REPORT FOR SCAM OF THE MONTH.
Scam of the month December 2022
Fraudsters are exploiting interest in the football World Cup to trick people into replying to scam lottery letters.
These mailshots incorrectly claim to be affiliated to the event, include official logos, and ask recipients for money to claim a "huge" cash prize. Such rewards are never seen.
National Trading Standards said a surge in letters had coincided with previous major tournaments.
Officers said they wanted the public's help to gather information about scams.
They want people to send any scam mail they receive to trading standards over the next month, calling the campaign a Scamnesty.
"By building a fuller picture of the scams out there, we can stay a step ahead of the criminals," said Louise Baxter, head of the National Trading Standards Scams Team.
"And as well as sending in their own scam mail, I'd encourage people to talk about Scamnesty with older friends and relatives. They are likely to be at the sharp end of the mailings so the intelligence they can provide is crucial."
Scam mail can be sent free of charge to: NTSST, FREEPOST, MAIL MARSHALS.
International organised crime gangs are often behind these kind of scams, adapting them to take advantage of a hot topic of the time.
At present, trading standards officers expect con-artists to use interest in the football World Cup in Qatar, with examples including letters falsely claiming that a lottery has been organised to promote the tournament.
The wording may vary but the aim of the fraudsters is always to trick vulnerable people into sending money. The average amount requested this year in postal scams is £48, usually in cash, officers said. If people responded, they would then be repeatedly targeted and many victims have lost thousands of pounds.
So far this year, more than 80% of postal scam examples seen by officers have been clairvoyant scams, where recipients are promised more detailed readings if they send money.
Other postal scams regularly seen include fake bogus health cures and investment scams.
Fraudsters don’t always ask for your money. Emails that are designed to look as though they’re from a ‘household name’ are becoming common. For example, fraudsters using a ‘household name’ are sending emails with a false promise of a refund if they are provided with a person’s bank account details. These ‘household names’ include H M Revenue & Customs, energy suppliers, high street banks and other well-known organizations. Recipients of these emails are being told that they are due refunds – and to claim these refunds they should click on a link and have their bank details ready, so that the refund can be deposited electronically. Recipients of these messages should always look for any grammatical errors, (common) and anything else that looks suspicious. Don’t click on any links. If in doubt, make separate independent enquiries.
Any suspicious emails should be reported to Action Fraud (actionfraud.police.uk) or contact Citizens Advice on 03454040506. To learn more about scams visit web site friendsagainstscams.org.uk
Fraud is a multi-billion-pound "industry" which affects people from all walks of life.
From our perspective, millions of older people are believed to have been targeted by scammers and this is likely to be an under-estimate of the real numbers. Unfortunately, the ones most likely to fall victim to fraud are those who live alone with no one to look out for them, or who have dementia.
So, what is a scam?
A scam is a deliberate attempt to obtain information from you, to obtain your personal details - and your money. Stealing personal details such as your date of birth, address, passwords, account numbers, and national insurance number is known I/D fraud, and these details are the route to your bank and credit card accounts.
Scammers use all kinds of methods to gain your confidence, including posing as bank or tax officials or even police officers. Scams are perpetrated by individuals and by organized gangs and contact can be by post, text, email or by home visits.
For example you might receive a text saying Covid-19 passes are now mandatory and direct you to a non-NHS website. If people need a pass for getting into a theatre or a travel pass for going on holiday, they should only visit the NHS website.
nb. One of our committee recently received one of these !
In the same way that buildings and houses have addresses, so do web pages. They have a unique address to help people locate them, known as URL's (URL stands for Uniform Resource Location)
Always check the URL of the site you’re on when online shopping – scam sites can often look genuine. Always look out for extra full stops and dashes. Scammers will target you with a professional looking advert, and then send you through to a copycat website. Don’t feel rushed into a purchase – be sure to stop and think before you buy and ensure the website you’re ordering from is legitimate. Not using a "link" but instead finding the website yourself would be a good place to start.
And the golden rule is - if something sounds too good to be true it usually is !!