Beware the fraudster hiding in plain sight – Birmingham Post article 14.10.2021

Financial fraud and online crime is thought to cost the UK £2 million every day.

The Metropolitan Police’s Little Book of Big Scams, now into its fifth edition, is therefore a must-read.

It explains the multiple deceptions out there and what you can do to protect yourself.

Criminals will seek to persuade you to put money into all kinds of products, dangling high rates of return to suck you in.

It can lead to people losing their life savings.

Little Book of Big Scams states: “Common products offered include binary options, virtual currency, carbon credits, wine, rare metals, gemstones, land and alternative energy.

“Often, initial investments will yield small returns as an incentive to invest further funds. However, larger investments or cashing out will be met with excuses or a penalty charge. Eventually contact with the fraudster will be impossible and all funds and bogus returns lost.

“Genuine investment companies will not cold call you. Speak to Trading Standards if you have concerns. Check the Financial Conduct Authority register ( to see if the firm or individual is authorised.”

Push payments and online shopping are two sectors where fraud has increased massively over the Covid pandemic.

With the former, criminals will often pretend to be from somewhere official, for example, your bank or the tax office.

They are experts at impersonating people, even the police, and can be extremely convincing.

They contact you via email, phone or social media, and then warn of supposed fake, suspicious or criminal activity on your bank account. They say they have set up a safe account for you to transfer your funds into; however, it is a con.

Hence, be suspicious of a call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from a position of authority. Take down the person’s details (name, agency, department, branch) and verify using independent source contact details. A genuine official from the police, your bank, HM Revenue & Customs or any other trusted entity will never call to ask you to verify your personal banking details, PIN or password, or threaten you with arrest.

With online shopping, criminals use the anonymity of the internet to offer goods for sale – often at bargain prices – they do not have, or are fake.

Read the consumer advice on any website you are using to make a purchase. Follow the recommended payment method, or you may not be refunded for any losses. Be suspicious of requests to pay by bank transfer or virtual currency.

Alternatively, criminals may cold call you claiming there are problems with your computer and they can help you to solve them. They often use the names of well-known companies such as Microsoft or Apple. They may also cite your broadband provider. Cooperating gives the criminal access to everything on your machine. Never allow anyone to remotely access it.

Identity fraud involves the acquisition of an individual’s personal details which can then be misused – to obtain credit cards or bank accounts in your name, as well as numerous other financial products – or sold on to others.

All fraud should be reported directly to Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime – or 0300 123 2040.

UK fraud prevention service CIFAS offers Protective Registration to people who have fallen victim to, or are at risk of, identity theft. Visit

Get Safe Online is a good source of online safety advice for the public and small businesses. Go to

In conclusion then, take nothing for granted.

There are no get rich quick schemes. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.