Fraud and Scams

Fraud is when someone tricks you to cause harm, which usually ends up costing you money. Even if you haven't lost money, you may still have experienced fraud.

Fraud and internet crime costs our economy an estimated £73 billion every year. This money is often used to fund crimes like drug smuggling, terrorism and people trafficking.


Tips to prevent fraud

  1. Do not give any personal information (name, address, bank details, email or phone number) to organisations or people before verifying they are who they say they are.
  2. Many frauds start with an email. Remember that financial institutions and banks will not email asking you to confirm your bank details by clicking a link. Always question whether an email could be bogus.
  3. Destroy and preferably shred receipts with your card details on and post with your name and address on. Identity fraudsters don't need much information in order to be able to clone your identity.
  4. If you have been a victim of fraud, be aware of fraud recovery fraud. This is when fraudsters pretend to be a lawyer or a law enforcement officer and tell you they can help you recover the money you've already lost.

This section is intended to answer any questions you might have about internet crime and online fraud and scams.

Phishing emails

Phishing is a method criminals use to steal your identity. Usually these types of scams are sent via email and direct you to websites where you are asked to supply personal data or account information. Be wary of any emails asking for personal information.


A ‘spoofing’ scam involves redirecting the user to a duplicated website, with the intention of stealing their personal information. For example, a fake online banking website made to look like the authentic site (including logos, colour and text) would allow scammers access to your bank details. Be wary of any emails or websites asking for bank details.

Viruses and spyware

Viruses and spyware are when criminals attack your computer and try to steal personal information such as usernames and passwords.


Rogue security software, also known as ‘scareware’ is the method of luring a user into downloading fake anti-virus software.

Online auction scams

Online auction scams (eBay, Gumtree, Buy or Sell Facebook groups etc.) are where the seller asks you to pay by money transfer or direct to their bank account and bypass the sites' own payment channels.

This section is intended to answer any questions you might have about corporate and business related frauds.

Asset misappropriation fraud

Asset misappropriation fraud happens when people who are entrusted to manage the assets of an organisation, steal from it.

Betting fraud

Betting fraud happens when you are made offers of inside information or ‘fool-proof’ systems that guarantee you profit from gambling.

Charity donation fraud

Charity donation fraud is when fake charities play on your sympathy by asking you to make a donation to a worthy cause.

Money muling

Money muling is when a person transfers stolen money between different countries.

Phoenix company fraud

Phoenix company fraud happens after a company goes bankrupt and a second company (known as a phoenix company) is started up overnight with the same directors.

False accounting fraud

False accounting fraud happens when company assets are overstated or liabilities are understated in order to make a business appear financially stronger than it really is.

Long and short firm frauds

This is when criminals set up what seems like an apparently legitimate business, but with the intention of defrauding both its suppliers and customers.

This section is intended to answer any questions you might have consumer related frauds.

Bank card and cheque fraud

Bank card or chequebook fraud is when a victim’s bank cards or chequebook have been stolen or faked and they notice unfamiliar transactions on their statement or find out that their overdraft limit is suddenly exceeded.

Bogus holiday fraud

Bogus holiday fraud involves scams that sell you holidays at very low prices - but there’s always a catch

Counterfeit cheque fraud

Counterfeit cheque fraud is when cheques are manufactured or printed on non-bank paper to look exactly like genuine cheques.

Counterfeit goods fraud

Counterfeit goods fraud involves goods passed off as originals which are actually fake.

Dating fraud

Dating fraud occurs when a victim is approached in a chat room or via a social networking site. The fraudster creates a relationship with the victim over the Internet posing as someone else.

Door-to-door sales and bogus tradesmen fraud

These frauds can take many forms, such as; pressure selling, phoney consumer surveys and bogus charity collections.

Employment fraud

Employment fraud happens when a fraudster claims to be a recruitment agent, hiring you for a job that doesn't exist.

Fraud recovery fraud

Fraud recovery fraud happens when former fraud victims are told the money they’ve lost can be recovered.

Health and medical fraud

These frauds involve a wide range of health and medical-related products and services that can appear to be a legitimate form of alternative medicine.

Inheritance fraud

Inheritance fraud is when you are told that someone very rich has died and you’re in line to receive a huge inheritance.

Lottery fraud

Lottery, sweepstake or prize draw fraud happens after fraudsters contact you to tell you you’ve won a large sum of money in an international lottery, sweepstake or other prize draw.

Mobile phone fraud

Mobile phone fraud involves fraudsters targeting mobile phone users and trying to persuade them to purchase phone-related products/services; to make phone calls or texts to premium services by accident; or to unknowingly sign up to expensive subscription services.

Parcel muling

This involves members of the public being persuaded to have items delivered to their addresses and then sending the items on to another address.

Ponzi scheme

Ponzi schemes are ‘get rich quick’ investment scams which pay returns to investors from their own money, or from money paid in by subsequent investors.

Prime bank guarantee fraud

Prime bank guarantee fraud involves a bogus investment scheme promising quick riches in a short space of time by buying bank guarantees from ‘prime’ banks.

Property fraud

Property fraud involves fraudsters offering you a ‘get rich quick’ investment scam, claiming it can turn you into a property millionaire.

Pyramid scheme fraud

Pyramid scheme fraud involves an unsustainable business which rewards people for enrolling others into a business that offers a non-existent or worthless product.

Share sale fraud

Share sale, boiler room, hedge fund or bond fraud involves bogus stockbrokers, usually based overseas, cold calling people to pressure them into buying shares that promise high returns.

Shopping and auction fraud

Shopping and auction fraud involves the misrepresentation of a product advertised for sale or the non-delivery of purchased products.

Timeshare fraud

Timeshare fraud involves an investment scam that claims you can easily become a property millionaire from buying a timeshare.

West African letter frauds

West African letter or 419 fraud is advance-fee scam where you are asked to help transfer money out of another country – such as Iraq, South Africa or somewhere in west Africa – in return for a percentage of the money you helped to transfer.


Reporting Fraud

If you're a victim of fraud that is a crime in progress and you need an immediate police response dial 999.

If it is a non-emergency situation,

Call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

You can also report fraud or find further advice and information on the Action Fraud website.


For more information on preventing fraud, visit the Get Safe Online website.