Online fraud

Use of the Internet and email is something that is taken for granted these days. Lured into a false sense of security, users often forget that they are not dealing face to face with the other party – they believe what they see is true without reservation or caution.

Always question who you are dealing with and remain objective.

Most Internet users are aware of bogus emails. These are requests to supply security information and attempt to get bank and other personal data.

  • Never open or reply to an email that may be bogus.
  • Be aware that links in emails could lead to a bogus website or may download a virus or a piece of software to your computer that mines it for personal information.

Protect yourself

  • Use options to block ‘spam’ emails attachments and pictures.
  • Always check the web address and don’t rely on links within emails.
  • If you suspect that an email is bogus bin it.

Targeted attacks are made against individual personal computers. There are many things that can be done to protect the computer.

  • Use a full security program suite, firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware, etc.
  • Keep your software up to date using automatic updates.
  • Use a housekeeping suite to clean your system.
  • Backup your systems regularly, consider using an on-line instant backup facility.
  • Secure your Wireless network from unwanted users.

There are many sources of advice. Get Safe On Line is an impartial site.

Buying on Line.

When buying on line, there are several types of website which you may deal with.

  • Advertising sites introduce a buyer to a seller.
  • Auction Sites require the sellers and buyers to set up a profile.
  • Corporate sites are operated by companies that may also have retail outlets.

The level of protection for consumers varies from site to site.

  • Advertising and Auction sites introduce buyers and sellers, they do not supply the goods.
  • Feedback is often exaggerated and may be manipulated in order to commit fraud.
  • Fraudulent adverts and websites can be very sophisticated, make checks using internet searches.

Principal Risks

Whilst the vast majority of persons buying and selling online are honest and will deliver, or pay, for goods as they should, both parties should take steps to ensure that they are happy with each other and the goods being supplied. The following are examples of the most common fraudulent adverts.

  • Concert and Event tickets. Sales that are not through the original promoter or an authorised seller are popular with fraudsters. The chance to buy a ticket at a reduced price, late availability or a ticket for that special event will tempt the unwary.
  • Flat lettings, residential lettings or holiday lettings. These can cause a considerable amount of financial loss and inconvenience.
  • Vehicles for Sale. That are not in possession of the advertiser and money is sent without the buyer seeing the vehicle or meeting the seller
  • Dating and Romance frauds.

Fraudulent adverts and websites can be very sophisticated, make checks before you send the money.

  • A genuine advert may have been copied by the fraudster.
  • Establishing a ticket is genuine may be difficult, and if you have not purchased through the recommended retailer it could be rejected at the turnstile.
  • The car may pass any vehicle status checks but it still could be stolen.
  • The Flat or villa may be there - but when you arrive, it’s somebody else’s.
  • Corporate sites may have been copied, cloned, re-directed or completely fake.

Check and Challenge the Information

  • Does everything make sense?
  • How long has the site existed.
  • Use internet searches to check the company. Add the Word ‘Scam’ or 'Fraud’ to the search criteria may bring up more revealing results.

‘Phishing’ and other emails asking for personal details

  • Never reply to these emails - you will be put on a ‘suckers’ list and receive alot more.
  • If you have received a ‘phishing’ email, text, letter or scam communication do not respond, bin it and report it to Action Fraud.

You may also wish to report these emails to:

(Source: Met Police)

The Owl and the CopyCat: Beware the fake websites


Crime Reduction Officer
Devon & Cornwall Police, Crime Reduction Dept
Police Headquarters
Middlemoor, Exeter

Non Emergency Directory (NED)

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