The number of scams reported to Action Fraud jumped by 6.4% between 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Of the 535,390 fraud reports made to Action Fraud over this two-year period, the most common scams are:-
Online shopping fraud – (86,127 reports). This type of scam can involve an online seller duping customers into making a purchase and disappearing without delivering the goods.
Advance fee fraud – (78,868 cases). These usually involve victims being asked to pay an upfront fee in return for future benefits, like a bogus estate agent requiring a deposit on a non-existent property.
Computer fixing fraud – (38,891 reports). Typically this con involves a cold call with a scammer posing as an IT specialist working for a brand such as Microsoft, and convincing victims their computer is at risk and that they have to hand over a fee to fix it – and in some cases pass on details that allow fraudsters access.
Cheque, card and online bank fraud – (35,502 reported incidents). This type of fraud occurs when your card or chequebook is stolen or cloned or a scammer manages to gain access to your online account to steal money.
Other common scams include bogus tradespeople, computer virus attacks, dating scams, fake loan frauds, hacking of social media, or email, investment fraud, direct debit fraud, retail/consumer fraud and ticket fraud.
Despite an increase in public awareness of scammers, the figures for those caught out in scams continues to rise.
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Online Shopping and Auction Website Scams
Online auction sites such as eBAY are huge business and there are con artists who pose as buyers. They appear to pay for the goods that you then send to them. However, the payment bounces and you cannot get your goods back. There are also sellers who take your money but don’t send the goods or claim to have sent them but they never get to you.
This can be for the UK lottery or Euromilions or any other lottery around the world. If you didn’t buy a ticket then you cannot have won.
Premium Rate Telephone Number Scam
You receive a letter or email or text message or automated voicemail telling you that you have won a large prize and all you need to do to claim it is call a phone number. This turns out to be a premium rate number costing you up to £4 per minute. Over a million people a year fall victim to this, according to the Office of Fair Trading.
Identity theft occurs when someone assumes your identity to perform a fraud or other criminal act. Criminals can get the information they need to assume your identity from a variety of sources, including by stealing your wallet, rifling through your trash, or by compromising your credit or bank information.
People pretend to work for a trustworthy organisation as a way to get you to divulge identity information and/or financial information such as credit card details or bank accounts.
Nigerian 419 Scams
Also known as the Advance Fee scam. This is a scam where you are promised a large sum of money in return for a small advance fee. But the large sum is from a dubious source and will share it with you in return for that advance fee.
Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective romantic partners.
This can be a holiday or flight or holiday accommodation that you pay for but then find doesn’t exist. Or it could be a genuine holiday but with a ‘catch’ that you wish you’d never accepted.
Cold Caller Scams
The scammer will convince the victim to buy goods or services but once they’ve got the credit card details and identity information – they can then make unauthorised purchases or sell the information to other scammers.
Fake Loan Scam
This can be a free phone number or you apply online. You are told that your loan is agreed but you need to pay insurance costs via a money transfer. Once you’ve paid the fee, you never hear from the company again.
Investment Related Scams
Ponzi schemes are where people get paid from money coming in from new members but there is no investment and it all collapses as there cannot continue to be enough new members to existing members.
Market manipulation is where the scammers find ways to artificially push up the value of a stock then sell at the top price and everyone else loses.