Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.
As a growing industry, tricking people out of their rightful wealth is probably Britain’s fastest rising sector, increasing at an industrial rate. If you think it couldn’t happen to you, you really need to let us have a word at one of our face to face seminars.
Hello this is your bank calling. There’s just been a security breach and your account has been compromised. Don’t worry though, it just happened, and we have it all under control. We’ve beaten the robbers and if we act right away they’ll not get away with anything. As soon as we’ve transferred your funds to a new account, everything will be ok. Now, we just need your password and account details to fix the problem.
Everybody! Listen to us! This is an armed robbery! Your lives are in danger if you do not do exactly what we say! Everybody be cool, and nobody gets hurt. Get down and stay on the floor. Hand over all your cash and your valuables, and you’ll be ok. Try to be a hero, and the next move you make will be your last. Do it now!
Which do you think is the more dangerous and damaging scenario?
You might think the trauma of being robbed at gunpoint of everything on your person sounds like a nightmare scene from Pulp Fiction. Holly Hunter on the table, pointing a large caliber handgun at the innocent diners, and the not so innocent Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta. You’d be right, and the psychological effects of such an incident may take years to heal.
Now consider the scenario of that phone call. Your bank warning you that your entire wealth is at risk. How diligent of them to not only spot the evil little criminals at work, but to phone you so promptly and protect your hard earned savings. Except it isn’t your bank. It’s a criminal gang, who’ve been trying thousands of phones until they get an answer, and get someone - maybe you - to accede to their nefarious demands. This isn’t just the money in your pocket, your brand new mobile phone and that really nice wedding anniversary watch (and wedding ring). This is every penny you ever earned and more besides - gone. Forever.
You’ve maybe been tricked before. We all have. That secondhand fridge that you bought from a guy with a van (and a disposable mobile) only to find that it’s nothing more useful than a cumbersome cupboard because the only thing frozen is your attempts to call that by now disposed of mobile. That’s galling enough. How could you be so stupid - and you’re too embarrassed to tell anyone. That’ll live with you for a while.
Here though, you’ve been tricked out of your wages, your savings, your overdraft, your plans, maybe even your dreams. That’s the sort of trauma that lasts a lifetime - and, sadly, for some people, that’s all too short a time after such a setback.
Do you ever think you’ll be caught up in an action-movie shoot out in a diner with wisecracking criminals icing each other in a hail of bullets, or do you think you might get an innocent sounding phone call or text one which just catches you off guard. The odds on one scenario are vanishingly slim - about a billion to one. On the other hand, how often do you get a phone call? You’re chances of falling victim to cybercrime are more like one in three.
How could you be so stupid you ask yourself. Only an idiot would fall for these tricksters. Actually though. you’re not alone, and if you think professionalism and a healthy scepticism is enough to insulate you, think again.
As recently reported in the Times, even the legal profession is at risk - and it’s a growing threat. Losses by British lawyers to similar online frauds jumped by 40 per cent in a year, to over two and half million pounds. Typically, criminals access clients emails and trick the law firm into releasing funds, usually from a house sale, into a bogus account. You can guess they don’t intend to move in any time soon.
A bogus policeman stole £90,000 from an 84-year-old; and even the Rip Off Britain presenter Gloria Hunniford was scammed for £200k.
There’s no substitute to being on your guard, but we can arm you with some extra weapons to fend off the villains. Our seminar on 10 November is designed to help you avoid the pitfalls of cybercrime - like those phishing calls that lead to the stories we’ve mentioned. Let our keyboard cops put you on the right track to online security. After all, most robbers are not a nice as Holly Hunter and Tim Roth.