Feeds

Five million Brits duped by scams, says Which?

Taxing the stupid

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Five million UK adults have fallen victim to a series of moneymaking frauds, such as premium-rate prize scams, work-from-home schemes and Nigerian 419 email scams, according to research published by consumer watchdog Which?.

A further 23 million people have been targeted by the scams.

Britain's most widespread scam, according to the new research, is the automated phone call that invites people to claim a prize. One-third of adults have received one of these calls and two million have responded, usually by calling a premium-rate number.

The scam has been so successful that the premium-rate regulator, ICSTIS, has changed its Code of Practice to stop phone networks making payments to their premium-rate service providers until at least 30 calendar days after calls have been made.

The rule change, which came into effect in September, gives ICSTIS time to identify breaches of its code and, where appropriate, to order phone networks to withhold all payments pending the outcome of investigations. It can levy significant fines for breaches.

But premium-rate scams are by no means the only successful fraud targeting British citizens. The survey of 1,050 adults found that almost eight million people in Britain have seen or received material promoting international lotteries. People are often too eager to believe an official-looking letter announcing they've had a big win, even if they haven't entered.

Con artists often cash in by charging a "contingency" fee, as in the case of a Which? reader who was asked to pay £75,000 to "release" her winnings. The scamsters may also fraudulently use the bank account details they collect from "winners" who try to claim prizes.

Adverts claiming you can "make thousands without leaving the house" are also prevalent: more than 25 per cent of adults have seen them. Although not all these ads are scams, Which? reports that job details can be hard to find and money is almost always requested up-front for a joining pack.

One work-from-home scheme was nothing more than a suggestion that recipients copy the pack, place a newspaper advert, and send the same pack to people willing to pay the up-front fee – so no end product, just a succession of people scamming money from each other.

The so-called "Nigerian 419" email scam, named after the relevant part of the Nigerian penal code, has been seen by eight per cent of people. Scenarios differ, but there is always a large sum of money waiting to be paid out which, in order to be claimed, requires absolute secrecy, a foreign bank account number and an "advance fee". The victims, of course, never receive any money.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
Bad PUPPY: Undead Windows XP deposits fresh scamware on lawn
Installing random interwebs shiz will bork your zombie box
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.