Fraud prevention service Cifas has highlighted a scam whereby criminals posing as debt collectors are targeting bereaved relatives
Fraudsters are increasingly targeting people recently bereaved. These callous scammers are purporting to be debt collectors recovering debts incurred by the deceased, and pressurising their relatives to pay the debt. Fraudsters are also contacting relatives to inform them that money has been left to them by a deceased family member, and to provide bank account details in which to pay the money. Cifas is advising people to never respond to calls, emails or letters that they receive unexpectedly, and to talk to friends and family if they are concerned.
In another scam, homeworkers continue to be targeted by fraudsters, and recently there has been a rise in phishing emails claiming to be from an employee’s payroll department claiming to need information for a new payroll directory. The emails have the subject header ‘COVID-19/MAY PAYROLL BENEFITS’ and are asking the recipient to provide personal information which could be used for identity fraud.
Fraudsters purporting to be from banks have been emailing business owners proposing financial help and strategies to alleviate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recipients are asked to open a PDF attachment and directed to a fake login page, where they are then asked to enter their bank details. This information is then used to defraud the victim.
In addition to this, criminals have been fraudulently using the identities of finance directors in local authorities emailing business owners about COVID-19 business grants. These emails usually ask for bank details, or include a link which the recipient can start the application process for a grant.
Fraudsters are continuing to target those shopping online. This week we have seen warnings about scams aimed animal lovers looking to buy pets over the internet. Fraudsters are requesting an upfront payment for a pet which will be delivered when the lockdown on lifted. In many cases these animals do not exist.
Holidaymakers are also being targeted through fake listings and adverts to trick victims into purchasing motor homes. The fraudsters ask for a deposit which will be held until the lockdown is over, and try to allay suspicion by claiming the money will be held in an account and not released until the buyer has seen the vehicle and agreed to the purchase. The deposit money is then stolen.
Amber Burridge, Head of Intelligence for Cifas, said :Fraudsters continue to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to steal money and information from innocent members of the public, and we are hearing of new scams on an almost daily basis.”
“People need to be extremely vigilant of fraud at this time. Never be afraid to challenge a request if you cannot confirm that it is legitimate, and remember that only criminals will try to rush or panic you into a decision. Don’t let fraudsters take advantage of you during this difficult time.”