It is already June in 2019, time flies! tellows team also has been busy keeping the information about phone scams up to date. As expected, unfortunately the numbers of spam calls, especially related to cost trap, is soaring because of a more advanced technology nowadays and scammers have more means to escape from the authority. Scammers have been taking advantages of taxpayers in March and April as it was the tax season. According to HMRC, over 100,000 reports of frauds were reported last year and the number increased in the first quarter of 2019 by more than 300%. Around a week ago, HMRC announced that it has been working with Ofcom, Mobile UK, Mobile Ecosystem Forum and Telecommunications UK Fraud Forum together to prevent bogus tax calls. The cooperation is successful and 1050 numbers are deleted by HMRC, many numbers starts with 0300. HMRC also stated that the number of phone scam reports are reduced by 25%, which is a very promising sign.
The movie ‘You’ve got a mail‘ is one of the tellows’ team favorite movies. But my readers, how many of us can become Joe and Kathleen in real life? Unfortunately, more people are falling victims to ‘romance scams’ regardless of gender, according to the official information* of many countries. Let us have a look at the figure:
The numbers above are surprisingly alarming. In the US, the losses of romance scams rose from $33M to $143M in 2015 to 2018 as stated in FTC. Online dating becomes more popular and common nowadays, thanks to the technology we can meet endless potential romantic partners online. However, we also become more vulnerable when there are scammers try to take advantages of the online dating platforms.
Dear tellows readers,
This week we would like to share news from Europol (The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation) and Trend Micro Research, together they released the Cyber-Telecom Crime Report 2019. The report explains our excessive dependence on telecommunications technology nowadays and how scammers take benefits from it by carrying out illegal activities. The cost of telecommunications fraud reached €29 billion according to Europol, as advanced technology dramatically increases fraudsters’ capabilities. tellows has already shared figures of the Missed call (the Wangiri fraud) and Vishing calls frauds before. This time we will have a look at International Revenue Share Fraud (IRSF)! These frauds mentioned above are all infamous telecommunications frauds included in the Cyber-Telecom Crime Report 2019.
This time tellows would like to share some insights about the impact of the Brexit on phone scams and unwanted calls. As we are all concerned, the Brexit is not only a frustrating process, but besides its own complexity and influences, there is also a very annoying side effect – the Brexit scams. Phone frauds are not strange to us, there are many fraudsters in the UK and we often read news about phone scams. However, Brexit is making it worse by providing these scammers more ways to deceive people. Let’s take a look at the latest four Brexit phone scams.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez and Kevin Grieve on Unsplash
Getting to know the Brexit scams
HMRC Brexit scams
Do you own a business and trade with the EU? If yes, then lets assume you have been told by the government that you have to register for a ‘UK trader number’. Scammers will try to reach you through email, text message or over the phone, and ask for your personal details such as bank account details, internet banking password or offering you a tax refund in exchange for personal or financial details.
Ratan Kumar, a 41-year old Indian villager came to the BBC Delhi office last month to claim his prize in a “BBC lottery” worth millions of rupees, only to know that he was scammed.
Ratan said he got a text message two years ago saying that he won the BBC’s national lottery for 20 or 30 million rupees (£194,000-£292,000). Unemployed, Ratan fell for it, communicated with the scammers until November last year, and sent his personal details.
The perpetrator presented himself to Ratan as the chancellor of BBC. “He promised me a large sum of money but said I would have to first send 12,000 rupees ($191; £117) so that he can transfer the money into an RBI (Indian bank) account, ” Ratan told the BBC office.
Diamonds are not just any girl’s bestfriend – it is also a very attractive investment alternative. Annual return can range from 2.5% to 10%, depending on the color.
However, unlike gold and silver, or other investments where prices are reported on a stock market, diamonds are not traded on a public exchange but negotiated privately. This makes it harder to know the real value of the diamond, thus making it susceptible to abuse. The diamond trading industry is also unregulated – brokers are not required to be registered with a certain government authority.
A BBC news report recently warned older people who are the targets of this new form of investment scam on diamond trading. About 250 reports were received last year by the City of London Police.
Originating by all accounts in Latvia, Belarus and Afghanistan, the latest scam sending ripples across the phone network is a worldwide operation. The perpetrators send short, curiosity-provoking, incognito texts to individuals requesting that they call back any of an array of fee-charging +371 numbers. Continue reading
Hello tellows users!
A motley crew of pesterers and swindlers for you this week! There’s no rest for the wicked and therefore no rest for your phone either.
Caller number one, 01913009131, has got it all wrong. The idea with telesales is to keep the customer on the phone long enough to flog the product; this lot seem to have missed the point and will generally get about a sentence out before hanging up on you. This means we’re not 100% sure what ‘The Consumer Helpline’ are selling, but user Taylor gives us a clue…
askin if my partner had an acident last year. told him it was a long shot and hung up
I believe the correct term is ‘ambulance-chasers’.
Caller number two, calling from 02081509083, is a mysterious gentleman who seems to have trampled over colleagues and customers alike to achieve his financial goals. Under a plethora of identities and company names (most of them false, it seems), this caller has created himself a reputation that goes before him.
don’t touch this guy with a bargepole!!!! dodgy investments and a nasty habit of ripping you off and never paying you back. steer well clear.
pn__ gives us an ounce more insight:
villas, golf courses, murky dealings in Spain… not to be trusted.
If you hear any of the following names: Morgan Forbes/Pearl Island/First Capital Wealth/Hugh Herschell, alarm bells should ring! Remember, these sorts of people make money by being charming, so keep your wits about you!
Sombrely bringing up the rear is caller number three, a company called OTPL, on 0280697934, who are selling – wait for it – funeral insurance.
User Lynne’s experience:
phoning to sell funeral insurance from India apparently, multiple calls per day, very irritating
Like a gaggle of very persistent vultures, they’ll hover over your phoneline, calling you several times a day, for that extra dose of doom and gloom that we all need on an November day.
Keep saving these numbers under ‘time wasters’, or blocking them altogether if you can. Knowledge is power, so if you’re unsure about a caller, pop the number into tellows.co.uk and see what other users are saying about the caller.
Have a great week!
Your tellows team
The scam under discussion this week is a convincing one – so convincing, in fact, that they almost had us fooled. Let’s take a look at the evidence.
The caller claims to be from British Gas, calling for an array of reasons – paying your overdue bill, arranging a maintenance visit, etc. etc – and from more than one number. The area code indicates that the calls are coming from Leeds.
The most common calls are supposedly from the ‘Arrears Department’ at British Gas, wanting you to pay up. One user tells us it’s Capita, a debt collection company in Leeds, phoning on behalf of British Gas. However, some of you have smelt a rat. Here’s a comment about 01132989890:
When I answered, it was a recorded message: press any number for an important message about my bill. I didn’t press anything and it went on to say that my gas meter reading was due within the next week. British Gas email me about meter readings and this is about a month too early! Be wary!
And a comment about 01132989000:
Have had more than 10 calls from this number about non-payment of my latest bill… mighty strange as i have never given them my mobile number and left British Gas several years ago.
People who have never even been with British Gas also seem to receive calls from this number. Indeed, one user living in a remote village where British Gas is not actually available was contacted.
The sleuthier among you have attempted to call the number back, only to find that lo and behold, the number is not recognised.
This is where it gets confusing. Whilst some of you have also cleverly given British Gas a ring directly to ask what’s going on, some of you report being told that this number belongs to an offshore service of theirs, whilst others were told that it isn’t! What to believe?
We tried searching on this handy page:
The search service did not seem to recognise 01132989000 or 01132989890 as belonging to British Gas, which is suspicious in itself. Some of your experiences with this caller further indicate that this is a number to be wary of: one call started with the caller asking to speak to the ‘laptop owner’ and a receptionist from a doctor’s surgery also reports being hounded by this number on the surgery line.
We’re dubious about this one. If you get a call from this number, or any other unrecognised number claiming to be British Gas, we strongly advise using the link above, or contacting British Gas directly. Under no circumstances should you give your bank details out unless you are absolutely certain of a caller’s identity!
Keep your wits about you and have a great week!
Your tellows team
As most of our tellows users know all too well, incessant calls from telemarketers or call centres have become a genuine nuisance. Thus, services to put a stop to these type of unsolicited calls enjoy increasing popularity. Aside from apps such as the tellows app to detect spam and scam calls, there is the option to register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) to prevent unwanted and cold calls.
A Scam Claiming to Stop Spam
However, not all service provider are trustworthy: some fraudsters try to take advantage of the fact that many consumers are plagued by unsolicited calls. The police advise to be extremely cautious of callers claiming to provide services to prevent unwanted calls. Claiming to be aware of the fact that you have been bothered by numerous unsolicited calls recently, the caller attempts to offer information and appliances in order to stop the calls.
In some instances, the caller may even know some personal information such as your address, the bank you use or your credit/debit card number. Some of our tellows users have made similar experiences as Betty Sinclair, who allocated the number 07825874525 to BT, who reported:
Unknown number sent numerous messages, knew details about myself which unnerved me.
Generally, the purpose of the call is to obtain further information regarding your credit/debit card such as the issue or expiry date, account number, security code, to access your credit card account or use for identity theft.
Recognizing and Dealing with the Scammers
Sometimes even seemingly insignificant details can be a clue that you are targeted by scammers. Therefore you should be wary, how the caller identifies him- or herself: even though the scammers often claim to be calling from BT directly, only BT Privacy at Home offers the telephone preference service. Similarly, user spammed, who commented on the number 01274802868, noticed:
The caller said they were calling from British Telecom. As a former worker for BT they stopped calling themselves British Telecom back in the early 90s.
To avoid falling a victim to these types of scams, you should never give bank or personal details on the telephone, especially if you have doubts about the legitimacy of the call. If the caller claims to be from your bank, phone them on the number that you normally use or know to be legitimate to confirm that the call you receive was genuine.
Furthermore, you should be aware that if you receive unsolicited calls in spite of being registered at TPS, the calls are probably scam calls as well. User Paula, for instance, wrote about the number 00443562780913:
The person who called, spoke English with an accent, said she was not trying to sell anything but merely conducting a survey. She seemed to know both my name and when I asked her how they have these information, since I’m registered with TPS, she got evasive and asked if I could just answer her some questions.
In case you have provided personal and financial information to what you suspect to be scammers, you may contact your bank and, if necessary, ask them to issue a new credit/debit card. Moreover, you can report the scammers to the police at Action Fraud as well as on tellows to warn others who may be contacted by the scammers.