Friday, July 15, 2011

The United Kingdom, the land of Shakespearean tragic drama, the beating heart of rock music, showcase of some of the best and classic novels, and rich in history, the U.K. is also the home to Europe’s most unwanted internet scams.  And the trend is only getting worse.

Online scams have cost the British – individuals and businesses-  an estimated 15 million pounds already in 2011, and as internet frauds are evolving in their techniques and becoming more complex, victims can hardly see it coming. Perhaps more alarming, law enforcement and UK private investigators estimate that only 2 in 10 scams are reported, so as much as 80% of the UK fraud and scam cases never come across the desk of any law enforcement agency.  Victims are often too embarrassed to admit what has happened.  In the case of a business, managers and owners often want to avoid any negative publicity, or negative perception about their company which can result from going public about falling victim to an internet scam or business fraud.

Among the growing problem from internet crime and online scams, experts say social network sites pose the latest and fast growing risk.  The Metropolitan Police Service in London says that many scam cases now involve a social networking site such as Facebook or Twitter, and because those sites are free and not capable of screening all their users, these scammers seem difficult to stop.  As criminals become increasingly aware of the “easy money” available by scamming people and businesses on social networking sites, the crime rate and risk is expected to grow.

One of the main factors involving people falling for scams is comfort. People feel safe on a social networking site.  That is where their “friends” are or the people they “follow”.  Often users will unwittingly reveal their personal information such as an address, full name and date of birth.  These three pieces of data alone are a major welcome sign for identity theft.  Experts say users need to remember they are publishing their information for the world to see, and personal information should be closely guarded.   Never reveal your personal data on a website you’re not sure is secure.  Never post information letting others know you’ll be out of town, and your hosue will be empty.  Never send money to anyone overseas who has not been verified.

How to avoid these scams and the growing risk?  When you are in a familiar setting like your office or home, surrounded by family, co-workers or pets, threats are not seen. Con artists know this, and also know their victims’ emotional needs, wants, habits, desires and vulnerabilities.  John Wallace, an experienced investigator and Director of Global Background Checks at Wymoo® International explains.   “Scammers use proven techniques to target their victims, and they constantly change their tactics to match what the potential victim is interested in.”

Scammers often use a false identity (or borrow one from a real person), so it can be difficult to know who you’re dealing with online.  Criminals often take  a real name and address of the internet, and even matching photos of the person, and assume that identity.  This way if anyone trys to check the person out, the victim will feel certain that the person is real.  Experts say don’t be fooled, and if you’re considering a relationship with someone met via the internet, be skeptical and safe.  Know the risks and contact a professional firm for a UK background check.

Best of luck,

A Hathaway
© 2011 A Hathaway

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This copyrighted article was written and published by the editor and site author, A. Hathaway, or other guest private investigator, expert or contributor as noted.