Bogus Brexit investments, malicious software on smartphones and social media spying are among eight scams people need to watch out for in 2018, research from a major bank suggests.
NatWest has looked to identify some of the key ways in which fraudsters could try to con people this year, as it urges consumers to be aware of the potential traps.
The bank has worked with research agency the Future Laboratory to analyse scams trends from the last 18 months and predict eight emerging frauds in 2018.
The report also warned that, as the excitement builds around Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding, scammers will try to rip off couples who are also planning to wed with fake websites.
Home buyers are also being warned to watch out for bogus emails purporting to be from those dealing with their purchase.
Julie McArdle, NatWest security manager said: "Scammers are dogged in their attempts to get their hands on people's money and are always looking for new ways to get ahead. This means banks and customers need to evolve alongside scammers too.
"By being aware and staying ahead of scammers, we can stop them winning and keep the country's money safe and secure."
To help thwart scammers, NatWest said people should feel confident about turning down unsolicited requests for personal information.
It said if something feels wrong then it is usually right to pause and question it.
It said people should follow their bank's security advice and never provide remote access to their device when asked to do so following a cold call.
They should also be cautious about what information they provide on social media.
People should also make sure their mobiles have the latest security upgrades, NatWest said.
A bank will never ask a customer to transfer money for fraud reasons or contact them out of the blue to ask for their Pin or full password.
Here are the eight frauds to watch out for in 2018, according to the predictions:
- 1. Social media spying. People might not realise how much information they are giving away, but to a fraudster the posts can be very helpful in setting up a scam.
- 2. Malicious software on smartphones. It is expected that malware or malicious software threats will grow among mobile devices.
- 3. Bogus Brexit investments. Consumers should be wary of fake investment opportunities. For example, scammers may email customers, warning Brexit will affect their savings, and that they urgently need to move them into a seemingly plausible, but actually fake, investment product.
- 4. Fraudsters preying on World Cup excitement. Some fraudsters will sell football tickets that are either fake or will never arrive. It is also expected that "package trips" will be offered by fake travel companies.
- 5. Money mules. Mule recruiters may trawl social media for potential targets, particularly cash-strapped students in university towns, and use them to inadvertently launder money. Money mules receive the stolen funds into their account, they are then asked to withdraw it and send the money to a different account, often one overseas, keeping some of the money for themselves.
- 6. Wedding excitement. Experts fear couples could be easy prey for scammers who tempt victims with extravagant offers at bargain prices. Scammers can set up fake websites for elements of the big day like venue hire, catering, or wedding dresses that appear very realistic. Fake wedding planners will take people's money and then disappear.
- 7. Romance scams. Criminals create fake profiles to form a relationship with their victims. They use messaging to mine victims' personal details to use for identity fraud. Or, just when the victim thinks they have met the perfect partner the scammer asks them for money.
- 8. Scams aimed at first-time buyers. Computer hackers monitor emails sent by a solicitor to a first-time buyer and then they pounce, pretending to be the solicitor and telling them the solicitors' bank account details have changed in order to steal cash.