Business & Investment

Beware of fake royal mail messages that can cost thousands

Emmeline Hartley is smart and tech savvy. But last week, the 28-year-old actress unknowingly became the face of a British fraud epidemic.

On March 21, she tweeted how she was “scammed from all pennies” with sophisticated scams, including fake Royal Mail texts and “spoofing” calls from Barclays.

Since then, her message has been shared 14,500 times, and Emmeline says she has received hundreds of messages from people who have been fooled by the same scam and struggling to get a refund from the bank.

Scam text: A message claiming to be from Royal Mail, which is believed to have been sent to millions of phones across the country

It is believed that the text has been sent to millions of phones across the UK in the last few weeks. This is probably the worst case ever, with fraud victims losing a record £ 479 million.

On Monday, Graeme Biggar, the National Crime Agency’s top fraud investigator, said fraudsters “feel too easy” to attack the masses with millions of fake texts, emails and phone calls. Said.

Today, Money Mail’s research reveals that cybercriminals are using cheap Chinese technology to evade detection by breaking down the flimsy barriers set by banks, carriers and regulators. became…

Deceived from £ 1,000

Emmeline first received a text from Royal Mail asking him to pay a £ 2.99 “shipping”.

It was the day before her birthday and she was expecting delivery, so she clicked on the text link. This led her to a fake Royal Mail website where she entered the details and made the payment.

Two days later, she seems to have received a call from her Barclays number. The caller, who spoke with a London accent, claimed to have come from a bank fraud unit.

He said he knew her account details and gave the scammers bank details on a fake Royal Mail website.

He told her to transfer all the cash she had (about £ 1,000) to a “safe account”.

Deceived: Actress Emmeline Hartley lost £ 1,000 in a Royal Mail text scam

Deceived: Actress Emmeline Hartley lost £ 1,000 in a Royal Mail text scam

Emerin, who lives in Birmingham, only realized that it was a scam when the scammer tried to transfer the overdraft, but it was too late.

“I broke down on the phone, I was crying and calling him a liar,” she says.

Since then, she has been refunded by Barclays. However, other victims are still struggling to get their money back.

According to experts, scammers are preying on the turmoil faced by online shoppers after Brexit, and many are required to pay additional customs fees and VAT.

It is unknown how many people fouled this particular scam.

There last year “Spoofing fraud” increased by 94%, Criminals pretend to be credible organizations, says UK Finance.

How to use

Steve Smith, director of the blocking service trueCall, states that scammers are likely to be sending text in bulk using a “SimFarm” machine.

Money Mail has found something that can be purchased from the Chinese website AliExpress for just £ 57.35. It can send out 4,800 texts per hour.

I also found a Chinese “SimFarm” (which also has legitimate uses) that can be purchased on eBay for £ 230.

The device can connect up to 16 pay-as-you-go Sim cards. This is different from mobile contracts, where the buyer does not have to show proof of identity.

This means that even if an investigator can track a sim or phone number, he doesn’t know who is behind it. Targets can be randomly generated or generated from data breaches.

“Number spoofing” is a common fraudulent tactic that pretends that a message or phone is from the same number as a bank or other trusted company.

The text will appear in the same thread as the actual message sent by the bank. Similarly, “spoofing” calls show the caller ID stored on the phone.

When you dial the number again, you may hear an automatic message saying “Unable to get the number”.

It's also easy to set up fake websites that scammers use to collect personal information and payments. Scammers can buy fake web addresses for just £ 25 a year.

It’s also easy to set up fake websites that scammers use to collect personal information and payments. Scammers can buy fake web addresses for just £ 25 a year.

Why do you do nothing?

Ofcom states that it has blocked calls to 361 numbers provided by government agencies such as banks and HMRC.

But it’s not watertight. According to Ofcom, not all Barclays scam team numbers are on the list. This means that you can be impersonated as a scammer. This also applies to other companies.

Money Mail then spoke to the victim who said the scammer called him from the number on the back of his bank card.

Seamus McCormack was scammed from a £ 12,000 savings after being fooled by fake Royal Mail texts.

A 33-year-old woman from Walthamstow in northeast London received a message on March 11 that she had to pay £ 2.99 as a postage.

It clearly led to a compelling phone call from the number shown on his bank card, which told him to move the money. His bank is under investigation.

A fair communications campaign, David Hickson, says scammers are already adapted and only need to change one digit to prevent them from being blocked.

He says the only way to stop them is to promise that banks, carriers and other companies will not contact their customers over the phone unless requested.

Ofcom hopes that authentication technology will be rolled out within the next few years to eradicate “spoofing.”

It’s hard to stop fraudulent text, but most major mobile providers apply “SMS filters”. It can block scams by recognizing suspicious patterns, such as many messages being sent from a single source in a short amount of time.

Smith is far better off tracking scammers if the pay-as-you-go Sim card comes with an ID check, or if the mobile provider imposes a realistic limit on the text to thwart mass scams. It says it’s easy.

But he believes the real problem is that fraud isn’t taken seriously enough.

Scams are cheap

It’s also easy to set up fake websites that scammers use to collect personal information and payments. Scammers can buy fake web addresses for just £ 25 a year.

Postoffice-myfees.com, one of the sites behind the Royal Mail scam, was hosted by US tech firm Namecheap.

Once the victim enters their details on the website, the scammers can access and use the details to win trust during a follow-up “spoofing” call.

Namecheap has been accused of not doing enough to tackle scams on its platform.

Last March, Facebook filed an ongoing lawsuit against the company for refusing to cooperate in investigating dozens of malicious sites.

Matt Russell, Namecheap’s chief cloud officer, said the company “shut down all domains and websites” as soon as the Royal Mail scam occurred.

Namecheap has shut down websites that register similar domain names, he says.

Barclays said: “A real bank does not send a message to send money to a” secure account “. Ignore anyone who asks you to do this.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: ‘If the customer needs to pay extra for unpaid items, leave a gray Fee To Pay card to notify them. We do not request payment by email or text. “

miles.dilworth@dailymail.co.uk

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Beware of fake royal mail messages that can cost thousands

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