UK police contact 70,000 people of fraud in £50m scam operation

Police to contact victims of fraud network

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The police are asking them to give evidence after Scotland Yard detectives closed down a network which is believed to have helped thieves defraud up to 200,000 people in the UK out of more than £50million. The illegal service enabled the thieves to call people and appear to be their banks.

Using this deception allowed criminals to steal people’s personal data and persuade victims to transfer money to them in order to safeguard it. However in reality, they just stole the victims money.

Katy Worobec, managing director at Economic Crime explained on BBC Money Box that she was pleased with the police’s role in tackling this massive operation.

To limit further fraud, she mentioned what listeners should expect in the text message from the police.

Ms Worobec said: “There is no link in the text that is being sent.

“It’s simply asking people to contact MET Police via the MET website so that’s some comfort.”

The police have clarified the text will only be sent on 24 and 25 November – people should ignore anything that comes after these dates.

The message will ask people to visit the Met Police website but will not contain any direct links to click through to.

So, if someone gets a text with a direct link claiming to be from the police, they should ignore it and delete it as it is likely to be fake.

The general advice is to delete cold text messages with links, however if people have received a text from the police over the weekend, it is probably genuine, she suggested.

Nearly 4,800 people have reported being targeted to Action Fraud. The average loss is £10,000 and in one case, a victim lost £3million.

An authorised push payment (APP) scam, also known as a bank transfer scam, occurs when people – knowingly or unwittingly – transfer money from their own bank account to one belonging to a scammer.

For example, a scammer pretends to be from one’s bank’s fraud team and warns that an individual needs to move their money to a safe account but it’s actually an account the fraudster controls.

With thousands of people getting scammed, many people may be wondering if there are ways to get their money back.

40 percent of Britons fail to receive any reimbursement for their lost figure however there are certain things that people can do to improve their chances.

What to do after being scammed
Britons are advised to call their bank directly, checking its website for the correct number to ring.

If their bank is signed up to the voluntary Authorised Push Payment Scam Code which launched on May 28, 2019, it has to take a number of steps to protect their customers and reimburse customers who aren’t to blame.

People can ask their bank directly or check the list on the Payment Service Regulator’s website.

The Code only applies to transfers between UK accounts. Overseas accounts aren’t covered.

If a bank is signed up to the code, as well as reimbursing APP scam victims, it must have also committed to taking steps to protect customers.

If the fraud involved any of someone’s personal information, they can consider signing up for a Protective Registration with fraud prevention organisation Cifas, which costs £25 for two years.

Ms Worobec explained whether the 70,000 victims receiving the text will get their money refunded.

She said: “If they have lost money, and haven’t already contacted their bank – we believe most of them would have given their historic nature -, then the bank will deal with them the same way they would anybody reporting a scam and look at the circumstances.

“If they are innocent victim of fraud they will be reimbursed.”

Additionally more safeguarding includes changing passwords for any accounts that have been compromised due to fraud – and any that use the same password.

Britons should set up two-factor authentication wherever possible to provide another layer of protection.

Being scammed can take a huge toll on mental health. Mind and Victim Support have confidential helplines that provide support to consumers who have been hit.

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