12 emerging fraud threats to look out for

A recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) report shows that an estimated 5.1 million fraud offences were committed in England and Wales in the year to September 2021 – up 36% in two years.

Fraud now accounts for 40% of all crimes recorded. The UK was already among the worst countries in Europe in terms of exposure to scams and fraud before the Covid-19 pandemic compounded the problem.

Scammers quickly exploited our fear and confusion, whether by impersonating the government to offer fake Covid-19 grants, setting up fake NHS websites to steal card details, or posing as delivery companies to target online shoppers stuck at home during national lockdowns.

These tactics aren’t going away any time soon, but they’re by no means the only way scammers are targeting victims.

Consumer champions Which? reveal the 12 emerging fraud threats we all need to watch out for.

  1. Online shopping and auction fraud You pay for goods on an online marketplace that don’t arrive, or don’t receive payments for goods you’ve sold. Follow the tips to spot a shopping scam.
  2. Other advance fee fraud You pay an upfront fee related to fraud not classified elsewhere e.g. career opportunities, clairvoyants or bogus officials.
  3. Shopping fraud Any other type of shopping fraud e.g. when buying goods from a newspaper ad in person or a shop on the high street. Excludes online shopping.
  4. Computer fixing fraud You pay a fee to a fraudster claiming they will fix a bogus technical issue on your computer.
  5. Other investment fraud Financial fraud not classified elsewhere e.g. involving foreign exchange, cryptocurrency or investment seminars.
  6. Dating scams Fraudsters create fake profiles on dating sites/apps or target you on social media to establish a connection then ask for money. A type of advance fee fraud.
  7. Boiler room scams You’re cold-called by fake stockbrokers and persuaded to buy shares or bonds in non-existent or near-bankrupt firms. A type of investment fraud.
  8. Rental fraud You’re tricked into paying upfront fees to secure properties by fake landlords and letting agents. A type of advance fee fraud.
  9. Phone fraud Fraudsters pose as your mobile network to offer non-existent or worthless insurance. Also scams involving missed calls/texts that charge premium rates when you reply.
  10. Pyramid/Ponzi schemes Schemes where you have to recruit friends or family (pyramid) or pay returns to early investors to gain credibility (Ponzi). A type of investment fraud.
  1. Fraud recovery scams You’re asked to pay a fee to someone who pretends they can recover money you lost to a previous fraud. A type of advance fee fraud.
  2. ‘419’ advance fee fraud Fraudsters pose as foreign officials asking for money to release millions from a fictional inheritance or government fund. Named after a section of the Nigerian criminal code.

To read more about these types of fraud, and the ongoing work to combat them, click here.

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