Which?, a consumer group, has recently issued a warning about the rise of four convincing scams that have emerged so far this year. Consumers are being bombarded with these scams from all directions, making it difficult to identify the real ones. Lisa Barber, Which? tech editor, said that it is appalling that scammers are continuing to thrive in 2023 and that consumers need to be aware of the latest scams.
The scams that have been identified by Which? include pig butchering, fake missing person appeals, PayPal scams, and fake app scams. In the pig butchering scam, the scammer and the victim usually meet on a dating site. After gaining the victim’s trust, the scammer asks the victim to move to a private messaging service, which removes them from the protections offered by the dating website. The scammer then claims to have been a successful investor and offers to invest some of the victim’s money. The victim is sometimes shown a crypto-trading platform controlled by the scammer and encouraged to sign up and deposit money, which results in the victim losing their money.
In the second scam, the fake missing person appeals, people are asked to share fake online posts about missing individuals. Near-identical posts are shared worldwide with the location changed. Comments are turned off on the posts, so people cannot alert others to the inconsistencies. After the post has gained numerous likes, it is edited to be about something else, such as an investment scam. The large number of likes adds credibility.
The third scam is the PayPal scam, where people receive a “money request” from a genuine PayPal address. Scammers can send out fake payment requests, often for high-value items, or posing as HMRC demanding “overdue” tax payments. Consumers should not pay PayPal invoices they do not recognize or call phone numbers in those invoices.
The fourth scam is the fake app scam, where apps install malware on phones, steal data, and perpetuate scams. App stores do take steps to tackle the problem, but threats remain. When installing an app, click on the developer’s name and check what other apps it has made. Also, check that the app’s request for permission, such as a request to use the camera, is relevant to the app’s functions. Consumers should also remember that app reviews can be fake.
Consumers can help protect themselves from scams by accessing the wide range of free, expert advice on Which?’s website. They can sign up for scam alerts service or get answers on how to get their money back if they do fall victim to fraud. People who believe they may have been scammed should contact their payment provider and report the scam to Action Fraud.
The government has recently published a new strategy aimed at dealing with fraud, such as banning cold calls for all financial products and working with Ofcom to tackle number spoofing. These plans will allow banks to delay processing payments for longer to enable suspect transactions to be investigated.
Which? has issued a warning to consumers about the rise of new convincing scams that are making it difficult to identify the real ones. Consumers need to be aware of the latest scams and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from falling victim to fraud.
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