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Current Scams – Advice from Warwickshire Trading Standards

Warwickshire residents are again reporting losing money after using copycat websites to apply for or renew their driving licences. These websites sometimes appear above official Government websites in web searches and typically charge more to apply for or renew official Government documents such as passports and driving licences. They may even charge for documents that can be obtained free of charge!

Bogus WhatsApp messages catching Warwickshire residents out!

Warwickshire residents have reported receiving bogus WhatsApp messages. The messages are sent from the hacked accounts of your friends, so they look as if they’re coming from someone you know, or from an unknown number claiming to be a friend who has lost their phone or been ‘locked out’ of their account. Residents have reported receiving bogus WhatsApp messages asking for money for Christmas gifts. Other bogus messages have asked for photographs and other personal or financial information. Be wary of any WhatsApp message that seems unusual, even if it appears to have been sent by someone you know. Avoid divulging personal or financial information or sharing photos and watch out for links in the messages. If the message was sent by a fraudster, the link could take you to a bogus website.

WhatsApp Stop-Think-Call campaign launched: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-59238425

Bogus crypto invest scams

Warwickshire residents have reported being lured in by bogus cryptocurrency investment opportunities. Criminals entice people to invest their money on scam cryptocurrency platforms that claim to have strong relationships with big tech companies seeking to develop their own cryptocurrencies. In some cases people have been tricked into buying cryptocurrencies that don’t actually exist! For more information on crypto assets and cryptocurrency scams, visit: https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart/cryptoasset-investment-scams

Social media prize scams

Some ‘you’ve won a prize’ scams have migrated from letters through your door to social media. Scammers create false profiles of well-known influencers and others followed on social media. They use these profiles to contact social media users, convincing them that they have won a large cash prize in an international draw. The ‘winners’ are then directed to websites to claim their ‘prize’ which often involves divulging bank account and card details. These are then used to steal money or set up regular payments to buy goods or services you didn’t need or want via continuous payment authority. Never divulge your personal or financial information, passwords or PINs. If you follow someone online, make sure the account is genuine and not a scam copycat.

Clever twist on old scam

Criminals are ‘buying’ items on social media marketplaces and agreeing to pay by bank transfer. The seller sends the item off, but payment is not received. Instead the scammers send bogus emails purporting to come from their bank. These state that payment cannot be made because the seller’s account is not a business account and therefore such a small amount of money (payment for the goods) cannot be paid in. To get around this, the buyer (the criminals) suggest they pay the seller a larger amount of money (more than the cost of the item) and the seller refunds them the difference. However, in reality any payment made to the seller will eventually be discovered to be fraudulent and be reversed, but in the meantime the seller has sent some of their own money to the buyer (the scammer). This they may never see again. The seller could end up not receiving any payment for the item they sold and losing extra money on top and the item itself! If you are using a social media marketplace to buy or sell goods, always follow their guidance on how to make the transaction.

‘Bogus survey’ phone calls warning

Unexpected phone calls asking you to take part in a phone ‘lifestyle survey’, could lead you to be targeted by scammers. Criminals pretend to phone on behalf of large well know companies to carry out a customer survey. Recipients of these phone calls will be asked a range of personal and financial questions including: name; address; date of birth; names of utility suppliers; banks you have current or savings accounts with; pension providers, holiday plans, where you shop and if you have any debts. They may offer you bogus inducements in order to encourage you to divulge this information such as fake lottery tickets. Once gathered your private information can then be used by the criminals to conduct scam phone calls or identity theft. It may even be sold on to other criminal gangs. Never divulge any personal or financial information to cold callers.

More about common telephone scams: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/stay-safe-scams/telephone-scams-telesales-calls/1

COVID ‘NHS Green Passport’

Warwickshire residents have reported receiving emails inviting them to apply for special ‘NHS Green Passports’. The emails, that have been made to appear as though they were sent by the NHS, state that holders of green passports will be able to travel throughout Europe, without the need to quarantine or take any COVID tests. To encourage recipients to act quickly, the email claims that such is the demand for these passports, if they don’t respond immediately they will miss out and have to wait a year or longer. Recipients are also discouraged from sharing the details of the email with anyone else. Beware of any suspicious COVID related emails and texts. If you intend to travel abroad, visit the UK Government’s official website for advice: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-abroad-from-england-during-coronavirus-covid-19