Jul 28, 2015

Online Shopping: Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam


Spam Tin


Spam used to be a rather tasteless and suspicious looking meat substitute which appeared on Sunday teatime table across the country.

Spam sandwich, a slice of Battenberg cake and a nice cup of tea. With Songs Of Praise on TV. Or, if you were a heathen, Celebrity Squares.

Poor old Spam. It had got a bad press. Everyone knew about it, everyone had tried to eat it. You might only have ever done so once. But that was enough for the manufacturers to keep regurgitating it onto helpless world and hapless Sunday afternoon appetites.

It was cheap, nasty and horrible. You only encountered it the once. And, once you had, you wondered quite how you’d ever managed to fall for the terrible tinned con trick in the first place.

Which is one of the reasons the sort of people who try to con you out of your money online are now known as spammers. Spammers are the new spam. And, like their gelatinous predecessor, their equally helpless and hapless victims usually end up wondering quite how they fell for the trick in the first place as well.

During 2014, ten biggest online scams that took place in the UK lost victims across the country a total of £670 Million, a figure which, according to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (I know, it sounds a bit North American, but it is a very British organisation!) is likely to be a lot higher as many victims simply don’t report cases of online fraud that affect them, usually because they are too embarrassed to admit to having been taken in and would rather take the hit and keep quiet about it.

Which is a pity.

Because that is an awful lot of potential consumer spending going into crooks pockets. Put it another way, even that conservative figure of £670 Million is still around £11 for every man, woman and child in Britain today.

And it hurts. It may not be a crime that involves someone entering your home or place of work and physically sourcing and removing items that belong to you whilst you are asleep else while your back is turned.

But that matters not. Just ask any victim of online fraud. On one study, half of those people interviewed who had been a victim of an internet scammer felt they had been either ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ violated by the ordeal.

The current Top 5 most common online scams carried out by criminals in the UK are as follows*:-

  • Online banking and credit card accounts-whereby fraudsters obtain an individual banking details, sometimes as simply as ringing them up pretending to be their bank and asking, “for security reasons”, for that person to read out their debit/credit card details to them.

  • Advance fee frauds that Includes scams for PPI claims, scams involving compensation for bank charges, and motor scams where the buyer requests an upfront fee to secure the sale of the vehicle at a cost to the seller.

  • Consumer non-investment fraud. This involves the online purchase of items which are subsequently found to either not exist in the first place, be inferior to those originally stated (eg) are fakes or are stolen goods.

  • Online shopping and auctions. There seem to be endless opportunities here for fraudsters which include fake websites and imitation payment services that, whilst looking completely legitimate offer nothing for sale other than your pride-which they will take with pleasure.

  • Dating scams. Yes, even the lonely and vulnerable are targeted. Victims are over spoof dating sites, social networks and chat rooms and, after being befriended, are given emotive reasons for sending their potential new love in their life some money-for example, to help with travel expenses or to help pay for a sick relatives care whilst they are away seeing the victim. The promise of new relationships and all that goes with it, especially if ‘it’ is seen as being potentially quite freely available is enough to make many people go weak at the knees with desire and, all too often, this leads to bank accounts and credit cards being freely plundered.

It’s all too easy to laugh at the apparent naivety of such victims. But there are a lot of them. £670 Million worth to be exact, many of whom, doubtless, never thought they’d allow themselves to be the victim of an online scam and weren’t even aware it was happening-until it was too late.

Our next blog will take a look at some actual examples of online fraud. And how the crooks involved were able to get away with it as well as advising you what to look and listen out for yourself when shopping online and when something really does look too good to be true.

Because it usually us. Shop by that mantra and you shouldn’t go far wrong.

*Courtesy of www.thisismoney.co.uk