KIS Bridging Loans
Presented by KIS Finance
Scams and Frauds: Knowledge Update 2018
Every year, billions of pounds is lost from UK citizens due to fraudsters creating countless ways to scam people out of their money and personal information.

This article will explain the biggest types of scams that you need to know about so you can protect yourself from being defrauded. These aren’t necessarily new scams, in fact, some have been going around for years. However, these are the scams that are constantly being developed and still claiming thousands upon thousands of victims every year.


Phishing, Smishing and Vishing


Without doubt, phishing is probably the biggest type of online scam there is. It can come in a variety of forms, but phishing emails are probably the most common.

With phishing emails, the fraudster pretends to be from a well-known, legitimate company by spoofing the display name that appears when you receive the email. Some of the most common companies that fraudsters pretend to be from are;

  • Banks
  • Retailers
  • Investment Companies
  • Loan Companies
  • Delivery Services
  • Payment Services

These emails may claim that you can receive huge discounts and savings on various products, offer you fake investment opportunities with a guaranteed return, claim that you have done something that you haven’t (e.g. set up a subscription with the company), but most often, they will try to worry you by saying your personal details have been compromised, encouraging you to act quickly.

The fraudster will almost always include a link within the email and encourage you to click on it by saying, for example, that it will take you to a site where you can retrieve discounts and vouchers. This link will take you to a fake website, created by the fraudster, made to look as close to the company’s real website as possible, where you will be asked to enter your personal or banking information (or both).

This website is designed to capture your information which will be stolen by the fraudster. By clicking on the link, you may also infect your device with viruses or malware.



Smishing is similar to phishing, but the fraudsters contact their victims through SMS messages instead of emails. Again, the fraudster will claim to be from a legitimate company and encourage you to follow a link they have attached in the message.

These texts will normally be sent from a pay-as-you-go, non-traceable mobile number which they can hide from the victim by using a fake display name.

Some of the most common smishing scams are from fraudsters pretending to be from your bank, saying your mobile banking app has had a failed log-in attempt and you must follow the link and enter your details so they can verify it is you.

Within the past year, these scams have become even more sophisticated as some people have found these messages appearing in pre-existing threads they have with their legitimate bank if the display name is the same.

This is just a common example, just like phishing emails, fraudsters can claim to be from any type of company.



Vishing is when the fraudster will cold call their victims instead of sending them an email or message.
Instead of trying to capture their victim’s information through a website, they will try to convince them to hand to them over the phone. Again, they will claim to be from a legitimate, well-known company and will give you a reason as to why you need to confirm your details. They will often use urgent language to worry you and force you to act quickly.

Like with smishing scams, the fraudster can hide their number from the victim, so they can’t be traced.


Protect Yourself: The simple rule for all of these scams is simply: do not give out any personal or banking information to someone you don’t know 100%, no matter who they’re claiming to be. If you are uncertain and worried that the email/text/phone call may be legitimate, you can contact the company yourself using their contact details from their official website – never reply to an email or text you have received.

Any legitimate bank or retailer will never ask you to disclose information over the phone or via email and text messages – this is a fact. So, you know that, if you are ever asked to do this, it is a scam.


Instant Messenger Scams

These scams are very similar to smishing scams; however, they are worth a mention as they have been coming up a lot, especially over the past year. These have been seen, most commonly, on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

They are the same as smishing in the sense that the fraudsters are sending messages containing a link designed to capture their victim’s information, however, fraudsters can make it look like the message has come from one of your pre-existing contacts.

These messages often claim that various companies are offering discounts and vouchers, encouraging you to click on the link to ‘receive your vouchers’. The link will take you to a fake site that is designed to steal your information, or it will infect your device with malicious malware. This malware tracks any movements you make on your device, so they can steal various log-in details.

The fraudster sends these messages out to thousands of people at a time and if you click on the link, not only do you run the risk of having your details stolen or your device infected with malware, the message will then be sent from your account to all your contacts.


Protect Yourself: Never assume that just because a message has come from one of your contacts, it means it is genuine. Look out for the language in the message – is it the right type of language for that person? You should also consider how much you talk to this person and whether it is likely that they would send something like this to you.


Bank Card Scams

The easiest way for a criminal to steal money from you is by gaining access to your bank cards. This could be as easy as stealing it out of your wallet or purse, or, it could be in the form of a device that reads the magnetic strip of your card when you use it in an ATM machine. 

If a fraudster gets hold of your bank card, they can use it for fraudulent transactions with or without your PIN number. With your PIN number, the card can be used in any shop or restaurant, however, if you have a contactless card, it can be used in shops even without the PIN number up to a certain limit. Without your PIN, the card can be used for transactions online and over the phone.

It is vital that you take every precaution to protect your cards.


Protect Yourself:
  • Never give anyone your PIN number, unless you trust them 100%. You should also avoid writing it down in case it falls into the wrong hands.

  • Every time you use an ATM machine, check it for any signs of being tampered with. Make sure nothing is loose and nothing is in the card slot. Fraudsters can insert devices that either read the information on your card, or even trap your card inside the machine so it can be retrieved by the fraudster later. If you are unsure, use a different machine.

  • Never let a transaction with your card be completed out of sight. If you are paying for something in a restaurant, don’t let the waiter take your card to complete the transaction at the till.

  • Never let yourself get distracted when using your card, either when paying for something or using it an ATM.  

  • Always keep a close eye on your account activity. If a fraudster has gained your card information, they can be using it even when your cards are safely at home. Most banks offer online banking services which is a very easy way of keeping an eye on what is going in and out of your account.


Cryptocurrency Scams

Initial Coin Offering (ICO) Fraud

An initial coin offering (ICO) is when a newly invented cryptocurrency is initially launched to investors. Not only is this a risky and volatile investment anyway, but the system is now full of scammers.

There are two ways in which ICO fraud can occur.

The first type is when fraudsters create an entirely fake cryptocurrency and launch it to investors through phishing emails, social media adverts and fake websites. The fraudsters steal any money that is given to them by investors.

The second type is when fraudsters impersonate a legitimate ICO and trick investors into giving them the money instead of the real company. Again, fraudsters will use phishing emails and social media adverts to advertise a ‘pre-sale’ of the currency.


Protect Yourself:
  • It is vital that you perform sufficient research on the ICO before you consider investing into it. Check sites like CoinDesk to verify that the ICO is legitimate.

  • Don’t fall for hard-sell tactics. Legitimate ICOs are not advertised through phishing emails and social media adverts, these are all phishing attempts.

  • Don’t believe offers that are too good to be true.


Fake Digital Wallets

Investors commonly use virtual wallets to store their cryptocurrencies. Unfortunately, this has led to fraudsters creating fake wallets, so they can steal the currency that investors choose to put in them.

These fake wallets can be found on various malicious websites and in mobile app stores where they can be purchased.

In December last year, a fake Ethereum wallet rose to number 3 in the charts under the IOS app store’s finance category.


Protect Yourself: Before putting any of your cryptocurrencies into a virtual wallet, make sure you have done extensive research into first, so you can be sure that it is legitimate and safe.


You can read about lots of other scams on our fraud guides page.


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