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SCAM ALERTS!

STOP. CHALLENGE. PROTECT.

When receiving a request for information or payment from any source, take a moment to STOP and think.  CHALLENGE the request – could it be fake? It’s OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
PROTECT yourself and contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

Demonstration of Scams

By the Metropolitan Police (Video)

Email & Social Media Hacking

Over 15,000 hacked email and social media accounts reported in one year.

If a hacker got into your email or social media account, what would they find? Health and banking information? Names and contact details for your friends and family? Private photos and messages? For most people, it’s at least one of those.

Your email and social media accounts contain a wealth of personal information about you, which makes them a lucrative target for cyber criminals.

Between February 2020 and February 2021, Action Fraud received 15,214 reports about email and social media account hacking. The majority of reports (88%) were made by individuals, with 12% of reports being made by businesses. Analysis of the crime reports revealed that Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat were the most affected social media accounts, with phishing messages being the most common tactic used by cyber criminals to lure unsuspecting victims.

The motivation behind the hacks are varied and can range from financial gain, to revenge or personal amusement.

Some victims are extorted for money, whilst others have their accounts used to send malicious links to their contacts. One victim who had multiple email and social media accounts hacked paid over £2,000 to regain access to them. Another victim reported that her hacked Facebook account was used to trick her friends into sending money into a PayPal account they thought belonged to her.

Secure your email and social media accounts in just a few minutes. Here’s what you need to do:

1: Use a strong and separate password for your email, as well as other important accounts, such as  your banking or social media accounts.

2: Enable two-factor authentication (2FA). It will help to stop hackers from getting into your online accounts, even if they have your password.

3: If you can’t access your account, search the company’s online support or help pages. You’ll find information about how to recover your account.

For detailed instructions on how to reset your password or enable 2FA on your accounts, visit: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/secureyouraccounts

Bitcoin-Related Investment Scam

Action Fraud has received over 750 reports in the last week about Bitcoin-related phishing emails that use fake celebrity endorsements to try and lure victims into investment scams.

The links in the emails lead to fraudulent websites that are designed to steal your money, as well as personal and financial information.

How you can protect yourself:

Investment opportunities: Don’t be rushed into making an investment, legitimate organisations will never pressure you into making a transaction on the spot.

Seek advice first: Speak with a trusted friend or family members, and seek independent professional advice before making significant financial decisions.

FCA register: Use the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) register to check if the company is regulated by the FCA. If you deal with a firm (or individual) that isn’t regulated, you may not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if things go wrong and you lose your money. For more information about how to invest safely, please visit: https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart

Forward suspicious emails: If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) at report@phishing.gov.uk

Scam Call from BT

Beware of a new scam telephone call from the number 0208 0400389 which could cost you a hefty bill. The call is an automated voice from BT - so if you receive one, we advise you to hang up immediately. See the automated script below.

The automated script:

This is to inform you that your BT contract will be terminated tomorrow due to illegal theft and hacking activities. To restore your account and resolve the current scenario press 1 to talk to our investigation team right now. Please press 1 now. Thank you.” 

Most people will realise this is not a genuine call, either because they aren’t even a customer of BT or because they are already aware that scams like this happen. However, fraudsters can use technology to attempt these calls on a very large scale, often specifically targeting older or vulnerable people. Therefore the call could likely reach people who are not aware this is fake and who are sufficiently alarmed into pressing 1.

Please tell your colleagues, friends, family and neighbours never to press 1 if any cold call instructs them to do so. This will likely result in a hefty fee on their bill or connection to a threatening or persuasive criminal who knows exactly how to trick someone out of their money.

The instruction to press 1 is a common tactic of many telephone scams. Fake HMRC calls suggesting you owe tax or are due a rebate are a common example. In each and every case please do not press 1 or any other key instructed. And do not be reassured by a local or familiar looking number (in this case a London area code) since fraudsters can ‘spoof’ numbers to disguise their real origin and look like a local or UK call. 

Report phone scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk

Please stay safe and spread the word. Thank you.

EE Smishing Scam

We have been alerted to a new smishing message from a called purporting to be from EE. See image above - this is a scam.

As a customer of EE, the person contacted their customer services separately (using a number they knew to be correct) to check whether this was a genuine communication. EE confirmed this is a scam.

The text came from 07399 852738 and reads: 

EE: we are unable to process your latest bill. In order to avoid restrictions please update your billing information via: https://www.eebilling-updated(dot)com‘ 

As with all smishing texts, this message is a trick to get the recipient to click on the link to give some personal information or to unknowingly install some malware (malicious software) on their device. Malware can give the scammer access to your device where they can steal lots of personal information for identify theft and can steal from your online banking accounts. 

Please warn friends and family about smishing texts – they are very common, come in many different guises and can be very convincing. Passing the message on could save someone from a lot of distress.

Suspicious texts should be forwarded to 7726, free of charge.

Fake Uber Texts

Another smishing text, this time purporting to be from Uber (a platform connecting drivers and riders for transport journeys), has been reported by a resident of Cambridgeshire.

The text was sent from a mobile telephone number and reads ‘UBER: We have identified that you made an overpayment on your last trip. Please follow the link to process your refund https://refund-ref067(dot)com

As with the EE message above, this message is bogus and is just a ploy to trick you into inputting personal information or installing malware to your device. 

Smishing messages are usually sent on a large scale to ensure that some of the recipients will be customers of the organisation being mimicked. And in turn the scammers may receive responses from a proportion of those customers who don’t spot that it’s a scam.

Many people receive messages purporting to be from companies that they do not deal with and will immediately recognise them to be fake. But where you are a customer of the company in question it can be difficult to know whether to ignore the message or whether you must act. 

The simple advice is to never click on a link in a text message that you were not expecting. If you are a customer of the company in question and you are not sure about the communication, always contact them using a number, e-mail address or chatbot you know to be correct to find out if the message is genuine. Remember the link given in a text message might look like a genuine web address but it is very easy for fraudsters to give a link a false identity in their communications.

Forward suspicious texts to 7726, free of charge.

Please share to help others stay safe.

Online Shopping Fraud

Reports of online shopping fraud have surged by 30% over the pandemic, as many of us continue to shop online in light of current restrictions. Action Fraud is warning the public to take extra care when shopping online.

Top tips to shop online securely:

Where to shop:
Making a purchase from an online store you haven’t used before? Carry out some research first, or ask a friend or family member if they’ve used the site and about their experiences before completing the purchase.

Your information:
Only create an account if necessary or to save you effort if you’re going to use that site a lot in the future. Be cautious if the website asks you for details that are not required for your purchase, such as your mother’s maiden name or the name of your primary school.

Payments:
If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, ensure that the webpage where you enter your payment details is secure (website address starts with “https”). Using a credit card to pay online also means that should the worst happen and your payment details are compromised, your main bank account won’t be directly affected.

Phishing:
Some of the messages you receive about amazing offers may contain links to fake websites. Not all links are bad, but if you’re unsure, don’t use the link – go separately to the website. Report any suspicious emails you receive by forwarding them to: report@phishing.gov.uk You can also report suspicious text messages by forwarding them to 7726.

For more information about how to shop online securely, please visit: 
actionfraud.police.uk/shoponlinesafely

Disguised as police

There are scams where the callers pretend to be from the police force.

Recently, one scam caller claimed they were a Police Sergeant within Cambridgeshire Police.

A scam caller contacted a victim and checked their name and address, and then said he was ringing from Cambridgeshire Police.  When pressed, he said his name was Sergeant Smith.

He told the victim that at 09:00 am that morning, Cambridgeshire Police had arrested a Sharon Saunders who was using a visa debit card in the victim’s name. 

In doubt, the victim said she’d check her purse and told the caller all her cards were present and correct.  At which point the caller said, “What colour is that card?”.  When the victim made disbelieving noises, the caller abruptly ended the call.

This could have ended very differently if the victim had given out her card details. 

Just remember to take your time, stop and think – a bank or the Police will NEVER ask you to give these details over the phone.

Courier Fraud

Courier fraud is when criminals impersonating banks or the police, call people to convince them to hand over their cash, bank cards, Amazon vouchers or high value items. A courier is then sent to the home to collect the payment.

Recent reporting to Action Fraud has highlighted that an increasingly popular tactic is for criminals to instruct the unsuspecting victim to purchase high value items such as gold coins and gold bullion.

In the last three months, Action Fraud has received 13 reports relating to this particular issue, with losses totalling almost £419,000. 

Always remember:

1. Your bank or the police will never call you to ask you to verify your personal details or PIN by phone or offer to pick up your card by courier. Hang up, wait a few minutes and call your bank on a number you know to be genuine, such as the one on the back of your card
2. Your bank or the police will not contact you out of the blue to participate in an investigation in which you need to withdraw money from your bank or to purchase high value goods, such as gold bullion.
3. Your bank will never send a courier to your home to collect your card, PIN, or other valuables, therefore any requests to do so are a scam

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