Google ‘scams and fraud’ and you will receive nearly 74 million hits. The subject grows on an almost daily basis especially as criminals tweak their cons to facilitate a particular victim. It is important therefore to remember that the context of a particular scam may change slightly to engage with the next victim and again with the one after that, and so it is impossible to give the full content of every scam reported. These ‘scams’ or ‘fraud’ incidents uses one or more mass communication methods such as Mail, Telephones or Internet and we refer to them as ‘Mass Marketing Fraud’(MMF). In simplistic terms MMF falls into two broad categories:
1. Those that defraud small amounts such as several hundred £’s from a large number of victims.
2. Those that defraud large amounts such as several thousands £’s from a small number of victims
Which ever category a victim falls into, into we need to understand how clever, how sophisticated, how professional these criminals are in their engagement as a fraud evolves and how they use grooming techniques to achieve their aim, CASH!
Please read on to understand more about the enablers of Mass Marketing Fraud.
So what’s the difference between Junk Mail and Scam Mail? Junk mail relates to flyers and promotions for the local pizza delivery service, the double glazing firm promoting seasonal offers or your local supermarket giving details of its 3 for 2 offers. Scam Mail letters are sent with the sole intention of obtaining money through deception or fraud. There are fake lotteries and prize draws, bogus health cures, investment schemes and all manner of other ideas aimed at YOU making money or finding a miracle cure.
To many people the telephone may be the only daily contact that they have with the outside world. Unfortunately, scammers also recognise this and continue to prey on older vulnerable persons with the Financial Ombudsman Service stating that 80% of the people it dealt with who had been scammed were over the age of 55. Telephone scams come in a variety of packaging such as pension investments, HMRC refunds, to banking and courier scams. Over a third of all reported fraud cases are enabled via the telephone.
Online scams are growing along with the wider use of the internet and as such we all need to be aware of the risks that are about each time we go online. Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be a genuine company trying to get you to supply personal information such as bank account details, passwords and the answer to your security questions. These copycat sites may well come with an attachment that once opened, secretly installs software that can track your keyboard movements with the ultimate aim of you un-wittingly divulging your security details the next time you make an online purchase or complete online transactions with your bank.
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.