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Home > Fraud



As criminals have become increasingly sophisticated, law enforcement has not always been able to keep up. The best way to protect yourself is to understand how fraudsters operate and closely guard your personal information.

Common scams to watch out for

fraudMost acts of fraud rely on an element of deception to be successful. However, if you know the strategies criminals use to perpetrate fraud, you will likely be successful in fending them off.

The following list, while by no means comprehensive, contains many of the common strategies criminals use to defraud the public.

Advance-Fee Fraud

Commonly known as the ‘Nigerian bank scam’, this scam usually involves an unwitting individual receiving an email from someone claiming to be a part of a country’s royalty. They ordinarily ask you for access to your bank account so that they can deposit a large lump sum of money into it in order to get it out of the country. They will offer you a fee for your services. Once a rapport has been established, they will ask you for some amount of money to overcome a monetary hurdle, such as legal costs. They they will ultimately pocket any money you give them and then disappear.

Boiler Rooms

Commonly known as a ‘pump and dump’ scheme, this is a scam where telemarketers make cold-calls to unwitting investors, and try to sell them shares in either bogus stocks or highly illiquid penny stocks.They often claim to have access to fresh information indicating the stock is going to rapidly appreciate. They profit by the stock temporarily increasing due to increased demand, and then they sell their, often large, stake in the company, which causes the price to come crashing down.

Charitable Donations

Fraudsters often pose as representatives for a fake charity either through the phone or as a website, and prey on the sympathy of the public to make donations, often in relation to high-profile events such as an earthquake. They will pocket your money, and may even sell or use the personal information you provide, for nefarious purposes.

Dating Fraud

This type of fraud takes place over internet dating websites and chat rooms. Scammers will establish relationships on these websites, and once they are able to gain your trust, they will ask you for money for a variety of emotive reasons.

Door-To-Door Scams

As the name suggests, this type of fraud involves an individual trying to defraud people by knocking on their doors and using social engineering to sell misrepresented products and services, or extract sensitive information.

Health Scams

These scams involve websites selling ‘miracle’ products that cure common ailments such as impotence or obesity. If you actually receive the product, which is often a big ‘if’, it will either be some placebo or possibly some alternative medicine that could even damage your health.

Lottery Scams

Fraudsters will contact you claiming to be a representative of a lottery company, and tell you that you won their lottery. They will ask you to supply personal information so that they can process your payment, and if you respond, they will ask you to pay a variety of fees so that they can release your ‘winnings.’

Online Auctions

With the success of eBay, there has been a proliferation of online auction websites. This has led many scammers to pose as legitimate buyers and sellers. When posing as a buyer, they create the illusion of a valid payment, and then can either chargeback or have the payment bounce when you send them the item. On the seller side, they will either misrepresent the item you pay for, or not send you the item once they receive your payment.

Pension Scams

Pension fraudsters will claim they know of a legal loophole that will allow you to gain access to some of your pension money before retirement. While it is possible to get cash from your pension if you’re 55 or over, the following signs may indicate it is a scam:

  • You are able to get cash from your pension before the age of 55.
  • You are able to gain access to more than 25% of your pension value.
  • They can get you access to more cash than your current scheme allots.


Fraudsters ‘redirect’ traffic from a legitimate website to a fake website, which they use to capture your sensitive information. They prey on the trust most people exhibit when interacting with well-known brands.


Defrauders use this tactic to trick you into revealing sensitive information to them under the guise of being an authentic source, such as the HRMC. They usually steal your information by directing to you a fake website that will look like the real thing, which acts as mechanism to steal your information.

Property Fraud

There are numerous types of property fraud, but most of them revolve around a ‘get rich quick’ investment opportunity. Invariably, the property will not be built, and the fraudster will keep your money.

Training Course Scam

Typically, this scam will involve a fraudster promoting a ‘work at home’ program that will allow participants to earn huge incomes with little effort. They will require you to participate in a training course that you have to pay a fee to be a part of. Once you pay this fee, you will either receive a useless job manual or nothing at all.

Vehicle Fraud

There are many types of vehicle fraud that involve the misrepresentation of a sold vehicle, e.g. it being stolen or the odometer modified to reflect lower mileage.

How to protect your information

In this day and age, fraudsters have become increasingly technologically sophisticated, with a large amount of fraud taking place online. Fortunately, there are many ways to protect yourself on the internet, as long as you are proactive and take certain preventative measures.

Computer Protection

The first step in protecting yourself while using the internet is to make sure that your computer is adequately protected. The following recommendations should greatly reduce the risk of any malicious access to the sensitive data on your computer:

  • Always update your computer’s operating system. These updates often fix vulnerabilities that allow hackers to gain unauthorised access to your computer.
  • Make sure you install an antivirus software to protect your computer from any threats. A good, free solution is AVG. Also make sure to keep your antivirus software as up to date as possible, so that you will be protected against all threats.
  • Even though most antivirus software does this automatically, perform regular full system scans. Sometimes, scheduled system scans can be disrupted due to software updates.
  • Any password that you use should be as ‘strong’ as possible. You should use a combination of upper and lower case, numbers, and symbols in your password. Too often, people use common dictionary words, which are easily compromised by even the most novice hacker.
  • Instead of clicking on links in emails or on websites, you should always try to store the websites you commonly visit in your browser’s ‘bookmarks.’ This will allow you to avoid clicking on malicious links that appear to be authentic.
  • Never give out your password to anyone. 99.9% of the time anyone is asking for your password, they are doing so maliciously.
  • To protect your computer’s data when stolen, you can encrypt your hard drive’s contents. A very effective, free solution is Truecrypt.
  • Even though some operating systems and routers contain built-in firewalls, you can install a more robust firewall to protect your computer. However, firewalls can interfere with the performance of certain software, and may be better suited for advanced users.

Online Browsing Precautions

Even if you make your computer a fortress, a few missteps while browsing a website can still result in the theft of your sensitive information. We don’t expect you to instantly perform all these strategies the next time you go on a website, but over time, slowly adopting them will allow you to constantly reduce the risk of your sensitive information being compromised.

  • If you are providing any sensitive information to a website, you should make sure that the website has an SSL certificate. You can determine this by seeing a green bar or padlock in the address bar, as well as the web address starting with https://. This signifies that the website is likely secure, although there have been numerous instances of malicious websites faking their SSL certificate.
  • Always attempt to verify the company’s listed address with other sources through the use of a search engine, such as Google.
  • Try to use a credit card wherever possible. Debit cards often do not have spending limits, and the recovery of funds that have already been withdrawn from your bank account is more difficult.
  • Look up reviews on the website you are using before you enter any sensitive information.

Protecting Yourself Offline

While offline fraud may be less prevalent than internet fraud, it is still equally important to guard against. Here are some simple steps that you can take during your daily life to greatly reduce the risk of being defrauded:

  • Purchase a high-quality safe to store any of your confidential documents in.
  • Whenever disposing of any sensitive information, make sure you use a shredder before throwing anything in your trash.
  • Never let your wallet or purse out of your site when in public. Thieves can ‘clone’ your credit cards without your knowledge.
  • Whenever entering a PIN number into any terminal, make sure you shield yourself so no one can discern your PIN number.
  • If anyone approaches you claiming to be a representative of some organisation, in addition to asking for their ID, you should call their organisation to verify their identity. Fake IDs that can pass human inspection are proliferating at a startling rate.
  • Make sure you carefully scrutinise your financial statements to check for any ‘suspicious’ charges. Unfortunately, fraud algorithms are infallible too.

What are victims of identity theft liable for?

In most cases, you will not be held liable for any losses you incur from fraudulent purchases on your credit or debit card. The Payment Services Regulations 2009 (PSR) protects you in the event of an unauthorised transaction made on your credit or debit card. As long as you did not act negligently or in a fraudulent manner, you are likely to get your money back.

Get help

If you believe you have run afoul of any intentional fraudulent activity, it may be in your best interest to contact one of the following organisations. They are chartered with purpose of helping protect you against, any and all, fraud.

Action Fraud (0300 123 2040)

 Your local Trading Standards Office via Citizens Advice (08454 04 05 06)

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