Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Against Scams Partnership (CAPASP)

Hilton Parish Council has resolved to become a supporter of CAPASP and we would urge you to become a ‘Friend against Scams’ by completing the 20 minute ‘express’ online training at www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/elearning/Cambridgeshire.

Anyone completing the training is eligible for a free Friends Against Scams pin badge – please contact charlotte.homent@cambridgeshire.gov.uk .

For further information please visit their website: https://cambridgeshireinsight.org.uk/capasp/

Recent alerts:

Firstly, some good news! Our Twitter account is available again, under a slightly new guise, @CAPA5P,  and eagerly awaiting some new followers for those of you who use social media.

Secondly, we have had some new reports in the county (particularly in the north west) of doorstep callers using the coronavirus situation to try to gain entry to people’s properties by pretending to be local government officials from the county council’s Coordination Hub, or indeed medical professionals. Exact details are sketchy at this stage, but as ever, we urge people to be vigilant and to satisfy themselves that people, no matter how official they might look, are who they say they are.

A good mantra is: Lock, Stop, Chain, Check:

  1. Keep doors and windows locked – it is easy, for example, to get distracted at the front door and to leave the back of the property exposed, particularly as we move into the better weather.
  2. Don’t feel you even have to open the door to an uninvited caller.
  3. Use a chain when opening the door, if there is one, but leave it off at other times.
  4. Check ID thoroughly and don’t be embarrassed to leave someone on the doorstep with the door closed, whilst you phone the organisation they say they are from to confirm their credentials.

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 e-mail address already known to her so she did not question it to begin with. The e-mail 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 e-mail being spoofed (i.e. made to look like another) just as phone numbers can be. The victim states “the first e-mail 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.

 

This message is to warm you about two scams involving HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)  that have been reported to the police recently.

HMRC Arrest Warrent Scam

A resident in our district has reported receiving three automated phone calls supposedly from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) telling them that HMRC is filing a lawsuit against them, has issued an arrest warrent, and that they should to press “1” to speak to a caseworker to make a cash payment.

Similar scam calls have been reported across the country, often targetting elderly and vulnerable people.

HMRC advice is:

  • the calls are NOT genuine;
  •  the correct action is to hang up on the call;
  • HMRC will NEVER contact anyone using an automated phone call.

More information on this and other HMRC scams is available of the Government website
www.gov.uk/government/publications/phishing-and-bogus-emails-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples/phishing-emails-and-bogus-contact-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples

HMRC Corona Virus Scam

Criminals are also exploiting the current Corona Virus situation. There have been reports of people receiving scam emails saying that they can claim a tax refund to help protect themselves from the Corona Virus outbreak.

HMRC advice is:

  • Do not reply to any suspicious emails;
  • Do not open any links in the message;
  • HMRC will NEVER send an email notification about tax rebates or refunds.

An example of the scam email is shown on the Government web-site at –

www.gov.uk/government/publications/phishing-and-bogus-emails-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples/phishing-emails-and-bogus-contact-hm-revenue-and-customs-examples

MEMBERS of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Against Scams Partnership (CAPASP) are warning people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to be vigilant against scammers who are taking advantage of Covid-19.

As Covid-19 spreads rapidly across the world, various reports have emerged about fraudsters seizing the opportunity to defraud.

In the UK, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has reported that victims have lost over £800k to scams relating to the coronavirus since February 2020.

Many of the scams involve criminals contacting victims by email, phone or text message posing as genuine organisations such as banks, police officers or health providers. The fraudsters may claim to provide medical guidance, investment opportunities or a safe place to transfer and keep money – using coronavirus as a cover story. Alternatively, victims are tricked into disclosing personal or financial information or clicking on links which could contain malware.

In Cambridgeshire, doorstep scammers are reported to have been visiting residents purporting to be from Red Cross or other legitimate organisations, and offering to provide coronavirus testing kits – for a hefty fee.

Some examples of other coronavirus scams to watch out for are:

  • Flight cancellation scam. If you have had a holiday cancelled, beware of individuals or organisations making contact asking for bank details to refund your money. Your travel agent or airline should refund directly by the original payment method.
  • Fake email or website scams. Watch out for authentic looking websites or emails seemingly from official channels such as Public Health England or WHO (World Health Organisation). These may look very convincing and offer enticing information for a fee or a single click on a link or attachment. Clicking may install malicious software which can monitor the victim’s every move and provide the details to criminals. Recent examples include e-mails or websites claiming to be able to show local cases of Covid-19 but which are in fact designed to infect the victim’s computer with malware to steal banking and log-in information.
  • Online offers for vaccinations. There are currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges, prescriptions or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Covid-19 coronavirus. DO NOT send money, buy bitcoin or vouchers to anyone offering this.
  • Bogus charity callers. Fraudsters may pose as charitable organisations claiming to help individuals or businesses in these challenging times. Check the authenticity of any caller on the phone or doorstep by contacting the organisation on the number you know to be correct. If the caller was on the phone make sure you wait at least 10 minutes or use a different handset to conduct your authenticity check.
  • Tax refund scam. E-mails purporting to be from HMRC or GOV.UK are being sent by scammers with the promise of a tax rebate ‘for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak’ at the click of a link. The link is likely to infect the device with malware and allow private information to be stolen.
  • Good Neighbour scam. People in self-isolation have been approached by criminals offering to help with shopping who take the resident’s money and never return.

Acting Police and Crime Commissioner, Ray Bisby said:

“In these difficult times, there are many genuine people and organisations offering to support people’s health and wellbeing needs within their local community, such as shopping, collecting prescriptions or providing a friendly conversation over the phone.

“These people will carry official documentation or identification and will ask YOU to contact THEM if you need any help.

“Remember, always check ID of people knocking at the door – do your own, independent research to contact the organisation in question rather than using any contact details on the ID itself.

“Please stay safe and look after one another.

“Visit the CAPASP website for more help and advice on how to avoid scams.”