Many of us believe that we are too experienced to be scammed. The ugly truth is that nearly 45% of all UK crime committed in 2022 against individuals was fraud through scamming. Scammers are becoming cleverer and more sophisticated, and scams are on the increase.
The consequences are horrendous for the victim, and some have been scarred for life. Ironically, many scammers use the fact that fraud is on the increase to gain trust and scam people. Many will call you to inform you that you might have been scammed, using this strategy to obtain valuable information from you. So how how do we protect ourselves from scams and scammers?
A real life story
Paul was contacted on the phone by a professional sounding online Crypto trader. His mate John had apparently recommended him, but when Paul asked which John it was, the trader was vague. Paul happened to know a guy called John (who doesn’t?), and thought it might be him, so allowed the conversation to continue.
The trader said his firm were offering great real-time returns and could turn £500 into £5,000 quickly and easily. He seemed to really know his stuff, mentioning all the various Crypto currencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum which Paul had heard of and others he hadn’t. Returns were guaranteed with a lock-in mechanism which prevented losses. All Paul needed to do was register, download the app and they could start trading Crypto on his behalf. Their fee was only 10% of Paul’s profits, so he had nothing to lose.
Scammers prey on greed
Paul had heard stories from friends about how much money could be made in Crypto so decided to go ahead. He was emailed a link from a no-reply address to download an app, did so, registered with all his personal information and invested £500. It all looked legit.
Paul checked the app daily and could see activity with numbers rising and falling, but didn’t understand it. Within a week his “portfolio” was worth £4,000 so he decided to invest a further £1,000. The value of his portfolio kept going up magically, bucking the trend of all the markets. Within a few months, Paul had £57,000 in his account, having made a profit of over £50,000. He decided to cash in some of his profits.
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is
This is when the problems started. First, all communication was via a robot on the app. The app said he’d have to pay the 10% fee on everything he’d made prior to making a withdrawal. This was over £5,000. So, Paul paid it reluctantly from his personal savings. As soon as he’d done that, the app failed. There was no support contact number, and no one answered his numerous complaint emails to the no-reply address. The company seemed to have vanished into thin air.
Paul typed the name of the company into Google and could see that other people were asking the same questions he was. They had been scammed in the same way by the same company. He was too embarrassed to tell his wife. That wasn’t the end of it. Paul soon started getting invoices for online purchase he hadn’t made. The scammers had sold his personal information to third parties who were now using his details to open online shopping accounts. It ruined his credit and cost him a lot of aggro. Investment fraud
Signs that this was a scam
The fact that Paul was called out of the blue was a red flag, even though he had cleverly been recommended by “John”. The fact that he had to pay fees before he could access his money was another one, as was the offer of high guaranteed returns. The biggest red flag was that the deal was just too good to be true.
Paul should have hung up on the caller and done his own research to determine whether the company was genuine. He should also have insisted on a call back number and tested it. He could have contacted and asked John whether this was a legitimate referral. Should’a, could’a, would’a. I think he may have learned his lesson, but the damage has been done.
Below are some resources from Action Fraud you could use if you have been scammed: