NATIONWIDE FRAUD WINTER UPDATE
Commander Steve Head, City of London Police, and the National Coordinator for Economic Crime.
In each issue of City Security magazine, Commander Steve Head highlights a selection of prevalent fraud crimes. Be alert to these types of fraud and share this information with your colleagues and friends.
Investment fraud – Nanotechnology:
Ensure both the shares you invest in and the company you are investing with are for real.
Some fraudsters are offering nanotechnology as a high yielding commodity to potential investors. This molecular and atomic level technology is being marketed as having the potential to increase energy efficiency and solve major health problems. One firm, known for investment fraud, states that the revenues from products using this technology will equate to 15% of global output by 2014. If the investment were real, investors would be funding research and would receive returns on the eventual products.
These type of share sale frauds, sometimes known as Boiler Room fraud, tend to start with a telephone call. Using hard-sell techniques, the fraudsters pressure their victims into making rushed decisions. Be careful with investments in this technology that you are dealing with a reliable company and that this is not an empty investment with no resale value.
Call diversion techniques:
Ensure your company telephone number is not diverted elsewhere – without your knowledge Fraudsters have successfully instructed telephone providers to divert all calls to a company’s switchboard to a pre-paid mobile phone number. In one scenario, the divert was in place for over a month before it was identified and rectified. In this time, a high volume of calls, some potentially sensitive, had been diverted to the fraudsters number. During the period, multiple fraudulent cheques in the name of the victim company were cashed, because the bank authorisation calls had been diverted to the fraudulent number.
Businesses are advised to check that there are authentication processes in place with their telecommunications providers to ensure that they are not vulnerable.
Don’t be a money mule
Only move money through your bank account for legitimate personal or business reasons.
Criminals try to dupe innocent victims into laundering money on their behalf, by transferring through their bank accounts. These victims are known as ‘money mules’, or ‘money transfer agents’. Many of the criminals carrying out this type of fraud are located abroad, so a money mule based in the UK is required to send the money overseas.
Money mules have varying levels of complicity and vulnerability. While some money mules are doing so knowingly or under duress, others are recruited unknowingly. In some cases, they may be victims of fraud themselves.
What to watch out for:
- The Employment Scam, where you are led to believe you have been employed as an Account Manager and your job includes receiving and transfering funds you believe to be affiliated with the genuine activity of the ‘business’ you are ‘employed’ by.
- Romance Fraud, where you are deceived by the fraudster, whom you have formed a relationship with, into believing that they or one of their family is in some sort of hardship and that they need to use your account to transfer money in order to relieve that hardship.
- Account Takeover, where your existing account is hijacked by members of Organised Crime Groups for the purposes of money laundering. The laundering activity will occur alongside the genuine activity and may go un-noticed by the victim for long periods of time.
To avoid these types of fraud, do not be pressured into transferring large sums of money and never send your bank or personal details. If you have done, contact your bank immediately to stop money being withdrawn and sent overseas.
Cyber fraud – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO):
Ensure the number you are calling or the website you visit is legitimate.
Fraudsters are using search engine optimisation techniques to drive victims to their websites to buy products or services.
In one Action Fraud report, the victim had carried out a Google search for a telephone number for ‘Gmail’. After calling the number found, the victim was asked to provide personal information (including bank details) to make a payment to settle her accounts. £199 was requested and paid by the victim. Following this, the victims email account was hacked and further personal information stolen by the fraudsters.
Check the URL of the sites you visit in the web browser. A tactic often used by fraudsters is to change the address very slightly. Make sure you are visiting a legitimate site.
Gaming websites targeted by fraudsters:
Be careful whom you play with online and what information you share Criminals are targetting individuals and businesses using games and gaming websites to illegally access individual accounts. Often the fraudsters are known individuals on the gaming sites or take over the account of a known individual and alter the information on and content of the websites.
Online chat platforms are being used to communicate with victims prior to the attack and some had social media accounts pertaining to their real-life personas. The intent of these attacks is not known; however, in the absence of a monetary demand and/or personal motive, it is likely that these incidents may be used to facilitate individual or large-scale data compromise.
NFIB has also had reports of online gaming websites that offer Xbox points to purchase, but take the money and do not provide the consumer with the points. These offences target younger audiences who may be more vulnerable and less aware of the dangers of entering their credit or debit card details online.