More than seven in ten Britons have been targeted by scammers over the past year, according to new research.
And targets are receiving an average of three scam attempts every week, a survey commissioned by NatWest of 2,000 adults found.
The methods used by fraudsters are undergoing a “rapid evolution”, said the bank, with victims conned out of their cash in wide-ranging and complex ways. Here are five scams to beware.
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Confirmation email scams Travellers using Booking.com are being warned not to “fall for” scam emails asking them to confirm hotel payments, said The Observer, after “a number of customers” reportedly contacted the newspaper saying they had received such emails “from within the Booking.com system” in recent weeks.
The email “claims their stay may have to be cancelled unless they hand over their bank card details via an embedded link”, the paper added.
Booking.com, which strenuously denied claims of a “hack”, has urged any customers concerned about a payment message to “check the payment policy of the accommodation, or contact our customer service team, which is available around the clock”.
Such email scams, known as “phishing”, have long been popular amongst fraudsters, but many are now using new techniques that make the cons “incredibly tricky to spot”, Which? said.
To avoid being scammed, the consumer group advised, “don’t click on any links or download any attachments”, and ensure your antivirus software is up to date, to “provide an extra layer of protection”.
Quishing scams The “latest trick” deployed by fraudsters involves QR codes, said NBC New York.
“We went from phishing to smishing, which is text messages, to now quishing,” Brian Rauer, executive director of the Better Business Bureau of Metro New York, told the news station.
As QR codes become increasingly widespread in restaurants, car parks and on websites, said Rauer, scammers are seizing the opportunity to “lead to you to a phishing website” to “extract” personal and financial information, and potentially also “download malware onto your device”.
Consumers are urged to look for signs of tampering on signs with QR codes and to always check the URL after scanning a code. “Anyone can stick something on the back of a dispenser in a restaurant or on the back of a door,” Rauer said, so verify that the code is that of the “real business”.
QR code scanner apps can also help spot fake sites.
Hybrid scamsHybrid scams “start with friendly chat on one platform”, said the BBC, but then “move the victim on to other platforms which may be encrypted or fake”.
These type of scams may be “carried out over periods of weeks or months”, as the criminal builds up the trust of the victim in order to convince them to hand over cash. Many extract “large amounts” of money before disappearing, added the broadcaster, which reported a “12-fold increase” in hybrid scams in 2022.
Experts advise anyone contacted with unsolicited messages to be cautious and to beware any that try to move conversations away from a legitimate platform, such as a dating app. And report any request for money immediately to the original platform.
Deepfake scamsMartin Lewis has warned of a “frightening” scam using deepfakes. The Money Saving Expert highlighted the new form of con on X, formerly known as Twitter, after his likeness was used to create fake footage of him appearing to promote an “Elon Musk investment”.
Videos that use artificial intelligence to create “believable but fake depictions of real people” are increasingly being employed to “make established scams more convincing”, said NBC News.
Other famous faces used in deepfakes include Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Tom Brady and members of Korean pop band BTS.
Celebrity imposter scams have been around “for a while”, said Amy Nofziger, fraud victim support lead at the Fraud Watch Network of advocacy group AARP. But AI deepfakes can “really accelerate the level of sophistication” in scams, she told the news network.
To “protect yourself”, said cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, look out for tell-tale signs of fakery including “jerky movements”, “shifts in lighting from one frame to the next”, “strange blinking or no blinking at all”, and “lips poorly synched with speech”.
Ghost broker scams Scammers are taking advantage of the high cost of car insurance to lure in victims with false policies at “unrealistically low prices”, said Forbes Advisor. After “making a sale”, the criminals send out fake documents, or take out a real policy but falsify details such as “the driver’s age, address and history, to bring down the premium”.
Or the crooks take out a “genuine” policy that they then cancel, said City of London Police. But “whichever way is used, you won’t realise you don’t
have genuine cover unless you get stopped by police or make a claim”.
And falling victim to a ghost broker “could result in points on your driving licence”, the police force added.
Ben Fletcher, director of the Insurance Fraud Bureau, told Forbes Advisor that “young and vulnerable people”, in particular, were being targeted and “left out of pocket”, and also “face having their car seized by the police for no insurance”.
Ghost brokers often target potential victims “via social media or word of mouth”, said the site, which advised anyone seeking car insurance to instead “use a reputable comparison site or broker, or go direct to the provider”.