June Newsletter

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Welcome to the June edition of the CAPASP Newsletter

It is that time of year when the weather warms up and we are looking to book our holiday.  However, with a mixture of Brexit and Covid, a number of scams have popped up that we would like to share with everyone. So our scam in focus for this month is travel scams.  We have found 6 types of scam to watch out for.

The scam to be aware of this month is Whatsapp scams.  Messages looking like they come from Whatsapp Support are phishing for personal details.

Scam in Focus - Travel Scams

Scams to watch out for are:-

  • New Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)
  • International driving permits
  • Fake refunds for Covid holidays
  • Fake social media ads
  • Rogue travel companies
  • Charging for free travel forms
  • Fake Vaccine passport.

Let's take these one at a time.

New Global Health Insurance Card

If you are like me and didn’t know about the new Global Health Insurance Card, then this scam could easily catch you out. This card is free from the NHS, but scammers are paying for adverts to get to the top of Google to direct you to their site, where they will charge you for this card.  Our tip Don’t follow links to the NHS, go to their site directly, if you are still unsure and they are asking for payment they you are probably in the wrong place.

International Driving Permits

These are only required for people with an old paper licence and not if you have a photo card licence.  Adverts have been found selling ones for Spain for $49, when they are £5.50 from a post office. Our tip Be wary of following links on a paid for advertisement always go directly to the site wherever possible.

Fake Refunds for Covid Holidays

Lock down and the ongoing restrictions due to Covid affected many of us with cancelled holidays.  There are scammers who are calling round people on the premise that they are authorised to issue a refund.  This is a phishing call and the main purpose is to gain your bank details in order for them to take money out of your account.  Our tip If you get a call from a travel company, make sure it is the one you used.  Hang up on the call, find your documentation with the name of the travel company on and call them direct.  Do not use any contact numbers given to you on the call.

Fake Social Media Ads

In 2020/21, Action Fraud found 62% of victims of travel fraud were targeted on Facebook.  Scammers create fake business pages with details of a legitimate business to trick people into booking holidays.  One lady only found out she had been scammed when she turned up at a caravan site only to find they didn’t have her booking. Our tip If you like the look of something advertised on Facebook, try searching for it directly on the internet and go directly to their website from your own search.  Where possible use known sites such as Booking.com or Trip Advisor. Another important tip is, even if you are on one of these sites, do not let the place you are booking with convince you to pay directly as this is a good chance they are scammers.  If you have booked through the platform, pay through the platform as that gives you some security.

Rogue Travel Companies

Action Fraud figures from 2020 show that half of all travel scams were related to airfares. These mainly happen through cloned booking or comparison websites, but the main difference is you will then get a call from a person asking you to pay directly to them, and not continue through the booking site. Our tip  As with the fake social media ads, if you receive a call asking you to pay directly, think twice.  Always pay through the platform wherever possible.  See our separate article on how to check if a travel company is legitimate.

Charging for Free Travel Forms

Travel still sometimes requires passenger locator forms to be completed on entry into another country and then for the return to the UK.  This document is free of charge, but in some search engines there has been a link which takes you to the form and, after completion of the form, on to a payment page.  Our tip For travel forms visit GOV.UK for the foreign travel advice page, specific to your destination.

Fake Vaccine Passport

Vaccination status is an important part of travel these days and fraudsters have been quick to take advantage.  A fake NHS website was created with links to apply for a digital vaccine passport.  Hurry tactics were used to rush people into following the link to the payment page, and making the payment.  Phishing emails were sent out hoping to catch people in the scam. Our tip  Don’t click on unsolicited emails or the links within them.  If they are of interest, come out of the email and do a Google search yourself.

Other News

New opportunity

We have been working hard to get a regular slot on HCRFM (Huntingdon community Radio)  More information to follow as soon it is all confirmed.

Partnership meeting

Planning is currently underway for the next CAPASP partnership meeting.  We are looking for venues around the March area as it is quite central.  If anyone knows a venue we could use, then please let the team know at against-scams@cambridgeshire.gov.uk. 

Scams talks

Agasinst Scams details

The Community Protection Team is always on the look out for opportunities to deliver scams awareness talks.  If you know of any groups that would benefit, then please pass on the against-scams email address above.

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Jeremy Sallis - Update from the Show on Tuesday 31st May 2022

Jeremy Sallis

Topic - Travel Scams

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire - Jeremy Sallis, The Money Hour  0:29:40

Natasha Fountain covers the scams relating to travel and how the scammers are exploiting the situation.

action fraud details

What do to if you've been scammed.

Below is a checklist of what you should do if you think you've been scammed:

  1. If you've already responded to a scam, end all further communication immediately.
  2. Call your bank directly and cancel any recurring payments – for speed and ease, you can alternatively call the new 159 hotline.
  3. Report the scam to the police through Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or report a scam anonymously on the Action Fraud website. If you're in Scotland, report a scam through Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or on the Advice Direct Scotland website. You can also report scams to Police Scotland on 101.
  4. If you wish to seek further help, contact Citizens Advice Scams Action via the Citizens Advice website, or call its Scams Action helpline on 0808 250 5050. 

Scams to be aware of in June - Whatsapp Support

whattsapp logo

Action Fraud have reported that Fraudsters are posing as WhatsApp Support to steal personal and financial information.

The fake messages use a username and profile picture that may look like the genuine WhatsApp Support account, but crucially they don’t have the verified badge that any official account will have.

Some scammers may include the verified badge in their profile picture, but users should not fall for this.

Scammers may ask users for personal information, they may ask for a verification code to gain access to their account details or might even ask for their credit card details, as proof of ID.

When you are chatting with a verified contact on WhatsApp, there is a verified badge visible next to the contact’s name in the conversation screen and on their chat info. The scam WhatsApp Support account does not have this badge on display. Instead, it uses the blue tick in a different place - meaning it is a fake account and trying to get hold of your personal details

The first media reports about the scam appeared on the 27th of April 2022. A Google search of the scam results in multiple hits, one of which is available below.

Whattsapp scam - Mirror online

Scams & Cyber Crime Training Event 7th July 2022 10:30 – 12:30

The Fenland Community Safety Partnership is hosting a Scams & Cyber Crime training event in partnership with Karen Reid from the Community Protection Team at the County Council and Nigel Sutton, Fraud and Cyber Security Adviser from Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

The training is aimed at supporting frontline workers to identify scams and cyber crime and therefore help them to protect those they work with (as well as themselves and their families) from its financial and emotional impacts.

For more information about the training please contact:  rcooke@fenland.gov.uk.