The UK police-led awareness centre says that, between October 2018 and February 2019, it received 356 reports of investment scams being posted on social media app Instagram.
The scam promises almost instantaneous profits on an initial £600 investment. It then sends victims a screenshot showing thousands in profit crediting their account, money which the fraudsters say will be released for a fee.
Those tricked have lost a collective total of more than £3 million, but more is expected to have been stolen as some victims may not have reported their losses.
Adding to this, Action Fraud announced on Friday that it has received hundreds of reports about fake PayPal emails. The links lead to convincing-looking sites that are designed to steal users login details, personal and financial information.
Although fraud and cybercrime comes in many forms, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Do not give out your personal information such as bank details, email or phone number. The promise of ‘free’ vouchers or credits is a common tactic used by fraudsters to persuade people to provide sensitive, personal or financial details.
- Make sure that the anti-virus software on your computer is up to date and you have a firewall installed.
- Beware of phishing emails – banks and financial institutions will not ask you to confirm your bank details via email. Do not trust such emails, even if they look genuine.
- When shopping online, always check the web address to make sure you are on the correct site and sign up to Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code whenever you are given the option.
- You should regularly get a copy of your credit file. If you spot anything suspicious, make sure your report it immediately.
- Where possible destroy any receipts and posts with you name on.
- Be wary of post, phone calls or emails offering you business deals out of the blue. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Do not allow anyone to pressure you into buying something or making a decision quickly. A trustworthy company will be happy to wait.
You’ve worked hard to earn your money and keep it safe. However, with the sophisticated scams fraudsters are using, it’s more important now than ever that you stay alert and protect yourself from scams like phishing and social media investment schemes.
If you think you have been a victim, contact Action Fraud online or call 0300 123 2040 Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm. If you are calling from abroad you can dial +44 300 123 2040.