Like the rest of the UK, the north-east has seen an increase in frauds and scams, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, as criminals turn their attention online and to ever more sophisticated techniques to trick you into parting with your money.
Our area is a traditionally affluent one and when scams occur in our region, the most common victims are middle-aged people with disposable incomes, looking for investment opportunities.
Frauds work because on the outside they look and feel convincing and perpetrators act and appear trustworthy.
They could have the appearance of legitimate names, branding, paperwork, websites -anything you may expect to see from a genuine company, but they’re fakes.
They may also try and convince you they are ‘experts’ or have regulatory supervision when they do not.
Use fake endorsements from celebs
Criminals may also claim to have lots of investors, just like you, who have chosen to take advantage of their great fund, scheme or bond.
It may have published above-average returns or might promise to significantly increase your profits with low or very little risk. They may target you and other people in similar groups or communities.
False advertising can appear on any newsfeed, search engine advertising, comparison sites, both fake and genuine, and social or business media platforms. Criminals often use fake endorsements by celebrities or famous businesspeople.
Fake websites can look professional and convincing, using oﬃcial branding and logos from genuine companies. They are easy to produce and can be securely designed to prevent people finding out who really owns them.
Mobile numbers and landlines can be made to appear as any number the criminal wants them to, including legitimate numbers for companies.
Keep themselves hidden from view
Criminals sometimes avoid video conferencing where conversations can be recorded and people seen.
Professional looking paperwork is available and also sent to you with in-depth detail.
Access to investment portals could be provided so that you can monitor and manage the increases in your initial investment and, in many cases, an initial return on your investment is paid into your bank account. However, this is only in order to convince you to invest more.
They will often encourage you to invest quickly as the offer may be time-limited in some way.
‘Knowledge is best defence’
Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations or even the police.
They spend hours researching you for their scams, hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment. Stop and think. It could protect you and your money.
Please remember, the best defence is knowledge. Once you know someone is trying to con you, the con will fail.
However, even if we’re suspicious, we’re often bad at saying ‘no’ to people. So, if you’re uncertain, you can always say instead: ‘I can’t make that decision without authorisation. Let me get back to you’ or ‘I will not make any decisions without speaking to someone first.’
Don’t be afraid to simply say no to someone.
If they’re a genuine professional, they won’t mind you taking the extra time to verify their identity or offer of investment. If they become pushy or insistent, then odds are fairly high that it’s some form of scam.
You can get more advice at on the TakeFive – Stop Fraud website.