Nasty Scam Mail Costing Warwickshire Residents Thousands

Nasty scam mail containing false promises of good luck and riches are being targeted by Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service this July as part of Scams Awareness Month 2017.

Warwickshire Trading Standards are aware of many scam mail victims, some of whom have lost thousands to bogus clairvoyants and scam lotteries.

One elderly Leamington Spa resident was sending money to so many scam mail fraudsters that she couldn’t afford to pay her utility bills and fell in to debt. She was constantly promised big prize pay-outs, but this was really a ruse to sell her cheap ornaments and other products she didn’t really want or need. Another Leamington resident paid out over £12,000 in the course of a year and was sending between £500 and £1000 each month to receive her ‘prizes’. She had received scam letters from the USA and Australia, telling her she had won large prizes in lotteries and prize draws.

A man from Rugby who had savings of over £20,000 found himself in debt after sending money to postal scam fraudsters who had promised that he had won cars, lotteries and other prizes, despite the fact that he had never entered any competitions!

A South Warwickshire resident paid out over £1000 is a single month to postal fraudsters who she believed were her ‘friends’. She was told she had won a large sum of money, but instead, the fraudsters were actually selling her huge quantities of vitamin pills. In a similar case another resident was reported to have been bombarded with prize draw letters claiming she had won £133,683.64. She sent money to receive her prize, but in reality, this simply paid for some cakes and biscuits, no ‘winnings’ ever materialised.

At another residents property, Trading Standards Officers recovered over 29 bags of scam mail and in North Warwickshire a postal scam victim was regularly  sending £20 notes in the post to ‘claim a prize’ and had revealed his bank account and card numbers to fraudsters.

Warwickshire County Councillor Howard Roberts, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said:

“We’ve all seen them, envelopes stamped ‘Euro Lottery Winner’, ‘Official Government Award’ or ‘Good Luck Inside’ and most of us will immediately consign them to the recycling bin.  Unfortunately though some people do respond, sending money, cheques and in some cases their bank account numbers and PINS. These people are then drawn in to the scam, paying out ever more money in the hope of receiving a pay-out that will never come.”

“In Warwickshire, our Trading Standards Officers are working locally with Royal Mail postal workers and nationally with the National Scams Team to identify and support these victims, intercepting their letters and returning their money.”

Most postal scams rely upon the recipient believing they have won a lottery prize or are entitled to a gift or Government pay-out, in return for an ‘administration fee’. In reality, the cash prize or pay-out never materialises and the ‘gift’ is usually worth considerably less than the cost of receiving it. Some postal scams, particularly those sent by bogus clairvoyants are more sinister, frightening recipients into paying out for ‘lucky charms’ to avoid receiving bad luck, which it is claimed, might endanger themselves or their families.

The names and addresses of those who respond regularly to scam mail are shared or sold on, leading to victims to being bombarded with even more bogus post.

Across the UK reports of scams and frauds have risen by 8% this year to an estimated 3.6 million cases. UK residents are believed to lose over £10 billion to frauds and scams each year.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones from Scam Mail

  • Always ignore letters with offers that sound too good to be true, they probably are.
  • Be wary of letters that tell you to keep things a secret or instruct you to act quickly
  • Never provide bank details to people you don’t know and don’t share personal details or official documents
  • You can’t win a competition you didn’t enter
  • Never send money to receive a prize or Government pay out
  • Receiving large amounts of post or items such as cheap jewellery or ‘lucky’ objects can suggest the person is a postal scam victim. Keep an eye on friends and family.
  • Fraudsters buy names and addresses from marketing companies. Don’t divulge your personal details in marketing surveys, questionnaires, competitions and prize draws at home, online or in the street.
  • Make sure your details are not added to the ‘Edited Electoral Register’ (sold for marketing purposes)
  • Stay up to date with the latest local scam warnings. Sign up to the free Trading Standards email alert service at: warwickshire.gov.uk/scams or follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/WarksTSS

Make a consumer complaint

The Citizens Advice Consumer Service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Call the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 (English language).

“Google Docs” Worm Ransacks Gmail Users’ Contact Lists – What You Need to Know

What’s happened?
You may well be one of the millions of internet users who received a dangerous email offering to share a Google Docs file with you.

If you made the mistake of clicking on the link, you could start a process that could potentially result in your email archive and contact lists being slurped up in strangers and the same dangerous message being forwarded to everyone in your address book.

Source: “Google Docs” Worm Ransacks Gmail Users’ Contact Lists – What You Need to Know

Email scammers turn their sights on youth football teams | Money | The Guardian

Treasurers of community groups and small charities have been warned to be extremely wary after a youth football club was conned out of more than £28,000 by fraudsters using a fake email scam.

Source: Email scammers turn their sights on youth football teams | Money | The Guardian

Beware of Mystery or Secret Shopper Opportunity Phishing Email Scams

Online users, be aware of mystery or secret shopper email messages like the one below, which claim that the recipients have mystery or secret shopping assignments in their areas and are asked to participate. The email messages are fraudulent, therefore, recipients of the same email messages should not respond to them with their personal information or any other information that is requested by the senders. The fake email messages are being sent by scammers / cybercriminals.

Source: Beware of Mystery or Secret Shopper Opportunity Phishing Email Scams

David’s story | Victim Support

 

When an old friend contacted David through a dating website asking to borrow money to return to the UK, he was happy to help. They got chatting and it wasn’t long before Kerry* had asked him to send £500 towards a plane ticket she urgently needed to buy.

Unfortunately, Kerry wasn’t who she said she was. She was, in fact, a fraudster, who went to great lengths to deceive David; sending copies of immigration papers, a passport and plane ticket.

Source: David’s story | Victim Support

Holiday And Travel Booking | Get Safe Online

When using the internet to research or book your holiday or other travel arrangements, the world is literally at your fingertips. However, there are risks associated with doing so – some specific to holiday and travel booking and some which are in common with other types of online purchases.

Source: Holiday And Travel Booking | Get Safe Online

Take the test: are you an easy fraud target?

Use Which?’s fraud risk quiz and get expert tips to protect yourself from scam

With an estimated 5.6 million consumers falling victim to fraud or cyber crime last year, people could be taking more steps to protect themselves from scammers and fraudsters, new Which? research reveals.

A survey of more than 1,800 Which? members found that two thirds (67%) use the same password across multiple accounts, while more than one in four (28%) are on the open electoral register, leaving their details publicly available. And just one in four (25%) check their credit report at least once a year.

So, are you leaving yourself open to fraud? Take the Which test to discover your fraud risk score and the steps you can take to protect yourself.

 

Growing problem of bank transfer fraud

Even if you do take the right steps to protect yourself, fraudsters’ tactics are becoming ever more sophisticated – particularly when it comes to bank transfer fraud. When Which? launched an online scams reporting tool in November 2016, more than 650 people reported losing over £5.5m to bank transfer fraud.

Common bank transfer scams include:

  • Fraudsters conning you into paying for bogus technical support to deal with a non-existent virus on your computer
  • Scam texts and calls that claim to be from your bank, asking you to send money as part of ‘security checks’
  • Scammers masquerading via email as a tradesman or professional you are using, and tricking you into paying money into a bogus bank account

Home buyers are becoming increasingly vulnerable to scammers through what’s been dubbed ‘Friday afternoon fraud’. Experts believe fraudsters identify victims through social media or ‘For sale’ signs and target them on a Friday – a popular day for property completions, according to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority. Scammers hack into the victim’s email account and redirect emails from, say, their property solicitor or estate agent to themselves; the fraudsters then create an email address like the solicitor’s or estate agent’s and send the victim emails requesting a payment. In some cases, they even hack into the law firm’s account, according to Mike McLaughlin of cybersecurity consultancy First Base.

‘Businesses need to up their game’ on bank transfer fraud

One of the biggest issues with bank transfer fraud is that unlike other types of fraud, such as on a credit card, consumers have no right to get their money back from their bank.

Which? believes that the banking industry has yet to demonstrate it is taking the issue seriously enough or is taking enough significant steps to protect consumers. In September 2016, we issued a super-complaint to the Payment Systems Regulator about how banks were dealing with bank transfer fraud. The regulator has so far stopped short of making banks take on greater responsibility but agreed they could do more, and has asked the industry to make improvements. We’ll continue to push banks to give people greater protection. Sign our petition to force action on scams.

Gareth Shaw, money expert at Which? said: ‘Fraudsters’ tactics for getting hold of your money are constantly evolving but many businesses’ efforts to protect their customers haven’t kept pace, so it’s more important than ever to be on your guard. Taking small steps can make your personal details safer from fraudsters. While we’re encouraging everyone to take steps to protect themselves, businesses need to up their game. We’re calling for banks to do more to protect their customers from scammers with our super-complaint on bank transfer fraud to the regulators.’

Five Scams That Won’t Make You Laugh on April Fool’s Day

If there’s one day of the year when everyone has their guard up, it’s April Fool’s Day. After all, who can put their hand up and say that they have never been duped by an April Fool’s trick? Some of the classic April Fool’s stunts have gone down in history, such as the BBC’s news report from 1957 showing the annual spaghetti harvest in Switzerland.

Simpler times, you say? Well, 50 years later the BBC pulled a similar stunt – getting Monty Python’s Terry Jones to star in a short documentary revealing the phenomenon of flying penguins. And, like the spaghetti hanging from the branches of trees in southern Switzerland, some people believed it. They believed it because the BBC is a trusted source of information. If some nutter had sat next to you on the bus and tried to convince you that penguins could fly or that you could send a Gmail by making the motion of licking a stamp you probably wouldn’t believe them.

Source: Five Scams That Won’t Make You Laugh on April Fool’s Day

Beware of Outlook “You Are Violating the Terms And Conditions” Phishing Scam

The email message below with the subject: “You Are Violating the Terms And Conditions,” which claims that due to our recent security updates for the year, all Outlook users are to verify and validate their accounts, is a phishing scam. The email message is being sent by cyber-criminals, whose intentions are to hijack their victims’ email accounts and use them for malicious purposes. So, recipients of the same email message are advised not to follow the instructions in it.

Source: Beware of Outlook “You Are Violating the Terms And Conditions” Phishing Scam

Financial Fraud Costing Uk 2 Million A Day2 | Get Safe Online

In 2016, the UK lost £2 million each day as a result of financial fraud, according to official figures released by Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) today. The figures show the overall scale of financial fraud was £768.8 million, an increase on the £755 million lost in 2015.

Source: Financial Fraud Costing Uk 2 Million A Day2 | Get Safe Online