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As scammers steal £500m from UK bank customers, here are 9 common scams to be aware of

Nine common scams to be aware of. Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Wire.

Nine common scams to be aware of. Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Wire.

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Scammers stole more than £500 million from UK bank customers in the first half of 2018, new figures have revealed.

A total of £145 million of that was lost through authorised push payment (APP) scams, where people are tricked into authorising a payment to another account, UK Finance said.

The remaining £358 million was lost due to unauthorised fraud, where the transaction is carried out by a third party and is not authorised by the account holder.

In most cases, victims of unauthorised fraud receive a full refund, but those duped by APP scams currently have no legal protection to cover them for losses.

UK Finance said £30.9 million of the £145 million lost through APP scams this year had been returned to customers.

And according to Citizens Advice, these are some the most common scams to be aware of;

• Car matching - This scam works by people approaching sellers who have put their car up for sale in publications promising falsely to match the sellers with buyers in return for a one-off fee. The seller is told the fee is non-refundable and the car is never sold, leaving them out of pocket.

• Doorstep electricity meter credit - People who use a pre-payment meter are offered cut-price electricity. Criminals then use cloned keys to top up energy credit illegally. Electricity companies don’t get paid for energy used, and the scam victim ends up paying for the energy twice.

• Prize draws, sweepstakes and foreign lottery scams - The victim is told they have won a prize in a competition they haven’t entered and to claim the prize they have to pay an administration fee. When the fee is paid, the victim often gets nothing back in return.

• Miracle health cures - These offer people health products to cure a problem or for weight loss. The seller often promises a no-risk money-back guarantee or a free trial. There are often quotes from doctors and happy customers but they are unlikely to do any good.

• Subscription traps - An advert for a free trial of a product may appear on a reputable site, or appear as a pop-up. The scam then asks the victim to enter card details to pay for postage and packaging, but end up being debited large amounts on a regular basis. The victim unwittingly agrees to a ‘continuous payment authority’ (CPA) which is an agreement which authorises traders to take money from accounts.

• Property rentals - The landlord asks for a deposit of a months rent before checking the references of the new tenant. A contract is then presented saying if the references aren’t satisfactory, the deposit will be paid back, minus a fee for checking the references. The landlord then tells the tenant the references are unsatisfactory and refuses to return all the deposit.

• Pyramid selling and chain gift schemes - At a presentation scammers say people can earn lots of money recruiting others to the scheme after paying a joining fee. This is pyramid selling which is illegal.

• Working from home - An advertisement offering work which can be done at home asks a fee to be paid upfront and then the victim finds there’s only work on offer if they get others to sign up, or you do the work and don’t get paid for it.

• Real fur sold as fake - Some shops and websites sell items they describe as fake fur, when they’re actually real fur.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said the figures showed scams posed a “major threat” to the UK.

“The criminals behind it target their victims indiscriminately and the proceeds go on to fund terrorism, people smuggling and drug trafficking, whether or not the individual is refunded,” she said.

She added that the industry was taking action to tackle the problem, by investing in security systems and cyber defences, as well as bringing in new standards to ensure victims get support from their payment providers.

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