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Kidmore End Parish Council

  • Cane End
  • Chalkhouse Green
  • Gallowstree Common
  • Kidmore End
  • Tokers Green

Security

On this page we have gathered together information and advice, provided mostly by Thames Valley Police, on how to stay safe in the real world and on the internet.

You can find more information on the TVP website or by following the links at the bottom of the page

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Staying safe at home

Fake letter boxes

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has noticed an increase in reports of fraudsters placing fake letter boxes on residential properties in an attempt to harvest the mail. Residents are sometimes unaware of the fake letterbox as the fraudsters will periodically remove the item, which may leave notable markings. The mail is then used to open various lines of credit with financial providers in the name of the innocent resident.

Protect yourself:
  • Be vigilant and check for any suspicious activity, tampering of your post/letterbox or for suspicious glue markings on the wall.
  • Check all post received from financial institutions, even if it appears unsolicited.
  • Consider reporting theft of mail to your local police force and any cases of identity fraud to Action Fraud.
  • If you have been a victim of identity fraud consider Cifas Protection Registration (https://www.cifas.org.uk/protective_registration_form)
  • If you, or anyone you know, has been affected by this fraud or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

Good Citizen Award scam

Action Fraud has been receiving reports of an advanced fee fraud whereby suspects phone a member of the public and claim to be calling on behalf of the UK (or British) Government Grant Department.

They go on to state that the individual has won a Good Citizen Award – of typically £8,000 – and that the grant can be released for a fee (of around £210).

Fortunately, very few members of the public have lost any money as a result of this scam but have reported to Action Fraud in order to help build a picture of this fraud and protect others from falling victim to it.

Protect yourself:
  • There is no genuine 'Good Citizen Award' scheme in the UK that operates by cold calling 'winners' and asking for an upfront fee to release a grant.
  • If you receive a call that claims to represent such a scheme, it is a scam. End the phone call – do not give out any personal or financial data.

If you, or anyone you know, have been affected by this fraud or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.


Council tax scam

Fraudsters have been phoning victims telling them that they have been placed in the wrong council tax bracket for a number of years and are entitled to a rebate. They normally say that this rebate should be worth about £7,000. Once the victim is convinced, the fraudster tells them that in order to receive the rebate they will need to pay an administration fee in advance. The payment they ask for varies between £60-£350. The victim provides the details and makes the payment, but then is no longer able to make contact with the person they spoke to on the phone. When they phone their council about the rebate and the fact that they are in the wrong tax bracket, the council will confirm that they know nothing about it and that they have been contacted by fraudsters.

The fraudsters have mainly been targeting both male and female victims who are aged 60 and over and live in the Sussex area, but it is likely that the fraudsters will also start to target victims in other areas.

Protect yourself
  • Never respond to unsolicited phone calls.
  • Your local council won't ever phone 'out of the blue' to discuss a council tax rebate. If you receive a call of this nature, put the phone down straight away.
  • No legitimate organisation will ask you to pay an advanced fee in order to receive money, so never give them your card details.
  • If you think you have been a victim of fraud, hang up the phone and wait five minutes to clear the line as fraudsters sometimes keep the line open. Then call your bank or card issuer to report the fraud. Where it is possible use a different phone line to make the phone call.

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud you can report it online at www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by telephone on 0300 123 2040.


Pension scam ('Cape Verde') alert

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has been alerted to a pension scam whereby cold callers continue to target members of the public aged 50 to 60 years old to release and transfer their pension early. Suspected firms who advertise and arrange pensions are offering investments in alternative commodities such as hotel developments or property in Cape Verde, and operate as unregulated collective investment schemes.

Often, the cold calling 'pension companies' involved are neither regulated nor qualified to give financial advice and classify themselves as a 'trustee', 'consultant' or an 'independent advisor' and offer exceptionally high return rates for investors.

Some victims have signed documents that authorises a limited company to be set up using their personal details, including utilising a Small Self-Administered Scheme (SSAS). Whilst SSAS accounts and limited companies are essential for legitimate schemes, the fact that victims are unaware that this will happen suggests that the scheme may not have been fully explained to them, increasing the likelihood that there may be an element of fraud involved.

Protect yourself

Further advice can be found at:

Ensure that you request that the risks and growth rates are explained and that you fully understand them before transferring your pension.

Check whether the pension arrangement company is registered with the FCA. Registered companies can be checked using the FCA register online at register.fca.org.uk.

Remember that if the offer seems too good to be true, then it generally is.

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud you can report it online at www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by telephone on 0300 123 2040.


Parcel mule scam

People are being targeted to become 'parcel mules' as part of a reshipping scam, which results in them handling stolen goods and losing out financially.

Victims are predominantly recruited through job advertisements and dating websites. They are persuaded to have items delivered to their addresses, and to pay for postage before sending the items elsewhere. Victims are contacted through freelancer websites and invited to become a 'freight forwarder' as an employment opportunity. The work is advertised as processing packages and forwarding them to clients.

The items being delivered have been purchased through fraudulent means, including the use of stolen/fraudulently obtained cards. The items being delivered are often pieces of electrical equipment or high value goods such as trainers, perfume and the latest phones.

If you act as a 'mule' you are not only handling stolen goods, but also losing out financially. You will not get paid the promised salary and you pay for the postage and delivery of the packages personally. Additionally, you will have provided enough of your personal details to allow identity theft to occur.

How to protect yourself:
  • Do not agree to receive packages at your address for someone that you do not know and trust.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited job offers or opportunities to make easy money.
  • When accepting a job offer, verify the company details provided to you and check whether they have been registered in the UK.
  • Be wary of someone that you have met only online who asks you to send money or to receive items. Protect your privacy and do not give your personal details to someone that you do not know and trust.

If you, or anyone you know, have been affected by this fraud or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk


Have you property-marked your items?

Deter thieves by visibly marking your power tools and machinery

A number of burglaries have been reported in the South Oxon and Vale area of thefts from garages, sheds and outbuildings where burglars have targeted power tools, mowers and other high-value gardening equipment and machinery.

Items stolen from these buildings are seldom recovered. Why? Because they cannot be identified! Thieves love clean, unmarked items so they can be easily sold on.

Property marking machinery, tools and other equipment can act as a deterrent and will help police to reunite stolen property with its rightful owners if recovered.

CRE MARK offers a unique Overt Property Marking system that clearly marks the ownership of your possessions, in order to deter thieves and aid the recovery of stolen property.

The clearly visible security coding which uses your Postcode and the house number or first two letters of your house name makes the item identifiable and traceable. This marking is then made permanent by coating the markings with a CRE MARK specially formulated protective lacquer.

CRE MARK for TOOLS will mark lawnmowers, drills, sanders, chainsaws, power washers, strimmers, garden furniture, hand tools and much more.

CRE MARK allows you to mark your valuable possessions quickly, easily and without having to register details on any database – but most importantly, you and everyone else, including a would be thief, can see them. What better deterrent?

Crime prevention and property marking advice:
  • Lock tools away in a secure building or part of a building when not in use.
  • Invest in a secure storage toolbox.
  • Consider protecting the building where tools are kept with an alarm.
  • Tools should be uniquely marked, photographed and recorded.
  • Register tools on the national database Immobilise (opens new window). Include your postcode and property name or number.
  • Consider 'postcoding' and marking tools and equipment using the premise postcode and house number or first three letters of the property name.
  • Use property marking to uniquely mark tools. Popular options include overt visible permanent marking (painting or CRE MARK), or UV marking and DNA products.

If you require further information and advice on crime prevention and property marking, please either contact a member of your Neighbourhood Policing team on 101 or click on the following links:

If you are offered cheap tools or machinery or have any information relating to this message, please call the police on the 24 hour non-emergency telephone number 101.

Alternatively if you have information but wish to remain anonymous, please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or contact them online at crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.


More on property marking

Smartwater

Smartwater is a brand of forensic marking fluid containing millions of microscopic particles that make up an individual property identification code. The liquid is invisible to the naked eye, but glows green under UV light. It can be painted onto valuable items (eg. laptops, MP3 players, televisions, antiques) so that if the items are stolen and later seized by the police, the markings can be checked and items linked with their owners.

The South and Vale Community Safety Partnership have provided funding for the provision of large Ultra violet lanterns to detect items that have been marked with Smartwater, ultra violet pens or other forensic marking products. These lanterns are being used across the area by Neighbourhood Policing Teams and other crime teams during stop checks, when carrying out warrants and on our regular checks on local scrap yards and various other instances.

The Local Police Area supply these kits at a one off cost of £15.00 with no annual fee, these home marking kits normally retail at £60 plus an annual fee of £60. If you would like to find out more about Smartwater please visit www.smartwater.com

Personal safety packs

The personal safety packs contain the following: personal defender alarm torch, UV property marking pen, purse bell, "no cold callers" letterbox sticker and crime prevention leaflets. The cost is £4.00 per pack.

Purse bells are a great way to alert the owner that someone maybe trying to remove their purse from their bag, due to the "bell" noise it makes.

The UV pens are a great way to property mark smaller electrical items.

The personal alarms are a great way to feel safer when out and about, it reaches 130dBs, is key ring activated, and has an LED torch.

Both of the above kits can be purchased from the front desk at Abingdon Police Station or you can contact your local Neighbourhood Team on the non-emergency police number 101.

If you would like more information please contact Lisa Butler – Community Relations Officer lisa.butler@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk or call 01235 556611.


'Not With My Name' campaign to combat identity crime
affecting one in four adults

Thames Valley Police has launched an awareness campaign encouraging people to protect their personal information.

The 'Not With My Name' campaign, produced in partnership with the City of London Police (National Policing Lead for Fraud), is targeting identity crime in our communities.

According to crime prevention service Cifas there were 1,482 cases of identity fraud reported in Buckinghamshire, 945 reported in Oxfordshire and 2,141 reported in Berkshire in 2014.

Identity fraud can lead to inconvenience and distress with victims spending on average of 200 hours of their personal or businesses time to resolve.

Victims often find money has been removed from their bank or their account has been taken over, a fraudulent passport or driving licence has been created in their name, or loans, mortgages and mobile phone contracts have been set-up using their identity.

The proceeds of identity crime are often used to fund further criminal activity.

To combat this rising threat the 'Not With My Name' campaign will highlight advice to help people protect their personal information. This will include pointers on creating safe passwords, protecting internet devices, dealing with unsolicited phone calls and emails, and safely storing and disposing of mail.

These messages will be shared across Thames Valley Police Facebook and Twitter accounts and there will be a national Twitter chat, hosted by @actionfrauduk, at 5pm on Monday 29 June 2015.

Detective Inspector Gavin Tyrrell of Thames Valley Police's Economic Crime Unit said: "Identity crime, the creation of a false identity or the misuse of a genuine identity, affects people as they are going about their day to day lives.

"Normal things like online shopping can become a risk and identity crime deters vulnerable people and communities from taking part.

"The proceeds of identity crime can be used to fund serious and organised crime.

"That's why it's so vital members of the public can take simple steps to protect their personal information and safeguard against identity fraud.

"Simple things like changing your social media settings or creating safe passwords all make a difference.

"By working together and sharing these identity crime prevention tips we can reduce opportunities for identity fraud across the Thames Valley."

The campaign is being supported nationally by police forces and organisations including Action Fraud, Get Safe Online, Cifas, FFA UK, Age UK and Experian.

City of London Police Commander Steve Head, who is the Police National Coordinator for Economic Crime, said: "To really get to grips with identity crime requires us all to come together and share advice on how to protect our personal information at home, in the workplace and while out in public places. Following the top tips provided by the 'Not With My Name' campaign will help people better understand the nature and scale of the threat they face which in turn will hopefully make them much less likely to fall victim to this type of offence."

For more identity fraud prevention advice visit the Thames Valley Police website.

Individuals and businesses that have fallen victim to a fraud facilitated by an identity crime should report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.


Euro Millions Peoples International Postcode Lottery fraud

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has seen an increase in Action Fraud reports where victims receive a letter from a company claiming to be the 'Euro Millions Peoples International Postcode Lottery'.

The amount of money they say you have won is typically £720,000 and the letter is usually signed by either 'Peter LLOYD' or 'Johan NELSON', with an address for the company similar to '202-205 Rue Wiertz/Wiertzstraat, Brussels B1099'. The letter may ask for a fee to release the funds or ask you to provide your personal details.

Members of the public, who are rightly wary of this scam, have contacted Action Fraud to report the suspicious letters being delivered to them, and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has noted that addresses within the South Wales coast and the coast of North Kent are areas of the UK where these letters appear to have been mainly focused.

Protect yourself:

  • Never respond to any such communication. If you have not entered a lottery then you cannot have won it.
  • Any request for a fee payment is a good indication that someone is trying to defraud you.
  • Never disclose your bank details or pay any fees in advance to anyone or any company who you are unsure of.

If you need to report a fraud, please call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use the Action Fraud reporting tool, via the Action Fraud website.


The "We are holding a parcel in your name" Scam
– postcards delivered to residents' homes

Parcel scam

Scam postcards are being delivered to UK residents' homes claiming that a parcel containing 'jewellery' is waiting for the homeowner.

Find out how to protect yourself and report to Action Fraud if you have received one.


'Courier Fraud' scam

Thames Valley Police is reminding residents about the courier fraud scam, after three people received suspicious phone calls late at night on 22 October 2014 in Abingdon.

All three victims received calls between 11pm and 12am from a man who told them that they were a police officer in Holburn, London, and that they had arrested someone who had the victim's credit cards on them.

In all three cases, the victims realised this was a scam and hung up the phone before alerting police. No money was stolen as a result.

Police are reiterating their advice about this type of fraud and asking everyone who has elderly or vulnerable family members, friends, or neighbours, to let them know about the scam.

The most important three things to remember are:

  1. Your bank and/or the police will never ask for your PIN
  2. Your bank will never attend your home to deliver a replacement card or to collect cash
  3. Your bank and/or the police will never collect your bank card.

If someone calls and says they are a police officer, ask for their shoulder number, hang up, and call 101 from a different phone to check they are who they say they are.

This type of fraud is known as courier fraud or vishing and often targets the elderly and vulnerable. The victim receives a phone call from fraudsters who say they are from their bank or the police. They tell the victim that they are calling because there has been suspicious activity on their account or because their cards have been found on a suspect, and advise them to call the bank from the number on the back of their card, which helps the victim believe the call is genuine.

The victim disconnects the phone and dials their bank or police, however the fraudster has kept the telephone line open so even though a number is dialed, it is not connected and the victim is still on the phone to the fraudster, who then gains their trust and asks them to either say or key in their pin, before telling them their card will be collected and a replacement delivered.

Once the fraudster has all the information they need, a courier is sent to collect the card from the victim, and a replacement is delivered at the same time, which is not a genuine bank card.

The offender has obtained the person's name, address, full bank details, the card itself and the PIN. The bank cards are then used fraudulently without the victim's knowledge.

There are a number of variations to the scam, including:

  • Fraudsters pretending to be from the police cold-calling members of the public and telling them that their bank account has been compromised by criminals. The fraudster suggests that the person should transfer their bank balance into a 'safe' police bank account.
  • Fraudsters pretending to be from the police attending people's addresses and retrieving the person's card and PIN.
  • Fraudsters calling the victims and telling them to withdraw large amounts of money from their bank accounts, put it in an envelope, and hand this over to a courier who would call at their home. The fraudster tells the victim this is necessary as there are corrupt staff at the bank, and not to speak to anyone when they withdraw the money.
  • Members of the public receiving letters on bank headed paper informing them that their account has been the subject of a fraud. The letter advises them to transfer their funds to a 'safe' account and that an official will be in contact to provide them with a new card and PIN.
  • Fraudsters contacting members of the public requesting them to cut their cards in half because their account has been compromised. They are then asked to post the cut card to an address where fraudsters simply tape the card together again and can use the details to commit fraud.

Police advice is that if you receive such a call, end it immediately.

If you receive this type of call, report it to police on 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or via their website. In an emergency, dial 999.

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Staying safe online

Do you know enough about online safety?

Internet Security advice through Get Safe Online

Did you know that 80% of online crime is easily preventable by taking simple steps to protect computers, smart phones and tablets?

During 2015, Thames Valley Police will be working in partnership with Get Safe Online to provide practical advice to help our communities protect themselves on the internet.

The website covers a wide range of topics, and will be a useful read for parents, businesses and the vulnerable and elderly too.

Visit www.GetSafeOnline.org.

Are you a parent or carer of a child aged 8 – 12?

You may have already seen or heard about the new NSPCC online safety campaign, Share Aware which launched recently.

Many parents feel out of their depth in understanding what their children are doing online and what the risks might be.

This campaign is aimed at parents and carers of children aged 8-12, and is a good tool to help with understanding what children like to get up to online. It will certainly help parents to have those difficult conversations with children about staying safe.

There is a downloadable Share Aware guide for parents that has three main purposes:

  • to provide an overview of sites, apps and games that children and young people use from a user-perspective;
  • to give parents the confidence to facilitate balanced and informed conversations about what their children are doing online; and
  • to encourage parents to look at social networking platforms themselves and form their own views about the appropriateness of popular sites for their children.

Thames Valley Police supports the campaign, and we encourage you to read the guide, watch the video with your children, and to start having those important conversations about staying safe as a family.

Visit www.NSPCC.org.uk/ShareAware, follow @NSPCC and #ShareAware.

Taking a few moments now to familiarise yourself with the best ways to protect yourself, your family and your devices online might be a smart and safe way to start 2015.


Action Fraud

Action Fraud

We are the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and financially motivated cyber crime and are run by the City of London Police, working alongside the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. Our specialist team uses information from all of the fraud and cyber crime cases reported to us to create alerts about new types of crime or those which are increasing in severity.

Issues that we commonly see, and that we will be informing you about specifically over the coming weeks and months include the following:

  • People who call to tell you that there is a problem with your bank card and that they need to collect it from you to fix the problem;
  • Fraud committed by people selling event / entertainment tickets, weight-loss / teeth whitening drugs, or vehicles online;
  • Fraud committed by people who cold-call thousands of people in the UK in order to sell them an investment in shares or precious metals, or who want them to invest their pension;
  • People pretending to be someone they are not in order to persuade your business to send money to a new bank account to pay for an invoice;
  • The activities of cyber-criminals who want to infect your computer or smartphone in order to steal your banking details or 'lock' important files to prevent you from using or viewing them;
  • Fraudsters who persuade people to pay a fee in advance of receiving a loan, which never appears.

All of these can be avoided by following the simple prevention advice we will include in every alert we issue, which you will also be able to find on the Action Fraud website.

We hope that you find our alerts interesting and that they can help you to keep the criminals at arm's length.

The Action Fraud team

If you believe you have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime, please report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.


"Your package has been seized" Royal Mail scam email

Fraudsters are sending out virus infected emails that claim a package has been seized by HM Revenue & Customs upon arrival into the United Kingdom. The official looking scam emails claiming to be from Royal Mail contain a link to a document which will install malicious software on your computer designed to steal credentials like account names, email addresses and passwords.

An example email reads:

Title: Your parcel has been seized

Royal Mail is sorry to inform you that a package addressed to you was seized by HM Revenue & Customs upon arrival into the United Kingdom.

A close inspection deemed your items as counterfeit and the manufacturers have been notified. If your items are declared genuine then they will be returned back to you with the appropriate custom charges. You may have been a victim of counterfeit merchandise and the RM Group UK will notify you on how to get your money back. Please review the attached PDF document for more information.

Document (RM7002137GB).Zip

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.

To help the spread of the virus, the email also says: "you will need to have access to a computer to download and open the Zip file". If you receive one of these emails, do not click on any links or download any attachments and report it to Action Fraud.

Protect Yourself
  • Royal Mail will never send an email asking for credit card numbers or other personal or confidential information.
  • Royal Mail will never ask customers to enter information on a page that isn't part of the Royal Mail website.
  • Royal Mail will never include attachments unless the email was solicited by a customer e.g. customer has contacted Royal Mail with an enquiry or has signed up for updates from Royal Mail.
  • Royal Mail have also stressed that they do not receive a person's email address as part of any home shopping experience.

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud you can report it online at http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by telephone 0300 123 2040.


TorrentLocker alert

A scam email is currently being sent to victims fraudulently claiming to be from British Gas or The Ministry of Justice. The attached document or link leads to the TorrentLocker ransomware.

This malware encrypts files on the victim's system and requests a ransom be paid in order for the files to be decrypted; one reported amount has been £330 worth of Bitcoins.

It has been reported that some anti-virus vendors are detecting this and stopping the pages and or documents from being opened.

Protect yourself:

  • If you receive an email that you are suspicious of do not follow any links or open attachments until you can verify that the email is genuine. To do this contact the organisation that the email has come from by sourcing the number independently from the email received.
  • If you believe the email to be fake, report it to your email provider as spam.
  • Ensure your anti-virus software is up to date this will help to mitigate the potential for virus to be downloaded. It should be noted that anti-virus software is constantly being updated and may not stop all viruses especially if they are new or been adapted. It has been reported that some anti-virus vendors are detecting this and stopping the pages and or documents from being opened.
  • If you have opened an attachment or followed a link which you believe to be suspicious it is recommended that you run your anti-virus and/or take your machine to a reputable company to have it cleaned.
  • In cases where files have been encrypted it can be very difficult to retrieve them, and in most cases they will be lost. It is recommended that you always back up all files on a separate device or cloud storage to ensure they are not lost. Please remember that if a device is attached to the infected machine the files on this could also be encrypted with the virus so ensure they are kept separate.

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud you can report it online at http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by telephone 0300 123 2040.


Fraudulent 'Apple Pay' alert

Fraudsters are targeting classified advertisement websites like AutoTrader to advertise vehicles for sale. Buyers are then contacting these 'sellers' to find out more about the vehicles and are being told to pay for them via 'Apple Pay'. In this case the fraudsters are not using the genuine Apple Pay service and potential victims pay money directly to bank accounts in control of the fraudsters. Individuals receive emails claiming to be from Apple Pay with a web link to a cloned website with false terms and conditions of the 'escrow' service. Any money remitted to the fraudsters is then unrecoverable and the vehicles are not delivered.

Protect yourself:

  • Meet the seller 'face to face' and view the vehicle before parting with any money.
  • Be cautious of web links in an email. They may not direct you to the genuine website.
  • Report scam advertisements to the classified advertisement websites.
  • If the vehicle is below market value, consider whether this is an opportunity too good to be true!

Royal Mail Email Scam

A scam email is currently being sent to victims fraudulently claiming to be from the Royal Mail. Attached to the email is the CryptoLocker virus.

The victim receives an email purporting to be from the Royal Mail stating that they are holding a parcel/letter for the victim. The victim is then required to contact the Royal Mail to arrange for the item to be resent/collected.

By following the instructions within the email the CryptoLocker virus is subsequently downloaded to the victim's computer. This virus encrypts files on the victim's system and requests a ransom be paid in order for the files to be decrypted.

Additional incentive is added for early repayment as the ransomware states that the cost of decrypting the files will increase the longer the fine is outstanding.

Protect yourself:

  • Look at who the email is addressed to. Is it generic or specifically addressed?
  • Look at the quality of the images included on the email. Are they of sufficient high quality that they could come from Royal Mail?
  • Do not open attachments from unsolicited emails regardless of who they are from.
  • Do not click on the link supplied. Instead, go to the relevant website and log in from there.
  • Check the address of any email received to see if it appears legitimate.

Flight ticket fraud alert

People looking for cheap flight tickets are being targeted by fraudsters. New websites are continually being created with slight changes to the company names with the intention of deceiving the public. They offer tickets at bargain prices and usually request payment via bank transfer. These tickets do not materialize and the funds are retained by the fraudsters.

Protect yourself:

  • Where possible, buy from well-known company names. If you've never heard of a company, conduct some due diligence.
  • Use the internet. Type the name of the company/site you are buying from and look for reviews of what others customers are saying about the company. Bad customer service feedback usually finds its way online quite quickly.
  • Use companies that are ATOL or ABTA Registered. You can check this here: http://abta.com/go-travel/before-you-travel/find-a-member or http://www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?catid=490&pagetype=65&appid=2
  • Check the authenticity of flight booking websites before making any reservations. A "whois" search on the website will identify when the website has been created, so be wary of newly formed domains. This search can be conducted using http://who.is
  • Never send money to bank accounts. If possible pay using a credit card – that way you have some protection and avenue for recompense.
  • Sign up to Action Fraud Alert at https://www.actionfraudalert.co.uk/ to keep you updated with what's going on.

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud you can report it online at http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by telephone 0300 123 2040.


Adobe and LinkedIn phishing emails

Current spam email campaigns are trying to infiltrate or infect email accounts by pretending to come from either Adobe or LinkedIn Support. The emails from LinkedIn claim 'irregular activities have prompted a compulsory security update'. The Adobe emails attempt to direct the user to the latest updates.

Phishing is an attempt by a fraudster to steal valuable information by pretending to be a company that you know and use. It relies on people to think the message is genuine. Victims are initially sent an email that will have either a link to a website, or contain an attachment. What the fraudsters want you to do is click on the link or attachment so that they can steal valuable information from your computer, like your bank account or credit card details.

Protect yourself:

  • Look at who the email is addressed to - many will say "Dear user" or "Dear valued customer" and will not be addressed directly to you.
  • If there are images included in the email they may be of a poor quality but will try to look like the company they are trying to represent.
  • The message may have a few spelling mistakes.
  • Do not click on the link supplied. Instead, go to the relevant website and log in from there.

If you need to report a fraud, please call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use the Action Fraud reporting tool, via the Action Fraud website.


Top safety tips to help avoid job scams

A message from Action Fraud (National Fraud Intelligence Bureau)

Get Safe Online, Safer Jobs and Action Fraud are warning people to take precautions whilst looking for jobs online, to avoid falling victim to scammers.

There are a number of different ways in which job-seekers could be defrauded. These range from direct financial scams to misleading job descriptions.

Safer-Jobs, the recruitment industry's counter fraud forum, provide free advice to ensure that people have a safer job search. They suggest several steps which any other job-seeker should take when dealing with a potential employer:

  1. Never part with money – employers should pay you, not the other way round. If asked to pay for security checks, visas, training, or anything else, you should research the job, the company, and never use any associated company suggested to you without conducting independent thorough research.
  2. Never take it on face value – have you received an 'out of the blue', 'too good to be true' job offer? Be sceptical and ask questions. Why and how have you been contacted, what is the job, did you apply? Be wary of any non-business, generic email address (such as hotmail and yahoo), poorly written job adverts or job descriptions, and emails or contact at unusual times of the day (unless pre-arranged).
  3. Never do everything online – whilst technology is a great enabler to help people find work, at some point your job discussion should lead to an interview or a meeting. Hiring agents who keep the relationship solely on email must be treated extremely cautiously.
  4. Never fail to do research – find out about the company that the job is with and do your research! Check landline telephone numbers and call the end employer to check the job exists. Use social media and sources such as Companies House and LinkedIn to dig deeper into the organisations and people you are interacting with.
  5. Never phone them for an interview – premium rate phone scams are common. This is where an individual calls a pay-for number thinking it's an interview, when actually they are paying for every minute they stay on hold. If an employer wants you to work for them, they will call you.
  6. Never accept money for nothing – with money mule scams on the increase, beware of any employer promising 'get rich quick' or 'earn thousands working from home'. When cheques begin arriving it is easy to be fooled into being used as a money mule.
  7. Never provide personal details – be suspicious of any requests for personal data ahead of an interview or registration meeting (if an agency). Until you have the job, keep bank details safe and only provide identity details once you have met face to face.

For more information visit:
www.actionfraud.police.uk/node/288
www.getsafeonline.org
www.safer-jobs.com


How to create strong passwords to prevent your accounts being hacked

Fraudsters regularly hack into personal online accounts to obtain details which will allow them to defraud you. To prevent fraudsters, it's very important to use strong passwords when setting up and accessing online accounts and online banking.

Passwords should be memorable enough not to have to write them down and long enough to be unique and hard to guess, which will ensure they are less vulnerable to being stolen. If it is not possible to remember passwords a password manager could be used to store them securely.

Protect yourself:

  • Make sure passwords are memorable so that you don't have to write them down. Make sure they are unique.
  • Th!nk ab0ut how you could change the l3tters in your n0rmal passw0rds to make them more difficult to gue55!
  • Use long, non-dictionary words and use different ones for each of your personal accounts and online banking. Make sure you change them regularly.
  • Make sure passwords are not stored on devices that have shared access by other people, for example in internet cafes and when using other public Wi-Fi.

If you believe you have become a victim of account hacking, change your passwords immediately and report to Action Fraud: www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud


Congratulations... You've won the lottery!!!... Or have you?

A lottery scam takes place when criminals pretend that you have won a prize, often a lottery. The people most likely to fall victim to this tend to be over the age of 60 (although younger people do fall victim too) – but we know that it is often close family members of victims who spot the tell-tale signs of the fraud.

Criminals will normally get in touch by letter or email and will try to engage you into dialogue with them. Once they have convinced you that they are 'genuine', they will ask for a fee to be paid to release your winnings. This fee could be to pay taxes or duty, or for a solicitor, banker or judge to authorise the transaction. NO GENUINE LOTTERY WILL EVER ASK FOR ANY SORT OF FEE TO BE PAID.

Often this first fee will be small, but once they know you are willing to pay it they will ask for more and more money, with ever-changing excuses as to why they need it. Victims can end up losing tens of thousands of pounds over the course of months or even years.

Many of you reading will be surprised that this type of crime takes place. After all, why would anyone fall prey to scam like this when they never entered any such lottery in the first place? Why would they have to pay money when they are supposed to have won millions of pounds? The sad truth is that these criminals are incredibly persuasive and prey on people who are very trusting. Therefore, even if you know that you would not get defrauded like this, please spread this message widely to friends, family and to people within your community.

Prevention:

  • If you have not entered a lottery or a prize draw, you have not won it.
  • Delete any emails which detail you winning money or being in a position to make a fortune.
  • Spread the message amongst people you come into contact with, especially older people in your family, and look out for any unusual behaviour, for instance someone paying money via money service bureaux, like Western Union or MoneyGram, or buying Ukash vouchers.

If you believe you have become the victim of a fraud or cyber crime, or have received a suspicious email, find out how to report it here


Email scam

11 February 2014

The Business Crime Reduction Centre (BCRC) is warning people about a new email scam that threatens victims with court action.

Fraudsters have been sending out legitimate-looking spoofed emails designed to trick recipients into installing malware.

The emails say you have been notified and scheduled to appear for a court hearing, and contains specific dates, times, locations and reference numbers.

It asks you to download a copy of the "court notice" attached. The downloadable.zip file actually contains an .exe file (a file that executes when clicked) containing a virus. The email has no connection to the Criminal Justice System and anyone receiving the email should not download any attachments or click any links but report it to us by using our online fraud reporting tool.

Subject headers change frequently

You are likely to see some variations of this email, as it is easy for fraudsters to amend the details and continue targeting people. BCRC's cyber security specialist said, "The email is difficult to block as the subject headers change frequently."

He also said: "Provoking a panicked, impulse reaction has become a very common scam technique for cyber criminals. Opening the attachment allows the criminal to spy on the victim, use their computer to commit crime, or steal personal and financial information."

For further information please visit the BCRC website.

Please note that Action Fraud is not responsible for the content of external websites. To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.