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What Will be the Biggest   Online Scams of 2022?

The last couple of years has seen fundamental changes in what businesses, consumers, and criminals do online. More and more aspects of our lives were already shifting towards the internet, but this has been accelerated by the pandemic while we couldn’t see our loved ones, meet up with friends, or go to work in the office for most of 2020 and start of 2021.

This shift in behaviour has seen a huge increase in cybercrime as criminals take advantage of higher online activity. 

Action Fraud, Cifas, and UK Finance collectively received 822,276 fraud reports in 2019-20 (1). Of which, 698,934 (85%) were online based scams. The National Crime Agency also state that, roughly, just 20% of scams are reported so we could be looking at a total figure of around 3,494,670 cases of cybercrime every year.

Looking at this in monetary terms, there was £2.3bn reported loss, which means a possible total figure of around £11.5bn in just one year.

Based on growing trends, this guide outlines what we are expecting the biggest online scams of 2022 to be.

Cryptocurrency investment scams

Cryptocurrency investment scams have increased significantly over the last couple of years with a staggering £146.2 million being lost to crypto scams between January and October this  year alone (2).

This is almost 30% more than the amount that was lost throughout the whole of 2020.

The average loss per victim was £20,500, making this a very dangerous scam with the potential for huge losses

Young adults (aged 18 – 25) accounted for the highest percentage of crypto scam reports and over half of victims were aged between 18 and 45.

One of the most common tactics that scammers use for this type of scam is advertising on social media and using fake celebrity endorsements. They will create adverts using the picture of a well-known celebrity or social media influencer and create fake testimonials saying how much money they had made by investing with this firm or cryptocurrency.

These adverts will almost always promise high returns in a short space of time in order to appeal to those who are looking for a ‘get rich quick’ scheme.

As cryptocurrencies continue to become a more mainstream method of investment, we are expecting crypto related scams to continue with the current trend of rising reports.

How to protect yourself from cryptocurrency scams
  • Never make investments based on adverts that you have seen on social media. You also need to watch out for emails, phone calls, and messages on social media too. Genuine cryptocurrency investment platforms never contact people directly and urge them to make investments.

  • Before investing with a firm or company, make sure that they are authorised by checking the FCA Register. If you need to get in contact with an authorised firm then you should only use the contact details provided on the Register as some scammers pretend to be from a legitimate firm and give fake details.
    You should also check the FCA Warning List for firms to avoid. Remember that investing in cryptocurrency is not regulated, so you won’t have access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme or the Financial Ombudsman Service if things go wrong.

  • If you’re unsure about making an investment or if something seems suspicious, seek advice from trusted family, friends, or colleagues. You should also seek professional financial advice if you’re planning to invest large sums of money, and this goes for any investment vehicle, not just cryptos.

  • Remember, if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

NHS Covid-19 scams

Covid-19 booster scams

Since the start of the pandemic scammers have been using every opportunity they can to con people out of their hard earned cash. From setting up fake retail websites selling face masks and hand sanitisers that don’t exist, to tricking people into paying for Covid-19 vaccines and tests, the whole pandemic has given a huge advantage to criminals.

With the Covid-19 booster roll out set to continue into 2022, there’s no doubt that scammers will continue to use this as the subject for scams.

Since the start of the initial vaccine roll-out in December 2020, scammers have been trying to con people into paying for vaccines by sending out fake NHS text messages, emails, and also by cold calling.

The NHS are contacting patients via letters and text messages to let them know when it’s their turn for their vaccine or booster, however they will never ask you for your personal information, log-in details and passwords, or bank details.

It’s very important that you don’t respond to requests for payment as Covid-19 vaccines are free for everybody under the NHS.

NHS COVID Pass scams

If you’re attending an event in the UK or travelling abroad, it’s likely that you will have to show your NHS COVID pass.

These passes are completely free to obtain by going on the NHS website or app, but scammers have been exploiting this by sending text messages to people asking for payment.

The texts appear to be from the NHS and reads something along the lines of ‘you are now eligible to apply for your COVID Pass, proving you have been vaccinated’. A link will be included which will take you to a malicious website, designed to look like the NHS website, where you will be asked for your personal details and for payment to obtain your pass.

It’s important to remember that the NHS will contact you regarding your NHS pass, this is something you can obtain yourself through their website or app. You will also never have to pay to access your COVID Pass, so stay well away from anybody asking for payment.

Online dating scams

With most of 2020 and the start of 2021 spent in national lockdowns, this forced more people to turn to online dating website and apps to find love.

This has evidently caused an increase in the number of online dating scam reports.

According to UK Finance’s half year fraud update 2021 (3) , romance scams have increased significantly over the last couple of years. The increase in the number of romance scam reports increased by 38% when comparing the first half of 2019 to H1 2020, and by a massive 74% when comparing H1 2019 to H1 2021.

Romance scams typically involve malicious minded criminals who develop relationships with people over a long period of time so they can build their trust. Once they’ve built up enough trust, they’ll start to make up reasons why they need money and plead for your help.

Alternatively, they may try to convince you to make an investment in cryptocurrencies or another commodity. They will explain how they’ve made thousands of pounds doing so, when in reality, they are just trying to get your bank details.

How to protect yourself from online dating scams
  • It’s up to you who you choose to give money to, but never, under any circumstances, transfer money to somebody that you haven’t met in person.

  • If somebody online tries to get you to make an investment, make sure you carry out your own research and seek financial advice. Never invest money without checking the FCA Register to ensure that you’re dealing with an authorised firm.

  • If you’re suspicious of somebody’s behaviour on a dating website, you should use the site or app’s reporting tool to report them and protect yourself and others from getting scammed.

Payment Diversion fraud

Payment diversion fraud is usually aimed at small to medium sized business and home buyers. They like to take advantage of smaller businesses who have less comprehensive IT systems, and they target home buyers because of the scale of transactions.

In the year leading to September 2021, Action Fraud received 4,600 reports of PDF with the average loss being around £30,000 (4).

This type of fraud involves scammers intercepting payments or creating /amending invoices in order to divert money to bank accounts under their control.

Payment diversion fraud is incredibly dangerous as it can see individuals and businesses losing thousands of pounds, and some have ended up losing their entire house deposit to scammers. 

For businesses, scammers may pose as a genuine supplier and send you an email letting you know that their bank details have changed for future invoices and payments. For home buyers, the scammers will pose as the individual’s solicitor and say the same, giving new bank details to which the house deposit should be transferred to.

How to avoid payment diversion fraud
  • Be very cautious if you receive an email from a supplier, or solicitor, requesting you to change the bank details you have on record for them. If you receive an email like this, phone them directly and check that this is genuine. Don’t email them back or use any contact details provided in the email, go to a known trusted contact or use the contact details on their website.

  • When corresponding with somebody via email, always check the sender’s email address to ensure that it’s the same as usual, or the one that the details displayed on their website.

  • Remember to never send money before you are absolutely sure that it’s the correct person and correct bank details. Genuine suppliers, solicitors, and companies won’t mind you taking the extra time to keep your money safe. Only scammers will put pressure on you and urge that you don’t need to check.






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