The Citizens Advice consumer charity is warning that fake investment scams are amongst the fraudulent activity that’s on the rise across Britain.
It claims that an extraordinary 36m people - that’s more than two thirds of all adults - have been targeted by a scammer so far in 2021 alone.
While over 55s are most likely to be targeted, those 34 and under are almost five times more likely to fall victim to a scam than their older counterparts.
Younger people were most likely to be targeted by text or messaging service (61 per cent), while those over 55 were most likely to be targeted over the phone (73 per cent).
Of all those targeted by a scammer:
- 12 per cent were by someone offering a fake investment or get rich quick scheme;
- 41 per cent were by someone pretending to be from the government;
- 54 per cent were about fake deliveries or parcels.
Citizens Advice says reports of scams are increasing sharply. Comparing the first five months of 2021 with the same period in 2020.
Scams via unsolicited emails are up seven-fold and scams via telephone calls have increased 60 per cent.
Earlier this year we reported a warning from the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agents Team - which presides over both the sales and rentals side of the agency industry - about a rise in scams involving fake landlords and bogus lettings agents.
“Lettings scams have been an issue for a number of years and have a devastating effect on consumers and businesses” according to Alison Farrar, NTSELAT operations manager.
NTSELAT says scams may have risen because of the surge in virtual viewings because of formal restrictions on physical viewings at different times since early 2020 and because of public resistance for face-to-face meetings and entering strangers’ properties.
On the wider issue of scams on the rise, Dame Clare Moriarty - chief executive of Citizens Advice - says: “From fraudulent get rich quick schemes to dodgy texts, opportunistic scammers continue to prey on even the savviest of consumers. Our research shows that when it comes to scams anyone can be targeted, and anyone can be tricked.
“It’s more important than ever we all do our bit to report scams when we see them to help protect ourselves and others. By learning how scammers operate, and helping each other understand what to look out for, we can all work together to stop fraudsters in their tracks.“
And Paul Scully, a consumer minister in the government, adds: “As these figures show, absolutely anyone can be the victim of a scam. Criminals don’t care who they’re scamming, as long as they get what they want.
“You might think you’re really tech-savvy, but we’re now seeing scams so convincing they’d give a computer programmer pause for thought.
“The best way to protect ourselves from scams is to dispel the myth that only a certain type of person is at risk, share experiences, and report suspected scams to Citizens Advice and Action Fraud.”
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