Fraud is when trickery is used to gain a dishonest advantage, which is often financial, over another person. There are many words used to describe fraud: scam, con, swindle, extortion, sham, double-cross, hoax, cheat, ploy, ruse, hoodwink, confidence trick.
The 2019 Financial Cost of Fraud report estimates the cost of fraud to the UK is between £130bn - £190bn a year. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) say that people are more likely to fall victim to fraud or cyber offences above any other crime.
Most common fraud schemes:
Advance Fee Schemes occurs when the victim pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value - such as a loan, contract, investment, or gift - and then receives little or nothing in return.
Business fraud consists of activities undertaken by an individual or a company in a dishonest or illegal manner designed to be advantageous to the perpetrating person or establishment.
Charity fraud schemes seek donations for organizations that do little or no work. While these scams can happen at any time, they are especially prevalent after high-profile disasters.
Credit card fraud is the unauthorized use of a credit or debit card, or a card number, to fraudulently obtain money or property.
Identity theft occurs when someone assumes your identity to perform a fraud or other criminal act.
Internet fraud is the use of Internet services or software with Internet access to defraud victims or to otherwise take advantage of them.
Investment fraud is an offer using false or fraudulent claims to solicit investments or loans, or providing for the purchase, use, or trade of forged or counterfeit securities.
Nigerian letter frauds combine the threat of impersonation fraud with a variation of an advance fee scheme in which a letter mailed, or e-mailed, from Nigeria offers the recipient the “opportunity” to share in a percentage of millions of dollars that the author - a self-proclaimed government official - is trying to transfer illegally out of Nigeria.
Pyramid/Ponzi schemes, where the money collected from newer victims of pyramid schemes is paid to earlier victims to provide a veneer of legitimacy. In pyramid schemes, however, the victims themselves are induced to recruit further victims through the payment of recruitment commissions.
Reverse mortgage scams are engineered by unscrupulous professionals in a multitude of real estate, financial services, and related companies to steal the equity from the property of unsuspecting senior citizens or to use these seniors to unwittingly aid the fraudsters in stealing equity from a flipped property.
What can I do to prevent fraud?
1. Be aware of how fraudsters may contact you
We know that criminals are:
Telephoning people in the UK and other countries
Using websites to offer fake services
Using email addresses that look official but are not
2. Be aware of the tricks they might use.
The criminals try to make you believe that they can offer you something very easily, such as a visa for the UK, or that there is a problem with your application or visa.
They will try to make themselves seem very genuine and may use language that sounds official. They may already seem to know something about you, such as your name and address, or that you have applied for a visa. Then they ask you for money or for your personal information.
3. How to protect yourself
You should be suspicious if:
What they offer seems too good to be true – an easy job in the UK, or a way to get a UK visa quickly and easily
They ask you for money, particularly if they ask you for cash or to pay using insecure payment methods such as money transfer, Ukash voucher or Paysafecard (which you buy at a shop) – these methods do not allow the recipient to be traced
They ask for your bank account or credit card details, or confidential information
They demand secrecy or try to force you to act immediately
The website does not look professional (badly written or designed) or does not include any information about the organisation
You are asked to reply to a free email account such as Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, or Gmail which may also contain poor grammar and spelling
If you are suspicious:
Do not give out any personal information, or confirm that any personal information they have is correct
Do not pay them any money
Do not pay them using electronic vouchers