Common scams and doorstep crimes

Recent scams

Tax rebate and refund scams

Investment fraud

Pension liberation scams

Romance fraud

Reporting a scam

More information

Recent scams

Bank card fraudsters targetting people using parking machines

If someone approaches you for help to pay for parking using your bank card, just say ‘no’.

When using parking machines and paying by card, always protect your PIN from bystanders.

If you need help with payments while using a parking machine, please call the number printed on the machine.

Coronavirus scams

Unfortunately, there are fraudsters exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to scam the public. 

These criminals are taking advantage of people’s vulnerability at a time when they are likely to be distracted by concerns regarding coronavirus. Victims of these scams have already lost over £1 million.

It’s worth taking time to make sure you are protecting yourself and your family from those trying to take advantage of this situation. Find out more about coronavirus related scams

Phone scam

A National West customer received a call with the number showing NW. The caller said he was from the fraud team and gave the customer's name saying there had been suspicious activity on the account, quoting two payments which were invented to justify ordering a new card. He followed up asking for confirmation of security questions. He gave the right email address, some correct financial details, including overdraft limit, account number and mother's maiden name.

The fraudster then asked for some security numbers, the customer confirmed some, but did become suspicious. When she challenged the caller, asking him for other details, he slammed the phone down. 

At this point the fraudster had enough to set up an online banking account to which they had access. Fortunately, the customer knew the correct number for the fraud team and called them, and was able to ensure no withdrawals were made. But it was a close call.

Even if someone appears to know your details always call a fraud team yourself, ideally on a different line. If that is impossible, simply type some random numbers into the phone first, to ensure the fraudster is not still on the line. Never use a number they have given you.

Your bank should have good online help pages where you can usually find excellent advice.

Builders

A Fulham resident received a visit from a builder who offered to do some guttering work for a small sum. When on the roof they claimed there were major faults, which required a full replacement.

The builders kept insisting on cash payments, which added up to £9,000. Thankfully the bank and a concerned neighbour contacted the police and trading standards respectively.

The police visited to offer the resident support. But the builders were still asking for additional VAT.  The original visit was followed up by one from a police officer and a trading standards officer. Following that the builders left, and the customer did not pay any additional money for the work that was done.

You should not allow strangers that call at your door to do work, regardless of how cheap it seems. If you are told that someone suspects you have a problem with a roof or something else it is safer to say no and that you have a regular handyman that does such work for you.

Tax refund and rebate scams

Phishing emails and bogus text messages

That unexpected income tax or council tax rebate email or text message may be from a scammer after your personal or bank account details.

They may threaten fines for late payment or alert you about transactions on your bank account. Some even pretend to be from the police.

Do not open attachments or click any links in an email or text message, as they may contain malicious software or direct you to a bogus website.

The council and other organisations do not do business this way. 

Contact the relevant organisation directly if you are worried. 

Examples of HMRC related phishing emails and bogus messages

A local resident warned us of the email below pretending to be from the local council.

Support from your City Council

Dear customer,

You have an overpayment_city_council_return of 105.45 GBP due, for early September 2018.

If you need a refund from us, take a look at the following short videos:

·        What if I had an overpayment City Council tax bill?

You can also get your refund by direct debit. Visit GOV.UK for the information you need.

If you’ve already get your refund by post  – thank you.

This email was sent by Council and HM Revenue eNewsletters to xxxxxxxxxxxxx  customer we have on file

If you receive this please contact trading.standards@lbhf.gov.uk

Phone scammers

In a recent case an experienced accountant was scammed out of £9,200 by a criminal who cleverly mirrored Metro Bank's security and customer service. The victim was taken through Metro’s standard security questions and authorisation codes received by text from Metro Bank enabled the criminal to transfer the money from his account. I replied to a genuine bank tweet and lost £9,200 to a fraudster 

In an attempted scam the caller pretended to be from Microsoft, luckily they didn't succeed this time. Phone scam near miss

Investment fraud

Often initiated with an unsolicited phone call, investment fraud scams can include wine, shares, rare earth minerals and land investments overseas. Average losses are very high.

An example is investment scams carried out via bogus online trading platforms. The FCA have warned that crypto assets and forex investment scams reports more than tripled last year to over 1,800.

Another example is property fraud.  You may attend a free presentation and the fraudsters persuade you to pay for a useless course on how to make money dealing in property.  Or, you are given a chance to buy unbuilt properties at a discount. In many cases planning permission was never likely, so your money is lost.

In buy-to-let fraud, companies offer to find and manage properties for good rental income. In practice, the properties are near-derelict and the tenants non-existent.

Before considering any investment visit the Financial Conduct Authority website for advice and to check that the company is authorised to sell investments.

Pension liberation scams

Pension freedoms introduced in April 2015 give consumers added flexibility but it’s essential they make informed decisions using trusted sources. The Citizens Advice report ‘Too good to be true’ calculates that 8.4 million people have been offered unsolicited pension advice or reviews since April 2015. In a survey, 88% of consumers selected a pension offer containing scam warning signs, including out of the blue offers promising high returns, pressure to sign paperwork, and offers to access pensions before the age of 55. 

For advice on pensions visit: Pension wise website

Romance fraud

The perfect partner may be there online waiting for you, but so may a fraudster. Never send money to those you meet online, and revealing your full name, date of birth and home address may lead to your identity being stolen.  Read about an expensive example of this type of fraud - Cruel and manipulative' conmen scam £240,000 from women in online dating fraud

Reporting a scam

To report a scam call Citizens Advice on 03454 040506 or visit their website to use the online form to report a problem. Citizens Advice - Report a scam

More information

The Metropolitan Police also produce the Little Book of Big Scams (pdf) which highlights dubious practices designed to con people out of their money.

For more information about recurring or emerging scams visit Action Fraud or  Facebook Action Fraud.

On Twitter you can also follow @Actionfrauduk, and #scamaware.

If you think you can help support the campaign against scams, please visit the Friends Against Scams website