Watch out for requests to purchase large quantities of iTunes vouchers (or similar) to pay off HMRC tax bills (or other official organisations). This scam keeps re-appearing, with amounts between £300 - £800 being requested by criminals.
Romance scams are growing in reported numbers as more people turn to social media and online methods of meeting the perfect partner. Criminals, working from abroad, have realised the ease in which they can quickly obtain personal information from that un-suspecting person and play them along into believing the conversation being made in text is with that new love in their life.
Meet Anthony, well that’s who he claimed to be! This image is in actual fact that of US Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, an image taken from the internet and then used to convince a lady she was in a romance with a US military officer. The criminals steadily groom their victims with well scripted lines, eventually asking for money to be sent to them for various reasons. They’ve been taken ill and need to pay hospital bills; they’ve been taken hostage; they’ve had all their money stolen including cards and need help to get back home and so on. It normally starts with a small amount, but steadily, larger amounts are requested running into £1000’s. Unfortunately, this lady lost tens of £1000’s before the scam came to light. She is not on her own. Be mindful of social media / online romances where money is suddenly requested. It may not be what it seems!
Indeed there are many variations on scams, from investments to pensions, holidays, to ticketing and many other areas, all continuing to change and evolve as criminals discover new and better ways to trick you into handing over your money without them having to go to great lengths to do so.
Whilst we have covered the areas most visited by scammers there are many more examples available for those of you who have time and wish to expand your knowledge further. Please view The Little Book of Big Scams and The Little Book of Cyber Scams, both produced by Metropolitan Police and which give more detail to numerous criminal scam methods.
There is one final driver behind several areas of scams, especially involving anyone who falls foul of a romance scam. In the words of the TV show “Say what you see”
Remember the lady caught out by Anthony, or was it Joe Dunford? Several months after she had stopped contacting the criminal, her bank called in local police to investigate the large amounts of money that were appearing in her account. It transpires the criminals were now using her and her bank account to launder their ill-gotten gains through the UK banking system. Professional criminals looking for small pawns to use within their huge criminal operation. BEWARE!