Falling for a scam can put you significantly out of pocket but with so many emails and texts on our devices everyday it can be hard to spot the genuine from the fraudulent.
Impersonation scams are said to cost Brits millions of pounds every year. They see fraudsters pose as trusted organisations such as banks and authorities to broadband providers in attempts to trick people out of their hard earned money.
Thankfully there is help available for those who have fallen victim to scammers and lost £3,000 or more. Family-run law firm CEL Solicitors is helping people nationwide to get their money back, and may even be able to help those who have been denied a refund by their bank.
'By the time I realised, I had sent a significant amount of money'
According to CEL Solicitors, scammers posing as official bank staff and often pretending to be from a bank's fraud team is a common trick, and some of the firm's clients have transferred their entire life savings over in these situations.
CEL Solicitors client, Catherine – whose name has been changed to protect her identity – experienced this first hand and explained: "After receiving a message from my bank saying they would call me shortly, I picked up a call from people pretending to work there. They told me all my details had been compromised and to transfer my money to a 'safe account' that they would open for me. By the time I realised I was being scammed, I had already sent a significant amount of money to them."
After attempts to get a refund from her bank were unsuccessful, Catherine turned to CEL Solicitors for help. She added: "I contacted my bank immediately but they were not very helpful. After an unsuccessful attempt to recover the money myself, I decided to seek help from a specialist and that's how I found CEL Solicitors. I couldn't be more pleased with them – they helped me to recover all my money in less than three months."
Other common scams
Fraudsters may catch people off guard by pretending to be from a police force. For example, victims may be warned of criminal activity in their local bank, such as claims of staff stealing money or issuing counterfeit notes.
The scammer might then tell the victim to move their money into a 'safe account'. Once the money has been handed to the scammer, the victim loses contact with them and might only then realise what has happened.
According to CEL Solicitors, scammers posing as HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to suggest outstanding tax bills need to be paid urgently are common. Scammers typically apply pressure, stating that failure to pay will result in legal proceedings such as an arrest warrant and a permanent criminal record. Many victims pay in a state of panic and only question the legitimacy of the request once they've transferred money.
CEL Solicitors has also suggested popular services providers such as broadband companies are often impersonated. Fraudsters might pretend to be a company employee notifying that a router has been hacked and they need remote access, even offering compensation. Once bank details have been provided, the scammer may then ask the victim to log into their online bank account to check the payment has been received, at which point they have control of it and can empty it.
Tips to avoid a scam
CEL Solicitors has offered the following advice to help you avoid being caught out:
- Be wary of unsolicited phone calls, text messages, emails or social media messages asking for payment, a change of payment information or personal details.
- Look closely at the sender's phone number and check if it's different to those on official correspondence or websites.
- Don't panic if you're urged to 'act now' – it's highly unusual that a legitimate organisation would apply such pressure.
- Always question someone who asks you to transfer money.
No win, no fee
CEL Solicitors operates on a no win, no fee basis. Paul Hampson, managing director at CEL Solicitors, explained: "We believe in helping clients get affordable justice. Victims have often lost considerable sums of money, which means they can’t always afford legal fees. Scammers also often retarget victims by offering to help for an upfront fee – another ruse to scam more money.
"We help fraud clients on a “no win, no fee” basis, which means they have nothing to lose. If for any reason they are unsuccessful then they won’t pay us a penny.
"If successful, then the usual position is that we recover our costs from any money recovered. However, in addition to recovering money lost to scammers, we are also usually successful in securing 8% interest from the date the money was lost and compensation, which in higher value cases covers our costs. Any deductions are clearly explained at the start of the case."
To find out more about how CEL Solicitors could help you, click here.
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