Advice from Ramona Senior, Head of the NE Regional Asset Recovery Team:

"Y&H ROCU & NE RART are working with City of London, Local police forces and partners to ensure that we have a coordinated response to identify the threat posed to our communities by criminals seeking to exploit opportunities to profit from the Coronavirus pandemic. I encourage everyone to read the advice available online and in the media to help them and their loved ones stay safe financially during these difficult and challenging times. Be aware of cold callers in person/by phone and do not respond to emails or open links seeking personal or financial information."

 

Protection advice

Detailed counter fraud advice is available online, including from Scamsmart, ActionFraud, CIFAS, TakeFive, Citizens Advice, Trading Standards and the National Cyber Security Centre.

Reporting to Action Fraud can be done online at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling  0300 123 2040.

To report offers of financial assistance from HMRC contact [email protected].


Individuals

Online Shopping and Auction Fraud

  • Seek advice: If you’re purchasing goods and services from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask friends or family for advice before completing a purchase.
  • Scam messages: Be wary of unsolicited emails and texts offering questionably good deals, and never respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial details.
  • Payment method: Avoid paying for good and services by bank transfer as that offers you little protection if you become a victim of fraud. Instead, use a credit card or payment services such as PayPal.
  • If you have made a payment: Inform your bank as soon as possible, they can help you prevent any further losses. Monitor your bank statements regularly for any unusual activity.

Computer Software Service Fraud

  • Installing software: Never install any software, or grant remote access to your computer, as a result of a cold call.
  • Financial details: Genuine organisations would never contact you out of the blue to ask for financial details such as your PIN or full banking password.
  • Tech support: If you need tech support, ask your friends or family for recommendations and look for reviews online first. Don’t contact companies promoting tech support services via browser pop-ups.
  • If you have made a payment: Inform your bank as soon as possible, they can help you prevent any further losses. Monitor your bank statements regularly for any unusual activity.
  • If you granted remote access to your computer: Seek technical support to remove any unwanted software from your computer. Ask your friends or family for recommendations and look for reviews online first. Don’t contact companies promoting tech support services via browser pop-ups.

Lender Loan Fraud

  • Seek advice first: Speak with a trusted friend or family members first if you’re using a loan company you’re unfamiliar with, or if the lender requires an up-front fee.
  • Scam messages: Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial details.
  • FCA register: Use the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) register to check if the company is regulated by the FCA. If you deal with a firm (or individual) that isn’t regulated, you may not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if things go wrong and you lose your money.
  • If you have made a payment: Inform your bank as soon as possible, they can help you prevent any further losses. Monitor your bank statements regularly for any unusual activity.

Pension Liberation fraud

  • Investment opportunities: Don’t be rushed into making an investment. Remember, legitimate organisations will never pressure you into making a transaction on the spot.
  • Seek advice first: Before making significant financial decisions, speak with trusted friends or family members, or seek professional independent advice. The Pension Advisory Service (PAS) also provides free independent and impartial information and guidance.
  • FCA register: Use the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) register to check if the company is regulated by the FCA. If you deal with a firm (or individual) that isn’t regulated, you may not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if things go wrong and you lose your money.
  • Tax charges: Ensure sure you are aware of any tax charges (up to 70%), plus other fees, that will be deducted from the amount you withdraw before making any decisions. 

Investment Fraud

  • Investment opportunities: Don’t be rushed into making an investment. Remember, legitimate organisations will never pressure you into making a transaction on the spot.
  • Seek advice first: Speak with a trusted friend or family members, and seek independent professional advice before making significant financial decisions.
  • FCA register: Use the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) register to check if the company is regulated by the FCA. If you deal with a firm (or individual) that isn’t regulated, you may not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if things go wrong and you lose your money.

Advice for businesses

Mandate Fraud

  • Verify: If you receive a request to move money into a new bank account, contact the supplier directly using established contact details, to verify and corroborate the payment request.
  • Internal processes: Establish robust internal processes for handling changes to payment details. For example, only designated employees should be able to make changes to payment arrangements.
  • Sensitive information: Invoices, payment mandates, and other documents containing sensitive financial information should be stored securely and only be accessible to those staff that need them to perform their duties. Sensitive documents should be shredded before they are disposed of.
  • If you have made a payment: Inform your bank as soon as possible, they can help you prevent any further losses. Monitor your bank statements regularly for any unusual activity.

Suggested social media posts

  • More people may fall victim to #onlineshopping fraud as they self-isolate due to #COVID19. You are a victim of online shopping fraud if you buy goods from an online seller that never arrive..

Find out more at: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z-of-fraud/online-shopping-fraud

  • People may be worrying about their finances during the #COVID19 outbreak. Lender loan fraudsters will use the opportunity to:

- approve your application for a fast loan regardless of your credit history

- ask you to pay an upfront fee

- take your payment and never provide the loan

Find out more at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z-of-fraud/loan-scams

  • As more people work from home due to #COVID19, fraudsters may try to get you to change a direct debit, standing order or bank transfer mandate, to divert funds to their bank account, by purporting to be an organisation you make regular payments to.

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z-of-fraud/mandate-fraud

  • As more people work from home due to #COVID19, fraudsters may capitalise on slow networks and IT problems, to commit computer software service fraud. Be wary of cold calls or unsolicited emails offering you help with your device or to fix a problem

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z-of-fraud/computer-software-service-frauds

  • Fraudsters could try to take advantage of the financial uncertainty surrounding #COVID19 by offering people sham investment opportunities. If you get a cold call or unsolicited email offering you a deal that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z-of-fraud/investment-fraud

  • Action Fraud have received reports of #COVID19 related scams. The majority relate to the online sale of protective items such as facemasks, and other items in short supply due to the outbreak, that don't exist.

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/alert/coronavirus-related-fraud-reports-increase-by-400-in-march

  • A number of #COVID19 related phishing emails have been reported to Action Fraud. These emails attempt to trick you into opening malicious attachments which could lead to fraudsters stealing your personal information, logins, passwords, or banking details.

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/alert/coronavirus-related-fraud-reports-increase-by-400-in-march


Useful protection videos for social media here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyKPDlPxrTY&list=PLoWZUquVJo4SLWKD5A96znBNi23UzOjiG&index=1

 

Consumers are urged to:

  • 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.

Reporting to Action Fraud can be done online at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling  0300 123 2040

To report offers of financial assistance from HMRC contact [email protected]