Fraud update from West Mercia Police Economic Crime Unit 31/08/2021


The public has definitely noticed an increase in fraud during the pandemic. New research for Take Five to Stop Fraud reveals 80% of people recall receiving an unsolicited text/email requesting money or information in the past year. Around 2 in 3 (65%) consumers say that they have been more aware of fraud during the pandemic, with those over 65 years old most likely to report seeing an increase in fraud attempts.

The Double scam

The ‘double scam’ sees criminals send texts impersonating all manner of organisations such as delivery service providers, government departments, banks, or other trusted organisations. The text message includes a link to a fake website, designed to trick people into giving away their financial and personal information, enabling criminals to steal people’s money.

Once the criminal has their hands on these details, it can trigger other scams. For example, the victim gets a phone call where they claim to be from the victim’s bank. Exploiting the personal information extracted from the text message scam, criminals inform people they have been a victim of fraud. The criminal caller offers to help reclaim the funds, but in fact will try and trick the person into transferring more money to the criminal’s account or using the detail provided to purchase goods online.

Parcel and package delivery scams are the most prevalent type of ‘smishing’ text messages, according to new data provided to UK Finance by cybersecurity company Proofpoint.

Proofpoint operates the 7726 text message system on behalf of mobile phone operators, which allows customers to report suspicious texts.

The numbers 7726 on a keypad spell out the word ‘SPAM’.

Smishing is a technique that criminals use to target consumers with texts impersonating trusted organisations. These text messages often contain a link to a fraudulent website that replicates a legitimate site, asking the victim to enter personal and financial information.

The advice is to:

  • Remember that criminals will send out smishing text messages with links leading to fake websites used to steal personal and financial information. These text messages may appear to be from trusted organisations and may use official branding to convince you they’re genuine. Always access websites by typing them into the web browser and avoid clicking on links in texts.
  • Remain vigilant and check delivery notifications very carefully to ensure they are genuine. Text messages may look very similar to those that are genuine but may use generic greetings, such as Dear Sir/Madam, or include spelling errors.
  • Always question claims that you are due goods or services that you haven’t ordered or are unaware of, especially if you have to pay any fees upfront.
  • Customers can report suspected scam texts to their mobile network provider by forwarding them to 7726 which spells ‘SPAM’ on your telephone keypad.
  • STOP: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
    CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
    PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

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