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Stay clued up: eight biggest scams of 2018

Romance scams, fake World Cup tickets and bogus Brexit investments are all tipped by NatWest to be some of the methods fraudsters will use this year.

Stay clued up: eight biggest scams of 2018

Romance scams, fake World Cup tickets, bogus Brexit investments and even Prince Harry’s wedding are tipped to be some of the methods fraudsters will use this year.

High street bank NatWest has compiled a list of scams to watch out for this year after working with a research firm to analyse trends from the past 18 months.

Eight scams to watch out for in 2018

  1. Social media spying Be mindful that what you post on social media can often help fraudsters set up a scam.
  2. Malicious software on smartphones It’s expected threats will grow among mobile devices.
  3. Bogus Brexit investments Consumers should be wary of fake investment opportunities. For example, scammers may email customers, warning that Brexit will affect their savings and that they urgently need to move them into a seemingly plausible, but actually fake, investment product.
  4. Fraudsters preying on World Cup excitement Some fraudsters are expected to sell football tickets that are either fake or will never arrive. Fake travel companies may also offer ‘package trips’.
  5. Money mules Fraudsters trawl social media to identify potential targets – often university students – and use them to inadvertently launder money. Mules have the stolen funds deposited into their bank account then are asked to withdraw the money and send it to a different account, often one overseas, keeping some of the money for themselves as a fee.
  6. Wedding excitement Scammers can set up fake websites that tempt people with bargain offers for elements of the big day, such as venue hire, catering, or wedding dresses, that appear very realistic, particularly as excitement builds around Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.
  7. Romance scams Criminals create fake profiles to form a relationship with their victims and use messaging to mine victims’ personal details to use for identity fraud. Or, just when the victim thinks they have met the perfect partner the scammer asks them for money. Here’s our advice on how to stay safe on dating websites and apps.
  8. Scams aimed at first-time buyers Computer hackers monitor emails sent by a solicitor to a first-time buyer and then they pounce, pretending to be the solicitor and telling them the solicitors’ bank account details have changed in order to steal cash.

How to spot a scam

Fraudsters are very cunning and good at creating a convincing scam, so it can often be difficult to spot one. We’ve written up seven top ways to help you spot a scam and we can also help you report a scam.

Which? also has free resources and guides to help keep you scam savvy or get your money back if you have been scammed.

Even if what happened to you wasn’t a scam under the Fraud Act but you’ve been ripped off, you still have rights under the Consumer Rights Act.

Pause if something feels wrong

NatWest said to help thwart scammers people should:

  • Turn down unsolicited requests for personal information
  • Pause and question something if it feels wrong
  • Should follow their bank’s security advice and never provide remote access to their device when asked to do so following a cold call
  • Should also be cautious about what information they provide on social media.
  • Should also make sure their mobiles have the latest security upgrades
  • Remember that a bank will never ask a customer to transfer money for fraud reasons or contact them out of the blue to ask for their Pin or full password.

NatWest’s scam report was compiled by research agency Future Laboratory.

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