Category: Warning

Increase in Scam Activity

All categories of scams have been increasing recently.

This may be due to better reporting but is also likely to be caused by increased scammer activity.

Category of Scam

2019 (first half)

% Increase

Impersonation £35 M 6%
Fake Bills £ 21 M 45%
Investments £43 M 108%
Invoices £56 m 7%
Fake Purchases £28 M 43%
Advance Fees £8 M 38%
Cheque Fraud £29 M 789%
Romance Scams £8 M 50%
Mobile Banking Fraud £5 M 33%
Telephone Banking Fraud £12 M 2%


Statistics are from UK Finance for the first half of 2019 compared to first hale of 2018.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-wasters do let me know, by email.

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The Price of Fake Reviews

Getting good online reviews can be critical for product and service sellers and there are various ways to get these that are legal and acceptable.

But there are also the unacceptable and sometimes illegal methods.

A recent spam email describes a “top quality” service and prices start at $49 for a set of reviews.

Not just any old reviews, but reviews that are guaranteed to be –

  • 5 stars
  • Posted from local IP addresses
  • With 100% discretion
  • Posted from verified accounts
  • Sporadically posted to avoid auto detection

Can she provide this service?

That’s unknown but certainly there are people who can do and find their clients amongst the unscrupulous, desperate for good reviews that they haven’t earned.

When reading reviews online, do take the time to consider whether what you’re reading is from someone who has used the actual product or service or could they be talking about anything at all.

“Excellent service”. “Loved the quality of the product”. “Best value ever”. “Most delicious meal I’ve ever eaten”.

These are meaningless general comments as they don’t show the reviewer has actually used the product or service.

Do not ever pay for reviews and consider many reviews before making any decision to buy.

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Stupidest Scam of the Week YouTube Free Products

YouTube is a huge businesses with around 5 billion videos watched each day.

You see lots of people on trains, at bus stops, in cafes etc. all watching endless videos on YouTube.

Scammers know this and target these videos.

Popular videos on YouTube come with advertising in some form and scammers can get their scam ads included quite easily.

These scam ads are usually quite blatant e.g. a scammer will copy a YouTube video from someone with millions of followers and add in their own scam adverts then put it on YouTube and email a link to their spam email list.

The scammers often impersonate YouTube celebrities as they have the biggest following.

I have randomly chosen you to receive a free gift from me personally. Just click the link to verify yourself” is a typical message. The link can be to any scam site or to a phishing site asking for proof of identity or a survey which the scammer will be paid for.

Be very careful on YouTube in clicking anything.

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The Clone Company Scam

The clone company scam is where scammers make use of a real company’s name and reputation and trade on that to convince victims that they are legitimate. The actual company generally knows nothing about this until they start to get complaints.

City Watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority has increasingly been issuing warnings about this fraud (142 warnings in first half of 2019). Many of the companies involved are in the financial sector such as wealth managers, pension funds, mortgage companies, loan providers etc. but it can happen to any company.

Fraudsters may copy the company’s website, letter head etc. – anything to convince the victims for long enough to steal their money.

The big advantage for fraudsters in using someone else’s company name is that and potential victims checking online will find a reputable business.

If you are interested in any kind of investment or loan, do verify that the company is legitimate – check the FCA financial services register at or call their consumer helpline on 0800 111-6768

Never trust cold callers – anyone calling from a company you don’t already do business with, to offer any kind of investment or loan will likely be a scammer.

Never click on links in emails from people you don’t know.

Stay safe.

If you have any experiences with this scam do let me know, by email.

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Stupidest Scam of the Week HMRC Gift Cards

There are lots of scammers pretending to be from the tax authorities demanding payment and threatening imprisonment, or fines etc for non-payment.

There are also lots of scammers trying to get people to buy gift cards such as Amazon gift cards and iTunes gift cards to give to the scammers as payment.

These scammers don’t need the physical gift cards – just the number identifying the card and that it has been paid for. They can then sell those numbers to other criminals or use them as they wish.

But you would expect that people would only fall for a tax scam if it is believable e.g. a phone call from someone who knows your name, address,  employment situation etc.

However, a lot of the tax scammers demand payment in gift cards, especially in iTunes gift cards.

How could anyone possibly think they are dealing with the tax authorities when payment must be in iTunes gift cards?

That makes no sense, but thousands of people have fallen for this scam and gone to the shops to buy the gift cards. Some shops are even wary of people who buy a bundle of high value gift cards in one go and will question the buyer as to what it is for.

The only people who demand payment in gift cards are scammers – that’s simple enough.

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NatWest Warn of Money Scams

Many scams continue year after year with little change and some others rise or fall in popularity. Below are the ones NatWest Bank reports as the most common.

  1. Social media spying: People can be very open posting information on social media and not realise how much they’re giving away, but to a fraudster the posts can be very helpful in setting up a scam. E.g. A fraudster might spot a post from someone about moving to a new house and know it’s likely they will have funds from their previous property hitting their bank accounts soon. This could result in the fraudsters impersonating their solicitor and requesting for funds to be misdirected to them.
  2. Malicious software on smartphones: An emerging threat is how malware will appear in mobile banking on smartphones. This can be used by criminals to spy on the victim’s Internet activities.
  3. Bogus Brexit investments: Consumers should be wary of attempts from scammers to use Brexit to push fake investment opportunities. For example, scammers may email customers, warning Brexit will decimate their savings, and that they urgently need to move them into a seemingly plausible, but actually fake, investment product, safe from any potential Brexit fall out.
  4. Sporting Events Tickets and Travel: Some sites will sell tickets that are either fake – or will never arrive. It is also expected that counterfeit package trips to Japan for the Olympics in 2020 will be sold by fake travel companies. These trips will never materialise, and the money will have disappeared into the pockets of criminals.
  5. Money mules: Scammers trawl social media for potential targets – particularly poor students in university towns are often targeted – and use them to unknowingly launder money. Money mules receive the stolen funds into their account, they are then asked to withdraw it and wire the money to a different account, often one overseas, keeping some of the money for themselves. But this is illegal as it is money laundering.
  6. Wedding Scams: As the cost of weddings increases, experts fear brides and grooms are becoming easy prey for scammers who tempt victims with extravagant offers at bargain prices. Scammers can set up fake websites within minutes for elements of the big day like venue hire, catering, or wedding dresses that can look exactly like the real thing. Fake wedding planners will take people’s money and disappear.
  7. Romance Scams: More than 16 million people were using dating apps in 2017. Criminals create fake profiles to form a relationship with their victims. They use the messaging functionality to get personal details – where a person lives, a pet’s name, favourite sports team – and steal the customer’s identity and open credit cards and take out loans in their name. Alternatively, they work to build a trusted relationship with their victim. Just when the victim thinks they’ve met the perfect partner the scammer asks for money – for example; they need money to pay for travel to visit. The scammers who do this often have dozens of such relationships on the go at a time.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-wasters do let me know, by email.

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