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Current Scams

Phone bank scammers 'net £23.9m in a year'- The amount of money lost to phone banking scammers has tripled in a year, prompting a major awareness campaign.

An estimated £23.9m has been tricked out of unsuspecting victims in the last year, up from £7m the previous year, according to Financial Fraud Action. The group, which runs fraud prevention action for the financial services industry, said research suggested 58% of people had received suspect calls.This was up from 41% in a similar study carried out last summer. The main trick involves a con artist deceiving victims into believing they are calling from the police, a bank or a computer company. They suggest that the individual has been the victim of fraud and ask for personal financial information - such as card details or a Pin code - to access their account. Some ask victims to transfer money, to withdraw cash from a branch, or to hand over a bank card to a courier.

Advice to consumers includes: Being wary of cold calling, especially if the caller suggests you call back. Banks and the police never ask for personal banking details, or request that individuals withdraw or transfer money. If suspicious of a call, hang up, wait five minutes or preferably use a different phone line to report the fraud. Adverts are appearing across the UK to warn people of these scams. All the major UK banks, building societies, card companies and chief police officers have also signed a declaration aiming to highlight the warning signs of phone scams. - 2nd December 2014 BBC News

Eddy Weatherill comments: " Any unrequested telephone call from anyone saying they are 'at your bank' (or any other plausible authority/entity) seeking to discuss any financial matter should be regarded as immediately dangerous. Remember, that banking scammers or fraudsters can keep your phone line open by not putting down the receiver at their end. So, calling your bank on the same phone line afterwards may connect you to the Fraudsters instead. The banking consumer is highly at risk now from large scale financial frauds using bank phone scams. That is in part due to consumer's acceptance and dependence on telephones for 'easy' and 'quick' responses." - 4th December 2014

See also: Victims of Tunbridge Wells bank telephone scam lose £57,000

Crooks posing as banks set to trick millions out of their savings & Millions of customers vulnerable to fraud, warn banks - The UK's High Street banks are warning that millions of account holders are vulnerable to fraud - online or over the phone. With help from the police, the banks have now launched campaign to make customers more aware of the threat. They have published a list of eight things that a bank will never ask account holders to do. The list includes asking for a full Pin or a banking password over the phone, or via email. "Being defrauded is a devastating experience for anyone, which is why we are launching this campaign," said Anthony Browne, the chief executive of the British Bankers Association (BBA). - 14.10.14

Eddy Weatherill comments: "The banks must be extremely concerned for the BBA to launch such a campaign - but we should all be concerned. We have noticed the growing trend of virulent email 'packages' and 'phishing' mails which alone evidence a large scale 'activity' by very organized criminals attempting to obtain access to individuals personal and bank card account/s and banking information. Fraudsters now use all available methods of communication and are ably assisted by the naivety of individuals. Posting personal information on face book and other social media platforms allows access for many collecting personal information for others to use. By sending computer messages/texts and accessing 'smart' devices by app infiltration criminals gain control of financial information for their use. In my opinion the public is now much more at risk from large scale financial frauds than at anytime in the last 20 years. It requires much more than one 'campaign' of awareness to protect many vulnerable people - although this campaign is a start." - 14.10.14

Hoax emails warning you may have cancer are a cruel scam, medical experts warned today - The official-looking messages tell recipients there is a ‘suspicion’ they have the disease. The emails say the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has been sent a sample of the person’s blood for further research. The health watchdog is advising people not to open the messages. ‘This email is likely to cause distress to recipients since it advises that “test results” indicate they may have cancer, said Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of Nice.

‘This malicious email is not from Nice. We are investigating its origin. We take this matter very seriously and have reported it to the police.’The emails are headed ‘Important blood analysis result’ or similar. They say the white blood cell count is very low and tell recipients to print an attachment and visit their doctor. Nice stressed its website had not been hacked. It is advising anyone who receives the message to delete the email without opening it or any of the links. - 13th March 2014 Metro

Fraud from stolen bank cards highest since 2006 Consumers are being warned about a series of bank card scams, after fraud from stolen cards rose to its highest level in eight years. Cards that were lost or stolen in the UK resulted in losses of £58.9m last year, the largest figure since 2006. Losses from all types of card fraud rose by 16% in 2013, to £450m. - 14th March 2014 BBC Business news

Spam Email in Circulation - We have received enquiries regarding emails circulating from L.Mcnamara@scotourts.gov.uk or L.Mcnamara@scotcourts.gov.uk These emails were not issued by the Scottish Court Service server or email account. We believe these emails are spam and an attempt to get users to open up the attachment within the emails. Anyone receiving a spam email is advised to report it to their ISP provider See Scottish Courts site message -  30th January 2014

Landmark' crackdown on fake shares fraudsters - 'Boiler room fraud' criminal gangs who trick people into investing in worthless shares have been targeted by police in the biggest ever international crackdown on the fraud. The operation resulted in 110 arrests, mostly in Spain and the UK. Police targeted the masterminds and facilitators of the "boiler room" fraud (so-called because of the cramped conditions they work from). There are 850 confirmed victims of the gangs in the UK, but the real figure is likely to be in the "multi-thousands". Operation Rico is the first time there has been a multi-agency and cross-border investigation against different networks of boiler room fraudsters. Previously there was more of a piecemeal approach. However, despite some successes, criminals had become adept at avoiding detection by frequently moving offices and wiping computers. DI Clancey said the Spanish authorities were fully behind the operation. "The Spanish want to drive it out of Spain - it's tainting them," he said. Detectives acknowledge that boiler room fraudsters will not disappear but they are more likely to operate in future in the more "hostile" environments of Thailand, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates. Police have urged anyone who may have been scammed to call the Action Fraud line on 0300 123 2040. Anyone with any information about these crimes can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. - 28th February 2014 BBC News

Note: Boiler room fraud or Share scams – a stranger rings you out of the blue and tries to offer you shares in a company you have never heard of. They typically sell shares to unsuspecting members of the public by cold-calling them. They then persuade their victims to buy shares that are worthless or have little value. 'Boiler rooms' are usually based overseas but sometimes operate with the help of "front" organizations in the UK and they 'channel' the money abroad. The FSA has no jurisdiction overseas but tries to close down any boiler room activities here.

UK Bank and Banking Scams - IBAS has obtained in excess of £21 million in refunds, write-offs and write-down of bank debt for our members because of IBAS specialist investigations of UK Business Banking Disputes (and that was a few years ago when we stopped 'counting'!). We stopped 'counting' because for an individual only their business banking dispute and their business banking problem really matters. That's not surprising because it's their own personal assets which are at risk once a bank starts 'plundering' their business by using specialist debt recovery units such as RBS GRG. Then, if the business fails, their Director's Personal Guarantee or personal guarantee on their sole trading or partnership accounts are 'called' or 'demanded' for payment by the bank. It doesn't stop there. Once in debt recovery the bank will also 'call on' mortgages and security connected to Personal Guarantees as well. Do not wait for that to start - contact IBAS Now if you have been referred to RBS GRG and/or received a bank demand to pay.

Phishing scams happening now:

Dun & Bradstreet Reports Phishing Email Scam Dunn & Bradstreet say: We are aware that emails purporting to be from “From: Dun & BradStreet” with a return email address of alert@dnb.com and containing the Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp logo below the subject line have been received by a number of our customers and contacts. We are currently investigating this matter.

The email content alleges a complaint has been made against the recipient and requires action be taken to address the matter. Please be aware, neither D&B nor DBCC issued or authorized this email. This incident is external to D&B. Our name and logo are being used illegitimately.

  • There is no security breach and none of D&B’s data has been compromisedThis appears to be a phishing scam. Such scams encourage an email recipient to click on a link or open a document. Taking such action can trigger blind downloading of malicious software on the user’s computer
  • Please delete the email. If you opened it or the attachment that was included, please work with your desktop support team to ensure no malware has been added to your computer.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you or your business. If you have questions or concerns, please contact our Customer Service Team - IBAS 11.10.13.

Phone companies plan to tackle 'courier fraud' phone trick - Telephone companies are trying to end a scam that persuades people to hand over their bank cards. Gangs posing as police ring people at home telling them there has been a fraud and to ring their bank. But the criminal does not hang up, so when the victim tries to ring out they are still connected to the fraudster. BBC Radio 4's You & Yours has learned some phone companies plan to cut the time a line can be held open from two minutes to two seconds. Known as "courier fraud", because messengers are often sent to homes to pick up bank cards, there was a wave of cases in Greater Manchester earlier this year when more than 50 people in their 80s and 90s were targeted over three months. - BBC Business News 13.09.13

The 'money mules' of East London - Though some money mules are in cahoots with the fraudsters many are duped into taking part. Often the money comes from online banking frauds, especially phishing scams when criminals obtain a victim's bank details by sending fake emails. Most have no idea that by helping a criminal they could end up with a prison sentence. - BBC News 04.02.11

BT phone bill arrears scam  - BT is warning customers to be on their guard after a series of phone scams involving people claiming to be calling from the company. The scammers call up their victim and warn them that their account is in arrears. They then ask for card or bank details in order to settle the account. If the person refuses or asks for proof, the fraudsters then offer to prove who they are by disconnecting the phone line then and there. Once the victim puts the phone down, the scammer stays connected to their line, thus giving the impression that the customer's line no longer works.

Area affected: Suffolk, Sussex, Kent, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, North Yorkshire, Devon, West Midlands and Pembrokeshire.

Bank calling about bank overcharges scam  - The man calling already had some personal information about the account holders, helping to lull them into a false sense of security. "The man claims that the account holder has been overcharged on their respective accounts and that he needs to confirm account details before he can proceed. "Sadly, some people have given out or confirmed account details not realising that they are not actually talking to someone from the bank." Bank customers are warned not to give out their personal information over the telephone - after this elaborate scam was uncovered.

IBAS note and comment - All UK bank customers and phone customers should be aware - both scams are regionalized but they could be extended to other parts of the UK as the fraudsters share valuable information and sell it on.That is now happening in 2010 - so beware - this scam is coming your way!

Other scams that are around at the moment include:

  • Bogus FSA and FOS communications – letters or emails claiming to be from the FSA or FOS asking for your personal information or money. Bank charge cold callers – telephone calls or emails out of the blue, offering to help reclaim your charges – often claiming to be from the OFT. Identity fraud – someone impersonates you without your knowledge, often by stealing discarded or lost documents.
  • Advance fee schemes – letters or emails that offer you vast sums if you make payments up front.

'New twist' in prize draw scams - Victims of a prize draw scam are being being unwittingly groomed as money launderers for other victims' savings, says a watchdog.

Research by the OFT suggests that as many as three million people a year have lost money to consumer frauds. And the regulator estimates that these mass marketing scams have cost their victims £3.5bn. Visit UK Bank News 2014 comments for most recent IBAS comments on UK banking. IBAS has featured in many BBC TV and ITV News items and programmes on banking and the banking issues since we were established in 1992.

There are many fraudsters conning unsuspecting people and taking their money. Scam artists are growing in numbers every day using scams both old and new or variations of both to trick you into giving them your money.   The Internet ‘breeds’ such scams and cons as it offers a huge number of people who may be vulnerable, you should be extremely cautious of anyone using a selling ‘pitch’ which just seems too good to be true - it usually is. Also, never agree to release any information or pay any money to any company, or individual, unless they can be verified as legitimate.

Here are some common scams and cons:

Email Foreign Money & Laundering Scams - There are a number of  variations on the 'we are seeking funds for the WTC Disaster' or the Nigerian “419” scam which usually explains that 'I am a Nigerian tribal chief with $15M to ship out of the country but need your help' type of email. These scams will always want your details and information and will use your personal or business bank account details or your company letter heading to milk your accounts or take your identity. If you receive any of these delete them and do not respond in any way to them. Home Opportunities, Working from Home, Start your own small business any companies advertising opportunities to work from your own home with over optimistic sales language should be regarded with extreme caution. So many want to work from home, or start small businesses and become their own boss that offers of huge earnings or easy pickings look very attractive. Any advert or mail which states they will pay ‘huge earnings’ and that ‘no selling is involved’ or ‘no experience is required’ may seem appealing but they are also likely to be scams particularly if they require a fee for administration or expenses or materials. Legitimate employers never seek any fees.  Usually, these scams want someone ‘stuffing’ envelopes but crafting is such a growth industry that ‘new scams’ have grown up offering packs for making cards or sewing clothes or fabrics.

Career opportunity, Wonderful Job, Start your own Business? Want to be a successful author, inventor, sales agent or advisor? Want the returns from owning your own successful business? Want to reap the rewards of working for yourself? Almost the whole population think they ‘have a book in them’, and others believe they can write a best seller or start their own business. Whether it is a cottage industry or  manufacturing and marketing their own ‘inventions’ they all want financial success.

Many want to become authors or writers and others who seek career avenues where they as individuals are basically marketing themselves, choose to use the services of businesses who may promise their guaranteed success – some of these businesses look OK on the surface and will ask for an advance fee for accepting you on their 'books'. It seems like a quick way in to success. Unfortunately, little or nothing is likely to be provided in return for your advance fee, as these are often called advance fee frauds

Prize draw winnings - You get a phone call or a letter, informing you that you just won a prize in a prize draw.  You then need to claim your prize by paying an administration fee or by calling the draw organisers using a premium rate phone line. If you call, they keep you on the line while you rack up a large sum on your phone bill. If you receive any ‘offer’ like this you should destroy it.  Unsolicited mail however good it may seem should be regarded with suspicion – unless or until it can be properly verified, using alternative sources. ‘Phishing’ where fraudulent emails appear to come from your bank or other sources of finance or online trading accounts, usually requesting information from you so that they can update your account, their company records, or supposedly for you to remain registered online.  They ask you to reply with your full details, such as your name and password.  Never respond to these emails.  Legitimate companies never ask for personal information by email, so be aware of these scams. IBAS has seen plenty in the last two years and they have become more dangerous as they perfect their methods. Always check the ‘browser’ details for the correct http:// address. Websites offering to reclaim bank penalty charges - or bank overcharging penalties for bank customers on a ‘no win – no fee’ basis. Bank charge cold callersunsolicited telephone calls, cold callers or emails, offering to help you reclaim your bank charges – often claiming to be from IBAS the OFT or  FOS. None of these organizations would make any unsolicited contact with you. Fund transfer schemes – money–laundering scams that tempt you to use your bank account by offering a commission for feeding funds through your accounts. You could wind up with losing your own money and a prison sentence as well.

See What is a money mule?

IBAS is a highly experienced and specialist membership organization with 21 years 'track record' resolving Director's Personal Guarantee, Personal Guarantee/Indemnity issues and business banking disputes. We aim to provide the best professional advice and direct assistance service to protect our members. IBAS offers specialist and individual Director's Personal Guarantee advice and direct assistance and we can establish how best your Director's Personal Guarantee Debt claim or Demand may be resolved.

Independent Banking Advisory Service (IBAS) National, independent, unique, experienced, specialist, non-profit, banking customer membership organization investigates and resolves business banking disputes. IBAS has campaigned on UK Banking issues since 1992 and provides business banking analysis, comment and content for BBC TV News, ITV, Radio and national newspapers.