MP issues warning on scam ‘send money to friend’ email

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A YORKSHIRE MP has issued a warning about a rise in scam emails claiming to be from people stranded abroad and needing cash to get home.

Jon Trickett, Shadow Cabinet member and Labour MP for Hemsworth, said internet scams were becoming increasingly sophisticated.

He is backing a campaign to raise awareness of scam emails which claim to come from a friend or work colleague purporting to be stranded abroad after being mugged.

The email requests a Western Union money transfer.

In reality, the friend may not even be out of the country. Sometimes the email appeal – usually in broken English – may have come from the friend’s actual account, which has been hacked into.

Trading standards officers in West Yorkshire have had increasing reports of such scams and have warned people to be vigilant.

A spokesman said: “Trading Standards advice to consumers is to ignore such emails.

“As well as losing money those who do reply usually get added to a ‘suckers list’ – often resulting in them being targeted in the future. Be wary of any email you receive preying on emotions to obtain money, even if the message appears to come from a friend.

“Users of email should make sure that their account details are as secure as possible, and be wary of what is essentially a phishing scam.”

Graham Hebblethwaite, of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: ”Although the vast majority of people will see these emails for exactly what they are, some may well send money in the belief that they are helping a friend in need.

“Even if just one or two contacts in every address book fall for the ruse, the scheme will well and truly pay off for the fraudsters”.

And Mr Trickett added: “I recently received a report from one of my constituents highlighting concerns over a similar phishing scam. These are particularly sophisticated attacks and highlight a growing problem in the evolution of internet crimes”.

If you feel that you have fallen victim of a scam you can contact Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre on 0300 123 2040, or contact Consumer Direct on 0845 404 05 06 for advice about this or any other consumer matter.