Monday, 26 July 2021

Ruff time for animal lovers as scale of pandemic pet fraud unleashed by Action Fraud

 


Data from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, reveals that £2,638,323 was lost by prospective pet owners in the 2020/21 financial year, after they put down deposits for pets they saw advertised online – an increase of over 20 per cent  compared to the previous financial year.

Capitalising on the rise in people getting pets due to the national lockdowns caused by coronavirus, criminals have been posting fake adverts on social media, online marketplaces and specific pet-selling platforms.

Unsuspecting victims will be asked to pay a deposit for the pet without seeing it in person first, with many criminals using the restrictions caused by the pandemic as a reason why they cannot see the animal. After the initial payment is made, more and more funds will be requested to cover additional costs such as insurance, vaccinations and even delivery of the pet.

Pauline Smith, Director of Action Fraud, said:

“Criminals have, and will continue to use, the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to scam unsuspecting victims.

“It’s important that if you’re considering purchasing a pet online, that you follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign by taking a moment to stop and think – it could protect you and your money.

“We would always recommend that you view the animal in person before paying any money. If you cannot see the animal in person, ask for a video call. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and do not pay any money until you’re certain it’s genuine.”

In the 2020/21 financial year, Action Fraud received over 400 reports a month from victims of pet fraud. Over a quarter (29 per cent) of victims were aged 20 to 29 years old, and almost three quarters (74 per cent) of victims were aged 20 to 49 years old.

During April and May 2020, Action Fraud received more than 800 reports per month of pet fraud, indicating that many animal lovers sought to purchase a pet during the first national lockdown.

Dogs and puppies were the most reported animal victims claimed they were trying to purchase (71 per cent), followed by cats and kittens (20 per cent).

Victims reported being scammed on social media (11 per cent), online marketplaces (25 per cent) and specific pet-selling platforms (37 per cent).

Action Fraud has launched a national awareness campaign today (Monday 26 July 2021) to remind the public to think twice before handing over their money when buying a pet online.

How to protect yourself

Do your research: if you’re making a purchase from a website or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first. Look up reviews of the website or person you’re buying from. If you’re purchasing an item from an online marketplace, you can view the seller’s feedback history before going ahead with the purchase.

Trust your instincts: if you’re unable to view the animal in person, ask for a video call. If you’re buying a young animal, make sure you’re able to see the mother and rest of the litter. Any responsible seller will understand why you want to view the animal in person. If the seller declines, challenge them on why. If you have any suspicions, do not pay any money until you’re certain it’s genuine.

Choose your payment method wisely: avoid paying by bank transfer. Credit card or payment services such as PayPal give you a better chance of recovering your money if you become a victim of fraud.

When things go wrong: Anyone can fall victim to fraud. If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Action Fraud also advises that the public follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign to keep themselves safe from fraud.

  • 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 okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect: if you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Source: Action Fraud (26-07-2021)

Watch out for scams related to NHS Test and Trace

 


The Government carries out public health quarantine compliance checks on individuals who have a legal duty to quarantine at home for 10 days following international travel.

This means that if you are required to quarantine, you may receive a visit from someone working on behalf of NHS Test and Trace to make sure you are complying with your legal duty.

What will happen when I get visited?

Staff employed on behalf of the NHS Test and Trace service will come to the address listed on your passenger locator form.

  • The staff will be wearing NHS Test and Trace branded clothing.
  • They will identify themselves verbally and present an ID card with information including their name, role and employer.
  • The staff will follow social distancing guidelines where possible.
  • The staff will state your name and ask you to confirm it. They will also ask to see your driving licence or passport to confirm your identity.
  • They will then ask you a few questions. This will help establish whether you are following your duty to quarantine and enable them to provide additional information, support or guidance where necessary.

You may receive follow-up visits within the 10-day quarantine period.

What NHS Test and Trace staff will not do

NHS Test and Trace staff will follow coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines when carrying out compliance checks and will only ask you questions relating to your duty to quarantine.

NHS Test and Trace staff should not:

  • enter your home
  • ask you to provide your name - staff will already have your name and will ask ‘Am I speaking to —–?’ for you to confirm
  • ask for your National Insurance number, telephone number or any other identifying information, other than your passport or driver’s licence
  • photograph your identification document
  • ask for your financial details, such as your bank or credit card information
  • ask you for money or issue a fine. NHS Test and Trace staff have no legal power to issue a fixed penalty notice or a fine. Only the police can issue fixed penalty notices for breaching quarantine rules

If someone visits you claiming to be from NHS Test and Trace and you do not believe they are legitimate, call 999 and ask for the police.

By whom are NHS Test and Trace team members employed?

  • The Government have hired a private contractor to undertake these checks. This contractor (or their approved sub-contractors) will have ID relating to their company and a Home Office letter of authority relating to the checks

I’ve received an email/text suggesting that I will be visited, is this legitimate?

  • No – the NHS Test and Trace team will not provide prior notification of a visit

Will NHS Test and Trace staff contact me to tell me that they will visit?  

  • No – you will not receive prior notification of a visit by the NHS Test and Trace team

What if I receive a visit from the NHS Test and Trace team and I am not meant to be quarantining?

  • If you receive a visit from the NHS Test and Trace team that you were not expecting – because you do not need to quarantine or because you have not travelled abroad – there is no action you need to take.
  • If you have not travelled abroad during this time, or there is no reason for you to receive a visit from NHS Test and Trace, you can contact NHS Test and Trace online or telephone 119 to confirm that you should not be quarantining, or telephone 999 if a suspected crime is in progress.

If there is reason to believe you may be breaching quarantine rules, staff may refer your case to the police and may receive a visit from them.

If the police have reasonable grounds to believe that you have committed a criminal offence in breach of your duty to quarantine, they may issue you with a fine (fixed penalty notice). Fines start at £1,000 for a first offence and can increase up to £10,000 for repeat offences.

If you are not happy with the service, you can contact NHS Test and Trace online or telephone 119.

Source: Action Fraud (21-07-2021)

Scam at first sight


Action Fraud is warning romance seekers to be cautious when using dating platforms, as new data reveals criminals have already conned over £15 million out of unsuspecting lovers with bogus investment opportunities. 

Data from the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime reveals that £15,665,332 has been lost this year to criminals offering bogus investment opportunities on dating platforms, with an average loss of £15,936 per victim.

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of victims were aged 30 to 39 years old, and around two thirds of victims (60 per cent) were aged 30 to 59 years old.

While the vast majority of investments offered are in cryptocurrency, victims have also handed over money believing they’re investing in other commodities, including shares and stocks, gold and raw materials.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:

“We’ve all spent more time than ever before online over the past year and criminals have seen this as an opportunity to target unsuspecting victims – particularly those using dating platforms.

“It’s important that if you’re contacted by someone on a dating platform about an investment opportunity, that you follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign by taking a moment to stop and think – it could protect you and your money.

“If you are suspicious of someone’s behaviour on a dating platform, most platforms have a reporting tool which you can use to report their profile – which helps protect others.”

Victims have reported being approached on dating platforms by criminals, who at first will engage in typical conversation in order to build a trusting relationship. Once this relationship has been formed, the fraudster will change the topic of conversation to an investment opportunity that they claim can help make the victim money.

The victim is then persuaded to continue the conversation on a secondary messaging platform – which often cannot provide the same level of safety as dating platforms – as the end-end encryption they use prevents the secondary platform from having any visibility into the content of these messages.

Eventually, the victim is persuaded to transfer funds to the fraudster for what they believe to be a legitimate investment opportunity. In reality, the money is pocketed by the criminal as the investment opportunity isn’t legitimate.

In some cases, victims have been deceived into transferring funds on multiple occasions, having been told their initial investment was successful. In other cases, victims have been told they cannot access their investment without paying numerous charges such as transaction fees, security deposits and currency conversion costs.

The fraudster will typically cut all contact when the victim refuses to transfer more funds, or says that they’ve run out of money.

How to protect yourself

  • No matter how long you’ve been speaking to someone online, if you haven’t met them in person, do not send them any money.
  • Don’t be rushed into making an investment. Be wary if you’re being pressured to invest quickly, or promised returns that sound too good to be true. Take time to do your research.
  • Research the person you’re talking to, as their photos may not be genuine. Performing a reverse image search can find photos that have been taken from somewhere, or someone, else.
  • Be suspicious if you are contacted out the blue about an investment opportunity. Always seek advice from friends or family and consider getting independent professional advice before making a significant financial decision.
  • Stay on the site’s messaging service until you meet in person. Criminals want to quickly switch to other platforms that are less well regulated and have stronger encryption, so there’s no evidence of your conversation.
  • You can check if an investment opportunity you’ve been offered could potentially be a scam by visiting the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) ScamSmart website.
  • Most online platforms have a reporting tool which you can use if you suspect someone online is using pictures that don’t belong to them, you are suspicious of their behaviour, or they have asked you for money. Reporting their user profile means it can be blocked, which helps protect others.

Action Fraud also advises that the public follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign to keep themselves safe from fraud.

  • 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 okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect: If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Source: Action Fraud (20-07-2021)

EE phishing scam email

 


One of our residents received the above phishing scam email (screenshot above - click to view enlarged) and alerted his neighbourhood watch group to alert others to remain vigilant.

Visit EE for safety and advice on how to prevent such scams and how to keep your account secure.

Do not click on links or attachments in unexpected or suspicious texts or emails.

Reporting cyber crime, fraud or phishing attempt to Action Fraud.

Report suspicious emails: If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, you can report it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service by forwarding the email to - report@phishing.gov.uk.

Appeal following suspected arson attack in Welling


Police appeal for information and witnesses following suspected arson attack in Welling

Police are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information to come forward following a suspected arson attack in Welling.

Police were called by the London Fire Brigade at approximately 23:06hrs on Wednesday, 14 July to a fire on South Gipsy Road, Welling.

Officers and the London Fire Brigade (LFB) attended and the fire was extinguished at approximately 00:30hrs.

The cause of the fire is being treated as arson.

There were no injuries. No arrests have been made and enquiries continue.

Detective Sergeant Danny Banks, from the Serious and Complex Investigations Unit, said: “My team of officers have been working around the clock to establish the circumstances of this incident. I thank everyone who has already come forward to police to assist with the investigation. We are following up all lines of enquiry and all allegations made to us. 

“Police remain in regular contact with the family and they are being kept up to date as to the progress of the investigation. My heartfelt sympathies go out to them during what has been an unimaginably difficult time. I thank them for their continued support as enquiries are ongoing.

“This incident has been well publicised and whilst we appreciate that the public wish to support the family, we ask that all information is provided to us directly. I also urge the public to refrain from undertaking their own investigations in relation to this case.”

“We ask that anyone with information relating to this incident calls police on 101 or tweets @MetCC quoting CAD 8350/14July. No piece of information is insignificant. It is vital we hear from you.”

To remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit Crimestoppers_uk.org.

Kent Community Watch August 2021 Magazine

 

Go to page:- 

  • 3 - Mobile Phone Scam
  • 6-7 - Tradings Standards Advice
  • 9 - How to keep your pets safe
  • 10 -E-scooter battery warning
  • 13 - How to go on a phishing trip
  • 15 - Stay alert to doorstep scams

Royal Mail Scam Text


One of our residents received the above phishing scam text (screenshot above - click to view enlarged), from the mobile number '07410386025' it was sent from, and alerted his neighbourhood watch group to alert others to remain vigilant. He also reported this scam as shown.

Do not click on links or attachments in unexpected or suspicious texts or emails.

Reporting cyber crime, fraud or phishing attempt to Action Fraud.

Report suspicious emails: If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, you can report it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service by forwarding the email to - report@phishing.gov.uk.

Report suspected scam texts which they’ve received but not acted upon to their mobile network provider by forwarding them to 7726, which is free of charge.

 

Ruff time for animal lovers as scale of pandemic pet fraud unleashed by Action Fraud

  Data from Action Fraud,  the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime , reveals that £2,638,323 was lost by prospective pet own...