In the last 12 months there has been a recorded loss of £2.3 billion - half a million cases - to fraud in the UK.
In a two part special report, Adnan Sarwar investigates the rise behind the cheats, fiddles and scams.
Scam messages and emails
One scam has caught many of us off guard. Late last year, Paul received an email from scammers who were pretending to be Royal Mail. The email asked him to pay a fee to make sure his parcel would be dropped off, after an attempted delivery. Being Christmas time, Paul was expecting packages and paid the fee without thinking much of it...but the scam didn’t end there. The scammers, who then knew who he banked with, called him up pretending to be the fraud team at his bank. The fraudsters took £25,000 out of his bank account and transferred it to one of his payees, who also turned out to be his friend.
They then tried to convince Paul that his friend needed to send the money to a ‘secure bank account’, which was actually a bank account belonging to the scammers.
Paul and his friend cottoned onto the scam and Paul was able to recover the £25,000.
If you have received any suspicious emails and texts, you can report them by forwarding emails to the National Cyber Security centre on firstname.lastname@example.org and text messages to your operator for free of charge on 7726.
The rise in investment scams and cloned websites has doubled since 2019. ITV Tonight speaks to Daniel, 33, who had saved £60,000 over the course of 10 years so he and his wife could build their own home.
When the pandemic hit and bank interest rates were at an all time low, the couple decided to see if they could invest their savings to get a higher return.
After going online and expressing interest in investment firms, Daniel received a call from an ‘Assets Assurances’
The watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority has confirmed that a legitimate financial firm called Assets Assurances in Paris is registered with them.
But Daniel transferred sixty thousand pounds to scammers who had copied this company’s name and registration number and created a fake website.
Daniel banked with a company called Transferwise now known as Wise. They are not signed up to a scheme called The Contingent Reimbursement Model (CRM) that helps victims of this type of fraud get their money back. It is worth checking if your bank is signed up to the ‘CRM’ and, if your home insurance covers you for scams.
Wise say they have ‘industry-leading security measures’ and see ‘significantly fewer of these scams ...so want to ensure the existing scheme is incentivising financial institutions to stop them’. They are truly sorry to learn Daniel has fallen victim to a scam and say that, ‘as soon as alerted, they tried to recall the funds, and have blacklisted the receiver's account.’
Protecting our elderly
Lancashire police gave ITV Tonight access to recordings of fraudulent telephone calls where elderly victims were targeted.
Often, scammers will pretend to be someone you know - like the police - to gain trust. One scammer talked an elderly victim into buying gold and getting cash worth sixty thousand pounds for them, by convincing her she was part of a top-secret police operation.
Remember: the banks or the Police would never ask people to hand over cash or expensive items.
Friends, family and dating fraud
We speak to those who try to warn others of common romance scammer tactics and an ex-British soldier, James, who has had his identity stolen by romance scammers from across the world.
“They screenshot my pictures and set up their own profile, based loosely around mine, to make similarities. So, being military, being a father, and then would approach vulnerable people online, by saying, this is me, and I'm stuck somewhere and they need money for a flight home…
There are not soldiers trapped in Iraq saying I’m going to come back and marry you or fall in love with you. That isn’t happening, so please be really careful about who it is you’re speaking to and just please don’t give your money to someone you’ve never met.”
If you have struck up a new online friendship and it’s starting to become serious, it’s definitely worth doing a reverse image search online by using facial recognition software.
If you think you think you have been the victim of a scam then either report it to the police, Citizens Advice or Action Fraud.
Cheats, Fiddles and Scams: Protecting Your Money? Is on ITV this Thursday at 7:30pm.
The second episode, Cheats, Fiddles and Scams: Protecting Your Family? Is on ITV this Friday at 8pm.
Which? Info on reporting scams - https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/scams/reporting-scams
Action Fraud - reporting fraud and cyber crime - https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
Staying safe from Romance Fraudhttps://www.actionfraud.police.uk/alert/romance-scams-on-the-up-during-lockdown
Financial Conduct Authority - how to avoid investment scamshttps://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart/how-avoid-investment-scams