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UK News: ‘Keep your wallet in your pocket!' How to spot a fraudster and avoid being scammed

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Action Fraud has reported a significant uptake in fraud during the pandemic with victims losing over £10million to courier scams last year. Fraudsters have become increasingly more emboldened to carry out targeted operations to steal money from unsuspecting victims. Phillip Sinel, a senior partner at law firm Sinels, spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk about how fraud has evolved in Britain over the last few years.

The author of the best-selling book Restitution and How to Obtain It addressed how fraud has replaced burglaries as the primary method of theft by criminals in the last half a decade.

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Mr Sinel explained: "I think that it is fair to say that in England and Wales, fraud is no longer just a plague, but a fact of life. Five years ago there were roughly 650,000 burglaries, according to the Office for National Statistics, and over 3.2million instances of fraud.

"Just as a policeman cannot 'un-burgle' you, law enforcement often provides little comfort to those who've been defrauded with a clean-up rate of just five percent, according to Which? research.

"The pandemic has only made matters worse and we have seen a significant jump in many different kinds of fraud - a 32 percent increase between June 2020 and June 2021."

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SCAM 1 © GETTY SCAM 1

From emails to phone calls, Mr Sinel noted that technology has led to fraud becoming easier to carry out and much easier to fall for.

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The scam expert said: "Picture the scene: someone knocks on your door, phones you unexpectedly at work or emails you out of the blue, suggesting you invest a few hundred pounds into their new investment vehicle.

"You have been pre-selected over everyone else because of your stellar credit rating, or some other compliment, and that they have the track record of making significant returns.

"Before you part with a single penny, do your background checks. If you see any of the common warning signs, keep your wallet in your pocket."

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As well as this, the fraud expert noted how particular characteristics adopted by scammers can be easily identified when meeting them in-person or speaking to them over the phone.

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Mr Sinel added: "If someone's accent is affected, or does not quite match their upbringing and schooling, you are dealing with someone willing to manipulate," he said.

"If someone was born and raised in the North-West in the 1990s, but talks like a clipped 1950s radio presenter, question it. Someone who claims to have quickly risen from 'rags to riches' needs to be viewed with caution.

"Nothing is too much for a fraudster. On first contact they will always be incredibly obliging and will seemingly bend over backwards for you.

SCAM 2 © GETTY SCAM 2

"Think hard: is this person I have never or rarely met before really trying to help me, or are they trying to help themselves?

"Unsolicited calls with unfailingly friendly people who promise the earth should raise a sizeable red flag."

Sharing the ideal profile of the fraudster, Mr Sinel outlined how people who appear to be larger than life are more likely to carry out scams than those who are quieter.

He added: "Fraudsters can be typically ostentatious - the people with the loudest voices in restaurants, using overly rounded vowels.

"They may be laden with expensive knick-knacks: thousand-pound watches, the latest phone and sports car, and their partners will be the same.

"Food may be consumed in Biblical quantities, and a significant number of fraudsters will be above average weight.

"If you think you might be being conned, there are several things you can do. Ask for as much information as possible.

"Get copies of passports, credit records and proof of addresses. Often fraudsters will try and build up a false credit history, so look out for assets being bought and sold without a good underlying reason."

They're meant to stop fraud, but online payment checks are frustrating .
So-called 'strong customer authentication' rules mean anyone buying an item over the internet may need to verify a transaction with their bank.So-called 'strong customer authentication' (SCA) rules, just rolled out, mean that anyone who buys an item over the internet may now need to verify a transaction with their bank before the payment is approved. This is done by typing in a code sent to their mobile phone by their bank – in addition to the bank card details they must already provide.

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