The top 8 frauds to watch out for in 2018

A new report from NatWest has identified the top ways they expect fraudsters will try and get their hands-on people’s cash in 2018. NatWest has worked with research agency The Future Laboratory to analyse data from the last 18 months to predict eight frauds expected to emerge in 2018.

Eight scams to watch out for in 2018 

  1. Social media spying. People might not realise how much information they are giving away, but to a fraudster the posts can be very helpful in setting up a scam.
  2.  Malicious software on smartphones. It is expected that malware or malicious software threats will grow among mobile devices.
  3. Bogus Brexit investments. Consumers should be wary of fake investment opportunities. For example, fraudsters may email customers, warning Brexit will affect their savings, and that they urgently need to move them into a seemingly plausible, but actually fake, investment product.
  4. Fraudsters preying on World Cup excitement. Some fraudsters will sell football tickets that are either fake or will never arrive. It is also expected that “package trips” will be offered by fake travel companies. Always buy tickets from a reputable source.
  5. Money mules. Mule recruiters may trawl social media for potential targets, particularly cash-strapped students in university towns, and use them to inadvertently launder money. Money mules receive the stolen funds into their account, they are then asked to withdraw it and send the money to a different account, often one overseas, keeping some of the money for themselves.
  6. Wedding excitement. Experts fear couples could be easy prey for fraudsters who tempt victims with extravagant offers at bargain prices. Fraudsters can set up fake websites for elements of the big day like venue hire, catering, or wedding dresses that appear very realistic. Fake wedding planners will take people’s money and then disappear.
  7. Romance scams. Criminals create fake profiles to form a relationship with their victims. They use messaging to mine victims’ personal details to use for identity fraud. Or, just when the victim thinks they have met the perfect partner the fraudsters asks them for money.
  8. Scams aimed at first-time buyers. Computer hackers monitor emails sent by a solicitor to a first-time buyer and then they pounce, pretending to be the solicitor and telling them the solicitors’ bank account details have changed in order to steal cash.

Julie McArdle, NatWest security manager said: “Scammers are dogged in their attempts to get their hands on people’s money and are always looking for new ways to get ahead. This means banks and customers need to evolve alongside scammers too. By being aware and staying ahead of scammers, we can stop them winning and keep the country’s money safe and secure.”

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 using the online reporting tool.

No excuses: how to tighten up your online security in 10 minutes | Cyber Aware | The Guardian

It’s one of those “it’ll never happen to me” things. Sure, we’ve all got a friend whose cousin had their identity stolen online, but cybercrime is so uncommon, isn’t it?

Not according to an Office for National Statistics survey. There were 3.7 million victims of fraud and computer misuse in the year ending September 2017, meaning you are 35 times more likely to encounter it than robbery. The good news is there are very simple things you can do to tighten up your online security right now, according to the government’s Cyber Aware campaign, which has been set up to help the public and small businesses better protect themselves from cybercrime.

Don’t say ‘remind me later’ to updates
It’s tempting to flick away a software or app update reminder, telling yourself you’ll do it tomorrow, but updates are crucial to help protect devices from viruses and hackers. They’re designed to fix weaknesses in software and apps that hackers could potentially take advantage of. Set up your devices so updates are done automatically or, even better, at night when you’re sleeping.

Pa55word! is not gonna cut it any more
Cyber Aware says passwords are prime territory for hackers – so it’s high time you gave up using your dog’s name. Make sure you use strong, separate passwords for your most important accounts like your email, so that if hackers do manage to steal your password for, say, your fitness app, they can’t use it to access your banking app. Try using three random words which you can supplement with numbers and symbols, for example, 4wartschickenbath32£.

You should also use two-factor authentication, when available, to protect your email account, a handy tool to give it an extra layer of security. New research from Experian and Cyber Aware reveals that over half of all those surveyed aged 18-25 reuse their email password for other accounts – putting their cybersecurity and identity at risk. As a result, they’re urging Brits to help protect their email accounts from hackers with a strong and separate email password through the just-launched #OneReset campaign.

Set up screen locks
Did we say dead simple? Yes, this is about as easy as it gets in making your online security watertight. All devices should go to lock mode when you’re not using them. Pins, patterns or passwords to unlock them shouldn’t be easy to guess, like 1, 2, 3, 4 or an L shape (we’ve been through this, you’re better than that).

Back up, back up, back up
The one golden rule of smart online behaviour is to back up your data regularly. If your device is infected by a virus, malware or is hacked, you may not be able to access your data as it could be damaged, deleted or held to ransom. Use an external hard drive or the cloud to save copies of your photos and documents, but make sure the external hard drive is not permanently connected to the device – either physically or over a wifi connection – as it could become infected too.

Not all wifi is created equal
We all love a bit of free wifi, but be careful about using public hotspots to transfer sensitive information like credit card details. Hackers can set up networks, enabling them to intercept information you’re sending online. So it’s best to do your online banking and shopping on a trusted network.

‘Jailbreaking’ is a no-no
Here’s one for the more tech-savvy. “Jailbreaking” or “rooting” your smartphone means disabling software restrictions set up by the manufacturer so you can download apps and tools which aren’t available through official app stores. Doing so leaves your phone vulnerable to malware and invalidates the warranty of the device. You will also stop receiving software updates, which, if you’ve been paying attention, is bad news.

Spot the imposters
Cybercriminals can set up fake websites that look very similar to the real thing, in an effort to get you to share sensitive information such as your bank details. There might even be a padlock or “https” in the address bar but check thoroughly for misspelled names, and logos and design features that don’t quite look right. Wherever possible, type the address of the website directly into the browser yourself, or find the website using a search engine. If you notice something is up, get out quickly.

Resist the urge to open suspicious links or attachments
Haven’t heard from your cousin John in eons and he’s now sent an email with a link to win a free iPhone? Back away. Even if something arrives in your inbox supposedly from someone you know or a company you trust, it could be fake. Never respond to suspicious or unexpected emails, as this will let the sender know your email address is active. Flag it as spam and send it to trash where it belongs.

For advice on simple ways to be more secure online, visit the Cyber Aware website

Source: No excuses: how to tighten up your online security in 10 minutes | Cyber Aware | The Guardian

Warwickshire PCC Phillip Seccombe recognises work of Specials.


The significant contribution that the Special Constabulary makes across Warwickshire has been underlined by new statistics released by Warwickshire Police, which show that the 200 voluntary constables have worked some 36,000 hours between April 2017 and last month.  To put that into some perspective, that is nearly four years’ collective service in the space of just nine months.

I’m delighted to see the hard word and dedication that our Special Constabulary is able to deliver to communities across Warwickshire.  I know from my own involvement with the Army Reserve how valuable the voluntary ethos can be, so the growth of the Special Constabulary in this way is something I very much welcome and want to encourage further.  It helps bring in a different mix of skills and experience, while at the same time allowing the volunteers to give something back to their community.

The additional opportunities now being offered to work in more specialised areas of policing is also helping to bring in the kind of expertise from industry that can help to address the changing nature of crime.

It’s clear we have a very good core of dedicated volunteers in our Special Constabulary and I hope to continue to see it grow to supplement the excellent work being carried out by our regular police officers, PCSOs and police staff.

Philip Seccombe TD

Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner

WhatsApp fraudsters turning ‘naive’ young people 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.”

Source: WhatsApp fraudsters turning ‘naive’ young people into money mules

Common fraud threats

Being aware of common threats, knowing how they work and what to look out for can help to protect you against falling victim to fraud.

Here are some of the common techniques fraudsters attempt to use to trick you into giving away your personal information, banking details or even access to your computer.

Scam emails, texts or social media messages (Also known as Phishing and Malware)

Fraudsters send fake messages which appear to be authentic and from legitimate organisations.

Scam telephone calls (Vishing)

Fraudsters may phone you out of the blue and claim to be from the bank, police, or other reputable organisations, in an attempt to obtain your personal information and banking details.

 Investment scams

Investment scams or get rich quick scams happen when fraudsters pose as pushy salespeople and trick you into putting your money into a fake investment.



Pension scams

Pension scams happen when fraudsters pose as pension advisors and trick you into releasing your pension early or transferring your money into bogus investments that are guaranteed to grow in value and make you lavish returns.

Romance Fraud Scams

Online dating can be a wonderful way to get to know someone and find love, but it’s also a common way for fraudsters to scam you.


Invoice re-direction scams

Invoice re-direction scams can result in losses that run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. It happens when a fraudster tricks a business into changing bank account payee details for a known supplier.

Seniors & Cyber Crime – 5 Tips to Protect Yourself Now

Definition: hacker [ˈhakər] a person who uses computers to gain unauthorized access to data.

Decades ago, hacking used to be something of a joke. A tech nerd living in their parents’ basement would see if they could gain access to the CIA or send a digital virus around the world. But today, it’s much more pervasive and sinister.

“This is now organized crime and their intentions are financially motivated,” says cyber security expert Daniel Tobok, CEO of CytelligenceTM. “They want to make money and they want to steal money.”

Tobok says although we’re all vulnerable to cybercrime, seniors are much most at risk. “They understand how to protect themselves from a bad guy at the door, they don’t always understand that the person pretending to be your friend on Facebook® could be a hacker trying to steal your information, access your computer to obtain your financial information and so much more.”

“I think everybody can be dumb at times,” says Dr. Tom Keenan, author of Technocreep. “People are generally pleasant, but if a weird, creepy person came up to you in the park and started asking you about your medical history and stuff like that and offered you a free magazine, you’d probably run the other way.” Yet when it comes to giving free information away on social media, we’re sharing too much.

Awareness is the Key

Tobok stresses that education, awareness and being cautious, even a little paranoid, is healthy and could prevent half of cyber security issues.


Phishing is a major point of entry for criminals. This is where you’re sent an email, text message, Facebook message or more asking you to click on a link, open up an attachment, change your password etc. The emails can look very real, like they’re coming from your bank, a friend, the government or a retailer – but they’re not real. They’re coming from criminals. And with our busy lifestyles, it’s easy to not pay attention and accidentally click on something you didn’t mean to. However, that one misstep can allow hackers to see everything you’re doing on your computer. If you went to their fake website and entered in your personal information, they now have that info, too.

5 Tips to Protect Yourself Now

  1. Never give any personal information over the phone, email, text or social media to anyone.
  2. Don’t click on jokes, attachments or links that you aren’t 100% sure are authentic.
  3. Use antivirus software and make sure your computer, smartphone and tablet are up-to-date.
  4. Don’t use free WiFi – especially if you’re checking your online banking or using your credit or debit card to purchase something online.
  5. Be careful using free apps, games and software – they’re free for a reason and could be using your computer, phone or tablet to track you, install malware (malicious software) or gain access to your sensitive and financial information – or worse.

If you have a smartphone, it may not feel like it, but you have a very powerful computer in your hands. You need to know how to protect yourself while using it.

Fraudsters stole £875k from vulnerable pensioners in Spain timeshare scam – Coventry Telegraph

Police say they are intent on rooting out fraud after a group of scammers conned hundreds of sick and elderly victims out of £875,000. The ‘cynical’ timeshare scam saw around 470 vulnerable people – often elderly and those in poor health – targeted in a three-part scam.

First, the victims were cold called by the scammers who falsely informed them prospective buyers had been found for their timeshare properties – most of which are in Spain. However, the group demanded advance ‘sale fees’ from the victims to support the fake transactions. Further attempts to gain yet more money were then made under the pretence that ‘sales had fallen through’ and needed more funding. Adding further insult to injury, the fraudsters then hit the same victims again, adopting different names and company names to contact them about the lost money. They then made false offers of further schemes and transactions to help the victims mitigate their losses. The third part of the scam saw members of the group contact victims pretending to be from the Spanish authorities. They stated that the funds would be returned to the victims’ bank accounts for an up-front fee.

To facilitate the frauds, the group set up more than ten limited companies (both in the UK and abroad), with offices in the West Midlands, staff, bank accounts, and the means to process card payments. Between 2012 and 2015, the fraudsters stole more than £875,000 in payments from their victims.

Detective Inspector Emma Wright of Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police Economic Crime Unit said: “This has been a long and complex investigation and I am pleased that the offenders have been brought before the courts this week to receive custodial sentences. These scammers targeted some of the most vulnerable people in our society in a deliberate and cynical campaign of fraud. Their scheme had devastating consequences on the victims – not just financially but emotionally too. Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police remain committed to bringing to justice those who commit fraud and financial crime.”

Nine people have now been sentenced for their roles in the ‘deliberate and cynical’ timeshare fraud. Six men, three of which are from Redditch, have been jailed or a total of 20 years in prison following the sentencing at Stafford Crown Court between February 21 and 23:

  • Brian Carr, 31, from Redditch was charged with conspiracy to defraud and perverting the course of justice. He was handed six years and eight months in prison and disqualified from holding the position of company director for ten years.
  • Daniel Carr, 24, also from Redditch was charged with conspiracy to defraud and sentenced to four years.
  • Dawn Gingell, 55, from Hampshire: Charged with conspiracy to defraud. Sentenced to three years and six months in prison.
  • James Barrass, 37, from Norwich, was charged with money laundering and handed a two-year prison sentence.
  • Craig Walker, 27, from Redditch: Charged with conspiracy to defraud. Sentenced to three years in prison.
  • Steven Cross, 37, from Worcester: Charged with conspiracy to defraud and jailed for six months.
  • Matthew Barker, 25, from Bromsgrove was charged with fraudulent trading and sentenced to one year and one month in prison, suspended for one year and six months and ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work.
  • Brendan Hicks, 28, from Redditch was charged with fraudulent trading. He was sentenced to one year and one month in prison, suspended for one year and six months, and ordered to 250 hours of unpaid work.
  • Alan Sharp, 66, from Norwich was charged with money laundering and sentenced to a suspended sentence of eight months in prison and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.

All defendants will now face proceedings to recover the funds stolen, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Source: Fraudsters stole £875k from vulnerable pensioners in Spain timeshare scam – Coventry Telegraph