West Yorkshire Police issued advice after scammers purporting to be tradesmen were reported as being active in the region.
The fraudsters email members of the public who have recently had work completed on their home, but have yet to pay for it. The criminals impersonate the company hired to carry out the work, using a similar email address and requesting for funds to be sent via a bank transfer.
Many victims did not realise they had been scammed until the genuine contractor asked for the payment due to them.
Police advise customers to always cross-reference the email address with any previous correspondence, and to validate the request with a phone call to the company to check they have sent the email. Be aware of poor spelling or grammar, as this can indicate a fraud.
Payments via bank transfer offer no financial protection compared to credit cards and Paypal transactions, which are protected and can be refunded.
If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud you can report it online http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by telephone on 0300 123 2040.