Did you know fraud and scams have increased by an incredible 400% since the start of the year? And coronavirus has not helped matters, scammers are, just like many of us, also working from home, and this year seem to have stepped up their game as we see more and more new scams and frauds every day. Scammers have taken advantage of the pandemic and have come up with new and clever ways to scam us. Here are some of the new scams to be on the lookout for this winter.
The National Trading Standards Scams Team are highlighting to the public a scam known as mail fraud, or ‘Scam Mail’. They say it is an increasing problem and are asking for the public’s help in combating it. Groups of organised criminals send scam letters through the post for fake lottery draws, unclaimed inheritance letters and romance scams. They are asking people to keep an eye out for such mail and send it into them so they can build intelligence which will help them to catch the fraudsters in the future.
How to spot scam mail: Criminals create letters which give people false hope into thinking they have money owed to them, or they may have won it. The letters are sophisticated and appear legitimate and are designed to grab an individual’s attention, for example, they may contain a competition or a questionnaire. Letters are personalised and will contain the householders’ names. Artwork is also high quality and well produced, they may also use official logos from a bank or official body. They also contain real looking signatures, from senior people you may have heard of. They are designed to appear 100% authentic and Trading Standards say it is easy for people to get caught up in thinking they genuinely may have some money coming to them.
Another scam warning, coming from the police this time, is about scam text messages that appear to be from legitimate parcel delivery companies such as DPD and Royal Mail. The texts appear real and will state that a parcel has tried to be delivered to that address and they need to click on the link to reschedule for another day and time. Once a victim has clicked on the link, they will be directed to an authentic looking website which will ask them to enter their full name, address, date of birth and telephone number. Once these details are entered, they will be directed to another page where they will be asked to enter credit card information.
The messages are very convincing and with Christmas around the corner and people rushing to get all their presents delivered on time, police are urging people to check their messages carefully and make sure they are genuinely related to an actual order they made. Police say if the message does not contain your name or anything specific to your order, then check first before clicking on any links. This sites are designed to harvest personal information, and even if you get to the point where you realise it’s a scam and not give over your bank details, the criminals can still use personal information like name, address and birth date to target you at a later date.
Fraudsters are increasingly using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to target people who may have been affected financially by it. Heartless scammers are posting fake job adverts to try to con those desperately looking for new employment out of what little money they may have left.
Metropolitan Police are warning that a spike in people looking for work is meaning fraudsters are targeting people looking for work. They say they have received 800 reports of jobs scams since the pandemic started, but this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg as many of these frauds go unreported. They say the scams are extremely sophisticated and use fake recruitment agencies and even go as far as to conduct interviews with victims. The aim is to get an individual to believe they are in line to get a job and get them to part with what little cash they may have left. They may tell people they need to pay for a course and after they will obtain the job, or they may be fees for fake background checks, the criminal says is necessary. Scammers are also getting victims to part with their cash by charging hundreds of pounds to revamp or improve their CV’s.