Read in the Mirror online:


Fraud isn’t a small problem, and the pandemic is only making it worse – as criminals use our fear and uncertainty against us.

In the worst cases I’ve seen, people have lost as much as £350,000 to a single scam, with con artists exploiting everything from social media posts to house purchases to trick honest Brits out of their money.

And it’s not just the gullible or naive being taken in – with professional scammers able to con even the most savvy of people.

So while last week I looked at the new scams on the block, this week I’m going to highlight some of the worst of the rest.

Here are six ways criminals are taking people’s money right now:

1. Boiler rooms

Boiler room scams are confusingly named.

The term comes from the environment the fraudsters traditionally worked in, packed into a small room with a load of telephones and computers, they phone innocent victims and crank up the pressure on them to invest in dodgy or non-existent investment or land banking schemes.

These scammers can be highly aggressive as they turn up the pressure to get you to ‘invest’.

They often return to the scene of the crime too, so you throw good money after bad to recover your losses.

Or even more despicably, they pretend to be solicitors who can recoup your lost money for a fee.

2. Push payment fraud

The fraudster calls you and pretends to be from your bank – or impersonates an authority figure like a policeman.

You are told your account has been compromised and need to transfer your cash to a new account which is actually the fraudsters.

The fraudster tells you to call the number on your bank card but stays on the line when you hang up.

If you don’t check for a dialling code, they then pretend to be the bank and take your money. £207.8 million was lost to push payment fraud in the first half of 2020 according to UK Finance.

3. Smishing

This method of fraud targets online banking. The fraudster uses a cheap bit of technology that means they can impersonate your bank’s number.

They ask for your online banking passwords or codes and trick you into giving them what they need to access your account.

Then they get you to transfer money or pinch it themselves.

4. Courier fraud

This kind of fraud works in the same way as push payment scams.

Only the fraudster tells you that they will send a courier to collect your bank card after getting your details.

In the worst examples, people are told their local bank staff are the fraudsters and are made to go in and transfer the money out, ignoring the cashier’s warnings.

5. Solicitor/business fraud

This scam targets solicitors handling big transactions or mortgage payments or businesses.

It works in the same way as the others, but the sums are huge. I’ve seen £350,000 tricked out of one business.

6. Email fraud / fake site fraud

We’ve all seen those dodgy emails that used to do the rounds asking for your details. Well now they’re very, very convincing.

I’ve seen emails ‘from’ the Inland Revenue, Government, Banks, Ombudsmen and many others all looking ridiculously convincing – all fake.

Check out the end of the http address and always go through the official site by searching and checking it online – don’t click the link.

Don’t forget the golden rule: No bank will ever ask you to hand over your personal passwords or details – and they’ll never ask you to transfer money out either.

Be sceptical, think before you click and if you think you’ve been tricked get in touch with the business asap.

Anyone – literally anyone – can be fooled by these expert con artists.

I’ve listened to telephone recordings of vishing and heard even cynical people can get worn down by the constant onslaught.

Though I hate to give them credit, the modern fraudster is very, very convincing. They have to be when the rewards are this high.

If you’ve been a victim of fraud, please do report it. Action Fraud are the people to contact. Some fraudsters have been caught, though there’s often little money left.

But by reporting these thieves, you can help make life much harder for them.

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