The Coronavirus has caused problems for us all but has also provided a huge opportunity for the ‘scammers’
Firstly they know most people are at home so the number of scam calls has increased. They also know that contact with friends and family, who might advise old or vulnerable people, is limited and the ‘scammers’ are taking advantage of that.
They are also taking advantage of people who are scared by the pandemic playing on those fears to introduce a new set of frauds as well as revisiting some old scams while our minds are distracted by other concerns and we are no longer thinking as clearly as we would do normally.
Beware of any unsolicited calls where the caller starts asking for personal details, particularly bank details. If you give them your bank details they will empty your account. A favourite is to claim that they are the bank and have discovered fraudulent activity on your account, they may ask you to transfer your money into another account for ‘safety’. They may ask you to withdraw money which will then be collected by a courier. If you receive a call you are concerned about put down the phone, look up the number of your bank, pick up the telephone and make sure you have a dialling tone before making the call then ask the bank to investigate on your behalf.
Coronavirus, Covid 19 scams
These play on peoples’ fears about the virus. Some offer testing kits which turn out to be fake. Others offer protective equipment at inflated prices which never arrives. Some even advertise products which will protect you and prevent you from catching the virus, products such as these do not exist and are taking scientists months to develop but people are still being caught out by such offers
Television Licence scams
This one is aimed at the over 75s who currently receive a free TV licence. The BBC had announced plans to charge over 75s for their licence starting in April 2020 but the Government has announced that any such plans are now postponed. Scam emails are now being sent out saying that you have to set up a direct debit to pay for your licence or that your direct debit has failed to pay and you will lose your licence if you do not set it up again. We can all imagine how distressing this prospect would be to some vulnerable people faced with an extended period at home and no TV. Please pass the warning on to anyone you know who might be affected by, or fall for, this scam, this one really is ‘the pits’.
There have been a number of very sophisticated scam telephone messages which look as if they are genuine, even the organisations themselves admit they are very good ‘forgeries’, easy to get caught out.
One of the organisations was LinkedIn asking you to log in and provide personal information. The other appeared to be from British Gas claiming you were due a refund and asking for bank account details to transfer the money.
There have also been security problems with Currys where personal details of millions of customers have been ‘hacked’, they emphasise no credit card details were ‘hacked’ but please check carefully for any unauthorised activity on your cards or your bank accounts. Sadly similar reports are coming in regularly, in some cases it has taken a long time for organisations to admit there is a problem and inform their customers.
Here are 4 scams received in the same day by a local resident.
Two of the scams supposedly came from Tesco. One said you needed to register to qualify for a year’s ‘free shopping’, the other claimed you had won a £1000 gift card. The third scam alerted you to suspicious activity on your M&S account even though the recipient didn’t have a M&S account. The last was particularly ‘tasty’ offering you a job with a £160,000 salary.
All these scams end with the sender asking for your bank details, don’t be conned. The emails came from as far afield as Italy, Czech republic and Denmark.
If you get targeted please report to the fraud line number further down the page.
Bogus Insurance Brokers – Advertising on Social Media Platforms
Action Fraud have recently received a number of reports from members of the public who have responded to written posts, pages, pictures and adverts on social media platforms offering varying types of insurance cover at desirable prices. However, once money has been transferred to the fraudsters posing as insurance brokers, a number of consequences have been reported. In some cases, contact has been severed with the victim altogether and there is no further communication. In other cases, insurance has initially been purchased on behalf of the victim only to be immediately cancelled with
the insurer; this means that bogus brokers can forward voided paperwork or email concerning insurance cover to the unsuspecting victim and pocket any refunded insurance fees.
Protection / Prevention Advice
- conduct further research regarding any company offering insurance services, especially when the initial advert or contact is via social media.
- Though many genuine insurers and brokers operate on social media platforms they may also have their own websites and physical locations. It is good practice to conduct further research regarding any company offering insurance services, especially when the initial advert or contact is via social media.
- If a broker claims to be accredited with a good practice organisation don’t just take their word for it, be sure to contact the respective organisation directly and check their database or make an enquiry.
- To check that your vehicle insurance is valid, contact the insurer directly to verify the details.
- Use the Financial Conduct Authority’s website (Register.fca.org.uk) to check if an insurance broker is authorised
- It is possible that you could still be prosecuted for having no insurance (such as motor insurance) even if you have been a victim of insurance broker fraud and believed you were insured.
- 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 calling 0300 123 2040
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|Action Fraud (Action Fraud, Administrator, National)|
Please suggest to your friends they should read these posts.
Being aware of the potential risks and following the prevention advice could minimise the likelihood of fraud:
Wedding fraud, please pass this one on.
With the upcoming “Wedding Season”, and for those individuals who are considering making plans for next year and beyond, you should be aware of the potential risks of fraud involved.
According to ‘bridesmagazine.co.uk’, in 2017 the average wedding cost spend is approximately £30,111. This will be paid out to multiple vendors, including; photographers, caterers, reception venues and travel companies, to name a few. Many of these services will require booking at least several months in advance and you may be obliged to pay a deposit or even the full balance at the time
How to avoid being defrauded.
Paying by Credit Card will provide you with protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, for purchases above £100 and below £30,000. This means that even if a Company goes into liquidation before your big day, you could claim a refund through your Credit Card Company.
Social Media – Some Companies run their businesses entirely via social media sites, offering low cost services. Whilst many are genuine, some may not be insured or may even be fraudulent. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself;
- Ensure you obtain a physical address and contact details for the vendor and verify this information. Should you experience any problems, you will then be able to make a complaint to Trading Standards or consider pursuing via the Small Claims Court.
- Ensure you obtain a contract before paying money for services. Make certain you fully read and understand what you are signing and note the terms of cancellation.
Consider purchasing Wedding Insurance – Policies vary in cover and can be purchased up to two years in advance. They can protect you from events that would not be covered under the Consumer Credit Act.
Complete research on each vendor, ensuring you are dealing with a bona fide person or company. Explore the internet for reviews and ratings and ask the vendor to provide details of past clients you can speak to. You should do this even if using companies recommended by a trustworthy friend or source.
For services such as wedding photographers, beware of websites using fake images. Look for inconsistencies in style; Meet the photographer in person and ask to view sample albums. If you like an image from a wedding, ask to view the photographs taken of the whole event so you can see the overall quality.
|Remember, if something appears too good to be true, it probably is!|
Please see contact details for our new PCSO further down the page.
No new posts on the ‘scam’ page but a report from someone in the village regarding how aggressive some of these callers can be. Threats of police knocking at the door and ‘you’d better make sure you have a good lawyer’ would be enough to worry most of us.
Please do not be frightened by these ‘bullying’ tactics, put down the phone, call 101 and report what has been said to the police. They will advise you what to do next.
Late May update, information from Devon and Cornwall police.
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|Action Fraud (Action Fraud, Administrator, National)|
Action Fraud has received the first reports of Tech-Support scammers claiming to be from Microsoft who are taking advantage of the global WannaCry ransomware attack.
One victim fell for the scam after calling a ‘help’ number advertised on a pop up window. The window which wouldn’t close said the victim had been affected by WannaCry Ransomware.
The victim granted the fraudsters remote access to their PC after being convinced there wasn’t sufficient anti-virus protection. The fraudsters then installed Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, which is actually free and took £320 as payment.
It is important to remember that Microsoft’s error and warning messages on your PC will never include a phone number.
Additionally Microsoft will never proactively reach out to you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support. Any communication they have with you must be initiated by you.
How to protect yourself
- Don’t call numbers from pop-up messages.
- Never allow remote access to your computer.
- Always be wary of unsolicited calls. If you’re unsure of a caller’s identity, hang up.
- Never divulge passwords or pin numbers.
- Microsoft or someone on their behalf will never call you.
If you believe you have already been a victim
- Get your computer checked for any additional programmes or software that may have been installed.
- Contact your bank to stop any further payments being taken.
Report fraud and cyber crime to Actionfraud.police.uk
Beware the other telephone scams circulating at the moment.
As information is circulated and people ‘get wise’ to scams the thieves ‘dream up’ new ways of deceiving us, here is the most recent scam to come to our attention but please check the others below. Please don’t get caught out.
We’ve all received emails which say ‘if you are not the intended recipient of this email please delete it’. This latest scam email is signed ‘a responsible member of the public’. It says they have received an email intended for you, they have some of your personal details, they say you should open an attachment to find out the sort of information which could have been illegally obtained. DO NOT OPEN THE ATTACHMENT, if you do your files will be encrypted and you will be asked to pay to have them ‘unlocked’.
Fortunately the English and the grammar are very bad so it’s easy to spot.
This one could catch most of us out . You receive a very convincing email from the police saying you have committed a crime, speeding for example, you are invited to open an attachment to find out the details. DO NOT open the attachment, if you do a virus enters your computer and you lose all your files etc. The advice is:-
a) if you are sure you have committed no offence delete the email
b) in any case phone the police direct, check the email and report the contact.
The second scam involves a telephone call saying you owe money from some time ago and if you do not pay the debt the police will call at your door. You are advised to withdraw money from a cashpoint and a courier will meet you to collect it. Please ignore these calls and report them to the police using the numbers at the end of the page.
Please stay safe and keep your money in YOUR account.
PCSO Colin Rider put several warnings in the Parish Magazine and these are still current, you would do well to read his advice. Thank you Colin for keeping an eye on ‘our patch’ for many years
Here is some of the information distributed by Colin on behalf of Devon & Cornwall Constabulary.
POLICE in South Devon are warning residents about the latest scam that has seen some victims duped out of thousands of pounds.
Computer Software Service Fraud, also known as the Microsoft Tech Team Scam, relates to predominantly Indian call centres cold calling victims claiming to be from legitimate businesses, such as Microsoft.
The caller states that there is an issue with the victim’s computer, which they say they will fix for a fee.
Whilst typical losses are around £200, there have been instances of some victims being subjected to repeat victimisation leading to large losses, in one instance more than £70,000.
This may include the compromise of online banking details, installation of malware including computer viruses, and obtaining personal identifiable information.
The National Fraud Investigation Bureau is undertaking enquiries around a number of alleged companies who are exploiting victims using this method. One of these companies, claiming to be called Ask PC Experts, regularly changes its phone numbers and business name.
Detective Inspector Claire Stalley, Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said, “You will never be contacted by phone by Microsoft or your internet provider stating your computer has been compromised and for a fee it can be fixed. “Never pass your bank details to anyone who cold calls or let someone have control of your computer remotely – it will be a scam”.
Fraud and potential scams can be reported to Action Fraud, the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, via http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or by calling 0300 123 2040.
A gentleman received a phone call from what the caller said was the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service?). The caller ID on the potential victims phone showed a number of 02077304761. The caller said his name was Neil Thomas from the CPS and gave a contact number of 03302233908. The caller Neil Thomas said he was calling people in the TQ14 postcode area to stop cold calls and silent calls. (The gentleman could hear background voices that made like Neil Thomas was calling from a call centre). Neil Thomas went on to say that in order to block these calls there would be a monthly fee of £4.00, but as he was a pensioner this would be reduced to £1.90. Neil Thomas then told the potential victim this fee would be collected by Direct Debit and said he would not need his bank sort code or account number and told the potential victim the first 4 digits of his Debit Card. The potential victim said they were not the first 4 digits and gave Neil Thomas the actual digits. (This would identify the potential victims account as with LLoyds) Neil Thomas then asked the potential victim for the remaining card digits, but becoming alarmed he refused to give them. Neil Thomas became a little pushy saying you will continue getting waste of time calls if you do not subscribe etc. The potential victim terminated the call. He described the voice Neil Thomas has as English and well spoken with a neutral accent. this was an attempt to access the potential victims current account. NEVER GIVE CARD DETAILS OVER THE ‘PHONE.
Myth – It’s ok to let people put money in my bank account even if I don’t know them and don’t really understand why they are transferring me the money.
Truth – Whether you do so in return for payment or out of a sense of duty, this is clearly a no-no. In letting someone else use your account, you might be laundering the proceeds of crime or aiding other crimes – thereby leaving your self open to face prosecution. Myth – Bank staff might ask you for your Pin number or online banking password to check who you are when they call you.
Truth – BANK STAFF WILL NEVER ask for your 4-digit card PIN number or online banking password when speaking with you over the phone. They would never ask you to tap them into the telephone keypad either.
Myth – When someone phones me, the caller number displayed must be genuine.
Truth – NUMBERS CAN EASILY B ‘SPOOFED’ to mislead the person answering the call, never trust the number you see on your telephone’s display. And like telephone numbers, text messages can also be spoofed to look like they are coming from elsewhere even if the text appears in the same chain as previous messages!
Myth -Public wi-fi is secure and provides a safe forum in which I can do my online banking, shopping etc.
Truth – Any DATA SENT THROUGH PUBLIC WI-FI CAN EASILY BE INTERCEPTED. If you are using a mobile device over public wi-fi, you are risking the security of your personal information, digital identity, and your money. Risks are even greater if your device or computer is not protected by an effective security system.
Myth – It is always safe to make charitable donations to street collectors or via charity mailing.
Truth – MOST COLLECTIONS ARE GENUINE but check before giving to make sure your money goes to genuine, registered charities. FURTHER ADVICE ON SAFER GIVING CAN BE FOUND ON THE CHARITY COMMISSION WEBSITE.
Myth – Downloading digital content illegally is harmless.
Truth – This type of crime is far from victimless and has SERIOUS REPERCUSSIONS. Doing so can result in money being used to fund the activities of serious organised crime groups and also has an adverse impact on creative industries and the UK economy. Legitimate, high quality, content is easy to find, but if you want reassurance head to http://www.thecontentmap.com to find out some of the options available.
Myth- Changing details on my insurance policy or making an inflated insurance claim is not really fraud as everyone does it, I won’t get caught and Insurers can afford it anyway.
Truth – INSURANCE FRAUD IS A CRIME that is taken seriously by both insurers and police. The cost of fraud does not affect just insurers, but members of the public also. the chances of being caught are high and the impact on people’s lives notable, at the worst end of the spectrum innocent members of the public can be injured or even killed in deliberate collisions caused by fraudsters.
Myth – Money Transfer Systems are always safe ways of making payments.
Truth – This is only the case if you personally know and can verify the person that you are sending the money to; you should NEVER USE THESE SSERVICES TO SEND MONEY OR PAYMENT TO SOMEBODY YOU DO NOT KNOW, as once the cash is collected, the recipient is untraceable and the money is not refundable.
Myth – If I have anti-virus installed on my device (PC, Mobile, Tablet) I am fully protected from viruses.
Truth – NOT TRUE – anti-virus provides a very strong layer of protection to your device it can still be by-passed by sophisticated viruses aka malware. Users should still keep a cautious mind when confronted with unusual requests for personal information from a pop up or on any website they visit.
Myth – I can always trust the people I meet online dating sites as they will have been vetted before been allowed to join.
Truth – ALWAYS BE CAUTIOUS about the people you meet online, especially if they start asking for money to help a family member, to visit you or pay medical bills etc. Never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you don’t know and trust.
Myth – It doesn’t really matter what information I post on social media sites as only my friends can read it.
Truth – By getting your privacy settings wrong or accepting people you don’t know as friends, YOU MAY BE GIVING FRAUDSTERS VALUABLE INFORMATION ABOUT YOU AND YOUR HABITS. Personal details can be used to guess passwords, habits and vulnerabilities so you need to check your social media settings regularly. All personal information is valuable and fraudsters are very good at filling in the missing information.
Myth – There’s nothing in my personal emails that anyone would care about.
Truth – HACKERS CAN USE YOUR EMAIL to gain access to all your personal accounts. Make your password stronger with three random words.
Myth – If a company has a registered website then it must be legitimate.
Truth – IT TAKES JUST MINUTES TO SET UP A WEBSITE in any name you want and at minimal cost which means fraudsters can set-up as website just as easily as anyone else.
ACTIONFRAUD 0300 123 2040
CRIMESTOPPERS: 800 555 111