Consumers have been told to stay vigilant as crime experts warn that a wave of' festive fraud' is on the way.
Facility takeover scams are on the rise this festive season, where criminals hijack consumer accounts and use them for their own benefit.
After obtaining sensitive information from customers, such as passwords or bank details, suspects impersonate their victims in order to exploit services they are already signed up for, such as banking, mobile contracts, and online subscriptions.
Mobile fraud has more than doubled, while scams related to online shopping have increased by 145%.
In both cases, victims' bank details or account logins are accessed by criminals and used to purchase goods or mobile services that benefit the suspects.
Compared to 2019, crimes in the facility takeover niche increased by almost a fifth between January-September, the first nine months of the year.
The rising trend of facility takeover comes as no surprise. We often notice a spike in this activity over the festive period. So I would urge everyone to remain vigilant if contacted by anyone claiming to be from an organization they trust, such as a bank, mobile phone company, or even the police.said Mike Haley, CEO of Cifas.
The fraud-prevention organization also revealed that it had found new evidence of criminals offering subscription services to fellow crooks on the dark web, providing information and tips on how to circumvent new security measures and sharing 'sucker-lists' of potential victims.
By sharing information, criminals can devise more sophisticated scams and target people who they believe may be more susceptible because they have fallen for scams in the past.
Earlier this month, the UK's national fraud reporting center, Action Fraud, reported more than £2 million was lost to criminals impersonating broadband companies in October in a range of facility takeover-type schemes.
This particularly prolific scam begins with a suspect phoning their victim, claiming to be a technician working for the victim's broadband provider.
The suspect then claims there is a problem with the victim's broadband and convinces them to download a RAT (Remote Access Tool), a piece of software that allows a third party to access or control the victim's computer.
During the phone call, the victim is persuaded to log in to their online banking service to check whether they have received a refund- which, of course, never materializes.
Instead, the RAT harvests their login details, allowing the scammers to manually transfer funds out of the victim's account at their leisure.
As people await gifts and parcels over Christmas, Action Fraud also warned of criminals impersonating courier services, such as DPD. These drawn-out scams, which end with the victim voluntarily transferring funds into the criminal's account, usually begin with a courier's fake message asking the customer to pay for a new delivery slot.
We are aware that there have been a number of fake DPD emails trying to get consumers to send money for parcels to be re-directed. We would never do this, nor would we ask consumers to give us their bank details. There is an easy way to check the email is safe; only emails sent from one of three DPD email addresses are genuine. These are dpd.co.uk, dpdlocal.co.uk or dpdgroup.co.uk".said a DPD spokesperson
Cifas' Mr. Haley had this advice for consumers worried about spotting potential scams:
If you are suspicious of anybody contacting you, take a minute and think before parting with your money or information. Challenge the person contacting you and remember you can reject, refuse, or ignore any requests you receive - only criminals would try to rush or panic you. If you do believe you have fallen for a scam, contact your bank and any affected accounts to let them know and report it to Action Fraud.
You can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or report suspicious activity online at actionfraud.police.uk.
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