Catches of the month: Phishing scams for April 2021

With the UK edging towards the end of lockdown, we are all eager to make plans and get the most out of our renewed freedom. But before you rush off to buy festival or theatre tickets, you should check whether you’re dealing with a scammer.

Fraudsters also have a plan for those who are happy in the comfort of their own home, creating a fake promotion to win a PlayStation 5.

We provide more details of both scams in this blog, along with a new – albeit familiar – con involving a fake security notice from your bank.

Action Fraud warns of tickets scams as lockdown eases

Over the next few months, theme parks, zoos, theatres and festivals will be reopening. But before you start making plans, you must be careful that you’re using a legitimate service.

Action Fraud has warned that cyber criminals are creating fake tickets. It received 216 reports of ticket fraud in February, with victims losing £272,300.

That number of scams is expected to increase as more events are confirmed in the coming weeks.

To protect yourself, Action Fraud recommends only purchasing tickets from the venue’s box office, official promoter or agent, or a well-known and reputable ticket site.

You should also avoid paying for tickets by bank transfer, with credit card payments and services such as PayPal offering greater protection against fraud.

Additionally, you should be wary of unsolicited emails, texts or adverts – particularly if they offer suspiciously good deals – and check whether the vendor is a member of STAR (Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers).

Scammers are using fake PlayStation 5 giveaway as a lure

Researchers at Kaspersky have spotted a scam that offers recipients the chance to win a PlayStation 5 if they supply their personal and financial details.

It’s been almost impossible for people to get their hands on the console since its release in November, due to supply shortages and delays caused by COVID-19, so you can understand why people might be tempted by the contest.

The scam is also designed in such a way to get victims to ignore red flags. At each stage of the competition, the recipient is led to believe that they are closer to their prize and are asked to hand over just a little more information.

By the final stage, when they’re asked to hand over their financial details, many people will have convinced themselves that they can’t come this far only to back out now.

However, as with so many things, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Britons warned about scams text imitating banks

Fraudsters have been spoofing several UK banks in a series of text scams designed to steal people’s sensitive data, the CTSI (Chartered Trading Standards Institute) has found.

Barclays, Halifax, HSBC and Lloyds Bank have all been imitated, with attackers requesting that recipients follow a link to confirm a payment made from a new device.

Katherine Hart, a lead officer at CTSI, said: “I am witnessing so many reports of this scam; indeed, I have received multiple versions of it on my phone.

“The public is very vulnerable to this type of fraud, especially when more people rely on online payments.

“Fraudsters change the form and methods of their scams to match shifting consumer behaviour.

“The surge in online shopping and payments means that the public must be more vigilant when making online payments and receiving messages claiming to be from their bank.

“If you receive a suspicious text like this, please contact your bank directly and verify with them.”

Can you spot a scam?

Make sure your staff know how to identify and avoid scams with our Phishing Staff Awareness Training Programme.

This 45-minute course uses examples like the ones above to explain how phishing works, what to look out for and the steps you should take to avoid falling victim.