Officers are warning the public to be vigilant after fraudsters used a social media scam to steal hundreds of pounds from victims.
The criminals make contact through social media channels such as Facebook, by cloning the account of a person’s existing friend, then messaging the victim with a way to earn big cash prizes.
They persuade victims to purchase gift cards or vouchers in large amounts, take photos of the barcodes and share the images with them. The fraudsters do not need the physical card to redeem the credit, and often return to the same victim multiple times.
Recently in Derbyshire, a victim was defrauded out of £480 of Amazon vouchers, and other victims have previously paid out similar amounts or more.
Fraud Protect Officer, Tammy Barnes, said: “Be careful if someone makes contact on social media and presents you with an idea that seems ‘too good to be true’. Even if it looks like you know the person.”
There are some simple steps that you can take to secure your social media accounts:
- Make sure your friends list is private, and review your settings on photos and past posts. Take the time to review your profile to see what information is available to your friends once connected to you.
- Be wary about accepting friend requests, especially from people you are already connected to. If you suspect an account is fake or impersonating someone, report it.
- Check your privacy settings, and limit how people can find and contact you – and who can send you friend requests. The default is usually ‘everyone’, but this can be changed to ‘friends of friends’ using the drop down menu.
- If you ever have any reason to suspect someone has access to your account, change your password. You can do this in settings. Be sure to use a strong password that won’t be easily guessed.
Tammy Barnes continues: “We would advise members of the public to be vigilant of social media scams and ensure their relatives, friends and neighbours are aware that opportunistic criminals operate in this way.
“Scammers are sophisticated criminals who target all members of society. If you have been a victim of any scam or fraud, please call us as soon as you can to report it.
“We rely on people reporting this type of crime to allow us to make others aware and also protect those who have been victims. Never feel embarrassed if you have been a victim – we are here to help and support you.”
If you’ve been the victim of a scam, or are concerned about an ongoing fraud, contact us on 101. You can also report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
Our digital PCSO James Land can give further advice about staying safe online, leave him a message via 101 or on Twitter @DigitalPCSO