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Scams Awareness Month - scams which target the socially isolated

17 Jul 2017

It has been recently reported that the names and addresses of nearly 300,000 people nationally are on lists which are being sold between criminals to use as targets for scams. Research has found that 9 in 10 people on these target lists are unaware that they are being targeted. Often, people who are socially isolated are not able to connect to the support or help to prevent this. Reporting the scams you come across can help stop the scams targeting people who are socially isolated. Talking to family and friends about scams will also help in the battle against scammers. 

Cases we’ve seen

The CAB adviser visited the client at home as he is unable to leave the house due to disability. He has paid a total of £1800 in two transactions, one to Belarus and one to Moldova. These appear to have occurred following telephone calls to client; one appears to have suggested that client had a problem with his router and he sent money through the Post Office to have this 'fixed'. The next call appears to have suggested that client was owed a sum of money, but in order to access the funds, he had to send a payment, again through the Post Office. The client was advised that he could report these to the Police and Action Fraud. Whilst the client did not expect that he would get his money back, he did want to report the scams and felt he would need support to do this due to his disabilities and vulnerability to further scams.

The client has been the victim of a financial scam involving both internet and telephone contacts. She has lost the bulk of her life savings of £30,000. She had never used her internet banking facility other than inter account transfers or direct debit payments to reputable entities. After a number of e-mail approaches from well-known websites including Amazon and E-Bay, she received a telephone call purportedly from BT stating that her account had been compromised and that they would install protection. She cooperated in good faith, but discovered that her savings account had been emptied in several large tranches to recipients she had no knowledge of. 

The client was referred to the bureau from his bank for advice regarding a possible scam. The client has been under the impression he was corresponding with a Chinese lady for the past 5 years and has been paying a company called QPID to translate their letters. The bank searched for information on this company for the client and thought it appeared to be a scam. The client has spent around £500 on this service over the last few months and around £30,000 over the last 5 years. The client agreed with the bank to stop the payments and his card has been cancelled so that no further payments can be made. The CAB referred the client to trading standards to investigate further. 

Top tips for the socially isolated

  • If you receive an unsolicited email or phone call from what appears to be your bank or building society asking for your security details, never reveal your full password, login details or account numbers. Most banks will not approach their customers in this manner.
  • Computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer. Fraudsters make these phone calls to try to steal from you and damage your computer with malware. Treat all unsolicited phone calls with scepticism and don’t give out any personal information.
  • Never send or receive money or give away your bank details to someone you’ve only met online, no matter how much you trust them or believe their story.
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