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Michael Carroll and David Thompson of Signum Services, the in-house investigative arm of UK P&I Club issues this reminder to colleagues, Members and their staff to be extra vigilant, alert and cautious during this Covid-19 period when confinement orders in place in many countries are requiring staff to work from home from their personal laptops and computers.
While many people are feeling fearful, anxious and uncertain about the future at this time, unscrupulous criminals are exploiting the situation to trick people into parting with their money. A record level of on-line frauds and scams are being perpetrated and reported. While these criminals are mainly targeting the vulnerable and the elderly, the sophistication of some of these scams - and the sheer number of them - mean that that each and every one of us is a potential victim. At the time of writing, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) at the City of London Police have received well over 500 reports of such frauds and scams with losses in the region of £1.6m.
The Police have seen an increase of thousands of COVID-19 themed phishing attempts – the majority of which are via emails, although they may also be received via TEXT messages. These communications try to trick the recipients into opening malicious attachments which could allow the fraudsters to steal the recipient’s personal information, email logins, passwords, and banking details. Some fraudsters are making cold calls offering goods and services that do not subsequently materialise.
Below is a selection of the recent scams we are seeing in the UK but undoubtedly, similar scams are also being perpetrated elsewhere. We should be aware of these scams to avoid falling victim to them but the types of scams will likely increase as the current public health crisis continues:
It is hard to predict the mind of the cunning criminals but one thing is for certain; they are working 24/7 and nearly always from home, thinking of new and different ways in which to steal our hard earned cash and to deceive businesses out of very large sums of money.
All employees, especially those in the payments and accounts departments must be made aware of the need to exercise caution, to be alert and to double check any changes to existing payment instructions.
Possibly the easiest way to do this is to call the customer, supplier, owner, charterer or Member directly to verify that there is in fact a change to their payment instructions, and the reason for the change.
If you are targeted by one of these criminals while at home, with no immediate access to a work colleague or supervisor, or a more experienced family member, for assistance, it may be difficult to take a decision on whether a request you have just received is a genuine request.
In such a situation, it is always better to err on the side of caution. Seek advice by calling up a colleague or your supervisor. Do not feel under any pressure to complete the transaction. Rushing through a fraudulent request is many times worse than being late in complying with a genuine payment request.
So, if you have any doubt or suspicions regarding a message or a payment request;
This article was originally published by UKP&I: https://www.ukpandi.com/knowledge-publications/article/cyber-scams-on-the-rise-by-signum-services-151984/
Signum Services may be contacted for further advice if required: Michael Carroll (Chief Investigator) firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Amy is an established writer and researcher, having contributed to publications, such as The Law Society, LPM, City A.M. and Financial IT. Her role at LexisNexis UK involved leading content and thought leadership, as well as writing research reports, including "The Bellwether Report 2020, Covid-19: The next chapter" and "Are medium-sized firms the change-makers in legal?"
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