Scams Bulletin – February 2020

This bulletin helps residents to be aware and guard against currently reported scams.

Courier fraud

Hampshire Trading Standards Service continues to receive reports of courier fraud.

This scam involves a fraudster telephoning a victim and falsely claiming to be a Police Officer or bank employee. They will sound very convincing and persuade the victim that they need to co-operate with an operation, such as an investigation into counterfeit money, or that their money is at risk.

The victims are asked to either withdraw money from their bank, buy an expensive item, or disclose their bank card and PIN. They will be told not to disclose why they need the money if the bank asks them and to give a made up reason. The victim may also be asked to leave a call open on their mobile phone so the fraudster can hear and keep track of what is happening. Money or the item is then handed over to a courier, who comes to the victim’s address or somewhere nearby.

In 2019, more than 1,900 reports of courier fraud were made nationwide, with victims losing more than £6.5million in total. Fraudsters often target the elderly and more vulnerable members of society, so awareness is crucial.

Case Study 1

Mr A who is an older man living alone received a call from someone who claimed to work at his bank. The told him they were investigating an internal fraud and asked him to visit his branch and withdraw £8000 in cash. They said they could then check the serial numbers and fingerprints. They told him if the counter staff asked why he needed the money he must not mention the fraud as this may interfere with the investigation.

When Mr A tried to withdraw the cash the counter staff questioned, under the banking protocol, why he needed the money. Mr A became confused and upset and the police were called. Fortunately no money was lost.

Case Study 2

Mrs C received a telephone call from someone who claimed to work for the Metropolitan Police. They said they needed her help to target a high level fraud that was affecting local banks and businesses. She was asked to go to her local bank in a taxi they would provide to withdraw cash.

Although Mrs C was questioned by counter staff she gave a convincing reason as to why she needed the money. The fraudster, who had kept the phone line open, then instructed her to get back to the taxi who would take her to a shop to purchase two highly priced designer handbags.

Once Mrs C had returned home, a courier arrived to collect the bags and money. Only when talking with her carer did Mrs C realise she had been a victim of a scam.

“Amazon Prime” fraud

Residents in Hampshire should be on their guard if they receive an unsolicited telephone call about Amazon Prime.

This scam starts with an automated telephone call where the victim will hear a recorded message alleging to be from Amazon Prime. The message will advise that a scammer has set up an Amazon Prime account in their name and if they want to cancel it they should press ‘1’. The victim will then be connected to the scammer who pretends to be an Amazon Customer Service representative.

The scammer will tell the victim that their subscription was purchased fraudulently and that they require remote access to the computer to fix a security flaw to prevent this from happening again. The scammer will then attempt to gain remote access which will give them full view of the victim’s personal information including online banking details.

Case Study

Miss G received an automated call which appeared to be from Amazon Prime asking her to press 1 if she wanted to claim a refund on a subscription that had been set up fraudulently in her name. She then spoke to a male who said she was due a refund of £49.99. From talking with her Miss G allowed remote access to her computer so the male could refund the money into her bank account.

Miss G then received an email alleging there was an computer error and they had accidently paid £4,500 into her account. They said this would need to be paid back and they sent her bank details to arrange a transfer. They told her that when she was in her bank she should tell the counter staff the money was a gift for her son.

Miss G visited her bank and transferred the money. When she returned home she received a telephone call from the scammer alleging the money had not been received and they asked her to return to the bank and try again. On this occasion the bank became suspicious and called the police under the banking protocol. Remember, any request to gain remote access to a bank account should be treated with extreme caution.

If you receive an unsolicited call of his nature, stop and think if an organisation would contact you and request information in this way. If in doubt, hang up and check with the real organisation using their genuine contact details.

Relationship Fraud

The Trading Standards Service continues to hear about vulnerable Hampshire residents who become involved in a relationship fraud. This type of fraud is very manipulative and the perpetrator will spend time building a relationship with their victim to gain their trust before they start asking for money.

Case Study

Mr F received a message on social media from a scammer who claimed to live in Ghana and was looking to set up an online correspondence with a male who lived in the United Kingdom. Mr F engaged with the scammer and she sent him photographs of an orphanage that she alleged to have close connections with and that she was trying to raise funds for. Mr F agreed to send a donation by an electronic bank transfer.

The scammer continued to contact Mr F and asked for his phone number. Mr F said they regularly talked and he began to fall in love with her. The scammer said that she wanted to visit Mr F and asked for a contribution towards her air fare. Again, Mr F agreed to send this by electronic transfer. However, shortly before she was due to travel, she told Mr F that her daughter had been involved in an accident and she required expenses to help with her medical treatment.

The bank became concerned about the amount of money that Mr F was spending and talked with him about this. They called the police who advised Mr F that he was most likely the victim of a relationship fraud.

Online dating has many benefits and is used by lots of people. However, always remember;

  • to go through a reputable agency and use their messaging service or chat room
  • to avoid giving away too many personal details including your full name, date of birth, address and phone number
  • never send or receive money or give away your bank details no matter how much you trust them or believe their story
  • do not make any electronic transfers of money at a bank or via a pay point such as Western Union Romance fraudsters pray on victims who may be vulnerable and lonely. Once they know how easy it is to get money from them they will keep on inventing reasons for further payments. They will only stop when they are found out or when they know no more money is forthcoming.
Would you like to volunteer to become a SCAMchampion?

Would you like to volunteer to become a SCAMchampion and take a stand against scams?

SCAMchampions are friends against scams who want to do more to help their local community.

Friends Against Scams is a National Trading Standards Scams Team initiative, which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering communities to Take a Stand Against Scams.

Friends Against Scams has been created to tackle the lack of scams awareness by providing information about scams and those who fall victim to them. Hampshire Trading Standards Service is looking for approachable and enthusiastic volunteers to train as SCAMchampions.

These SCAMchampions will then cascade messages throughout the local community about scams prevention and protection. What is a SCAMchampion? SCAMchampions are Friends Against Scams who want to do more to help their local community.

SCAMchampions host awareness sessions to recruit Friends and drive the Friends Against Scams initiative forward.

SCAMchampions will attend additional training to give them a fuller understanding of the laws surrounding scams. They will also receive practical guidance on undertaking presentations. To find out more about the initiative please email: tsadvice@hants.gov.uk

If you are worried about a potential scam contact the Citizens Advice Helpline: