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Beware of scammers and their devious tricks

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by Jane Bowe

 I AM angered when people I know and like, and who are guilty of nothing more than being trusting, are scammed out of thousands of pounds. And I am sad that this is happening more and more frequently as clever, unscrupulous people think up more and more cons to catch people out. Whatever inspires them to behave in this way, we all have to guard against them.

Currently, there are so many scams coming to us in so many forms it’s frankly hard to keep up. There are some I can name instantly, such as the recorded message purportedly from HMRC informing you that a warrant is out for your arrest due to a debt owed to them. This is absolute rubbish. First and foremost, HMRC has no authority to have anyone arrested directly. Any debt owing would be discussed with you and only with you, and not by a telephone message. So, firstly, don’t trust telephone calls of this nature ever, and especially if you are asked for private details, and particularly bank details.

If you are a user of WhatsApp, hackers are sending messages apparently from your contacts and asking you to send them a code which has mistakenly been sent to your mobile phone. Please don’t respond to this! If you send that code on, it gives the hacker access to all your contacts. A family member was targeted by this, and it took some considerable time and effort to ensure that everyone relevant was warned and to finally eliminate the risk. 

A particularly slimy and clever scam is one in which a group are involved in pretending to be acting in your interests because staff members at the local branch of your bank are dishonest and trying to defraud you out of money. It’s very clever and having set up fake telephone numbers, it is highly convincing too. Please do not trust this one. The fake bank staff will pretend to set up safe accounts for you and encourage you to gradually transfer more and more money to ‘safety’. As you transfer the money, you would be asked by your bank if you were sure you wanted to complete the transfer. By this stage, you are likely to have been so thoroughly convinced by the scammers that you confirm the transfers. Once this has been done, you have no comeback at all. Your money is lost.

For a little light relief, there are some scammers who send text messages which are hilariously badly spelt. The email address they come from is also usually suspect. For example, a bank’s correct name might be in the email address, but instead of beginning with ‘www’, it might start with the word ‘authorise-hsbc/Lloyds/ or whichever bank they are trying to use for their deception. On one such text, a friend was told, amongst other interestingly spelt things, that he would be given an ‘entimation’ instead of an estimation. He said that this sounded like a medical procedure which should only be carried out under anaesthetic…

Sadly there are many more scams ‘doing the rounds’ now, and there seems to have been an outburst of them during lockdown. So, if something doesn’t sound right, or sounds too good to be true, please, please follow your gut and get in touch with your bank or your financial adviser and ask them about it. Although many of us aren’t experts, we have enough experience either to have heard of a scam or to be able where to work out what is a scam and to suggest you should check it out.

Please take care, there are so many unscrupulous people out there!

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