MARTIN Lewis has warned people in the UK not to ignore a text from police over the next 48 hours.
Writing on Twitter the Money Saving Expert said: “Spread word.
“Normally I say ignore texts pretending to be police scam warnings as they’re scams.
“Yet for the next 48hrs 70,000 people across UK will get LEGIT texts from the Met, don’t ignore them.”
So, what do you need to know and what do Met Police want you to do?
Members of British law enforcement were part of a global operation to bring down “iSpoof.cc”.
The website is described by police as an online fraud shop.
Detective Superintendent Helen Rance, who leads on cyber crime for the Met, said: “By taking down iSpoof we have prevented further offences and stopped fraudsters targeting future victims.
“Our message to criminals who have used this website is we have your details and are working hard to locate you, regardless of where you are.”
At one point as many as 20 people every minute were being targeted by callers using technology bought from the site.
Criminals found out about the site from adverts posted on channels on the encrypted messaging app Telegram.
They used it to buy technology that allowed them to mask their phone number.
This meant they could trick victims into thinking they were being contacted by their bank and persuade them to pass on personal details that allowed the fraudsters to steal cash.
The average loss among the 4,785 people who have reported being targeted to Action Fraud is £10,000.
There are thought to be many more potential victims.
Of 10 million fraudulent calls made, 35% were in the UK, 40% were in the United States, and the rest were spread across other countries.
What should you do if you get the text?
Around 70,000 UK phone numbers called by criminals who used the site will be alerted by the Metropolitan Police via text message.
If you get the text you will likely have been called over the phone from a fraudster pretending to be from your bank.
The texts will be received on Thursday and Friday and people will be asked to contact the force.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said it is “slightly bizarre” that potential fraud victims will be contacted about the crime by text.
But, he encouraged people to go through the official police website if they’re contacted.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There is something sort of slightly bizarre about this, isn’t there, which is why we’re encouraging people to actually go on to the Met Police website and they’ll find the shortcuts and links there to report this.
“So don’t respond to any texts with sort of dodgy shortcuts and things.
“Come through official websites is the best way of doing this.
“But we want to hear from you because the people we message in the next 24 hours have been victims of fraud or attempted fraud and we can stack all these offences against the people we’ve been arresting.”
What has been done to combat the fraud?
So far 120 arrests have been made – 103 in London and 17 outside the capital.
These include alleged site administrator Teejay Fletcher, 35, who was arrested in east London earlier this month and is facing criminal charges.
Police said Fletcher, who is alleged to be a member of an organised crime group, was living a “lavish” lifestyle.
The site is said to have made more than £3million profit.
Sir Mark said the number of potential UK victims is “extraordinary”, adding: “What we are doing here is trying to industrialise our response to the organised criminals’ industrialisation of the problem.”
ISpoof was created in December 2020 and at its peak had 59,000 users.
It allowed them to pay for the criminal software using Bitcoin, with charges ranging from £150 to £5,000 per month.
UK police began investigating the site in June 2021, opting for ispoof as the largest criminal site that was based in the country.
How to avoid falling for scams and fraud
By pretending to be your bank, a criminal is trying to extract your card details to go on a spending spree, or will get you to transfer your entire savings, leaving you with nothing.
Fraudsters do all the things that banks say and do to make a victim think they are genuine.
The scammers often pretend to be from the fraud department of the bank, tricking you into believing that there’s a serious problem and that you need to act quickly.
They will say you shouldn’t share what you’re doing with anyone, and that you mustn’t tell others at the bank as it’s “part of a wider investigation”.
Earlier this year scam expert Paul Davis shared his top tips on how to avoid being scammed.
- Hang up – never engage with calls out of the blue. Be suspect about them all.
- Don’t rush – a real company should never try and rush you into doing something.
- Protect yourself – be careful of which websites and newsletters you sign up for and give information to.
What to do if you think you’ve fallen for a scam
Paul encouraged anyone who thinks they have been a victim of a crime not to stay silent.
He said: “The best thing to do is contact your bank. Firstly, it can help protect you so no more money leaves your account.
“Secondly, the sooner you contact it, the more likely it is that the money can be recovered.”
Not only can this help you recover the money, it stops the cash getting in the hands of criminals.
You can contact your bank directly. The quickest and easiest way to do this is by calling the number on the back of your bank card.
You can report fraud and cyber crime to Action Fraud either online by calling 0300 123 2040.
“Impersonation fraud is rife in the uk and everyone needs to be aware of the dangers and of contact that comes out the blue,” said Paul.