New February Scams Warnings
Published: 19 February 2020
One of our (local council) supporters has been in touch with a warning about a recent attempted fraud on councillors. They explain:
‘Our Chairman is on leave overseas but yesterday a number of emails were received by members of the council purporting to be from him and asking “are you free at the moment?”. Those who replied ‘yes’ then received a further email saying: “Councillor Mr xxxxxxxx,I am in a conference meeting right now as I would be working till late midnight but need you to get me some gift cards. Could you pick a few iTunes gift cards for me, when I'm done with the meeting I will reimburse you. I tried purchasing online but there was no luck. Kind Regards,”
‘Unfortunately one of the councillors did offer to do this and went to a local Argos branch where they bought £400 worth of cards. On advising the scammer of this they were asked to give the security codes on the back of the cards.
The councillor refused and then phoned the clerk to ask whether they knew anything about this. Fortunately, the councillor was able to recover their money from Argos.’
A big thank you to our supporter for alerting us about this. This is an example of ‘spear phishing’ where emails appear to be sent from a known or trusted sender to specifically targeted individuals i.e. it is more selectively targeted than phishing emails. The email address used by the scammer on this occasion was firstname.lastname@example.org. It is quite possible that this scam will be attempted with other local councils across the county so please beware and please let your councillors and others know (whilst noting that the sender’s email address may be different on other occasions).
Last Friday, St Valentine’s Day, Cambridgeshire Constabulary featured a live video session on their Facebook page with Crime Reduction Officers Helen O’Driscoll and Amanda Large and three victims of romance fraud. The session gave may useful tips about the ‘red flags’ that somebody might not be genuine and is still available on the Constabulary’s Facebook page so do please watch, like and share far and wide.
Finally, a member of the public has been in touch to let us know about a bogus Health Lottery UK letter received by his mother-in-law (see attached). Whilst there is a genuine Health Lottery in the UK, a person is required to buy a ticket to enter the prize draw. The bogus letter states that ‘participants were randomly selected by computer Ballot system from database of the National Health Service and residents in the United Kingdom’. Please let people know about this – I am sure that the mailshot of this letter will include many people in your community. For those on Facebook you can share our post about this