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A rise of professional scammers

Are you being conned by a ‘professional’ scammer? That salesman or lawyer might not be who they say they are.

One fifth of all scams reported to Citizens Advice’s Consumer Service, are now from scammers posing as professionals from financial and legal services.

The new data reveals an increase of 6% on these types of scams with the median financial loss being £330 this financial year.

Investment scams such as cryptocurrency and holiday timeshares have also doubled compared to last year.

Real life examples

A former finance professional became the victim of an investment scam after investing £25,000 into a company she believed to be legitimate. However, it ended up being a clone website set up by a scammer, who was using a regulated investment company’s name.

Another example of how it can happen to anyone, is of one working mother, who initially invested £500 into Bitcoin. However, after daily calls from the scammer about her ‘growing investment’, she ended up investing a total of £40,000.

What Citizen's Advice say:

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Fraudsters are using new technology to peddle old tricks, posing as trustworthy professionals with persuasive offers.

“Anyone can fall victim to these sophisticated scams, but all too often it’s the victim rather than the scammer who are left feeling sheepish. This isn’t right.

“So, this year we want to break down the stigma around these serious crimes, which are targeted across all levels of society, yet remain under-reported.

“People can take action and report any potential scams to the authorities so scammers aren’t walking away with your money in their bank account.”

How to recognise a scam

  • Unsolicited or unexpected contact. If you have received any kind of contact, but particularly a phone call, out of the blue, it is best to avoid it.
  • Email address. If you get an email, expand the pane at the top of the message and see exactly who it has come from. If it is a scam, the email address the message has come from will be filled in with random numbers, or be misspelled.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. This is something you normally find with pension or investment scams, where the fraudster guarantees you huge returns, but tells you it is low risk.
  • Quick decisions. If you are pushed into making a decision on the spot, be suspicious. Scammers don’t want you to have time to think about it.

Use our guide on scams to learn how to recognise one, how to protect yourself and what to do if you’ve been a victim of a scam.

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