Keep your cash safe from scam­mers

Think you’re too savvy to be conned? Think again. A new gen­er­a­tion of fraud­sters are us­ing in­creas­ingly cun­ning meth­ods. Pro­tect your­self with our ex­pert ad­vice

Closer (UK) - - Contents - By Annabelle Lee

ou’ve in­her­ited three mil­lion Y pounds in an ac­count over­seas, please pro­vide your bank de­tails to re­ceive the money within three days… It’s quite clearly a trap, right? But while many of us think we’re too wise to fall vic­tim, scams are be­com­ing more elab­o­rate than ever – and con­men are no longer just prey­ing on the vul­ner­a­ble. In fact, in the first six months of this year, £145 mil­lion has been lost to scams in the UK – a 50 per cent rise in just 12 months. We asked Oz Alashe MBE, the CEO of cy­ber se­cu­rity aware­ness train­ing plat­form Cyb­safe, to out­line the lat­est scams and how we can pro­tect our­selves.


Crim­i­nals pre­tend to be call­ing from the vic­tim’s bank and con vince them to make a pay­ment. OZ SAYS: “Usu­ally, the at­tacker will claim that the vic­tim’s bank de­tails have been com­pro­mised, and will de­mand that the in­di­vid­ual can­cel their cards and call their bank im­me­di­ately. They’ll then hold on the line by keep­ing the phone line open, mean­ing that, even if you hang up and ring an­other num­ber, you’ll still be con­nected to the orig­i­nal caller. Once vic­tims are speak­ing to the phoney ‘fraud team’, the scam­mers will usu­ally run through se­cu­rity ques­tions, to make it seem as gen­uine as pos­si­ble.”

These calls and emails can also come from fraud­sters pos­ing as brands you trust, like util­ity com­pa­nies say­ing you owe a fine.

“An email might state you’ve been fined by Bri­tish Gas for over­due pay­ments and that this will dou­ble within 24 hours if you fail to act,” says Oz. The fraud en­cour­ages fear, as well as a sense of ur­gency, which dis­tracts vic­tims, and makes per­fectly ra­tio­nal peo­ple be­have ir­ra­tionally.” PRO­TECT YOUR­SELF: “Be­ware of any calls or emails you re­ceive – re­gard­less of who they say they are. A line can re­main open for up to two min­utes af­ter a call has ended, though many tele­coms providers have cut this down to sec­onds, specif­i­cally to com­bat crime. Hang up if you re­ceive a call of this type and wait a cou­ple of min­utes be­fore call­ing the ser­vice di­rectly.”


Crooks in­ter­cept le­git­i­mate emails con­tain­ing in­voice de­tails and per­suade the vic­tim to pay to a dif­fer­ent ac­count. OZ SAYS: “This is known as a man-inthe-mid­dle phish­ing at­tack and it is phe­nom­e­nally dif­fi­cult to iden­tify. Art gal­leries in the US and Lon­don were caught up in this late last year, where the at­tack­ers hacked the art deal­ers’ emails and sent buy­ers du­pli­cated in­voices with the bank ac­count de­tails changed.”

Oz also warns to be wary of so­cial me­dia re­quests for money. “A scam­mer will hack into some­one’s ac­count and mes­sage fam­ily mem­bers and close friends with a be­liev­able anec­dote, such as that they’ve had their wal­let stolen. Ul­ti­mately, they’ll re­quest that you send them money. Since the at­tacker has been spy­ing on your gen­uine con­ver­sa­tions, the fraud­u­lent mes­sages con­tain highly prob­a­ble nar­ra­tives.” PRO­TECT YOUR­SELF: “The crux of this scam is get­ting peo­ple to send money to a dif­fer­ent ac­count, so this is the most im­por­tant thing. Call a busi­ness first to con­firm their bank de­tails be­fore mak­ing a pay­ment. If a friend has mes­saged you in dire need of money, phone them to con­firm.”


Scam­mers call claim­ing to be from a recog­nised IT com­pany, like Ap­ple or Mi­crosoft, and say they need to log on to your com­puter re­motely. OZ SAYS: “The caller will say you have an IT prob­lem, such as a virus, and they need to in­spect and scan your com­puter re­motely. The goal of the fraud is to get you to buy soft­ware or a ‘ser­vice’ to fix the com­puter, and the scam­mer will ul­ti­mately ask for your bank de­tails. These scams can of­ten turn ag­gres­sive if the vic­tim re­fuses to com­ply.” PRO­TECT YOUR­SELF: “Never pro­vide re­mote ac­cess to your com­puter to peo­ple you don’t know. And un­less you’ve ini­ti­ated the call your­self, never hand out per­sonal or bank­ing de­tails over the phone.”


On­line mar­ket­places like ebay and Gumtree can be a haven for fraud­u­lent sell­ers who ad­ver­tise goods or ser­vices at cut prices to reel you in, then try to swerve se­cure pay­ment meth­ods like Paypal.

OZ SAYS: “Scam­mers of­ten en­cour­age buy­ers to pay for their items di­rectly by bank trans­fer – of­fer­ing them a dis­count so they can save the Paypal/ebay fees. The item is then never sent and by swerv­ing Paypal you also lose your Buyer Pro­tec­tion – which means Paypal or ebay may not in­ter­vene to claim the money back. If you’re a seller, fraud­u­lent buy­ers us­ing a stolen card or hacked ac­count can pay for goods, then quickly ar­range to col­lect the item be­fore the gen­uine ac­count holder re­alises the money is gone. Once they do, the trans­ac­tion is then re­versed by the bank to re­fund the le­git­i­mate ac­count holder leav­ing you out of pocket.” PRO­TECT YOUR­SELF: “Don’t be tempted to pay sell­ers di­rectly, even if dis­counts are of­fered. Only buy through rep­utable sites. A locked pad­lock or un­bro­ken key sym­bol should al­ways ap­pear in your browser when bank­ing or shop­ping on­line. The web­site’s ad­dress will be pre­ceded by ‘https’ (not ‘http’) to il­lus­trate that a se­cure con­nec­tion has been made. On ebay, never com­plete a trans­ac­tion out­side of the site. Cars aren't cov­ered on ebay’s Buyer Pro­tec­tion so never pay for a car by re­mote card pay­ment. And if a buyer wants to get an item in per­son, in­sist on cash upon col­lec­tion.”

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