Secret of the Scammers – reviewing the scams shown on the TV show.

The just aired Channel 5 Secret of the Scammers program just showed how easy it is for fraudsters to get their hands on other people money.The TV show covered new forms of financial fraud, met the people who have lost money, and examined the clever tricks fraudsters use.

Many of us are for potential scams by post, online, on the phone or face to face.

Below is a list of scams uncovered in season 1 episode 1. (As new episodes air, I will add the new scams to this page so be sure to bookmark this page).


Computer Hackers holding us to ransom

Cyber crime is growing by the day. Once a virus is inflected on your computer, computer hackers are able to grab hold of all the files on your computer and even log you out of your own computer!

You then get a red screen stating that your files are encrypted (locked away) and you need to pay money to get them unlocked. If you don’t pay within a certain amount of time, the price will double.

In this instance, the person in question called as IT expert and was told that it is the first time they ever saw this and this threat was real. The fee in this case was £350.

The person in this case paid the ransom and surprisingly the files got unlocked right away.

It has been recommended that in order to avoid this, use a good up-to-date antivirus and have good common sense. Don’t go clicking on links which look suspicious or don’t visit ‘dodgy’ websites.

‘Pen-Pal’ Correspondence 

Many people, especially the elderly, are getting letters from ‘pen-pals’ promising them friendship or luck. These ‘pen-pals’ earn the trust of people via the letters they send and soon start to extort money out of them. The people paying money are unaware they are being scammed as they just think they are doing a good thing. Many older people are lonely and thus enjoy these letters and look forward to reading them.

If you know any elderly people in this position, tell them to avoid corresponding with these so called ‘chance pen pals’

Tarmac scam 

There is a gang going round blackmailing businesses for cash. The fraudsters call the business asking if they would like unused tarmac. The business owner in this case stated that he didn’t want anything but the gang turned up to his car park and started digging up his car park

They then quoted him £400 to fix it but when they turned up to do the work, they upped the bill to over £2000.

The business owner refused to pay and called the police in. In meantime the gang kept calling the owner and threatening him that if he doesn’t pay, they will threaten his life.

Police have stated that this scam has been going round and is prominent in areas where roadworks are carried out to make it look legit.

The police eventually took the gang down and are hoping that people who payed money as a result of blackmail  get the money back

Phone Scammers

Scammers use phones to gains peoples trust whilst they remain hidden and unseen.

Fraudsters usually call people in order to sell you something. There is a particular scam revolving around energy saving devices. If you buy this, you will deliberately be sold a faulty one! So when you plug the device in, it blows up the electronics and circuits in the part of the house you plug it in.

The people the call you to see how things are going. Once you say what happened, they state that they can claim compensation on your behalf. Thus you have to pay even more money!

And they keep demanding more and more money as they keep making new stories.

If you get a random phone call and they are selling you something, if you feel uneasy, simply put the phone down. Don’t be worried about hurting the other persons feelings!

Use products from places like Call blockers to help block scam calls.

Postal Lottery Scams

Many people get letters by post promising that they have won huge sums of money in the Lottery. And they state that you just have pay make a ‘small’ payment to clear the funds. They scammers make these pieces of post look legitimate and also give people a short amount of time which makes people buy into the scam. And surprise surprise, there is not big lottery win and you just end up losing money.

At other times, the criminals pay you a small amount of money to make you believe it is real. This eventually leads people to pay a bigger amount of money and not hear back from the scammers again.

So don’t respond to any mail you get promising you large amount of money. Chances are it is a scam!

If you respond to one scam mail, it gets sold on to other criminals as part of a ‘suckers list.’ Once you name gets passed around, you get targeted by scammers.

Car Scams

Scammers advertise cars online that seem to be a good deal. When you call them enquiring about the car, everything sounds genuine and plausible.

But the seller says that they are going to New York for business and all future correspondence was done via email. They convince you to pay half the money now and half the money when the car is delivers. But when you play half the money for the car, all contact stops.

One recommendation is that if at all possible, pay by credit card. This is because you may be potted ed for amounts between £100 and £30000.

Texting scam 

Computer Hackers are able to send text messages to your phone that appears to be from your bank. To you and me, these text messages will look like it is genuinely from our bank. These text messages usually contain a link and once you click on it, it sends your personal information to the hackers!

One recommendation suggested on the show is that if you receive any text with a link, don’t click on the link! Instead, call your bank to find out if they did really send the text.

Online Dating Scams

These scams not only take your money but it also brakes your heart. The scammers pretend to love the person and con them for money.

The lady in the show joined a  dating site and got an email from a guy (Glenn). Glenn was charming and sweet. Glenn stated that he was working as a medic for the army in  Afghanistan. Thus, this was a genuine reason as to why they had not yet met.  Everything was going well and he kept sending lovely messages and on Valentines he proposed to the lady and she said yes.

Glenn stated that he will soon leave militarily and come to UK. He stated that he will start a business and the lady was fully supported, Glenn stated that the business involved imported goods. Glenn stated that he needed some money to pay the suppliers as his credit card did not work in Afghanistan. The lady transferred £4000 to him before she learnt it was  scam

The scammers look for people who are divorced in particular as they are the most emotionally vulnerable.This is a scam that is very hard to detect. 

Tip: Never send money or give credit card details to someone you have never met.

Scams at ATM machines

£180 billion pounds a year is withdrawn from ATMs. Of this,  there is about £20million that is extracted through scams. This is a huge amount of money and everyone needs to be on guard.

Scammers can use card readers and cameras on ATMs that enable them to clone your card. They put a card cloning device inside the ATM card slot and this catches the magnetic strip data from the back of you card and make a replica of it. Most people never cover their pins when using their cards so scammers can record your pin and use your card just as you would.

Tip: Always cover your pin. Also use ATMs that are found inside banks.

Business Scams

Scammers use stolen credit cards to purchase items. In the case of this show, a scammer bought items from a business using a stolen credit card. Everything seemed legit and the business duly delivered the goods.

The business was later called from the credit card company stating that they were paid using stolen funds and were taking the money back. The business had to ay the money back but it had lost out big time as it had delivered goods and by this time, the scammer had long gone.

The business in this case could not trace the scammers and could do nothing as they delivered the items to an address that was different to that of the registered credit card.

Tip: Don’t deliver items to an address that is different to the address where the card is registered.

Scam Mail

Scammers target people, especially the old, with scam mail. This scam mail involves tempting people with large amount of money or wins. All the people have to do is send money in order to ‘unlock these funds.’ The victims of these scams do really believe that they are going to get lots of money and keep sending more and more money in order to receive their wins.

Mobile Phone Hacks

Once a hacker puts a virus on your phone via installations of applications or making you click on links sent through messages, the hacker can get access to your phone.

The hackers can take pictures of you through your phone camera without you knowing, record your what you say and even track your location through the GPS in your phone.

A hacker can use this location information to find out when you are out of your house and so on.

Tips : Be suspicious of the applications you install. Get an antivirus software installed. Keep your phone updated to the latest software.