Be Aware of these New Scams

Published: 12 December 2019

I hope you are well and enjoying all that the festive season brings.

I am sorry to bring down the mood at this jolly time but I have been contacted by a couple of our community contacts who wanted to report and warn of recent scams they have experienced. We are so grateful for this information so that we can help to protect you, and hopefully many more, as you share this message onwards.

The first example is what we call a subscription scam. In this case the victim saw an advert online for ‘Zeto’ tablets, supposedly endorsed by Dragons Den, which suggested you could receive a free sample of tablets that would help you lose weight.  Like many of us, the victim fancied losing some extra pounds without changing anything about his lifestyle and so he gave his bank details for the postage and packaging charge to receive the tablets.  However subsequently several lots of £80+ was requested from his bank account.  Fortunately on this occasion the bank became aware and contacted the victim and the sums were stopped.

Please beware of too-good-to-be-true offers for free weight loss supplements, beauty creams etc. - especially at this time of year when we want to look our best or treat others. Usually, buried in some small print somewhere, is a declaration that it is a subscription, it is just not made clear and obvious in the advert.  And as the victim’s wife commented “we are usually very scam savvy but it shows how easy it is to be fooled when they touch a soft spot”.

The second report was a scam that came to the victim through an email address already known to her so she did not question it to begin with.  The email asked the victim to purchase some iTunes vouchers as her friend was in a conference and could not get them.  The victim tells me that she did indeed buy the vouchers as requested but that something niggled at her about it and so she phoned her friend’s wife who said they were on holiday and that the e-mail was a scam.  Thankfully the scammers did not get any money out of the victim but she is now left with several iTunes vouchers that she didn’t otherwise want.  The scammers have also continued to contact her many times asking for the vouchers.

We are grateful to our informant for sharing their story with us. It’s a great example of an email being spoofed (i.e. made to look like another) just as phone numbers can be.  The victim states “the first email received was so convincing”.  This example also perfectly illustrates how important it is to do independent research to verify if requests for personal information or ‘money’ are legitimate. Requests for vouchers and money transfers should serve as particular warning bells as these are a common tactic used by fraudsters because they are much harder to trace than banking channels.

Huge thanks to the two individuals who shared the above information with me, it really will help to protect others.

If you have any scam stories you would like me to share across our network of community contacts then please get in touch.

Finally, I attach a recent scam alert from Nigel Sutton, Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s Fraud and Cyber Security Advisor. Nigel regularly shares useful emails to help protect yourself, your business, your community and others from scams.  I recommend you subscribe to receive these directly from Nigel by contacting him using either of the email addresses in his email.

That’s all for this time.  With my very best wishes for a happy and scam-free Christmas.