Ripon man scammed out of house deposit by fraudsters posing as courier

Christmas shoppers are being scammed out of thousands of pounds by fraudsters posing as courier firms, police and trading standards groups in Yorkshire have warned. 

Officers say scammers are preying on people’s vulnerability and Covid fears as many continue to rely on online shopping instead of returning to the high street. 

Thomas Spencer from Wath near Ripon had been waiting for a delivery when he received a text message asking him to reschedule his parcel, but when he clicked the link it took him through to a cloned website, and the mistake cost him the money he had been saving for a house deposit.  

Mr Spencer said: ​​”I got a text message saying I had a parcel and I had to pay for the re-delivery, and I was expecting a parcel. I even told my mum that she needed to stay at home because I didn't want to pay another pound.

"I filled in the tracker and it said I had missed the delivery on 14 December, and to reschedule you need to put your phone number, date of birth and address in, and when you continue, your sort code and account number.

"I got a phone call from NatWest fraud team, saying someone had tried to access my account and they basically said, if I didn’t act then, my money could be taken. Initially I asked if they were NatWest and they called me back from the NatWest number, so anyone would think it was the NatWest team trying to help you out."

Thomas' real bank managed to intervene and stopped £2,500 from being taken, but the scammers had already removed £1,600 from the account.

In a statement, Natwest said: "Criminals are taking advantage of an increase in home deliveries and are using text messages to steal customer details. If in any doubt, don’t click on links or download files and never enter any bank details."

Meanwhile, courier Hermes said: "We’re aware of ongoing phishing attempts… where individuals are receiving a text message including a link to pay for parcel delivery. We would never ask for payment in this way."

Spot the signs of scams - tips from Citizens Advice

It might be a scam if:

  • It seems too good to be true – for example, a holiday that’s much cheaper than you’d expect 

  • Someone you don’t know contacts you unexpectedly

  • You suspect you’re not dealing with a real company – for example, if there’s no postal address

  • You’ve been asked to transfer money quickly

  • You've been asked to pay in an unusual way – for example, by iTunes vouchers or through a transfer service like MoneyGram or Western Union

  • You’ve been asked to give away personal information like passwords or PINs

  • You haven't had written confirmation of what's been agreed

Phishing and spoof emails - advice from North Yorkshire Police:

  • Fraudsters send fake emails claiming to be from well-known companies, providing payment instructions or claiming payments have been received in order to steal your details and money. Like fake websites, these phishing emails often use similar email addresses and stolen logos to appear genuine.

  • In some cases, fraudsters spoof genuine addresses. You can check if emails are genuine by contacting the company directly. Don't do this by using the contact details or live chat functions on the email received, use known contact details (preferably phone), or log into your account to confirm.  

  • Don't trust unsolicited emails following unsuccessful bids on auctions that claim the original bidder is no longer purchasing and offer you the purchase instead.