Over 5,000* people were conned into sending planned payments to scammers’ bank accounts last year. Attempts to defraud people of their savings and pensions are rising, constantly evolving and becoming increasingly sophisticated; we all need to guard against fraud.
How well can YOU spot a financial scam? It’s always important to think twice before giving out personal information online or to callers. You might initially feel cautious but find yourself swayed by a convincing conman with the poise and apparent financial knowledge that makes you believe that he or she really is the bank staff, or other official, they are pretending to be.
Here are two of the newest scams that should be on everyone’s radar and avoided.
CAPE VERDE PROPERTY
This involves fraudsters offering a highly risky investment that isn’t covered by the Financial Services Compensation scheme, meaning your money is unprotected.
Cold calling ‘pension companies’ may suggest you invest in alternative investments such as hotel developments or property in Cape Verde.
They will be neither regulated nor qualified to give advice but typically classify themselves as a ‘trustee’, ‘consultant’ or an ‘independent adviser’.
They are likely to promise very high returns for investors willing to transfer their pension before retirement.
Email scams are also on the increase. People buying and selling properties have been warned to exercise extreme care when communicating with their solicitors and conveyancers following several incidents where fraudsters hacked into email accounts and diverted large payments.
Here, the criminal gains access to either the client’s or the solicitor’s email account. They intercept mail containing bank account details, substituting them with their own information.
They send emails to clients that look as if they have come from the solicitor, requesting payment to a specified account – the fraudster’s.
These scams are most likely to occur when details are sent by email rather than post to speed up a transaction ahead of a weekend or Bank Holiday.
Where possible, use alternative forms of communication or check the details given directly with the company.
* City of London Police figures, reported on Radio 4’s You & Yours programme, April 2016