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Warning – scams can seriously damage your wealth – MoneyWeek

Themanywarningsaboutscamsissuedbyourretailregulator,theFinancialServicesAuthority,areclearlynotworkingasPaulGunterandhisdaughterrecentlyprovedbyduping15,000haplessBrits,mostlypensioners,intobuyingover£35mofutterlyworthlesssharesindormantUScompanies。

Aparticularlyunluckyfewwereconnedintocashinginsavingsaccounts,lifeassurancepoliciesandevenpropertyworthupto£1m。

How?

Sadlythetechniquetheduoemployedwastheusualcombinationofhardselloverthephoneandsheerpersistence–likeotherscammersPaulandhisdaughterdidnoteasilytake“no”forananswer。

Theynowfaceprosecutionandupto25yearsinprisonbutthat’slittlecomforttoanyonewhohashadtheirhardearnedsavingsdecimated。

Withscammersabletotargetpotentialvictimsbothoverthephoneandincreasinglyovertheinternettoo,thescamstatisticsforjusttheUKalonearegettingscary–theOfficeofFairTradingestimatesthatupto3munwaryBritssuccumbtoavarietyofscamstothetuneof£3。

5bnperyear。

Andalthougha“typical”victimismale,agedover50andlivesinthesoutheastofEngland,nooneisimmunescammerscanbebothsmartandimaginativeindreamingupschemesthatwilllinetheirpocketsatyourexpense。

Sure,therearepeopleoutthereemployedtostopthemsuchastheTradingStandards“scambusting”teamsandtheFSAitself,whichpolicesUKfinancialservicesfirms。

Theproblemistheyoftenonlyfindoutaboutascamafterconsumerswhohavebeenrippedoffcontactthem。

Eventhen,theymayonlyhavelimitedscopetogoafterscammerswhochoosetobasethemselvesoverseas。

So,thesafestbetisnottoassumeotherswillpreventyoubecomingthenextvictim。

Firstoff,bealert–seeoursummaryofsomeoftoday’smostprevalentscamsbelow。

Thenrememberthegoldenrule–ifanoffermadebyphone,emailoronawebsitesoundstoogoodtobetrue,italmostcertainlyis。

IgnoreitandthenideallyflagittotheFSAon08456061234sotheycangetthescammershutdown。

Fakeprizedraws

TheOFTreckonsaround1millionofusarescammedthiswayeveryyear。

Youmaybetargetedbyphone,postoremailbutthepremiseisalwaysroughlythesame–youhavebeenmiraculouslyselectedforamajorprizeandthescamisbasedaroundhowyoucollectit。

Optionsincludeahideouslyexpensivepremiumphonelineorevensendingmoneyoverseastocover“administration”costs。

Moreelaboratelyyoumaysimplybeinvitedtoattendaseminarwhereyouwillbepersuadedtopartwithamuchlargersumtojoinabogusholidaycluborpropertyscheme。

Advancedfeefrauds

Thisscamusuallykicksoffwithanemail,orperhapsaphonecall,suggestingyoucanhelpa,typicallyAfrican,businessmantomakealargefundstransferarisingfromaspuriouswindfallsaleofgovernmentassetsorperhapsevenanewlydiscoveredsecretfundoperatedbyaformerdictator。

Allyouhavetodoissupplybankdetailsormakeapaymenttohelpwith“taxes”or“bankcharges”。

Don’tbetempted。

Closertohome,youmaybeinvitedtojoina“workfromhome”schemeortakeoutahomeloanonverypreferableterms。

Thegiveawayinallcasesistherequirementtosendcashupfrontbeforeyouhavereceivedanythinginreturn。

Boilerrooms

Thisisthenamegiventopressureselling,Paul-Gunterstyle,socalledbecauseitisoftendonefromsmallroomsinhotcountries。

Usuallytheschemeinvolvesyoubuyingwhatturnouttobefake,worthlesssharesonthepromiseofhugereturnsthateveryoneelsehassomehowfailedtospot。

Theharshrealityistherearenoguaranteedfasttrackstoriches–successfulshareinvestingtakestimeandexperience,notasinglephonecallorevenaseminar,shouldyoubeinvitedtoone。

Don’tbepolite–ifyouarecontactedbysomeoneyoudon’tknowwhothenlaunchesacharmoffensiveorstartsmakingunrealisticoffers,hangupimmediately。

Fakeshoppingwebsites

HighlightedrecentlybytheBBC’sWatchdogprogramonMonday,thesearetoughtospot。

Anyonecansetupabogussite,foraround£60,offeringanythingfromgiftideastosportsequipment。

Everythingonthesitewillbepricedcompetitivelyandtheownermayevenoffera“Paypal”securepaymentlink。

Thetrickissimple;youenteryoucarddetails,apaymentismade,nogoodsarriveandlaterthesiteisshutdown。

So,whattodo?

Inanutshell,whatshopperslikedoingbest–shoparound。

Checkpricesbeforeyoubuyandbesuspiciousofundulycheapproducts。

IfindoubtstickwithknownonlineretailerssuchasAmazonorthewebsitesofmajorstores。

Bankdetailrequests

Watchoutforanyunsolicitedrequestforyourbankdetails。

AcurrentfavouriteintheUSisa“consultant”offeringtohelpyoureclaimtaxcreditsprovidedyousupplypersonaldataupfront。

Here,scammershavetargetedvictimsbyofferinghelpwithcomplexendowmentpolicyclaimsorpersonalinjuryclaims。

Otherswillclaimtoworkforyourbankandwanttocheckaccountsecuritydetailsorperhapsinitiateapasswordchange。

Don’tbeduped–ifindoubt,don’tgiveawaypersonaldata,especiallyyourbankaccountdetails,andinsteadcontactyourbankdirectlytoverifyiftheyaretryingtocontactyouaboutanything。

Overall,rememberthattoday’sscammersareoftenclever,persistentandcreative。

So,it’sbestnottoassumeyouare“notthekindofpersonwhofallsforscams”(especiallyifyouhappentobea50-year-oldmalelivinginthesoutheast)。

AndasI’vealreadymentioned,nevereverforgetthegoldenrule–ifitsoundstoogoodtobetrue,italmostcertainlyis。

ThisarticleistakenfromMerrynSomersetWebbsfreeweeklypersonalfinanceemail,MoneySense。