don’t be duped by social engineer fraudsters…

APP fraud is where a fraudster tricks their victim into authorising a payment to an account controlled by the fraudster. It contrasts with unauthorised frauds where the fraudster makes the payment using personal data about the victim that they have illegally obtained.

Losses due to APP scams were £249 million in the first six months of 2022, over 95,000 cases, and almost all involving personal business transactions.

Thamesbank Credit Union members should be vigilant about the dangers of APP, and should not hesitate to contact Thamesbank customer services if they have any doubt about suspicious letters or telephone calls they receive relating to their Thamesbank Credit Union savings or loans accounts.

In this series of articles, based on UK Finance’s 2022 half year fraud update report, we will be exploring the cunning ways criminals groom and manipulate their victims into authorising transfers of their money to the criminals. We start with romance scams.

Romance scams involve the fraudster contacting a victim, often online through social media, and lulling them into believing they have formed a romantic attachment, and then persuading them to transfer money to them.

Fraudsters will use fake profiles, or (according to a fraud alert by Santander bank) falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, aid workers, or professionals working abroad, to target their victims to start a relationship which they will try to develop over a longer period.

Once they have established their victim’s trust, the criminal will then claim to be experiencing a problem, such as an issue with a visa, health issues or flight tickets and ask for money to help. A total of £16.6 million was lost to romance scams in January to June 2022, an increase of 31 per cent when compared to the same period in 2021.

Romance scams have an average of over eight scam payments per case; the highest of the eight scam types, highlighting evidence that the individual is often convinced to make multiple, generally smaller, payments to the criminal over a longer period.

How to stay safe from romance scams:

• Avoid sending money to someone you’ve never met in person, particularly if you have only recently met online
• Research the person you’re talking to because their profile photos might not be genuine. You can do this by uploading a picture of the person you’re talking to into search engines to check that profile photos are not associated with another name.
• Be alert to spelling and grammar mistakes and inconsistencies in stories
• Stay on the dating site or on the messaging service until you’re confident the person is who they say they are and ensure meetings in person take place in public
• Always consider the possibility that you’re being scammed
• Only accept friend requests from people you know and trust
• Speak to your family or friends for advice
• Try to remove the emotion from your decision making no matter how caring or persistent the ‘prospective partner’ is

In the next article, we will discuss the most common form of APP, purchase scams – where people make a payment for goods that they believe to be genuine, but which are fake and so the items purchased in good faith never arrive.

If you have any concerns about the security of your Thamesbank Credit Union savings and loans accounts, do not hesitate to contact us for assurance. Never disclose your logon password or ID to anyone, even if they say they appear to be genuine requests.

Permjit Singh, Director, Thamesbank Credit Union