2017 trial began and was sentenced to three years for his part in the multi-million pound fraud.

Hincks also pleaded guilty before the March 2018 trial and will be sentenced at a later date.

The July 2017 trial heard how the defendants set up copycat websites through the company Tadservices Limited between January 2011 and November 2014.

These sites mimicked official websites run by eleven government agencies and departments and manipulated search engine results to appear more genuine. They knowingly misled hundreds of thousands of consumers into paying more than they needed for a number of government services including new or replacement passports, visas, birth and death certificates, driving licences, driving tests, car tax discs and the London Congestion Charge.

The criminals also set up websites that mimicked the American, Turkish, Cambodian, Vietnamese and Sri Lankan official visa sites where travellers could apply and pay for electronic visas to visit those countries. In all cases the sites offered little or no additional value to consumers using them. It is believed that in addition to UK consumers Indian, Turkish and US citizens were also defrauded.

The second trial in March 2018 heard how five defendants established a series of copycat websites through the companies Online Forms Limited and AE Online Services Limited in 2014 and 2015.

These copycat websites mimicked a range of the visa application websites in countries including the United States, India, Turkey, Bahrain and Sri Lanka.

Lord Toby Harris, who chairs National Trading Standards, said: "These convictions represent an important milestone in the fight against online fraud.

"This was a huge fraud and a very large number of people lost money as a result of the malicious actions of these criminals.

"Our eCrime team, operating with finite resources, has worked tirelessly to bring these criminals to justice and I'm delighted their efforts have led to these historic convictions.

"I urge members of the public to report any copycat websites they spot to the Citizens Advice consumer service by calling 03454 04 05 06."

Mike Andrews from the National Trading Standards eCrime Team said: "This was a crime motivated by greed. This group defrauded people so they could enjoy a luxury lifestyle.

"They showed no regard for the unnecessary costs they imposed on their victims. I would say they treated them with contempt.

"I urge people to always use the GOV.UK website when looking to apply for any kind of government service such as a passport, driving licence or EHIC card.

"Search engines may seem the easiest route but searching using the GOV.UK website is the safest way of ensuring you do not fall victim to a copycat website."

(1st April 2018)


BOGUS HMRC EMAILS : THE OFFICIAL GUIDE TO SPOTTING SCAMS
(Telegraph, dated 2nd March 2018 author Sophie Christie)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/tax/income-tax/bogus-hmrc-emails-official-guide-spotting-scams/

As well as spelling mistakes and poor grammar, there are a number of things you can look out for to help you recognise a 'phishing' or bogus email, says HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in its latest guide on scams.

Thousands of taxpayers are targeted by criminals every year with bogus emails, texts, and even social media messages that can seem genuine, but on closer inspection provide clues to their falsity.

Here are the five things you should look out for if you receive correspondence purporting to be from the taxman.

1. Fake email addresses


Fraudsters typically own email addresses with names associated with HMRC, like Revenue, HMRC or gov. Here's an example of a fake email address: refunds@hmrc.org.uk.

Be aware that fraudsters can spoof the "from" address to look legitimate. For example: it may look like it is from 'refunds@hmrc.gov.uk', but if you hover over the link and look at the bottom left-hand corner of your browser page, you will see the actual link that that text leads to, and that will not end with @hmrc.gov.uk at all. If you're unsure whether the message is real, don't open it. Instead, forward suspicious emails to HMRC 's phishing team at phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk, and wait for their guidance.

2. Offering a tax rebate or payment

Emails from HMRC will never offer you a repayment, notify you of a tax rebate, ask you to disclose personal information such as an address or bank details, or provide a non-HMRC personal email address to send a response to.

But because the taxman does offer tax rebates to customers, which can be significant sums of money, people are often lured into engaging with crooks who are promising to transfer large amounts of cash.

3. Demanding urgent action

Con artists often ask for immediate action in their emails. Be wary of messages containing phrases like "you only have three days to reply" or "urgent action required".

4. Bogus links to websites and dodgy attachments


If the email includes a link to a webpage or an attachment, be on your guard. Fraudsters often include web links that lead to pages that look like the homepage of the Revenue's website. This is to trick recipients into disclosing personal or confidential information.

Sometimes they'll even include links to actual HMRC webpages in their emails, to try and make them appear genuine.

Attachments could contain viruses designed to steal your personal information.

5. Common greeting

If an email claiming to be from the taxman begins with a general greeting, such as "Dear Sir/Madam", "Dear customer" or "Hello", rather than your name, it's highly likely to be fake.

Emails from HMRC will usually start with the recipients name and will include information on how to report phishing scams further down the page.

In 2014 almost 50 per cent of HMRC consumers reported being targeted in a phishing scam. And in 2013 customers reported more than 91,000 phishing emails to the tax agency.



FEBRUARY 2018


MORE SCAMS !

This group of group of scams was compiled by the National Trading Standards team.

-----------------------
FACEBOOK TAKES ACTION TO PROTECT USERS AGAINST BITCOIN FRAUD
(The Herald / Sunday Herald, dated 3rd February 2018 author Iona Bain)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.heraldscotland.com/business_hq/15917943.Facebook_takes_action_to_protect_users_against_Bitcoin_fraud/?mc_cid=759df86f23&mc_eid=f46eab0a3f

Facebook has banned advertising for Bitcoin following a wave of complaints about the number of crypto-currency scams being promoted through the site.

The world's most popular social networking site said its ban will cover all adverts for "financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices", with crypto-currencies and binary options cited as the main offenders.

-----------------------

POLICE URGE PUBLIC TO BE AWARE OF "ROMANCE FRAUD"
(Llanelli Herald, dated 5th February 2018 author Jason Cooper)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.llanelliherald.com/39935/police-urge-public-aware-romance-fraud/?mc_cid=759df86f23&mc_eid=f46eab0a3f

Love might be in the air around Valentine's Day, but Dyfed-Powys Police is urging people to be wary of who they meet on dating websites after saving potential victims from sending £52,000 to fraudsters.

The force's Financial Crime Team has offered advice to people dating online to help stop their heart - and their finances - take a bruising.

Romance fraud is where fraudsters set up fake profiles to form relationships with unsuspecting people looking for a genuine partner on dating websites. They use the site to gain your trust and ask you for money or enough personal information to steal your identity.

-----------------------
WARNING OVER WHATSAPP SCAM OFFERING "FREE ADIDAS TRAINERS"
(Birminghamlive, 5th February 2018 author James Rodger)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/warning-over-whatsapp-scam-offering-14282005?mc_cid=759df86f23&mc_eid=f46eab0a3f

WhatsApp users are being warned over yet another scam doing the rounds. This is because free pairs of Adidas trainers are being used as bait by cruel scammers.
Fraudsters offering the recipient one of 3,000 pairs of free trainers in exchange for the completion of a survey.

"We are aware of the WhatsApp message that is currently circulating claiming that Adidas is giving away free footwear and would like to caution the public about believing this, as it is definitely a hoax", said Lauren Haakman, Brand Communications & PR Manager of Adidas South Africa.

-----------------------------------------
###ROGUE TRADERS AND DOORSTEP SCAMS

SUSPECTED ROGUE TRADERS FROM LANCASHIRE ARRESTED IN YORK
(North Yorkshire Police, dated 6th February 2018)

Full article :

https://northyorkshire.police.uk/news/suspected-rogue-traders-lancashire-arrested-york/?mc_cid=759df86f23&mc_eid=f46eab0a3f

Police in York have urged residents to be on their guard following the arrest of three suspected rogue traders.

Neighbourhood Policing Team were alerted to the Dunnington area at 8.17am on Monday (5 February 2018) after an elderly and vulnerable resident reported she had been pressured into purchasing a new front door by men claiming to be from a reputable home improvement company.

-----------------------
RUDE AND ITIMIDATING DOORSTEP SELLER TRIE TO FLOG HOUSEHOLD CLEANING PRODUCTS TO PEOPLE IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS
(Kentlive, 9th February 2018 author Mary Harris)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.kentlive.news/news/kent-news/tunbridge-wells-salesman-cleaning-1193367?mc_cid=759df86f23&mc_eid=f46eab0a3f

Residents have been warned about a "rude and intimidating" doorstep seller knocking on the doors of residents in Tunbridge Wells.

People who live in the town have reported a man with an "aggressive manner" who was "banging on doors" trying to sell over-priced cleaning goods, with two saying they had been sworn at when they refused to buy anything.

One householder nicknamed the sellers "Nottingham Knockers".
Trading Standards has today (February 9) issued an alert about a man selling household cleaning products door-to-door.

-----------------------------------------------------------
###TELEPHONE SCAMS

FRAUDSTERS POSE AS FINANCIAL OMBUDSMAN SERVICE STAFF WITH FAKE COMPENSATION
(Action Fraud, 1st February 2018)

Full article :

www.actionfraud.police.uk/news/fraudsters-pose-as-financial-ombudsman-service-staff-with-fake-compensation-feb18?mc_cid=759df86f23&mc_eid=f46eab0a3f

Action Fraud are warning people to watch out for fraudsters claiming to be from the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Fraudsters claiming to be from the Ombudsman are cold-calling victims and telling them they have a cheque for a large amount of money from a compensation claim. The victim is then told to buy an iTunes (or similar voucher) roughly to the value of £300 to 'release' the compensation. They then claim that a courier will collect it from their home address and that a cheque will be sent to them in the post.

The service, which deals with complaints from consumers about the financial services industry, is a free service for the public and it would never cold call households to ask for a fee in order to claim reimbursement.

------------------------
ELDERLY LADY NEARLY LOSES LIFE SAVINGS IN "POLICE INSPECTOR" SCAM
(Somersetlive, dated 6th February 2018 author Liam Trim)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.somersetlive.co.uk/news/somerset-news/elderly-lady-nearly-loses-life-1171379?mc_cid=759df86f23&mc_eid=f46eab0a3f

A criminal pretending to be a Metropolitan Police Inspector almost defrauded an elderly woman out of her life savings, according to a police Twitter account.

Only the intervention of staff at a Somerset bank branch stopped a devastating fraud taking place.

-----------------------
FRAUDSTER "MILKED" WIDOW,80, OUT OF £20k SAVINGS - AND BLEW IT ON DRUM KITS
(Birmingham Live, dated 7th February 2018 author Ross McCarthy)

Full article[Option 1]:

www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/fraudster-milked-widow-80-out-14253012

A greedy fraudster who fleeced a frail widow out of her £20,000 life savings - and used it to buy five drum kits - has been jailed.
Heartless Simon Roe also splashed out on fast food binges and video game consoles, using his housebound neighbour's cash as his "own little lottery fund".

He left the 80-year-old with just £13.33 in her account after she trusted him with her bank card to do her shopping.

-----------------------
COLD CALLS FROM FRAUDSTERS CLAIMING TO BE FROM THE HOME OFFICE
(Action Fraud, dated 12th February 2018)

Full article :

www.actionfraud.police.uk/news/alert-cold-calls-from-fraudsters-claiming-to-be-from-the-home-office-feb18?mc_cid=759df86f23&mc_eid=f46eab0a3f

Fraudsters are purporting to be from the Home Office and cold-calling victims to claim that there is a problem with their immigration status.

Fraudsters are calling victims from what appears to a genuine Home Office telephone number 0207 354 848 - which has in fact been 'spoofed'. To spoof numbers, fraudsters use software that allows them to display any number they wish on a victim's phone.

Fraudsters tell victims there is a problem with their immigration status and in order to rectify this issue, they must pay an up-front fee. They are asked to confirm personal details, such as their passport number and date of arrival in the United Kingdom. If a victim starts to question the call, the fraudsters point out the 'spoofed' number to make the request seem legitimate.

------------------------

(1st March 2018)


HUNDREDS OF SCAM LETTER CONMEN HELD IN CRACKDOWN
(Daily Mail, dated 24th February 2018 author Katherine Faulkner)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5429169/More-200-conmen-charged-following-Mail-investigation.html

Conmen who targeted British pensioners with millions of letter frauds are facing court action after a Daily Mail investigation.

More than 200 scammers have been charged or served with court orders in a joint action by US and Canadian police using evidence uncovered by this newspaper's investigations unit.

One of those facing legal action, Andrew John Thomas, was caught on camera by an undercover Mail reporter boasting that he was a 'proud w****' who used his 'beautiful talent to sell this s**t to people who don't need it'. Another is his associate Patrick Fraser.

The evidence gathered by the Mail is described in court papers as proof of the pair's 'intent to defraud'. Police believe they may have run hundreds of millions of pounds worth of frauds, sending four million letters a year.

They are understood to have told their printing providers they valued having Royal Mail branding on their letters to dupe British victims into thinking they were genuine.

The developments will pile pressure on postage firms in the UK and on Royal Mail, which has launched a drive to stamp out scam letters in response to the Daily Mail's investigation in October 2016.

We revealed how conmen were using Royal Mail's bulk mail contracts with postal partners to target the elderly. In some cases they paid to use the Royal Mail logo.

Some of their letters conned vulnerable people, including dementia patients, into thinking they had won a prize they could claim by sending money. Officials believe up to £10billion is lost to such scams each year.

Court papers filed in New York by the US Department of Justice on Thursday cite evidence gathered by the Daily Mail that Thomas and Fraser were directors of a mail fraud scheme to defraud the elderly.

They used eight shell companies, rented mailboxes and cross-border couriers to hide their activities, the US Department of Justice alleges.

The pair have now been banned from sending further mass mailings pending an investigation by the department. Criminal charges have not yet been brought against them, but sources said they could later be charged with mail fraud.

The hundreds of scammers targeted by the action are accused of defrauding more than a million elderly people globally out of more than £600million. More than 200 have been charged and civil actions brought against dozens more.

The Daily Mail's exposé came after reporters infiltrated a conference at a ski resort in Canada where scammers met to trade 'suckers lists' with names and addresses of those considered susceptible to fraud.

They boasted of 'ripping off suggestible' victims and of using Royal Mail's discounted bulk postage rates to send letters to the UK. This also allowed them to have Royal Mail branding on envelopes.

Royal Mail said last night it was 'working with industry partners and law enforcement agencies to tackle this issue even more vigorously'.

Since its crackdown in 2016, more than three million fraud letters have been stopped before delivery.

(1st March 2018)


NEW ONLINE FRAUD WARNING : ONE WRONG CLICK COULD WIPE OUT YOUR ENTIRE LIFE SAVINGS
(Daily Express, dated 20th February 2018 author Tom Gillespie)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.express.co.uk/news/uk/921067/retirement-news-financial-conduct-authority-clone-fraud-elderly-savers-halifax-vanguard

CONVINCING copy-cat websites which mimic those of big legitimate pensions and savings firms are leaving Brits just one click away from losing their entire lifesavings to fraudsters.

Criminals have been impersonating legitimate companies such as Halifax and Vanguard Asset Management to target people with savings to invest or with access to their pension - and they are raking in £500,000-a-day from victims.

So-called clone fraud investigations have almost doubled in the past year, and pensioners are especially at risk, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said.

The body, the City's chief watchdog, has said some victims have lost out on hundreds of thousands of pounds. Official figures sourced by The Times show that nearly £200million has been stolen by "investment fraudsters" in the last year.

The paper reports that the figure is thought to grossly underestimate the seriousness of the problem, citing the fact many victims will be too embarrassed to report the crime.

Some victims have been tricked out of more than £250,000.

The FCA has looked into 157 attempts of fraudsters imitating companies over the past year - a huge rise from the 90 attempts recorded in 2015.

Each cloned company is thought to have been likely to have targeted thousands of savers.

The gangs typically cold-call investors to promote property, shares or other non-existent opportunities.

The scale of the problem is likely to fuel further calls for a ban on pensioner cold-calling.

Con artists have been targeting elderly savers ever since pensions freedoms introduced in 2015 allowed anyone over 55 to gain early access to their retirement pots.

The oldest reported victim of investment fraud is 98, while the average age is 61, according to City of London police.

Ministers vowed last week to ban pension cold-calling so that if an old person is called they know it is a fraudster.

It has not been made clear how the law would be rolled out.

The FCA says that clone fraudsters use the name, address and registration number of established businesses.

They then give their own phone number, address and website details to victims.

The website details will often link to a copy of the actual company's page.

Subtle changes will have been made, such as an altered phone number.

The cruel fraudsters have even faked the watchdog's website to include their own contact details rather those of a genuine company.

Last year a con-artist pretended to be a top fund manager at JO Hambro Capital Management, and went on to persuade a victim to invest £100,000.

The unnamed victim, told they were investing in Barclays bonds, never saw his cash again.

The FCA is said to issuing a warning on its website every other day about a cloned firm.

The watchdog said clone fraudsters are tough to tackle because they operate from outside the UK.

Their British addresses are said to be fake and the bank accounts they use are usually based abroad.

The FCA has also warned about a pension review scam.

Investors are phoned out of the blue and are offered a free pension review designed to encourage them to move money into high-risk or fake investment schemes.

FCA spokesman Tim Matthews said: "Fraudsters use sophisticated methods to get hold of your cash - this can include cloning a legitimate firm. If you're buying a financial product such as a loan, insurance, investment or pension, only deal with an FCA-authorised firm."

###How can you protect yourself?

If you are uncertain about a firm that has contacted you, be sure to check the FCA's online registers.

The authority says the investor should sued the details on the register to contact the firm, rather than information provide by the person who has phoned you.

The FCA added that you should only access their register from its website, and not through links provided by anyone else.

------------------------
SAVERS LOSE MILLIONS TO RETIREMENT FRAUDSTERS
(The Times, dated 19th February 2018 author Andrew Ellson)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thetimes.co.uk/article/savers-lose-millions-to-retirement-fraudsters-3ff3x6zwb

Savers are being tricked out of half a million pounds every day after a surge in criminals targeting British pension riches, The Times can reveal.

People with nest eggs to invest, including those with new freedoms to access their pensions, are falling for well-resourced foreign fraudsters impersonating the identities of legitimate companies.

Investigations into "clone fraud" have almost doubled over the past year, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the City's chief watchdog, with some victims losing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The finding comes as official figures obtained by The Times show that almost £200 million has been stolen by investment fraudsters over the past year, although this is thought to grossly underestimate the true scale of the problem.

------------------------
(1st March 2018)


ORGANISED CRIMINALS STEALING IDENTITIES OF DEAD PEOPLE TO GET CHEAPER CAR INSURANCE
(Telegraph, dated 24th February 2018 author Martin Evans)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/24/organised-criminals-stealing-identities-dead-people-get-cheaper/

Organised criminals and fraudsters are stealing the identities of dead people in order to get cheaper car insurance, it has emerged.

Unscrupulous motorists with poor driving records are increasingly targeting the deceased, in order to take advantage of more attractive premiums.

Police technology also means it is now very difficult to drive around in an uninsured vehicle without being detected, so having some sort of cover is usually vital to avoid unwanted attention.

Driving a vehicle that is insured in a dead person's name also means there no chance of the scam being discovered by the victim.

It is feared organised criminals and even terrorists, could take advantage of the scam, in order to move around on the roads undetected.

The widow of former Tory Minister, Ian Sproat, has described how she realised his identity had been stolen when she received a letter saying he was being prosecuted for speeding, six years after his death.

Judith Sproat, 80, said: "The first I knew of this was in August last year when I received a letter from an insurance company asking for bank details to renew Ian's insurance. He had died in 2011 and so of course I knew it was a mistake.

"Then in January this year I received a letter from South Yorkshire Police, again addressed to my husband, containing a Notice of Impending Prosecution for a speeding offence committed on 1 September 2017.

"The police explained they had obtained my late husband's name and address from the car number plates of the speeding vehicle."

Mrs Sproat contacted both the insurer and the police to inform them of the situation but was simply told to report it to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. And while she cannot be held liable for any financial penalty incurred in the scam, she is angry that her law abiding husband's name, has been used as part of a criminal enterprise.

She said: "There could be many motives for this identity theft, from the fairly simple one of wanting to gain benefit of a no claims bonus, the more sinister ones of a fraudster being banned from driving, or a career criminal wishing to avoid detection, or even to a terrorist with the same idea."

Mrs Sproat added: "Of course I have no means of knowing if my late husband's identity theft relates only to car use. If it has been used in other ways I daresay I will find out in time."

Last month the Sunday Telegraph reported on the growth of a worrying phenomenon known as Ghost Broking, where fraudsters sell fake insurance policies to drivers desperate to find a good deal.

But experts at the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) at the City of London Police admitted they have no idea of the scale of identity theft involving car insurance, because so few cases have been reported.

This could be because it is still not widespread, but it could also be because the families of those dead people being targeted are simply unaware.

A spokesman for the City of London Police said: "False addresses are used to get cheap insurance as they are often taken out using low risk postcodes.

"We have often seen that this type of fraud can facilitate organised crime gangs with insuring their vehicles so they don't come to the notice of police and also obtain cheaper policies."

Colin Jemide, and adviser with IFED said: "There is so much information available online these days that identity fraud is obviously a danger. There could be all sorts of reasons why someone would seek to use somebody else's details when getting car insurance.

"In order to prevent this sort of thing happening it is important to carefully check all letters you receive in the post from insurance companies and not assume they are junk mail.

"If you receive documents for someone with no connection with your address contact the company's fraud department immediately and report it."

(1st March 2018)


CITY BOSSES LEFT FEELING "LIKE MUGS" AFTER FALLING FOR £1M RUGBY SCAM
(London Evening Standard, dated 23rd February 2018 authors Jonathan Prynn and Barney Davis)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/city-bosses-fall-victim-to-slick-1-million-rugby-tickets-scam-a3773961.html

A string of City bosses have fallen victim to a "slick" £1 million rugby tickets scam after paying for fake Six Nations corporate boxes at Twickenham.

Dozens of senior executives said they were left feeling "like mugs" when they learned that the corporate hospitality packages they had paid up to £12,000 each for did not exist.

A company calling itself Elite Sports Hospitality targeted senior business figures with offers of "half-price" boxes at sell-out rugby fixtures including last week's clash between England and Wales and likely decider England v Ireland on March 17, St Patrick's Day.

The Oxford-based firm sent emails detailing packages for up to 20 people in a "glass-fronted private box" in the ground's East Stand costing between £8,700 and £12,240 including VAT.

The deals promised a champagne reception, four-course lunch with "fine wines", a complimentary bar and "post-match savoury selection".

However, rugby fans who transferred money to the company's HSBC account received emails at the start of February signed by a "Delroy Forgah" telling them that their "booking will no longer be going ahead" after a "mix-up".

The email went on to ask for bank details as "a full refund will be offered on the package purchased". But when victims tried to contact Elite Sports Hospitality, emails bounced back and phone lines were dead.

As many as 80 executives are believed to have fallen victim, handing over hundreds of thousands of pounds and possibly as much as £1 million.

One target, Patrick Goodwin, head of a City financial recruitment firm, who booked a box at the Irish game, said: "I received the first email approach in September last year. It all seemed above board, they had a slick website, they checked out on Companies House.

"I must have spoken to them six to eight times about details such as dietary requirements, parking and the itinerary - they were genuinely nice people, it was incredibly well done.

"I've been in business over 20 years and I've never been scammed before. I like to think I'm pretty streetwise. If I can get ripped off then anyone can get ripped off."

He said when he contacted Elite Sports Hospitality's address he was told the company had moved out without paying its bill.

Another victim Glyn Heatley, of Clerkenwell-based data services group Cervello, who also paid for a box at the Ireland game, said: "It's not just the financial aspect of it, I feel like a mug.

"We had to go back and tell clients it's a scam, it was a bit embarrassing and we've been the butt of many jokes."

A third, Mark Cardy of financial adviser Skerritt, said: "I thought £500 a head for a slap-up lunch at Twickenham on St Patrick's Day was pretty good value. I was super-excited. Now I've had to confess I've been a bit of a numpty. I feel pretty gutted, annoyed, frustrated and stupid really."

The website for Elite Sports Hospitality lists its parent company as Elite Direct Advertising and Marketing Ltd. Documents at Companies House lists that company's sole director and shareholder as Dunstable-based businessman Jermaine Daley.

Mr Daley told the Standard he sold the company to Mr Forgah for £1 in December last year and knew nothing about the scam.

The Standard was unable to contact Mr Forgah. The scam is being investigated by Bedfordshire Police.

A spokeswoman for Bedfordshire Police said: "We have received reports that more than 80 victims have been defrauded out of hundreds of thousands of pounds in total after hospitality packages were offered to businesses for various high profile rugby events. Payment was requested by bank transfer, but the victims never received the tickets.

"We are investigating the web company which offered the packages. Our advice to stay safe online is always be suspicious if a website asks you to make a bank transfer instead of paying by card. "

Dan Hyde, a partner at law firm Pennington Manches, which is advising several of the victims said: "This type of fraud is pernicious and highly effective.

"The perfected fraudulent email can be copied and pasted or forwarded repeatedly.

"Company details and sales language give a veneer of authenticity and reassurance to the unsuspecting victim. Like many such scams it urges speed to avoid missing the cut price bargain by making early payment.

"We would ask anyone who has been a victim to get in touch urgently"

(1st March 2018)


SCHOOLS FRAUD - CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
(Action Fraud, dated 20th February 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has seen an increase in recent weeks in the volume of CEO Fraud reports whereby schools are the targeted victim. This has resulted in substantial financial losses for several schools that have fallen victim to this type of fraud.

A school is targeted by a fraudster who purports to be the Head Teacher / Principal. The fraudster contacts a member of staff with responsibility for authorising financial transfers and requests for a one off, often urgent, bank transfer to be made. The amounts requested have been between £8,000 and £10,000.

Contact is made by email and from a spoofed / similar email address to the one the Head Teacher / Principal would use.

PROTECTION / PREVENTION ADVICE

- Ensure that you have robust processes in place to verify and corroborate all requests to change any supplier or payment details. Get in touch with the supplier (or internal colleague) directly, using contact details you know to be correct, to confirm that a request you have received is legitimate.

- All employees should be aware of these procedures and encouraged to challenge requests they think may be suspicious, particularly urgent sounding requests from senior employees.

- Sensitive information you post publicly, or dispose of incorrectly, can be used by fraudsters to perpetrate fraud against you. The more information they have about you, the more convincingly they can purport to be one of your legitimate suppliers or employees. Always shred confidential documents before throwing them away.

- Email addresses can be spoofed to appear as though an email is from someone you know. If an email is unexpected or unusual, then don't click on the links or open the attachments. Staff should not be allowed to check emails or use the internet with administrator accounts.

If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

(1st March 2018)


WEDDING BOUTIQUE CONS BRIDES INTO BUYING "BESPOKE HAND-MADE" DRESSES THAT HAVE "MADE IN CHINA" LABELS
(The Telegraph, dated 9th February 2018 author Telegraph Reporters)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/09/wedding-boutique-cons-brides-buying-bespoke-hand-made-dresses/

A wedding boutique was caught selling fake "hand-made" dresses when brides spotted the "made in China" labels, a court heard.

Melanie Bishop, 36, and her 60-year-old mother Patricia tricked 13 brides into thinking they were buying bespoke gowns.

A court heard the pair advertised hand-made bridal dresses costing up to £1,000 from a workshop in Wales.

Brides first found out they had been duped when they spotted "made in China" labels on their dresses and launched a campaign to get their cash back.

But Bishop quickly shut up shop, leaving more than 100 other brides worried they would be left without their dresses.

Both women now face possible jail sentences after pleading guilty to 18 counts of "engaging in unfair commercial practice" after brides complained to consumer watchdogs.

Before she was charged with fraud, Bishop spoke about the "hellish nightmare" that led to close her bridal boutique Anna Sara Bridal in Newport, South Wales.

One bride Nichola Pakau, 34, said: "It has been an awful experience. It has affected my home life and work life."

Another bride's mother, 55-year-old Kim Burroughs, said: "You expect everything to be perfect for your daughter's wedding. I didn't expect this."

The Bishop mother and daughter pleaded guilty at Cardiff Crown Court to 18 counts of engaging in unfair commercial practice between March 2015 and April 2016.

Melanie Bishop claimed her customers should have known their dresses from £700 to £1,000 were manufactured in China and said she was the victim of a campaign of "abuse and lies".

Speaking at the time the boutique was closed, she said: "It's not that we set out to deliberately mislead people, that's not it. When I said our dresses were all our own designs that was true.

"The only thing I could have done differently was be explicitly clear about the origins of the dresses, but so many shops outsource their materials and labour from China. It's not uncommon and I never hid it. I left the made in China labels in."

But an investigation by Newport Trading Standards ended with Bishop and her mother being charged with fraud. The court heard they accepted claiming they had designed and made the dresses themselves.

The pair pleaded guilty to failing to inform customers the wedding dresses were actually made in China, falsely stating they would be made in their local workshop.

Melanie and Patricia Bishop admitted their behaviour was likely to distort the behaviour of the average consumer.

Judge Patrick Curran QC told them he will not be the sentencing judge and warned them: "All appropriate sentencing options are open."

Both women, of Oakdale, near Blackwood, South Wales, were granted bail ahead of their sentencing in March.

(1st March 2018)


COST OF CAR INSURANCE FRAUD TO VICTIMS REVEALED IN NEW POLICE CAMPAIGN
(Action Fraud, dated 5th February 2018)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://actionfraud.police.uk/news/cost-of-car-insurance-fraud-to-victims-revealed-in-new-police-campaign-feb18

- City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department launches campaign to raise awareness of fraudsters selling fake car insurance and warn motorists to 'Steer Clear of Fraud'

- Over 850 reports of ghost broking have been reported to Action Fraud in last three years, with reported losses from individuals and organisations totalling £631,000

- Individual victims of ghost brokers lose on average £769

- Ghost brokers typically target men in their 20s, using social media

The City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) has launched a national awareness campaign today (Monday 5 February 2018) to warn motorists about the dangers of buying fake car insurance from fraudsters, also known as 'ghost brokers', who are potentially leaving thousands of unsuspecting victims driving without insurance.

Extent of the problem

From November 2014 to October 2017, Action Fraud received more than 850 reports linked to ghost broking, with reported losses for both individuals and organisations totalling £631,000. On average, each individual victim lost £769 from this type of fraud.

Of these reports, 417 resulted in action being taken against the offenders by IFED following their investigations into ghost broking over the past three years, which included a man who set up 133 fake policies, a teenage ghost broker who was sentenced to jail and a man who made £59,000 from ghost broking.

However, it is thought that the true number of ghost broking victims may be much higher than this figure, as some motorists may be driving on the roads right now unaware that their policy is fraudulent. It is only when they are stopped by police or attempt to make a claim will they find out that they don't have genuine cover.

This leads police to believe that ghost broking is actually being under reported each year due to the way ghost brokers deceive motorists into thinking they have legitimate insurance, when in fact it's worthless.

What is ghost broking?


Ghost broking is the name given to a tactic used by fraudsters who sell fraudulent car insurance by a number of different methods. They typically carry out the fraud by one of three ways: they will either forge insurance documents, falsify the driver's details to bring the price down or take out a genuine policy, before cancelling it soon after and claiming the refund plus the victim's money.

It is a legal obligation to have valid car insurance and without it victims will experience the severe harm caused by ghost broking, including:

- Points on their driving licence
- Vehicle seizure and possible destruction of it
- A fixed penalty notice
- Costs to retrieve impounded vehicle
- Liable for claims costs if involved in an accident

This is on top of the money motorists will have lost buying the invalid car insurance and the money they will have to spend to then buy a legitimate insurance policy.

IFED analysis into the ghost broking reports reveals that men aged 20-29 are most likely to get targeted and that the most common method ghost brokers will use to make initial contact with people is through social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram. Other contact methods include adverts in newspapers and magazines, cold calls and being introduced, either directly or by friends, family members or work colleagues.

Stay safe when buying car insurance

In light of these worrying figures, IFED is encouraging drivers to be wary of heavily discounted prices on the internet or cheap prices they're offered directly for car insurance, as they may well be ghost brokers.

IFED is issuing the following advice and tips to help drivers avoid falling victim to ghost brokers:

• Trust your instincts - if an offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

• Ghost brokers often advertise on student websites or money-saving forums, university notice boards and marketplace websites. They may also try to sell insurance policies in pubs, clubs or bars, newsagents and car repair shops.

• Be wary of ghost brokers using only mobile phone or email as a way of contact. Ghost brokers have even been reported using messaging apps, including WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook. Fraudsters don't want to be traced after they've taken your money.

• If you are not sure about the broker, check on the Financial Conduct Authority or the British Insurance Brokers' Association website for a full list of all authorised insurance brokers.

• You can also contact the insurance company directly to verify the broker's details.

• You can check to see if your car is legitimately insured on the Motor Insurance Database website.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fyfe, Head of the City of London Police's Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, said:

"Ghost brokers trick unsuspecting victims with offers of heavily discounted car insurance, leaving them with a policy that isn't worth the paper it's written on and open to the severe harm that comes with driving without valid insurance. Being able to drive is vital for a lot people, whether it be to get to work or pick up their children from school or nursery, so if they fall victim to a ghost broker it could not only impact on them financially but also seriously affect their day to day life and make things very difficult.

"As well as the personal harm experienced by victims, ghost brokers also cause financial harm to the insurance industry, driving up the cost of insurance premiums for all motorists.

"While an offer of cheap car insurance may seem tempting, falling victim to ghost broking will end up costing you far more in the long run - both in terms of money and your licence."

(1st March 2018)


BEWARE THIS THREATENING TEXT MESSAGE PRETENDING TO BE FROM THE DVLA
(Mailonline / This is money, dated 1st February 2018 author Lee Boyce)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-5330323/Beware-text-message-pretending-DVLA.html

Drivers should beware a text message scam which attempts to scare people into revealing personal information.

The message, which even appears to have the gov.uk logo, reads: 'FINAL REQUEST: 'DVLA Swansea have been trying to contact you, Click below for more information.'

A This is Money reader contacted us to warn about a text message scam and the link in the message may trick people as it has dvla.gov.uk as part of the URL, which in a snap moment may convince them to click on it.

Additionally, many will be worried that they may be in trouble with the organisation, which is indeed based in the Welsh city of Swansea.

However, the DVLA has previously warned that it doesn't send text messages with links to websites asking to confirm personal details or payment information.

The phony website may also include a range of nasties, including malware, a type of virus that lurks in your device to steal information, such as bank log-in details.

The reader, named April, says she would usually discard contact like this, but was almost tricked as she knew her car tax was due for renewal this week - and she has also signed up on the gov.uk for its reminder service.

It is not clear whether this is a targeted attempt to dupe her with the knowledge that her car tax is due - or whether scammers are just using a scattergun approach.

Also in the URL is the words tax disc. Although abolished in 2014, many still associate vehicle excise duty, widely known as car tax, with the old paper disc.

The DVLA says that some members of the public have received e-mails, texts and telephone calls claiming to be from the agency.

Links to a website mocked up to look like a DVLA online service are sometimes included in the message, as highlighted in this case.

It adds: 'The Government, led by Cabinet Office's Government Digital Service, will continue to investigate reports of organisations which may be actively misleading users about their services or acting illegally, taking swift action when necessary.

'By using the online driving licence or vehicle tax transactions on GOV.UK you can be sure that you are dealing directly with DVLA.'

On social media website Twitter, This is Money found plenty more examples of the scam - with one claiming the domain is registered in Panama, while the DVLA says it is currently investigating:

Last summer, the DVLA revealed e-mails that been sent to people, which had a link to a 'secure web form' that's designed to collect personal information from unwitting recipients.

The correspondence targeting motorists says: 'We would like to notify you that you have an outstanding vehicle tax refund of £239.35 from an overpayment, request a refund.'

The email looks legitimate and includes the DVLA's existing logo and fonts - something that could dupe many motorists into sharing their personal data.

(1st March 2018)


FLIGHT TICKET FRAUD
(Action Fraud, dated 7th February 2018)
www.actionfraud.police.uk.

Fraudsters are attempting to entice victims who are looking for cheap flights abroad.

Victims have reported booking tickets via websites or a "popular" ticket broker, only to discover that after payment via bank transfer or electronic wire transfer, the tickets/booking references received are counterfeit. In some cases, all communications between the company or broker and the victim have been severed.

Fraudsters are targeting individuals who are seeking to travel to African nations and the Middle East, particularly those wishing to travel in time for popular public and religious holidays.

Prevention Advice:


- Pay safe: Be cautious if you're asked to pay directly into a private individual's bank account. Paying by direct bank transfer is like paying by cash - the money is very difficult to trace and is not refundable. Wherever possible, pay by credit card or a debit card.

- Conduct research on any company you're considering purchasing tickets from; for example, are there any negative reviews or forum posts by previous customers online? Don't just rely on one review - do a thorough online search to check the company's credentials.

- Check any company website thoroughly; does it look professional? Are there any spelling mistakes or irregularities? There should be a valid landline phone number and a full postal address so that the company can be contacted. Avoid using the site if there is only a PO Box address and mobile phone number, as it could be difficult to get in touch after you buy tickets. PO Box addresses and mobile phone numbers are easy to change and difficult to trace.

- Be aware that purchasing tickets from a third party, particularly when initial contact has been made via a social media platform can be incredibly risky.
If tickets to your intended destination appear cheaper than any other vendor, always consider this; if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

- Look for the logo: Check whether the company is a member of a recognised trade body such as ABTA or ATOL. You can verify membership of ABTA online, at www.abta.com.

If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by calling
0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

(1st March 2018)


JANUARY 2018


GEOGRAPHIC SCAMS

Some scams only appear to be reported in certain geographic areas, but that doesn't mean the scammers can't move onto another area. Or, crooks in your locality have their own " dodgy brainwave" !

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PETERBOROUGH POLICE WARN OF "DEATH THREAT" EMAIL SCAM
(Global News, dated 24th January 2018 author Greg Davis)

Full article [Option 1]:

https://globalnews.ca/news/3984952/peterborough-police-warn-of-death-threat-email-scam/

uaware comment : Yes, there is a Peterborough in California, USA !

The Peterborough Police Service is warning residents about the so-called "death threat" email scam now circulating in the Peterborough area.

The scam involves an email stating that sender has been hired by someone the email recipient knows to "remove you" and that the only way to save your life is to pay thousands of dollars in Bitcoin.

Police say the email sender may also indicate they've done research on the recipient and will make a "final offer" before retiring after being a hit man.

"He then states he will give the victim the name of the individual who paid for the hit if the victim sends him $2,000 in Bitcoin currency," said police spokesperson Lauren Gilchrist. "The sender will then give the victim all other evidence needed for police to prosecute the individual who paid for the hit. The sender tells the victim that they have three days to send the money."

Police say they've received complaints about the email.

"We urge residents to ignore and delete these emails," said Gilchrist.

They also advise to not respond to any unsolicited emails and to not send money, virtual currency or otherwise to someone you don't know or have never met. They also advise to never provide personal information for another person to use.

Police warn that the way in which money is sent via Bitcoin is completely anonymous and not traceable.

"If the victim does send the money, the police are not able to investigate beyond taking a report," stated Gilchrist.

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AREA RESIDENTS TARGETED BY TEXT PHISHING SCAM
(Andover Leader, dated 18th January 2018 author Grant Merrill)

Full article [Option 1]:

http://andoverleader.com/2018/01/area-residents-targeted-by-text-phishing-scam/

###uaware comment : Yes, there is an Andover in the Kansas, USA.

ANDOVER- A number of area banks have reported that their customers are being targeted by phishing scams. At least two financial institutions sent messages this week over social media that indicated that there were problems with unscrupulous people trying to gain money in an illegal manner.

Meritrust Credit Union reported that some of their customers were among those who were victims:

"Attention members: if you receive a suspicious text message appearing to be from Meritrust that asks for you to call with your debit card number, please be advised this may be a phishing attempt. Meritrust will never contact you in attempt to obtain sensitive information. We advise that you do not respond or provide any information, but instead contact us at 800.342.9278 immediately to confirm its validity."

Capitol Federal also said they had problems reported to them as well:

"Please be aware, there is a new text message phishing scam in the area. This specific phishing attempt sends a text message to mobile phone users indicating that unusual activity has occurred on their account. The phone number could appear to come from a local area code. Please do NOT call this number or provide any personal information. This is not a message from CapFed®. For more information on this scam and other phishing help, please visit: https://capfed.com/privacy-and-security/fraud-alerts"

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LOCAL MAN CONNED OUT OF £29k IN VOICE PHISHING SCAM
(Evening Telegraph, dated 19th January 2018 author Reporter)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/local-man-conned-29k-voice-phishing-scam/

Police have issued a warning to the public following a vishing - voice phishing - scam that resulted in a man losing £29,000.

The incident involved scammers cold-calling a 50-year-old man from the Cupar area last Thursday.

They pretended to be from his bank using software that made it appear as if they were calling from an official number and claimed his account had been compromised.

The man was then convinced to transfer his money into another account for safekeeping, which resulted in the loss.

Officers have issued a warning to the public about the vishing scam and are investigating it through Operation Principle, Fife Division's response to acquisitive crime.

Detective Chief Inspector Scott Cunningham, the lead for Operation Principle, said: "These scammers claim to be from legitimate organisations and try to frighten or pressure people into revealing personal details or banking information.

"Never give such information or transfer money to an unexpected caller and, although anyone can fall victim to this, please warn elderly or vulnerable friends or relatives in particular to be wary this type of scam.

"If you receive such a call, advise the caller that you will contact the company on your own terms and hang up immediately.

"Find the organisation's phone number from its official website or a previous correspondence and call them back yourself, always on a different phone, to verify it."

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IF YOU GET A CALL FROM GREATER MANCHESTER POLICE, IT'S PROBABLY NOT REAL - FRAUD WARNING
(Birmingham Live, dated 5th January 2018 author Alex Keller)

Full article [Option 1]:

www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/you-call-greater-manchester-police-14117319

Staffordshire Police are warning people across the county to be on their guard against fraudsters intent on scamming residents out of their hard-earned cash.

Bogus cold callers pretending to be police officers have been targeting potential victims with the intention of obtaining personal or financial information - and money.

A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: "Victims have received a phone call from a fraudster who tells them they are speaking to a police officer from Greater Manchester Police and that they need them to assist in an undercover investigation.

"Victims are requested to withdraw cash from their bank accounts which is then collected by a courier later that day."

Detectives have issued this advice:

- The police or your bank would never ask someone to aid an investigation by withdrawing or transferring money.

- Never give out or confirm personal and/or financial information to anyone over the phone.

- If you receive one of these calls, hang up immediately and - especially if the caller has stated they are coming to collect