The 10 Devious New Scams You\'ve Never Heard Of (and How To Avoid Them)

By David Harrison and Ruth Lythe And Victoria Bischoff

Published: 20:02 EST, 9 July 2013 | Updated: 03:34 EST, 11 July 2013





The days of highwaymen are long gone: today's thieves have ever more ingenious ways of parting you from your cash.

Some are quite obvious: one trick is to offer you cash to put money through your bank account.  Others are less so: one ingenious new trick capitalises on the green trend by asking investors to put their money into something called carbon credits.

Despite the promise of huge returns, most investors end up losing between £5,000 and £8,000.  Here, Money Mail tells you all you need to know to steer clear of the modern, high-tech thieves.


If you’re desperate for some extra cash then a role as a money transfer or payment processing agent is appealing. It sounds like any job in the financial sector.

If you apply, you’ll find the job involves being paid a juicy commission for helping transfer thousands of pounds from one bank account, through yours and on to another.

A hand taking a £10 pound note from a Union Flag purse

You’ll be led to believe it’s perfectly legitimate. Of course, it isn’t. You have just become a money mule by carrying the funds from one place to another.

What you’re doing is aiding international criminals to launder cash that has often been stolen by bank fraud.

If you’re caught, you may end up having your account frozen. This could make it impossible to get a mortgage or any credit in future. You could also face jail.

Most of those who fall for it are young,  cash-strapped or in need of easy cash, such as students.

If you get contacted, call Action Fraud, the national fraud and internet crime-reporting centre, on 0300 123 2040


This begins as an elaborate telephone trick. You get a call from someone posing as your bank or the police. They say you need to replace your debit or credit card because you’ve been targeted by fraudsters.

And to reassure you they’re genuine, they tell you to hang up and call back using your bank’s phone number.

But when you put the phone down, the fraudster won’t hang up, so they’re still on the line when you call back and can then trick you into thinking you are on a new call to your bank.

They then ask you for your PIN and send a courier to your home to collect your card. Before you know it, your account has been emptied.



Known as the courier card scam, the average age of victims is 69 — and it is mainly the elderly who are being targeted.

So, remember, your bank will never ask for your PIN or come to your home to pick up your card.

When calling your bank always check you can hear the dial tone before entering the phone number.

In the old days it was highwaymen like Dick Turpin people had to beware of: today's thieves are more devious

In the old days it was highwaymen like Dick Turpin people had to beware of: today's thieves are more devious


You could fall victim to this if you’re hunting the cheapest car or home insurance.

When your old policy comes up for renewal, you look around for a broker to help you get a good deal.

Perhaps you spot an advert in a local newspaper or on a website such as Gumtree, or have been handed a flyer on the street.

You call the broker advertised and they organise a cheap insurance policy, for which you pay up front.

This ‘ghostbroking’ scam is that, just like a ghost, the policy looks real but doesn’t actually exist.

It may be that there was never any policy and you’ve simply paid for a bit of paper. Or you have been given a genuine policy, but the broker has cancelled it immediately after taking it out and pocketed the refund.

Alternatively, they may have fiddled with your personal details — such as your age, address, job or information about past claims — to get a cheaper price. They then charge you more and pocket the difference.

So, if you need to make a claim, you’ll find you’re not insured.

If you’re not familiar with a firm promising cut-price deals, do some research. Be wary of brokers promising eye-catching discounts.

Search for their details at the Motor Insurers’ Bureau ( and City regulator the Financial Conduct Authority at

'Ghost' car insurance is a new trick that will leave you in dire straits if you have an accident as the policy doesn't exist

'Ghost' car insurance is a new trick that will leave you in dire straits if you have an accident as the policy doesn't exist


Hard-pressed savers who have little available cash but thousands sitting in a pension fund are being lured into this scam.

Normally you have to be 55 to get money out of a pension without being hit with huge fees.

But firms will bombard you with texts and emails advising you of a legal loophole that allows you to access cash from your pot early.

They claim one way of getting round the rules is by transferring your pension to an offshore fund.

It’s not true.

To encourage you to sign over your cash quickly, you may even be offered a £1,000 payment.

But from the moment your pension is liberated, you’ll lose thousands. The firm can take 20 per cent of your fund in fees.

And then the taxman will get you.

There is a set charge of 55 per cent by HM Revenue & Customs for taking pension money early — this is supposed to be a penalty for all the tax relief you got when paying in the cash initially.

Before you know it, £75,000 of a £100,000 pot has gone. This leaves just £25,000 from a lifetime saving. The City regulator and HM Revenue & Customs are concerned and hundreds of fraudsters have already been blacklisted.

Don’t reply to any of their messages. If you’re younger than 55, you cannot get to your pension without paying the 55 per cent tax rate.


This is essentially a pick-pocket trick, but criminals have started using it as a way of snatching your card and the PIN.

You use a cash machine. A few minutes later someone bumps into you or asks you for directions.

While you’re distracted, your card will be deftly pinched. Within minutes hundreds of pounds will be swiped because the fraudsters had looked over your shoulder at the cash machine and watched you input your PIN.

In some cases, they have even managed to attach a small camera to the machine so they can film people inputting their PINs.

It does sometimes seem like an unnecessary precaution, but it really does pay to cover the number pad on cash machines or at shop tills when you are keying in your PIN.

Thieves may watch you put your PIN number in and then stop you later to ask directions before stealing your card

Thieves may watch you put your PIN number in and then stop you later to ask directions before stealing your card



About one third of Britons can expect to be a victim of identity theft at least once in their lifetime. And it can often take months for people to realise they have had their identity stolen.

Read our hints to help ensure you're not the next criminal target of fraudsters looking to exploit your bank account, credit card or trying to secure money in your name...

Source :

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