Worst email scams of 2012

Simon Ward
by Lovemoney Staff Simon Ward on 31 December 2012  |  Comments 4 comments

The scammers have continued to flood us with dodgy emails this year. Here are some of the worst ones we've spotted.

Worst email scams of 2012

Identity fraud and theft continues to be a big issue in the UK. The National Fraud Authority estimated that it cost the UK at least £1.2 billion in 2011. Scam and fraudulent emails are one of the major causes of this figure.

Here at Lovemoney, we regularly highlight new scams as we are alerted to them. Here are some of the worst ones we encountered this year.

Paypal child pornography

This scam made my heart sink when I read it. Sick scammers have been sending out fake emails claiming you have been involved in a PayPal transaction involving child pornography. The idea is to panic you into going through to a fake website and reveal your PayPal and credit card details. For more on this, read PayPal child pornography scam email.

Shopping vouchers and gift cards

There have been many variants of the free shopping voucher and gift card scam. Some are aimed at fooling people who have a particular supermarket credit card, such as Tesco's.

Others are even more speculative and are just sent out in the hope that they will deceive people who regularly shop at one of the big supermarkets. For example, fraudsters sent out emails pretending to come from Asda Direct, offering a free gift card as a 'reward' in return for customers' loyalty.

In whatever guise, sadly these emails seem to be growing in number.

Tax refunds

This is another oldie that keeps on getting another turn. The email promises a tax refund and usually comes complete with an authentic-looking HMRC logo. But don't be fooled: HMRC doesn't contact anybody by email. For more on this and to see some sample scam emails, read Beware this tax scam.

The BA e-ticket

According to security firm Sophos, fraudsters have cloned a genuine British Airways e-ticket email and sent it out. If you've recently booked a flight with the airline or you're just curious and you click through, you can expect your computer to be infected with malware.

The EuroMillions winners' gift

I was one of the recipients of an email claiming to be from Gillian and Adrian Bayford, who you might remember won £148 million on EuroMillions in August. At the time they promised to share their good fortune with "people that need help, people that have helped us and supported us".

Predictably, fraudsters have used this good intention to send out scam emails promising recipients that they have been 'gifted' £990,000 following a lottery. It contains a link to a Sky News story about the couple's win in an attempt to make it look more genuine. But the shonky spelling and punctuation throughout the email, added to its general implausibility, marks it as a scam.

The census

There was a census in 2011 and, guess what, scammers seized the opportunity to send out emails. These supposedly come from National Statistician Jil Matheson and ask for further information via a link to a website, with the threat of a fine if the recipient doesn't oblige. Go to the website and it will download all sorts of nasty surprises onto your computer.

How to avoid becoming a victim of fraud

There are some very simple rules to follow to make sure you don't fall victim to a fraudulent email. You can read more in Eight ways to spot a phishing scam.

More on scams and fraud

How to protect your PINs and passwords

Cheque fraud rising: how to protect yourself

Identity fraud: 20m pieces of personal info traded illegally this year

The smartphone app scam

Warning: scammers are pretending to be the FSA

Tony Levene's scams blog

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Comments (4)

  • nessie
    Love rating 5
    nessie said

    Yes, I've had the Asda one, and as a regular used of the Asda website, I might well have been taken in, if it wasn't for the fact that it went to an email address that I never use for shopping! Anyone who knows your account password for a supermarket can look at your account details and find your name, address, and bank details, so beware! One has to acknowledge the ever more inventive ways phishers are coming up with to get your details, so play safe, and never, never, NEVER, use a link in an email to claim of check something.

    Report on 31 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Skweek1
    Love rating 0
    Skweek1 said

    I'm pretty well aware of most of them and haven't fallen for them for many years, but you get so sick of them, day after day - Boresville!!! The old adages will always hold true . . . if it's too good to be true, it's not. If you don't play the lottery, or enter competitions, you can't expect to win. Above all, if I heard ostensibly from Paypal that my name/account had somehow been involved in Child Paedophilia, I would raise a wry grimace and contact Paypal who are brilliant, with a view to warning them that this nasty scam is doing the rounds. Of course, if you haven't got a clear conscience in the first place, you've only yourself to blame.

    Report on 31 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Kapulski
    Love rating 6
    Kapulski said

    During the Libyan uprising I got personal emails from Colonel Gaddafi, his son Seif Al-Islam, and from Hilary Clinton, all explaining that because of the political situation they were having difficulty transferring funds and asking if they could use my bank account in return for a suitably high commission.

    But where did they find my email address?

    Report on 31 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • leah AKA global leah
    Love rating 17
    leah AKA global leah said

    If you use a few websites on a regular basis, you normally get to find out how some of the sites address you.

    The few below are just a few that I do go to and knows when it's phishing emails...

    Paypal - The company will ALWAYS address you by your full name and not "dear customer"

    Ebay - The company will ALWAYS address you by your Ebay Username

    Banks - They will NEVER email you with important information, they will always send you letters, annoying at times, but at least you know NOBODY has really hacked into your details nor the bank need you to verify your account.

    Governments - Again, they will only snail mail you.

    As I have only ONE bank account anyway, but I've had emails from all the banks telling me that my accounts have usual activities, and unless you click on their link, they will block your account, no companies will ask you for any details via emails.

    It is common sense that if in doubt about anything, NEVER click on the link they provide, if in doubt, either open another window and type in the company's link YOUR WAY or better still, ring the company, I see it it's much cheaper to pay for a phone call than it is to be lazy, click on their link and probably end up losing thousands...

    Report on 05 January 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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