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Other scams

Devious techniques to part us from our cash

Scammers aim to con us all in a huge variety of ways - and can initially appear very sensible and realistic.

Claims for refunds for goods or services that have never been paid for, deceptive premium rate competition scams, bogus concert tickets, lotteries or sweepstakes, get-rich-quick schemes and fake health cures are just some of the favoured means of conning people. Other methods are:

Courier Card Scams

Typically a courier card scam involves customers being tricked into handing over their bank cards and PINs to fraudsters.

The scam starts with an unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be from the bank's fraud department, the police, or National Fraud Authority.

The caller will claim to have identified fraudulent transactions on your account and that your card has been compromised.

To gain your trust they may ask you to verify the call by phoning the telephone number printed on the back of your card, or give you another number to call.

This technique holds your phone line open, so that when you try to dial out, they can intercept and re-answer the call, claiming to be the Bank or Law Enforcement.

The fraudster will advise that your bank card must be collected to protect your card and assist an investigation. Usually they ask you to put your card into an envelope for a courier to collect and provide you with a fake reference number.

Now you'll be asked to enter your PIN into the phone, or put it into the envelope with the card.

A courier comes to your home and collects the card. With your card and PIN, they can now gain access to your account and carry out fraudulent transactions.

PLEASE NOTE: The bank may genuinely call you for fraud prevention purposes to verify whether a transaction is genuine. We will NEVER ask to collect your card, for your PIN number, card details or Online/Telephone banking log-in credentials.

How to avoid a courier card scam:

  • NEVER hand over your bank card, your PIN, card details or Online/Telephone banking log-in credentials.
  • If you receive a call asking for your PIN, card details or Online/Telephone banking log-in credentials, end the call immediately.
  • With any suspicious or unexpected call, always verify the caller using an independently-checked telephone number and use a different phone line (where possible). Where a second phone line is not available, try calling a friend on the line first. The fraudster will find it difficult to impersonate a voice that is known to you.
  • Use NatWest Security Centre to keep updated on any new scams to stay ahead of the fraudsters.

The Little Book of Big Scams (PDF)

The FFA’s "Hang up on Fraud" factsheet

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Money mule (or money transfer agent)

Some people have been approached by criminals, usually by email, offering a one-off or series of payments in exchange for providing their account details.

Criminals need a 'money mule' (or money transfer agent) to launder the funds obtained as a result of fraudulent activity.

After being recruited by the fraudsters, money mules receive funds into their accounts which they will then withdraw and send overseas using a wire transfer service, minus a certain commission payment.

Money mules are recruited by a variety of methods, including spam emails, adverts on genuine recruitment web sites, approaches to people with their CVs available online, instant messaging and adverts in newspapers.

This type of scam targets the unwary - and could help third parties to conceal the fact that these funds are the proceeds of crime.

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Avoid becoming a money mule

  • Never respond to or become involved in any such request, no matter how attractive the payment terms
  • Remember - assisting a criminal transfer of monies to another account could make you subject to criminal investigation, which may lead to your prosecution

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Advance fee scams (419 fraud)

Have you ever received an email or letter which offers a large reward if you help to transfer a large amount of money?

The email or letter will often say that the money has come from bribes, government accounts or the unclaimed money from someone who has recently died.

The fraud works by asking you to hand over your bank details - and pay an 'advance fee' in order to complete the deal. The fraud may call the advance fee a tax, or even a bribe.

However, if you pay the advance fee, you will receive nothing in return - and there is no hope of having your money returned.

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How to spot new scams

Before you pick up the phone or respond to an email, fax or letter, look out for these telltale signs - and think carefully about what you are being invited to do:

  • A scam will usually offer you something for nothing, when you have had no previous correspondence or involvement
  • You get an 'opportunity' to earn easy money in exchange for an up-front cash fee and perhaps your account details
  • You may be asked to call a premium rate phone number to collect a prize
  • You may notice poor spelling and grammar
  • There will often be a PO box number in the contact address
  • The scam may involve payment being made to an unconnected party in a different country

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Scams - our advice

Remember, if an offer appears to be too good to be true, it usually is. Be aware that these requests can be made not only by phone, but by email, letter or even in person, and they often look and sound legitimate. The Consumer Direct website contains detailed information about these frauds.

Stop, think and save your cash

Don't respond to any unsolicited communication which promises money in return in return for you making a payment, and if someone is claiming a refund from you make sure their payment cannot be returned unpaid before releasing funds. Always report details of any suspected scam to Action Fraud.

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