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This week's Scam Alert

This week's Scam Alert

by Tom Martin (February 2021)

Welcome to another week of scams. 

Action Fraud have reported that over 500 people have contacted them in one week about fake Sainsburys emails stating that they have been selected to participate in a gift card giveaway. The recipient is invited to enter personal information on a linked website. Criminals sometimes send convincing looking but fraudulent emails to encourage people to take action.  

These emails often invite the recipient to open an attachment which infects their computer with a virus, or to enter their details on a fake website.  If you receive an email which you think is suspicious, do not click on any of the links or attachments and delete the email.

Spring is in the air, Valentine’s Day has been enjoyed, but we are told that romance fraud has been on the rise during lockdown, with people increasingly vulnerable to scammers and often embarrassed about having fallen prey to a scam.

It’s recommended that people stay on the dating platform where they met someone, rather than using other communication platforms, ask for lots of information, and check if the website can verify a profile. Jerry Houseago, Citizens Advice consumer expert advises: "Always do your research.

Ask lots of questions and check that what they say about themselves is consistent and adds up. Be suspicious if they try to find out lots of information about you, but don’t say much about themselves." Most importantly people should keep their details safe and be suspicious if they are asked for information that could give people access to accounts, such as “mother’s maiden name” and “first pet”. Criminals can trick victims into sending them money in many ways, not just via a bank transfer. Victims have lost money via money transfer, sending fraudsters gift cards and vouchers or presents such as phones and laptops, and providing them with access to their bank account or card.

Romance scams involve people being duped into sending money to criminals who go to great lengths to gain their trust and convince them that they are in a genuine relationship. They use language to manipulate, persuade and exploit so that requests for money do not raise alarm bells. These requests might be highly emotive, such as criminals claiming they need money for emergency medical care, or to pay for transport costs to visit the victim if they are overseas.

While the internet can be a great way to meet people and form new relationships, the growth in popularity of online dating is giving criminals more opportunities to exploit and coerce people into parting with their money.

Scammers will often build a relationship with their victims over time, and have longer conversations on dating services during lockdown. Dating app users should speak to their friends and family and follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud to keep themselves safe from scams : https://takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/campaign

? Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
? Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
? Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

If you or someone you know is struggling to pay bills or outstanding debts, Citizens Advice may be able to help. Citizens Advice Sefton telephone service is available: Help To Claim advice line number for help claiming Universal credit is 0800 144 8444. 8am to 6pm. Mon to Fri. For general advice 0344 493 0012. 9.30 to 4.30 Mon to Fri. The debt number is 0151 318 6407. 9.30 to 4.30 Mon to Fri. Our local website address is- https://seftoncab.org.uk/

Citizens Advice Lancashire West telephone is available between 9.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday, & 9.00am and 1.00pm Saturdays on Adviceline 0344 245 1294 and Help to Claim line

0800 144 8 444. Their website address is – www.citizensadvicelancashirewest.org.uk

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