Please see below for details on recent fraud alerts.
- Fraudsters using spoof bank texts in a new scam
- Malicious Software
- Pension Liberation
- Scam Calls
- Fraud against the elderly
- Money mules (job vacancies)
- Lottery fraud
- Fraudsters using spoof bank texts in a new scamThe Press Office of Financial Fraud Action UK have put together a SMS Spoofing scam alert on behalf of the banking industry, this was released to the public on 9th June and the media coverage of the alert has been extensive and very successful. This fraud alert is to make customers aware of this new scam.
- Criminals are using spoof text messages which appear to be sent from their victim’s bank in a bid to steal personal or financial information.
- The scam text messages claim that there has been fraud on the recipient’s account or that the account details need to be updated.
- The texts encourage people to call a number or visit a website, often claiming the matter is urgent. However the telephone number or website is actually controlled by the fraudster, enabling them to steal security details which can be used to access the victim’s bank account and steal money.
- To make the texts seem authentic, fraudsters use specialist software which alters the sender ID on a message so that it appears with the name of a bank as the sender. This can mean that the text becomes included within an existing text message thread on the recipient’s phone.
- Through a second route the fraudsters take, the texts warn that the recipient will soon receive a call from their bank’s fraud department. However it is actually the fraudster that then calls the victim and attempts to trick them into revealing their full security details.
- Intelligence also suggests that fraudsters are sending scam texts which appear to be from a landline number, asking the recipient simply to call their bank. This is in the hope that the victim will phone the number from which the text was sent, which is controlled by the fraudster, rather than the bank’s regular customer service telephone number.
Financial Fraud Action UK’s advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of this scam:
- Be suspicious of any text message that asks you to provide sensitive personal information, passwords or to make transactions.
- If you’re asked to call the number given in the text message and the number is unknown to you or suspicious, call your bank on a number that you trust – such as the one on the back of your card – to check the number and message is authentic.
- Do not call the phone number a text message has been sent from; instead call your bank on a number that you trust.
Remember your bank will never:
- Phone you to ask for your 4-digit card PIN or your online banking password, even by tapping them into the telephone keypad.
- Ask you update your personal details by following a link in a text message.
- Tell you over the phone how to respond to a text message confirming a transaction.
- Ask you to transfer money to a new account for fraud reasons, even if they say it is in your name.
- Malicious SoftwareThe National Crime Agency ‘NCA’ (UK) recently issued an alert in relation to Malicious Software (Malware). This arises from the identification and shut-down by international Law Enforcement authorities of over 1m compromised computers (a ‘botnet’). The Agency is advising the public that they have two weeks before hackers regroup and recommence their criminal activities against unsuspecting and unprotected computer users.
The authorities indicate that if your computer does not run Windows, then this alert may not apply directly to you. Other problems might though, and in order to keep yourself protected, you should always keep your antivirus up to date.
Advice (particularly for Windows users)
You can protect yourself by:
- Making sure security software is installed on your PC and is kept updated by running scans
- Check that your computer operating systems and applications are up to date
- Regularly back up all your files, especially Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents along with your Photos and any other items you would not like to lose. Store this information securely (encrypted) in a separate storage device
- Do not open attachments in emails unless you are 100% certain that they are authentic
For further information Get Safe Online is providing advice, guidance and tools on its website at www.getsafeonline.org/nca
- Pension LiberationPension Liberation also known as ‘pension loans’ and ‘pension scam’ is a transfer of a scheme member’s pension savings to an arrangement that will allow them to access their funds before the age of 55. But accessing pension savings before minimum pension age is only possible in rare cases, like terminal illness.
Pension Liberation can result in tax charges and penalties of more than half the value of a member’s pension savings, and those being targeted are usually not being told about the potential tax implications. This is in addition to high charges, typically 20 to 30% for entering into one of these arrangements and high risk investments for the remaining pension savings.
- Unsolicited contact
- Transfer of funds overseas
- Attempts to access pension before the age of 55
- Copy of documentation has not been provided to member
- Member encouraged to carry out transfer quickly
- Receiving scheme not registered/newly registered with relevant Revenue authority
- Member informed there is a legal loophole
The pension Regulator’s five steps to avoid becoming a victim:
- Never give out financial or personal information to a cold caller
- Check the credentials of the company and any advisers – who should be registered with the appropriate regulatory authority, e.g. the Financial Conduct Authority.
- Ask for a statement showing how your pension will be paid at retirement, and question who will look after your money until then
- Speak to an adviser that is not associated with the deal you’ve been offered, for unbiased advice
- Never be rushed into agreeing to a pension transfer
For further information on Pension Liberation see:
- Scam callsKey Points:
- It has come to our attention that there has been a marked increase in fraudulent calls to mobile phones in recent weeks.
- The phone number on the incoming call appears to begin with “+4212/60”. The distinguishing characteristic of the caller’s number is the inclusion of the forward slash.
- While recipient experience in taking the calls varies, answering a call from this number always results in a premium rate charge appearing on the customer’s bill.
Law enforcement intelligence advises everyone to be cognisant of the issues surrounding unsolicited calls from unknown numbers and to be vigilant in this regard.
- Fraud against the elderlyElderly people can be particularly at risk from bogus traders/callers who set out to gain their confidence before taking financial advantage of them.
Typically these people call door-to-door and offer to carry out works such as replacing roof tiles, mending guttering, decorating or they ‘convince’ the victim that repairs are necessary. Some of these people carry out a little work and charge exorbitant amounts of money for their service. In many cases the work is unnecessary. On completing the work in a very short time, they then demand substantial payment often using threatening and intimidating tactics. In some instances, they offer to drive the victim to the bank to withdraw the cash.
You should never leave strangers, even bona fide workers, unsupervised in your home.
Never engage a person who insists on cash payments for services offered. Most reputable traders will not ask for money up front. Always use a method of payment which is traceable.
Never sign a blank form for any reason – it could cost you dearly.
- Money Mules - (Job vacancies)Money mules are people recruited by criminals to help transfer fraudulently obtained money from bank accounts. Fraudsters contact prospective victims with ‘job vacancy’ adverts on the internet, on job search websites or in newspapers. These jobs are usually advertised as ‘Financial Manager’ or ‘Payments Clerk’ with no other requirement than having a bank account. The mule accepts the ‘job’ in good faith and does not suspect that they are being duped into involvement in criminal activity. Once recruited a Money mule receives stolen funds into their account, followed by a request to forward the funds, minus their commission, usually overseas, using a wire transfer service.
Thoroughly research any work-from-home offer and do not get involved unless you are sure the business is legitimate.
If a job sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Lottery FraudAnother scam currently being carried out by various groups of international fraudsters involves victims being contacted by email in which they are advised that they have won the lottery. No ticket purchase was necessary – according to the scammers. The victim is encouraged to pay a fee before the ‘winning’ lottery cheque is handed over. This scheme is a fraud and you should not become involved or communicate with them in any way as these winnings do not exist.
- Boiler room investor fraud
The Bank wishes to alert Customers and members of the public to the threat of share sale fraud – more commonly known as Boiler Room scams.
Share sale, boiler room, hedge fund or bond fraud involves bogus brokers, usually based overseas, cold calling people to pressure them into buying shares that promise high returns or whose share price is about to ‘go through the roof’. In reality, the shares are either worthless or non-existent.
Boiler room fraudsters are highly trained and use ‘hard sell’ techniques to pressurize investors into making rushed decisions to buy shares which are of little or no value.
If you deal with a share sale fraudster or Boiler Room you’ll almost certainly lose the money you’ve invested and you won’t have any right to claim compensation under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, as the Boiler Room firm is NOT AUTHORISED as an investment firm by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Most Boiler Room scams start with an UNSOLICITED phone call, in which a professional sounding ‘stockbroker’ offers you a fantastic investment opportunity.
These salespeople are persistent and are trained in dealing with any objections or questions, they specialize in using high pressure ‘hard sell’ tactics in order to persuade victims to agree to buy shares, they will often claim that by agreeing to buy the shares you have ‘entered into a contract’ to do so.
They will urge you to be discreet and not to tell anyone else about the deal, this enables them to continue cold calling hundreds of other potential victims while the scam is running.
In order to appear legitimate, firms will often have websites which look professional, they may provide official-looking documentation and share certificates, all these are ultimately worthless.
As most Boiler Rooms are based overseas you will be asked to send your “investment” by International Payment, you will probably never get any money back.
Remember: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
Advice for Customers:
If you receive an UNSOLICITED call from a person who offers you an opportunity to invest in shares HANG UP.
Genuine UK investment firms are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. If you wish to check whether a firm is authorised you may do so on their website:
If in doubt, refer your query to a Qualified Financial Advisor who is known to you – explaining why you are concerned.
If you think you may have been duped by a boiler room scam you should report it to the Financial Conduct Authority and to the Police.
People who have lost money on Boiler Room scams may subsequently find themselves being targeted in a ‘recovery room’ fraud, where the victim receives a call from a firm who will claim that they can help to recover the lost investment monies.
This however, is simply another part of the boiler room scam and the ‘recovery’ firm will request upfront payment of substantial fees before they handle your case, again this is just another way of scamming more money from victims.