Over the last year scams have reached an all-time high. Scammers are starting to use a range of sophisticated methods and psychological tactics to target victims.
2021 saw a huge rise in scams, with fraudsters stealing over £4 million daily during the first half of the year, according to the BBC. Scams have become more frequent and have only been worsened by the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
These scams undoubtedly involved innocent individuals sharing their personal details or handing over money to scammers. In just the first half of last year over £754 million was stolen through fraud alone. The final 3 months of 2022 also saw a 70% rise in the amount of criminals trying to con people.
All this begs the question: how are scammers getting away with it?
How are scams carried out?
Scams come in all shapes and forms, but there are a few common types of scam to look out for.
Many recent scams have their victims believing they are paying a legitimate organisation. These types of scams rose by 71% in 2021, conning individuals out of £350 million.There are a number of ways these kinds of scams might be carried out including fraudulent delivery text requesting payment or even scammers impersonating solicitors during the purchase of a property.
Another very common form of scam is a ‘purchase scam’. This is where a customer orders goods online which never arrived and never really existed to begin with. When it comes to purchase scams, scammers will often try to create a sense of urgency and scarcity. For example things might be advertised as a one-time offer with limited availability, encouraging you to depart with your cash.
Psychological Tactics have also been used when it comes to scams. Most recently, scammers have been using the Ukrainian War to play with people’s emotions and take donations meant for those suffering. Scammers can also attempt to establish an emotional relationship with the target, attempting to take advantage of people’s trusting nature.
During the pandemic the use of dating apps rose to an all-time high, so perhaps it’s not surprising that scammers have been taking advantage of individuals looking for love. Scammers have been using dating sites and apps to target individuals over a number of weeks to gain their trust. After trust has been established, scammers will move onto asking for money. These romance scams have risen by 62% in the last year.
The final common type of scam revolves around impersonating a well-known institution; usually a bank, police or NHS. In cases like this, scammers will attempt to create a sense of Fear in their victims, hoping that they will comply without asking too many questions.
If you are unsure about a request, there are a number of things you can do to check it is safe. For starters, verify the number yourself, but use your normal telephone numbers for these sources to check, rather than clicking on links or numbers provided in an email, text or letter that you suspect may be a scam.
How to spot a scam
- Check the number – If you ever feel unsure about a request as being made of you make sure that you check the credentials of the person calling you. For example, if you get a call from somebody claiming to be your bank, have a look at the normal numbers for your bank.
- Don’t feel pressured – If you feel pressure to send money or information there should be a red flag. Scammers will try to create a sense of urgency or even fear to make you comply.
- Do your research – If you’re looking into a product that seems too good to be true do a little research and try to find multiple sources that suggest it’s legitimate. If you’re getting a call from a company who you don’t regularly speak to, consider searching for their website.
- If in doubt, stop! – Never give your personal information or bank details to anyone who you do not fully trust. If you feel pressured or unsure during a transaction, stop. A legitimate organisation will always give you time to consider what you want to do.