We receive regular updates from our local Police Community Officer about local and national items we need to be aware of. These often includes scams. This page details the latest updates and lists known scams and how they work. If you know of any that should be included in this list do let us know so we can add them.
If you spot a scam or have been scammed, please report it and get help. Contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at actionfraud.police.uk. Contact the police if the suspect is known or still in the area. There are some known fraudsters who operate in St Margarets and surrounding areas whose tatics are listed in the Scams section below
Do not be embarrassed to report a scam. Scammers are cunning and clever there is no shame in being deceived as it could happen to any of us. By reporting, you will make it more difficult for them to deceive others..
All Banks take Fraud very seriously and their websites tend to hold good guides on how to spot scams, frauds and most importantly what the Bank will NOT do if it is trying to get in touch with you. It is often worth checking out the fraud pages in case they have useful information even if you do not Bank with them.
Barclays reporting fraud page and guides can be found heree.
The site contains details for debit and credit cards, Pingit and others, with UK and from outside the UK numbers.
Their Fraud pages can be found here.
They offer a sinlge telephone number to call 020 777 00011 and their guides about scams are worth reading even if not a client.
The Lloyd fraud pages can be found here.
They have a number of ownward links from the page where you can get more information and guidance on scams.
This information is taken from the Action Fraud website.
Recently the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has reported a new trend in fraud related to Coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Updated figures show there have been 105 reports to Action Fraud since 1 February 2020, with total losses reaching nearly £970,000.
The first report relating to Coronavirus, or COVID-19, was received on 9 February. There were 20 more reports that month. Since then, there have been 46 reports between the 1 March and 13 March, and 38 reports in just four days (14 March – 18 March).
The majority of reports are related to online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser, and other products, which have never arrived.
Other frauds being reported include ticket fraud, romance fraud, charity fraud and lender loan fraud.
Since the government has advised people to avoid unnecessary travel and stay at home wherepossible, we have received a small number of reports where people are using coronavirus as a guiseto gain entry to homes and steal.
If you get an unsolicited home visit from anyone offering a service and asking for payment or to be let into your home, our advice is to immediately request and check their ID and credentials carefully.
If you are not convinced or you still have suspicions, shut the door and report the matter to police bycalling 101 or 999 in an emergency.
If you are contacted by someone you don’t know, online or in person, and are being pressured to buysomething you feel unsure about, take a moment to assess the situation and talk to someone youtrust before committing.
Unfortunately, criminals will exploit every opportunity they can to defraud
innocent people of their money, or steal their personal details.
This government service is extremely important in the fight against coronavirus and it’s vital the public get on board with it. However, we understand the concerns people have about the opportunity for criminals to commit scams and we are aware from media reports that some scam texts are already in circulation.
It’s important to remember that NHS Test and Trace will never ask you for financial details, PINs or passwords. They will also never visit your home.
Contact tracers will never:
Ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to them (for example, those starting 09 or 087).
Ask you to make any form of payment.
Ask for any details about your bank account.
Ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts.
Ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone.
Ask you to purchase a product.
Ask you to download any software to your device or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet.
Ask you to access any website that does not belong to the Government or NHS.
Whilst it is possible for criminals to fake official phone numbers, they cannot fake official website addresses. We would encourage anyone with concerns about a phone call, text message or email they have received, in relation to Test and Trace, to check the website address being provided to you carefully.
If possible, type the official address, which will be https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk followed by unique characters given to you, directly into your browser.
If you think you have been sent a scam message, please report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
Criminals are able to use spoofing technology to send texts and emails impersonating organisations that you know and trust. We would remind anyone who receives an unexpected text or email asking for personal or financial details not click on the links or attachments, and don’t respond to any messages that ask for your personal or financial details
A more recent scam concerns fake texts purporting to be from UK_GOV, so please be aware;
The Government has only sent one text message to the public regarding new rules about staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Any others claiming to be from UK Government are false.
Remember that spoofed text messages can appear with legitimate texts on your phone. To the right are two examples.
People and businesses are also more vulnerable to being a victim of cyber fraud, as they use the
internet more to shop and communicate with friends and family.
Action Fraud have received over 200 reports of coronavirus-themed phishing emails. These attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments which could lead to fraudsters stealing people’s personal information, email logins and passwords, and banking details.
Some of the tactics being used in phishing emails include:
• Fraudsters purporting to be from a research group that mimic the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO). They claim to provide the victim with a list of active infections in their area but to access this information the victim needs to either: click on a link which redirects them to a credential-stealing page; or make a donation of support in the form of a payment into a Bitcoin account.
• Fraudsters providing articles about the virus outbreak with a link to a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to a daily newsletter for further updates.
• Fraudsters sending investment scheme and trading advice encouraging people to take advantage of the coronavirus downturn.
• Fraudsters purporting to be from HMRC offering a tax refund and directing victims to a fake website to harvest their personal and financial details. The emails often display the HMRC logo making it look reasonably genuine and convincing.
Emails sent by fraudsters are often sophisticated and look like genuine emails from banks and other websites you might use regularly, so please be alert to this.
If you receive a suspicious email, don’t click on the links or attachments, and never respond to unsolicited messages or calls with personal or financial details.
Superintendent Lis Chapple, the Met’s lead for Crime Prevention, Inclusion and Engagement, said: “We are seeing communities across London rallying together to help each other through this unprecedented public health crisis, and what is a difficult time for many. However, there are a small number of unscrupulous people out there who see it as an opportunity to con others for personal gain. "The most vulnerable in society are often targeted which makes the offending all the more despicable, and the Met is committed to identifying these people and ensuring they are held to account for their actions.
"Please take a moment to think about who you are speaking to, what you are agreeing to and what you may be clicking on online. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."
A serious scam with potentially very embarassing outcome has been highlgihted using SnapChat social media. Details can be found here.
The Tesco scam mail on the right was picked up by Internet Security software, keeping it out of the main mailbox.
The scam is “phishing” – it sought the intended victim to put in Bank details.
The software spotted that the “To” and “From” addresses were the same.
Also a give away is the address itself, which appears to be from an Ivy League United States of America University, not Tescos..
Another factor is the inconsistent English. Both “You are” and “you’re” appear. Alone that is not proof of a scam but it is a warning to be headed and make someone check the rest of the message.
The TV licence one, shown here without the mail address, had the same “give away” as the Tesco one.
The “To” and “From” were the same address, indicating it is almost certainly a scam.
The real TV licencing will always use your name and the From address will always include “DONOTREPLY” at the start.
The Licensing advice pages can be found here.
As lockdown continues door step deliveries are increasing in our area. In the past we have had people who trailed vans, stealing deliveries left outside houses. Do not let this happen to you! Some simple tips are:
* Make sure you are at home at the assigned date/time .
* If you are not going to be in, ensure you have an assigned safe place that is not visible to passing people or have it delivered to your neighbours.
* Better still use a pick up point for your parcel. There are many shops and dedicated locations in our wider area that will save packages for you. These vary depending on who you are ordering from, so do check. This allows you to pick up at your convenience.
Thefts from cars are regularly reported to the Police and on websites like NextDoor. To help cut down your chances of being a victim of this one simple thing is not to leave any valuables in the car. The definition of “valuable” a criminal has may not be the same as yours. For example, baby clothes have been reported as a reason to break into a car, likewise loose change in the car. It does not need to be an expensive computer to make someone break in.
As a result, the recommendation is to leave nothing, or as little as possible, visible in the car.
Many company security policies also say leaving something valuable in the boot, even for a short time, would be breaking the rules. They are generally referring to company data or assets, but it shows that putting an expensive item in the boot rather than taking it with you or into the house carries a risk. You could be seen putting it in there and marking your own vehicle as a target. An example from NextDoor shows £5,000 of expensive camera kit taken from a boot. So please remember not to leave valuables in the boot overnight.
The use of electronic keys to open up cars for your convenience is fairly common, but it has led to a vulnerability in car security. The key sends a signal to the car to open when you press, or sometimes are just close. The key communicates to the car using a radio signal. It has a limited distance so if you go away from the vehicle, they lose contact. The signal can no longer reach from the key to the car.
However, there is a thing known as SARA, which is a Signal Amplification Relay Attack. In principle it is very simple and in IT Security the term “Man-In-The-Middle” is used. Whilst your key fob signal cannot reach the car, it may reach your door or outside of your house. The thief will get closer enough to the house to pick up your signal and use an amplifying tool to push the signal out to the car, which reacts as though the key is next to it. No different to many of the WIFI repeaters in home in this area.
This video from the West Midlands Police shows it in action.
To avoid this happening, you need to ensure the signal does not reach outside your home. This can be done by moving the key as far from the car as possible, which may work but is not certain. Or to use a Faraday bag or tin to block the signal. To help place this container as far away from the car as you can again in case of signal leakage.
This video is from the USA and covers some of the issues and resolutions.
With schools closed, we are aware that children may have more access to digital devices thannormal and maybe using internet, apps and social media to keep in contact with their friends.Please take steps to monitor their online use and inform them of the risk that the internetpresents.
Advice about staying safe online is available at the following websites:
Finally, it has been uplifting to see the kind acts and thanks we continue to get from the publicand our partners. We thank you for your continued support and wish you well.
Pupils in Richmond Borough submitted questions to local police on topics such as stop and search, protests and discrimination.
Stop and search is never used lightly and police officers will only exercise their legal right to stop and search children or adults when they suspect that doing so will further their investigations into criminal activity – whether that means looking for weapons, drugs or stolen property.
Force is only used as a last resort and should be proportionate and necessary. If you are stopped and searched, the police officer will ask for your:
Name and Address
Date of Birth
You don't have to give this information if you don't want to; unless the police officer says they're reporting you for an offence.
Whilst you do have an option to provide details or not, the search is not voluntary. You are detained for the purpose of a search and if you don’t cooperate the officer can use reasonable force to conduct the search.
The officer will record the stop and search on their body worn video so that they are accountable for their actions, in addition to recording any evidence.
For more information about the stop and search process, click here: https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/st-s/stop-and-search/stop-and-search-process/
There are people who try to defraud you at your front door. This area has one well known culprit who is regularly incarcerated but tends to return to the same trick on release. He is very polished having been running this trick for many years, and based on NextDoor postings still manages to surprise people.
His patter is to request money to get to the hospital or similar so he can visit his father/sick relative who just happens to be one of your neighbours on the road. He may use a real name or make a guess based on the fact that many people do not know the names of people more than a few doors away. Slight variations on the theme occur.
If you are approached in this way and you do not know the person, do not give money, close your door and do contact the police. If the person is genuine they will appreciate the help the police may give them.
A common street fraud in this area, from Kew to St Margaret’s Road, is a woman who asks for money so she can get a can to carry petrol to her car, or to take a can to get petrol, because she has run out. She has been running this, and similar worded, scams for some time, including outside the Ailsa Tavern. If you are approached please decline and report her presence to the police.
The video shows how Richmond Police are concerned about a bogus police phone scam that is happening in the Richmond community where victims are tricked into handing over large amounts of cash. You can watch it by clicking here. There are variations on this theme.
Potential targets are contacted on their home phone by the suspect who pretends to be a police officer, bank employee or someone in a fraud investigation role. They inform the target that their credit or debit cards have been used in a fraud. They continue to convince the target that they are genuine by telling them to call 999 or the bank fraud number on the back of the card. Once the target dials this number, they are instructed to provide their bank PIN and other personal details. The target is advised that a courier will attend and collect the card for forensic examination. A courier, usually an unwitting taxi company, attends to pick up the card(s) and takes it to a location and is met by a further suspect who takes possession of the cards. The cards are then used to withdraw cash from an ATM.
The average age of victims is around 70, there is some targeting of senior citizens
There are variations on this theme
• The target is told that their account contains counterfeit money and is asked to attend their bank and withdraw a large sum for the purpose of a police investigation. The target then attends the bank, withdraws money and returns home. A courier arrives and collects the cash.
• The offender contacts the victim pretending to be a police officer investigating an offence and requesting assistance. The victim is collected from their address and taken on a 'shopping spree' and told to hand items to the fraudsters.
How It Works
The scammers make the call to the target’s home. They sound genuine as they are asking them to call a legitimate number, such as the Police or Bank and then the target hangs up but that does not break the call as it is in-coming. Hanging up does not automatically end the call. The scammer keeps their line open. The target then picks up the phone to dial the Bank/Police and the call goes nowhere as they are still connected to the scammer. They will pretend to be the people the target is trying to contact and get them hand over cards or cash to the courier.
What to do
When you pick up the phone to make a call after receiving one do check if there is a dial tone. If there is not then the other end has not hung up.
Please be aware of the following:
• Your bank will never attend your home
• Your bank and the police will never collect your bank card
• Your bank and the police will never ask for your PIN
Action Fraud has received many reports about fake emails that purport to be from Virgin Media. The emails threaten the recipient with “automatic disconnection” due to “invalid billing information”. The links in the emails lead to genuine-looking phishing websites that are designed to steal your Virgin Media account login details. You may hear this also for British Gas, British Telecom etc.
The BT version of this scam has now been updated to using an automated message to get you to return a call on an expensive premium rate line. This is something BT would not do
A report has come in regarding another new scam preying on people feeling vulnerable in these times, although this one could apply to any time.
The scam took place in East Sheen on Tuesday 31st March 2020 and the warning was reported from a carer’s organisation in the borough. Please be aware of potential distraction burglaries or other scams.
A call was received from a Carer to report this/ She told her client answered the door to two people who said they were from an organisation called ‘Take you for a walk’.? They had canvas bags with a ’Take you for a walk’ logo on it and they encouraged the lady to go with them ‘for a walk’.
I have no detail if the attempt to get the lady to vacate her house was successful or not.
Users of Briish Gas's Hive home heating and security service have been warned about a phishing scam with people emailing pretending to be from the company. Hive have created their own guide as to how to check on the caller. Details are here
A neighbouring Safer Neighbourhood Team has distributed a flyer on dealing with phone scams which may increase as people are at home. It is an easy to follow piece of advice and you can view it by clicking here.
A warning from the MET's Cyber Crime Unit:
There has been a rise in the amount of “Sextortion” phishing emails recently.
Sextortion scams are a type of phishing attack whereby people are coerced to pay a Bitcoin ransom because they have been threatened with sharing video of themselves visiting adult websites.
These scams are made to appear all the more credible because they provide seemingly plausible technical details about how this was achieved, and the phish can sometimes also include the individual’s password.
For more information please click here.
There are excellent recommendations in the link regarding password security and actions.
Similar to the Virgin disconnection scam, the emails contain links that are attempting to steal your login data. It can vary to other suppliers like BT, British Gas, Sky etc. Do not click on the links or attachments in these or suspicious emails, and never respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial details.