The picture above is Mike Tinmouth. Mike is one of the UK’s leading experts on social and digital marketing. His CV includes study at MIT and having worked with big organizations in senior roles such as Vodafone and WPP. Surely a tech savvy millennial like Mike wouldn’t get caught out by fraudsters. In fact, late last year Reassura helped stop Mike who was one click away from transferring £8,000 to a fraudster. This article challenges the common misconception that fraud victims are naïve or careless and reminds all of us that fraud and scams are lurking around the corner.
Mike’s story starts when he wanted to open a new business account with Barclays. The process was dragging on and things came to a head when he received an email which was so unprofessional that he needed to confirm if it was genuine. When things continued to drag, he resorted to going on to Barclay’s Twitter BizChat to register his complaint. Soon after his Tweet he received another email apologizing for the situation, although it purported to be from Barclays it was from fraudsters who monitor the banks customer support channels.
The new process was much smoother, personal phone calls, professional emails etc. Very soon Mike was ready to transfer £8,000 to his new account. The new professionalism and efficiency of the Barclays Team was what started alarm bells ringing for Mike.
When he asked us, we gave him the simple advice, call Barclays on their listed number, not the ones from the emails and check-out your hunch. He did this and found he had been in communication with fraudsters.
How did the fraudsters manage this? Firstly, social media is open to everyone and if you check out the @BarclaysBizChat on twitter you can see a whole host of people getting in contact with Barclays to sort out issues they have encountered, some have hard to spot user names, but a lot have their real names. As Mike is somewhat of an influencer in social media circles his Twitter name is quite naturally is his actual name. From Mike’s name the fraudsters could find his address, email and telephone number. Using some online design tools, they could make very good fake Barclays emails and used a sufficiently credible email address. From the above they could contact Mike, and even take him through very credible security checks etc. And ultimately its very believable that Barclays would react in a professional way to make-up for their previous blunders.
What are the lessons to be learnt from Mike’s close call?
- AVOID SOCIAL MEDIA TO COMMUNICATE WITH ORGANIZATIONS AS FRAUDSTERS MONITOR THEM.
Despite this, banks are pushing us evermore to online processes for our banking it doesn’t mean its safe. This isn’t paranoia about online banking but even now months after this happened to Mike you can still go on to Twitter and find the names of frustrated Barclays customers
- IF PAYING INTO YOUR OWN NEW ACCOUNT, CALL THE BANK TO CONFIRM THE ACCOUNT DETAILS AND THAT IT BELONGS TO YOU.
If Mike had made that transfer, Barclays would probably not have refunded the money as he would have personally authorized it and last year only about 1/3 of authorized payments were refunded by banks and those tend to be when the bank could recover the funds, if the fraudsters are quick, you lose.
- ALWAYS GIVE THEM A CALL TO CHECK, THEIR EMAIL MAY HAVE BEEN HACKED
If you are making a payment to someone and they email or text you to change their account details then do the above.
- STAYING UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST SCAMS KNOWLEDGE IS THE BEST DEFENCE
Don’t fall into the common misconception that the average fraud victim is a lonely old lady or a naïve teenager, everyone is vulnerable. In fact, research has show that the most vulnerable people are the greatest users of technology.
Hopefully, Mike’s saga will remind us all that we all have a weakness which fraudsters can exploit. Mike’s weakness is that social media is his natural environment, and this was exploited. For others it might be that they love travel and are always looking out for great deals. The list goes on, but we all need to keep reading and talking about them to protect each other.
If you think that you may have been a victim of fraud like Mike’s:
- Contact ActionFraud to report the crime and get a Crime Reference Number
- If you have made any payment with your credit card contact your credit card provider’s fraud department
- If you paid by debit card, contact your bank
- If you’re worried about identity fraud and would like to protect your identity contact CIFAS
Reassura is dedicated to helping raise awareness of scams and fraud and the impact they have on their victims. Reassura’s team of specialist anti-fraud advisors are on-hand to offer advice designed to help individuals make better informed decisions and avoid the unpleasant consequences of becoming a victim. For further information visit: https://reassura.com or call 0800 888 6400