Tuesday 25 May 2021

Beware of holiday fraud as travel restrictions ease

Action Fraud is warning the public to remain vigilant against holiday fraud, as travel restrictions begin to ease.

Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, received 1,907 reports of holiday and travel related fraud in 2020/21 financial year – a decrease of over 70 per cent when compared to the previous financial year.

However, although a decline in reporting was predicted due to the fact travel was banned for large periods of the year, losses by victims still totalled £2,205,251 during this time – an average loss of £1,242 per victim.

Action Fraud has launched a national awareness campaign (Monday 17 May 2021) to remind the public to think twice before handing over their money and personal information when booking holidays, following the government’s recent announcement on international travel resuming.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:

“We are all more eager than ever to go on a holiday and relax with family and friends, following the coronavirus pandemic. However, criminals will stop at nothing when it comes to defrauding innocent people out of a well-deserved break and their hard-earned cash.

“Criminals are increasingly using more sophisticated ways to trick their victims, which is why it’s important that we all do our research when booking a holiday and making travel arrangements. Regardless of whether you’re planning on travelling abroad, or going on a domestic holiday this year, remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Last year, criminals targeted unsuspecting holidaymakers booking airline tickets (56 per cent) and holiday accommodation (29 per cent). Almost three quarters of victims were aged between 19 to 50 years old (73 per cent).

Almost a third (32 per cent) of reports stated the victim had contact with the suspect after they responded to an approach, or advertisement, on a social media platform.

Out of these reports, Facebook was the most common platform (62 per cent) where victims were defrauded.

Online booking platforms, such as Airbnb and Booking.com, were mentioned in almost 10 per cent of reports made. Online booking platforms act as a platform for third parties to advertise accommodation.

Whilst many accommodation providers who make use of online booking platforms are legitimate, some criminals will use these platforms to defraud victims by advertising bogus accommodation.

Some victims (7 per cent) reported falling victim to suspects impersonating legitimate travel companies, including clone comparison websites, airline websites and holiday accommodation websites.

In some cases, victims have searched for flight tickets online and have found a website they believe to be the company’s genuine website. In other cases, victims have used what they believe to be legitimate flight comparison websites to search for flights.

In both instances, victims reported being contacted by someone purporting to be from the airline, or flight comparison website, to take them through the booking procedure and take payment.

Sadly, some victims have only become aware that they have been the victim of fraud when they arrive at the airport and are unable to check-in.

Tops tip to avoid falling victim to holiday fraud

  • Stay safe online: check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from .co.uk to .org.
  • Do your research: don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to ensure the company is credible. If a company is defrauding people, there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experience, and warnings about the company.
  • Look for the logo: check whether the company is an ABTA Member. Look for the ABTA logo on the company's website. If you have any doubts, you can verify membership of ABTA online on their website. If you're booking a flight and want more information about ATOL protection, or would like to check whether a company is an ATOL holder, visit the CAA website.
  • Pay safe: wherever possible, pay by credit card. You should avoid paying directly into a private individual’s bank account.
  • Check the paperwork: you should study receipts, invoices and terms and conditions, and be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all. When booking through a Holiday Club or Timeshare, get the contract thoroughly vetted by a solicitor before signing up.
  • Use your instincts: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

For a full list of tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, please visit https://www.abta.com/tips-and-advice/planning-and-booking-a-holiday/how-avoid-travel-related-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.

Source: Action Fraud [16-05-2021]

Monday 24 May 2021

Eight men arrested over Royal Mail delivery scam texts

Police have made eight arrests following a series of early morning operations targeting individuals suspected of sending out “smishing” texts. These scam messages aim to steal people’s personal and financial details by directing recipients to fake versions of trusted organisations’ websites, such as Royal Mail. 

The arrests formed part of a week of action led by officers from the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), a specialist City of London and Metropolitan police unit funded by the banking and cards industry, in partnership with Royal Mail and the telecoms industry. Eight operations were conducted across London, Coventry, Birmingham and Colchester resulting in eight male suspects being arrested on suspicion of fraud. 

The suspects arrested during the operations are believed to have been involved in sending out scam texts primarily posing as Royal Mail, which claim the recipient needs to pay an outstanding postage fee for a parcel or input their details to rearrange a delivery. 

During the searches, valuable intelligence was gathered and several devices suspected of being used in smishing scams were seized. The unit also recovered numerous customers’ financial details, enabling these bank accounts to be protected. Seven of those arrested have been released under investigation, with one suspect charged and remanded into custody ahead of their court appearance. Ongoing investigations are expected to result in further arrests and charges.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Robinson, the head of the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), commented: 

The success of these operations shows how through our close collaboration with Royal Mail, the financial services sector, and mobile phone networks, we are cracking down on the criminals ruthlessly targeting the public. 

“Ongoing investigations are now underway and we will continue to work together to bring those committing smishing scams to justice.

Members of the public are encouraged to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign if they receive a suspicious message:

  • 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 at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Customers can 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. Doing this will help mobile providers take action, if need be, to block malicious numbers. Customers can also forward any emails they have concerns about to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) at report@phishing.gov.uk

Source: UK Finance Press Office; Also in The Guardian [24 May 2021] and in the BBC.

Saturday 22 May 2021

Car Vandals Charged

It was good to see some good news in The News Shopper this week, it was confirmed that a pair of vandals that had been smashing and damaging cars over a one month period in the Bexleyheath area had been arrested and charged.

The vandalism had been taking place for some time (December 1st 2020 to January 6th 2021) over a wide area. Those residents affected had got together and formed a social media group collecting information, photos of suspicious vehicles, number plates and descriptions of suspicious people in the area.

When they felt they had some good evidence they passed it onto “Crimestoppers” who then put together the information passed it onto Bexley Police and the two culprits where arrested and charged with 14 and 7 counts of criminal damage.

This action by these residents is what Bexley Neighbourhood Watch is all about, we know that many of our members supply valuable information to the police that often leads to arrests, but cooperating in this way together as a community tells criminals that their behaviour is not acceptable and that they are not welcome.

We suggest that anyone who is going through a similar experience works in a similar way putting together information which can be collected in a safe way within the law and passed onto your local police team or Crimestoppers, please keep us informed as it’s always good to get some good and positive news such as this.

Friday 21 May 2021

We Need Your Help

In October 2017 a petition was raised to save Bexleyheath Police from closure and when 75% of the petition signatures were collected and handed by BBNWA over via SNB to City Hall and shortly afterwards the closure of Bexleyheath Police Station was cancelled as shown below:-

This issue was published in the Bexley Magazine - Autumn 2017, p6 as well as in the Autumn 2017 newsletter. [pdf], as per below (click image to view enlarged):-

This issue has been raised again as reported by the current Chairman in the weekly report as follows:-

Bexley Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter 20th May 2021

Chairman's report
From Grant Murrell, Neighbourhood Watch Office
We Need Your Help
Our current Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch office needs to relocate while its existing office undergoes refurbishment. This means we need to vacate our existing office by 15th June at the very latest. As you can imagine we are very keen to continue serving you with a seamless service just as we have done since Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch began all those years ago.
Therefore in order to do so, we are in urgent need of both office and some storage space. Ideally, it would certainly make logistical sense if they would be in the same place, yet this is negotiable if need be. This is likely to be a short term solution yet long term solutions are also being considered.
So maybe you or someone you know has space, or possibly you can think of a shop or office that you or we could ask? All ideas welcome and greatly appreciated.
For further details or to send ideas, please contact The Neighbourhood Watch Office by emailing us at bexleynw@outlook.com
Until next time, “Stay Safe, Be Vigilant & Keep Smiling”

Thursday 20 May 2021

Thank you for reporting a suspicious email

This is the standard reply you get from Cyber CRime:-

Thank you for forwarding a suspicious message to us. Timely alerts from people like you help us to act quickly and protect many more people from being affected.

As of 30th April 2021, we have received more than 5,800,000 such reports, allowing us to remove more than 43,000 scams and take down 86,000 malicious URLs.

We are unable to inform you of the outcome of our review, but we can confirm that we do act upon every message received.

We will analyse the content of the email you have sent to us and any websites it links to. If we discover activity that we believe to be malicious, we may:

  • seek to block the address the email came from, so it can no longer send emails
  • work with website hosting companies to remove links to malicious websites
  • raise awareness of commonly reported suspicious emails and methods used with the help of our partners

Please note…

You should not report a suspected crime to us. If you think you may have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, you should report it:

  • to Action Fraud if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland: www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040
  • to Police Scotland if you live in Scotland: call 101

There are a number of ways you can protect yourself from attacks like this and the NCSC has published plenty of advice that will help you to stay secure online; for example:

For a full overview of the NCSC’s advice for the general public please see our dedicated individuals and families webpage.

How we handle the information you send to us

  • Transmitting information over the internet is generally not completely secure, and we cannot guarantee the security of an individual’s data, which is sent at your own risk. We do however have procedures and security features in place to keep data secure once we receive it.
  • We may share details with various government departments, our Law Enforcement partners (such as the National Crime Agency and the City of London Police) and other organisations where doing so is necessary and proportionate for the proper discharge of our statutory functions. We won’t share an individual’s information with any other organisations for marketing, market research or commercial purposes.
  • The information we hold is exempt from Freedom of Information requests.
  • For further detail on how we handle information you send us, please see our Privacy Statement.
  • Further information about reporting suspicious emails to the NCSC can be found at www.ncsc.gov.uk/report-suspicious-emails.

Thank you for your continued support.


National Cyber Security Centre

Scammers at work BEWARE

Unfortunately scam calls and texts are a huge national  problem at the moment it is advised that suspicious text messages should be forwarded to 7726. This free-of-charge short code enables your provider to investigate the origin of the text and take action, if found to be malicious.

BT have an online reporting tool for phone calls https://www.bt.com/consumer/edw/scams/ and anyone with a BT contract can have BT call protect https://www.bt.com/landline/calling-features/It may be worth talking to other providers to see what they have available.

Scams should be reported to Action Fraud. The information you give to Action Fraud can help track down the scammer.

To report spam and nuisance sales calls  https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/nuisance-calls-and-messages/spam-texts-and-nuisance-calls/

Wednesday 19 May 2021

Royal Mail text message scams

In this case, criminals seem to be targeting mobile phone users with text messages about an unpaid shopping fee on a parcel purporting to be from Royal Mail. 

Royal Mail have shared the following statement about these text message scams: 

“This isn’t one of our messages. We’ll only send SMS notifications where the sender has requested this and uses a product that offers this service. If a fee is due on an item we’d leave a grey card to confirm this, we wouldn’t send a text.” 

There have also been some reports of people visiting in person claiming to be conducting vaccine surveys and then asking you to sign a form (which is actually a mail redirection form). This is so that they can use your address and personal information in an identity theft to purchase expensive goods and receive them at a different address. 

These specific scams can be reported directly to Royal Mail using their online form at royalmail.com/reportingscams as well as forwarding the text message to 7726.

Online and technology-enabled scams

UK Finance’s latest Fraud the Facts report has revealed that criminals turned to online and technology-enabled scams to exploit people’s fears about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Impersonation scam cases, in which criminals impersonate trusted organisations to trick victims into handing over their money, almost doubled to 39,364 cases in 2020, the largest increase of all scam types. During the pandemic, criminals sent fraudulent emails claiming to offer government support to those impacted by the pandemic and scam text messages requesting payments to book a Covid-19 vaccine. They also impersonated delivery companies to exploit the rise in online shopping.

There was a 32 per cent increase in investment scam cases last year, which are often promoted through adverts on search engines offering higher than average returns, and a 38 per cent increase in cases of romance scams, driven by the rise in online dating during the pandemic.

Authorised Push Payment fraud

Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud cases, where customers are tricked into authorising a payment to another account controlled by a criminal, increased by 22 per cent to almost 150,000 in 2020. Losses amounted to a total of £479 million, up five per cent on the previous year. 

  • Investment scams, in which a criminal convinces their victim to move their money to a fictitious fund or to pay for a fake investment, saw the highest increase in losses of any APP scam type, totalling £135.1 million. 
  • Purchase scams, in which the victim pays in advance for goods or services that are never received, remained the most common form of APP fraud, accounting for 52 per cent of APP fraud cases

Source: https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/

How To Avoid Scams Booklet

Are you or your loved ones being targetted by Scams? How to manage finances and avoid scams for people at risk and thos who support them.

NEW - How To Avoid Scams Booklet [PDF]

Spoof HMRC phone calls

There have been increased reports of criminals spoofing genuine HMRC telephone numbers to deceive consumers over the phone. The criminals state that because of the victim’s non-payment of tax or other duty, they are liable for prosecution or other legal proceedings. People are told that they can avoid this by arranging payment to be made immediately by methods such as bank transfer or by purchasing gift cards. 

If the potential victim is hesitant or refuses to comply, the suspect makes a threat such as immediate arrest, sending bailiffs to the their address or, in some cases, deportation. 

Often, the period for which the tax is allegedly due is distant enough to guarantee the victim will have little, if any, paperwork, or ability to verify the claims. Once the money is paid the suspects sever all contact with the victim. 


Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information. Just because someone knows your basic details (such as your name and contact details), it doesn’t mean they are genuine. Instead, contact the company directly using trusted methods such as a known email address or phone number. 

Legitimate organisations wouldn’t ask you to pay taxes, bills or fees using a gift card, or any other type of voucher. If you’re contacted by anyone that asks you to do this, you’re the target of a scam. 

Don’t be rushed or pressured into deciding. Under no circumstances would a genuine bank or some other trusted organisation force you to make a financial transaction on the spot. 

Report phishing scam attempts. If you receive a call, text or email of this nature and have not lost money, you can report this as phishing to Action Fraud.

Protecting yourself and others from doorstep scams

It is possible to protect yourself and the people you care about from these kinds of scams. Deterrents like CCTV cameras and ‘no doorstep sellers’ stickers in the window really are effective, according to Trading Standards.

  • Regularly check in on elderly or vulnerable relatives. Ask if they’ve had anyone knocking at their door recently. Leave notes on the back of the door to remind them to not hand cash or personal details over to any strangers that call by might also be helpful.
  • Adopt a blanket rule not to buy any products or services offered at the front door. A simple and concise refusal could be: ‘Sorry but I don’t buy from doorstep sellers. Thank you and goodbye.’ This goes for anyone that calls by who isn’t expected, or you haven’t made an appointment for, such as water or electric meter readings or gas engineers.
  • If there are any safety fears, police and Trading Standards advise to call 999. Don’t be afraid of being a timewaster – this is a serious crime. It’s an offence for a trader to refuse to leave your property if you’ve asked.

Reporting scams or attempted fraud is important for warning others, and to inform the police. You can report to Action Fraud: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime The same goes for traders engaging in aggressive doorstep selling. Even if you turn them away, someone else in your area might not feel able to.

You can call Citizens Advice to report to Trading Standards, or visit its website where you can use the reporting tool to share what’s happened. The information you share will be passed onto the local Trading Standards office.

If your local area is plagued by door knockers, you can also apply to your local council to become a No Cold Calling Zone.

You could also consider installing a smart doorbell.

National Insurance Scam Calls

One of our Coordinators had 2 calls to his mobile phone on the 17th May 2021 both said they were the ‘national insurance investigation branch’ and would be issuing a warrant for his arrest if he did not pay overdue payments.

He blocked first call, it came again from a second number.
He blocked that one as well please see numbers as well now:-
Like many of Bexley's residents he says that these sort of calls/texts are coming thick and fast to his mobile phone.

*"More than 1,000 phone calls have been made to Action Fraud, the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, over a new scam involving National Insurance numbers. 

Victims have reported receiving an automated telephone call, during which they are told their "National Insurance number has been compromised." 

They are then instructed to "press 1 on their handset to be connected to the caller” to supposedly fix the issue and get a new National Insurance number but following these instructions could lead to sinister consequences. 

Once connected to the "caller", victims are pressured into handing over personal details - which the criminals claim is to enable them to receive a new National Insurance number. However, giving the criminals your personal details will enable them to commit fraud using your credentials and information. 

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said: “We are asking the public to remain vigilant and be cautious of any automated calls they receive mentioning their National Insurance number becoming compromised.” 

If you receive an automated call like the above, hang up and consider noting the details down on a call log to send into the team."*

Monday 17 May 2021

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 - factsheets

The recent Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 (the Bill) has had much media, academic and political attention since its first reading on the 9th March 2021. This blog focuses on Part 6 of the Bill, which restructures the system of adult out-of-court disposals in England and Wales.

An out of court disposal (OOCD) is a method of resolving an investigation when the offender is known and when that offender admits the offence. An OOCD can only be used in limited circumstances and it should reduce re-offending by enabling restorative and reparative justice. Nationally, there are a number of methods for dealing with suspects in this way. These are universal and include community resolutions, conditional cautioning, simple cautions, cannabis warnings and Penalty Notices for Disorder.

Sunday 16 May 2021

Beware of scam texts doing their rounds

Over the last week a Bexley Neighbourhood resident has received the following scam texts, most you will know and be aware of a couple not so, it might be a good idea to watch out for them to avoid being fooled:-

1) From Tele: 07767 168774 on 12/05/21
HSBC attempted payment from new device from my account.
2) From Tele: 07485 425910 on 13/05/21
Royal mail - pay your despatch fee so the package can be redelivered or it will be returned to sender.
3) From Tele: 07422 893943 on 13/05/21
Hermes sorry missed your delivery to reschedule and pay go to this link.
4) From Tele: 07485 547359 on 14/05/21
AVIVA are offering a 1 Year fixed rate bond @ 4.517%, clink on link to invest.
5) From Tele: 07485 415454 on 15/05/21
TRUST WALLET, there have been unauthorised attempts to log into your account, please click on link to correct the problem.

Visit https://bexleywatch.blogspot.com/2021/05/what-does-action-fraud-do.html for reporting suspicious text message (smishing) or It’s quickest to report fraud to Action Fraud online using the online reporting tool, but you can also report by phone on 0300 123 2040 Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm.

Saturday 15 May 2021

Beware shipping fee scam text

One of our residents received this text message today Saturday 15 May 2021, 9:06am, and supposedly from 'Royal Mail' seeking an unpaid shipping fee. The urgency of it to state that failure to do so will result in the parcel returned to sender.

DO NOT CLICK on the link. This is an image for posting here to show the fake address. 

Needless to say please be aware of such phishing scams or report to report@phishing.gov.uk. Do not click on links or attachments in unexpected or suspicious texts or emails.

You can also report the scam to Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre.

For more information visit the authentic Royal Mail help centre.

Vaccinations Update

In total, 94,535 of Bexley's 206,046 residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This equates to a first dose vaccination rate of 46 per cent of residents. This is higher than the average rate in England. 

The following graph shows the percentage of residents who have been vaccinated by age group in Bexley up to 10 May 2021. 

Who is eligible for the vaccine?

Anyone who is 38 and over can now book their vaccine.

Book your Covid-19 vaccine

Under new advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) those in their 30s will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine rather than AstraZeneca.

Pregnant women who are eligible are also being directed to vaccination centres offering Pfizer and Moderna in their local area in line with JCVI guidance. They can also speak to their GP practice or maternity service if they have any questions about the coronavirus vaccine or can talk to a healthcare professional at their appointment.

Read the vaccine guidance for pregnant women and those planning pregnancy

Source: Bexley Together.

Roadmap stage 3: Monday 17 May

Some of the rules on what you can and cannot do will change on Monday. However, many restrictions remain in place.

It's more important than ever that we continue to keep each other safe, especially in London, where there is some concern about the risk posed by new variants of the virus.

You should continue to follow the hands, face, space, fresh air guidance and you should continue to work from home if you can. When travelling within the UK you should aim to do so safely and plan your journey in advance. 

You should get a test and follow the stay at home guidance if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

Find out how the restrictions are easing from 17 May

Source: Bexley Together (above)

Update Whatsapp Group settings to avoid scams

WhatsApp has changed its group settings to include “everyone” by default so people you don’t know can add you to a group without your knowing.  These people may include scam messages, loan Sharks, etc.

You can change its default settings as follows:

1. Go to WhatsApp:

2. Go into Settings

3. Go to Account

4. Go to Privacy

5.  Go to Groups

6.  Change from (Everyone) to (My Contacts)



Wednesday 12 May 2021

Warning to Stables of Suspicious person

A local resident recently received this just from NCRA (North Cray Residents Association) on Tuesday 11th May 1.00pm.

A short while ago I was contacted by phone by the lady who keeps her horses in the field at the top of Parsonage Lane on the corner of Cocksure Lane.

She had just been contacted by the young girl who loans one of her horses and who was tending to them at the time. Apparently a youngish black man stood at the far gate and was staring at her. He asked about the horses, took some photos (she thinks) and made personal remarks to her asking her questions including asking for her contact and social media details. He asked to be let into the field and she told him ‘no’. She was scared and hid in the tack room, ringing the horses’ owner as well as Silverdene.

The owner rang NCRA and asked if this could be reported to the local community, and especially the residents of Parsonage Lane, to ensure that we are all vigilant because of this suspicious/inappropriate behaviour. This man, probably in his twenties, was wearing a red top, shorts and whitish flip-flops. He stayed for about ten minutes and then walked off down Parsonage Lane in the direction of the North Cray Road, She could not see any evidence of his having a car.

This has
since been circulated via the Parsonage Lane WhatsApp group & NCRA.

This post raises awareness to be on the lookout for the individual. If you have any information or witnessed this description of the suspicious person or have any CCTV footage about that time please contact 101 or the NCRA to report him or contact Bexley Watch. You may contact Crimestoppers anonmously or on 0800 555 111.

Tuesday 11 May 2021

What does Action Fraud do?

Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud. 

You should report all types of fraud to Action Fraud whether or not you choose to report it to another agency such as Trading Standards or your bank as well. This includes if you have been the victim of attempted fraud or cybercrime, you have incurred a financial loss as a result of fraud, your personal data has been compromised or you have been hacked as a result of responding to a fraudulent email or text. This ensures that all frauds can be recorded and assessed and that trends in fraud can be identified, assisting with the identification of offenders. 

Fraudsters are often clever and take advantage of the shame that many people feel if they have been taken in by them, that can prevent people reporting fraud. Fraud can happen to anyone - do not be too embarrassed to report if you have been conned or tricked out of money or your personal data. Reporting fraud helps track down and stop fraudsters and can prevent other people from becoming their victims. 

It’s quickest to report fraud to Action Fraud online using the online reporting tool, but you can also report by phone on 0300 123 2040 Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm. 

If you can’t hear or speak on the phone, you can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone on 18001 then 0300 123 2050. 

Action Fraud collates the reports and will give you a crime reference number, which can be helpful if you need to tell your bank you’ve been a victim of fraud. It passes details of all fraud reports received to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). If there are active lines of enquiry, a substantial amount of money has been lost or the victim is particularly vulnerable, the NFIB may investigate themselves or pass the details to the local police force to initiate an investigation. Everyone who reports a fraud to Action Fraud has the option to receive support from Victim Support afterwards. 

Not every report results in an investigation, but every report helps to build a clear picture of fraud, contributes to making the UK a more hostile place for fraudsters to operate in and helps to keep other potential victims safe. 

If you have received a suspicious text message (smishing) 

You can forward a suspicious text message from your phone to Action Fraud free of charge by sending it to 7726. This enables your provider to identify the origin of the text and take action. 

If you’ve been a victim of a smishing fraud, then you also need to report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or by using their online form. 

If you have received a suspicious email (phishing) If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) report@phishing.gov.uk. It will go to the National Cyber Security Centre who will analyse the suspect email and any websites it links to and use any additional information you’ve provided to look for and monitor suspicious activity. 

If you think you may have been a victim of fraud as a result of phishing you should also report this to Action Fraud. 

When to call the police 

Contact the police immediately by calling 101 if (any of the following occurs): 

  • The fraudster is in still your area 
  • You need help, support and / or assistance as result of the fraud 
  • A fraud is being committed, or recently occurred (within 24 hours) 
  • You know the suspect and they reside in the UK 
  • The victim is perceived to be vulnerable (this may be through age, or by way of mental, or physical impairment, or in need of care and support) 
  • You believe that it is important to report the incident to police quickly in order that police can secure and preserve evidence, or prevent loss (i.e. CCTV, recover large amounts of money transferred from bank accounts before the criminal can remove it)
If you feel threatened or unsafe call 999.

Which? free scam alert service

Unfortunately email, text, phone and social media scams are on the rise. People are falling victim every day with scammers stealing billions of pounds. Which? is aiming to arm the public with the knowledge of how to spot and avoid scams. 

Which?’s free scam alerts are regular email updates on the latest scams. They also include practical advice and next steps for victims. The latest alert included information about a fake FluBot text that’s been circulating. It unpicks the scam, what to look out for and how to protect yourself if you’ve been targeted. 

If you are interested in signing up to Which?’s free Scam Alert service click here.

You can always follow this blog to get alerts as well.

Monday 10 May 2021

Friends Against Scams Online Learning

Scams awareness online provided by National Trading Standards. Lots of useful information.

By attending a Friends Against Scams awareness session or completing the online learning, anyone can learn about the different types of scams and how to spot and support a victim. With increased knowledge and awareness, people can make scams part of everyday conversation with their family, friends and neighbours, which will enable them to protect themselves and others.

After this session you will be asked to start taking action to take a stand against scams. This could be by talking to your neighbours, friends or family about scams or writing to your local MP asking them to promote scams awareness action by delivering key messages to prevent people from being scammed. 

There are two versions of the online awareness session that you can choose from. You can either watch their new video which is a short and condensed version (8 minutes) or you can scroll down to complete our original interactive session (about 20 minutes).

Chapter 1:   Why is learning about scams important?
Chapter 2:   Types of scams
Chapter 3:   How to spot a scam victim
Chapter 4:   Spot the signs
Chapter 5:   Helping friends and family
Chapter 6:   Reporting and advice
Chapter 7:   Congratulations - You are now a Friend Against Scams
Chapter 8:   Other 'Friends' initiatives

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Why scams must be included in the Online Safety Bill

The tech giants are not doing enough to stop lives being devastated by fraud. We’re demanding the government includes scams in the Online Safety Bill.

Which? has joined forces with a coalition of organisations championing consumers, and representing civil society and business, to warn that the UK risks failing in its ambition to be the safest place in the world to be online unless it uses new laws to protect people from an avalanche of online scams.

This is their open letter sent to the Home Secretary and DCMS Secretary:

Scams and the Online Safety Bill: 05 May 2021

Dear Home Secretary and Secretary of State,

We are writing to you regarding the forthcoming Online Safety Bill. We urge the Government to expand the scope of this vital legislation to include fake and fraudulent content that leads to scams. This would better protect people against the devastating financial and emotional harm caused by these crimes.

As a group of organisations representing consumers, civil society and several sectors of the economy, including banking and financial services, we recognise how essential online services have become in people’s daily lives as a result of changes in the past year.

There are now more people spending more time online and the benefits of this are significant. We are determined that people can continue to make the most of this shift and fundamental to this will be ensuring their safety online.

Yet there is a problem because the existing laws and regulations designed to protect consumers in the online world have failed to keep pace with criminals in this modern arena. This is particularly the case in relation to scams, where fraudsters are increasingly taking advantage of online platforms to target victims.

Online platforms play a pivotal role in enabling criminals to reach and defraud internet users through the hosting, promotion and targeting of fake and fraudulent content on their sites, including adverts that they make significant profits from. Yet platforms have very little legal responsibility for protecting their users, despite often being the best placed to tackle harmful content.

3.7 million incidents of fraud

To illustrate the size of this problem, ONS data shows there were 3.7 million incidents of fraud between March 2019 and March 2020, making it the crime that adults are most likely to fall victim to in the UK, while Action Fraud figures show £1.7 billion was lost to scams in the last year.

UK Finance data shows that across scam types, there has been a significant rise in cases over the past year, with criminals adapting to target victims online.

As an example, there was a 32% increase in investment scam cases in 2020, which are often promoted through adverts on search engines offering higher than average returns, and a 38% increase in cases of romance scams, driven by the rise in online dating during the pandemic.

These figures are likely a significant underestimate of the true value and do not take into account the fact that even when the victim is reimbursed, criminals still retain illegal proceeds, reinvesting them in further organised illegal activity, causing wider societal harm. Nor do they capture the equally devastating emotional impact that scams have on victims.

Even if people are able to get their money back after falling victim, they can still experience significant emotional harm. Four in ten (42%) Money and Mental Health Research Community respondents who had fallen victim to an online scam felt that they had experienced a major negative impact on their mental health. Vulnerable people, including those experiencing mental health problems, are also more at risk of falling victim to these crimes.

Action against fake and fraudulent content

Across industry, regulators and consumer groups, there is now wide-ranging consensus on the urgent need for action to tackle scams and the critical role that online platforms must take in protecting users from the harm caused by fake and fraudulent content.

We believe that fake and fraudulent content that leads to scams must be included in scope of the proposed Online Safety Bill. This would require online platforms to identify, remove and prevent fake and fraudulent content from being hosted on their sites, putting in place incentives for platforms to work together with the telecoms, banking and finance sectors to tackle economic crime.

While we recognise there are initiatives being progressed by the Government designed to tackle aspects of online fraud, there is a growing risk that current plans for future regulatory frameworks are not taking a comprehensive approach to the threats faced by consumers and do not reflect the extent or urgency of the problem.

We remain committed to working with the Government on this vital issue, toward our shared ambition for the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, so that people and businesses continue to benefit from the shift to digital.

Copies of this letter go to the Minister for Digital and Culture, the Minister of State at the Home Office, the Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and the Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health.

Download the letter in full (pdf)

Source: Which?

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