EMAIL and phone hackers, bogus charities and fake ‘phishing’ emails about the Omicron variant of Covid-19 are among the Christmas scam campaigns targeting Warwickshire residents, according to the latest reports received by Warwickshire Trading Standards (WTS).
WTS has been made aware of instances whereby people’s email accounts appear to have been hacked and bogus messages sent out.
The messages usually ask for the recipient’s help to buy a gift card, promising to refund the money as soon as they can.
Victims of this crime have lost money after buying a gift card and sending the card number to the criminals by email. The fraudsters don’t require the physical card, only the card number.
The fraudsters either send out an email directly from the hacked email account to everyone in the person’s address book, or copy the address book and create a new account with a similar email address – sometimes with an extra letter in it or using a different provider. This way, even if the victim regains control over their account, the fraudsters can continue to send out bogus emails that could be mistaken for genuine ones.
If you believe your email account has been hacked, try to change your password as soon as possible and visit your email account provider’s website for further advice.
If you have received an email that you believe is bogus, you can forward it to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) at [email protected]
Visit www.gov.uk/report-suspicious-emails-websites-phishing for more information.
Android phone malware warning
Criminal gangs are using malicious software – ‘malware’ – called BRATA to infect Android phones and steal money, texts, and photographs. The malware is hidden in dangerous apps.
Victims reported receiving a bogus text purporting to be from their bank, requesting them to click on a link to download an anti-spam app. The malware is hidden in the app and allows the criminals to take over the phone, overcome two factor authentication, steal usernames and passwords, and make fraudulent transactions.
Victims may also receive a phone call during the download process from a bogus bank employee, offering them help to install the app whilst in reality granting themselves access to key areas of the phone.
Be wary of any unsolicited texts, emails, or phone calls you receive from your bank.
Always interact with your bank by using the official app or website.
Give safely this Christmas
Over the past year £1.6million has been lost to charity fraud. Warwickshire residents are warned to beware of giving to non-existent charities and criminals posing as genuine charities.
Action Fraud have suggested some simple checks the public can take:
- Check the charity name and its registration number on the Charity Commission website to find out whether the charity is legitimate: www.gov.uk/find-charity-information
- Use the Fundraising Regulator’s online Directory to find out whether a charity has registered with it and committed to excellent fundraising: www.fundraisingregulator.org.uk/directory
- Look out for the Fundraising Badge on charity marketing materials – when people see it, they can have confidence in charity’s fundraising: https://tinyurl.com/3cb6w8h2
- Ask questions about the cause – if people are still unsure about giving, they should always ask for more information. Legitimate causes will be happy to respond.
Omicron variant PCR test phishing emails
Criminals have already begun to use the Omicron variant to attempt to scam residents.
Which? magazine has issued a warning that scammers are sending fake emails about the new Omicron variant of Covid, to steal personal data and bank details.
Visit https://tinyurl.com/yckwzsnn for more information, advice and to see what the scam phishing emails look like.
Christmas jingle helps residents to remember anti-fraud measures
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), in partnership with behavioural scientists Influence at Work and music production company Soviet Science, has released a Christmas jingle.
The jingle focuses specifically on loan-fee fraud in which consumers are tricked into paying an upfront fee for a loan or credit they never receive.
Visit https://youtu.be/9JO3o5AWikA to watch the jingle.