Fresh warnings over Amazon, Royal Mail and Hermes scams targeting customers

There has been fresh warnings over scams relating to Amazon, Royal Mail and the DVLA.

Fraudsters are also passing themselves off as workers from Hermes, DPD, PayPal, and banks, according to warnings.

Cruel fraudsters are attempting to steal victims’ cash as Brits remain working from home, with anxieties high, Birmingham Live reports.

An ITV documentary Tonight, which aired on Thursday evening, shed light on the spate of scams and rise of vile fraudsters attempting to swindle unwitting victims across the country.

The Royal Mail scam has, by now, been well publicised.

But police forces are still urging people to exercise caution and stay vigilant amid a worrying rise in fraudulent text messages and emails.

The most popular scams
The most popular scams in the UK

A West Midlands Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), Sam Doninton said: “I have had a large number of residents mention scams and/or spam texts that they have been receiving as a real problem.”

The scams have left some Birmingham residents losing their entire life savings – including one graduate from the city who fell foul to Royal Mail scammers.

Research listed below also shows Hermes, DVLA and Amazon scams are massively rising, as well as scams relating to banking giants in the UK.

Royal Mail stock photo
The Royal Mail scam has, by now, been well publicised (file photo)

In March, The Mirror reported on how millions of people have been sent text messages from scammers posing as Royal Mail in an attempt to intercept their bank details.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) said the messages claim a parcel is awaiting delivery but a “settlement” must first be paid.

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The messages include a link to a fraudulent Royal Mail website which asks the recipient to enter their bank details to release their parcel.

The CTSI warned that the rise in online shopping means more people are likely to be waiting for parcels and deliveries, making them more vulnerable to this kind of fraud.

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Rise in caravan scams in Victoria after lockdown

Holiday-makers are increasingly finding their wheels are not the real deal in a rising number of caravan scams in Victoria.

There has been 17 reports of caravan scams since October, compared to only two reports in 2019, according to Consumer Affairs Victoria.

Scammers are preying on adventure seekers by advertising caravans online, then making excuses or taking advantage of lockdown limitations, to convince buyers to buy without seeing the caravan.

Buyers are then being persuaded to deposit money in a bank account, with the promise they can come and collect the caravan or it will be delivered to them.

Once the buyer makes the deposit, the scammer stops communicating and the product is never received.

Melbourne woman, Andrea, became victim to the scam after buying a caravan on eBay last October, with the hope of taking it around Australia.

But when its delivery was expected to be on a public holiday, alarm bells went off.

She sent multiple emails to confirm in the lead up and after the expected delivery date, but received no response from the rogue seller.

Consumer Affairs Minister Melissa Horne urged consumers to make sure they see the product in person before shelling out money.

“After a challenging 2020, it’s understandable that many Victorians want to hit the road, but be wary of scammers who want to take advantage of your desire to see the best of what our state has to offer,” she said.

“Being vigilant will save you a lot of time, money and disappointment in the long run.’’

Victorians have lost a combined $1.5 million-plus to online shopping scams in the past year.

Online buyers are urged to be wary of anyone who stops you seeking more information about a product, as this can often be the sign of a scammer.

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Feds Indict North Korean Hackers for Years of Heists and Scams

Most surprising, perhaps, is the extent of the hackers’ alleged schemes as cryptocurrency scammers and even would-be entrepreneurs. The indictment outlines how the North Koreans—specifically Kim Il—made plans to launch a cryptocurrency token scheme called Marine Chain, which would sell a blockchain-based stake in marine vessels including cargo ships. According to the British think tank the Royal United Services Institute, Marine Chain was identified by the United Nations as a North Korean sanctions-evasion scheme in 2018; it’s not clear if it ever got off the ground.

In another cryptocurrency theft scheme, the hackers are charged with creating a long list of malicious cryptocurrency apps with names like WorldBit-Bot, iCryptoFx, Kupay Wallet, CoinGo Trade, Dorusio, Ants2Whales, and CryptoNeuro Trader, all designed to surreptitiously steal victims’ cryptocurrencies. The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued an advisory Wednesday about the malware family integrated into those apps known as AppleJeus, warning that the malicious apps have been distributed by hackers posing as legitimate cryptocurrency firms, who sent the apps in phishing emails or tricked users into downloading them from fake websites. Security firm Kaspersky had warned about versions of AppleJeus as early as 2018.

The indictment demonstrates the United States’ growing willingness to indict foreign hackers for cyberattacks and cybercriminal schemes that don’t merely target US institutions, says Greg Lesnewich, a threat intelligence analyst at security firm Recorded Future. For some of the charges, he points out, Americans were impacted only as the holders of cryptocurrency stolen from international exchanges. “It’s an expansion of what the US is willing to prosecute for, even if the victims aren’t US entities,” he says.

At the same time, Lesnewich says the long arc of the crimes the indictment describes also show North Korea has expanded its ambitions to use and steal cryptocurrency in any way that might help fund its sanctions-starved government. “They’re using very ingenious methods to steal cryptocurrency now,” says Lesnewich. “They’re clearly putting some of their ‘best’ people on this to solve this problem in a diverse number of ways.”

While none of the three North Koreans have been arrested and extradited—and given that they’re in North Korea, likely never will be—prosecutors also unsealed charges against Ghaleb Alaumary, a 37-year-old Canadian man who allegedly served as a money launderer for the North Koreans’ bank heists. Alaumary, who has already pleaded guilty to the money-laundering charges, had previously been arrested and charged with a business-email-compromise hacking scheme in the Southern District of Georgia.

As for Park, Jon, and Kim, the Justice Department has little expectation of ever laying hands on them, assistant attorney general John Demers acknowledged in Wednesday’s press conference. But he argued that the indictment nonetheless sends a message to the North Korean regime and to any other states contemplating similar rogue behavior that they and their hackers will be identified and, whenever possible, held accountable, including with other diplomatic tools such as sanctions. “You think you’re anonymous behind a keyboard, but you’re not,” Demers said, holding out the indictment as proof. “We lay out how we can prove attribution not to a nation state level, or a unit level within a military or intelligence organization, but to an individual hacker.”

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‘Con Queen of Hollywood’ accused of duping actors with fake film scams is arrested in UK | US News

A suspected con artist who allegedly impersonated top female Hollywood executives and tricked aspiring stars out of hundreds of thousands of dollars has been arrested in Manchester after a US extradition request.

Dubbed the “Con Queen of Hollywood”, the suspect was identified in court papers on Thursday as Hargobind Tahilramani, a 41-year-old Indonesian man.

The Department of Justice and FBI unsealed the seven-page grand jury indictment, according to entertainment news website The Hollywood Reporter, outlining eight federal charges including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Sony movie chief Amy Pascal is among the Hollywood moguls the Hargobind Tahilramani allegedly impersonated

It is alleged Tahilramani swindled scores of victims by luring them to Indonesia on the promise of work.

Once there, they were duped into handing over cash for up-front costs and expenses – but the projects never materialised and the money was never reimbursed.

It is also alleged Tahilramani – also known as Gobind Lal Tahil – threatened violence if people questioned his assumed identity.

He would threaten to “dismember” them or send pictures to them of their children, the indictment alleges.

The series of impersonation scams started in 2015 and continued for five years, even during the coronavirus pandemic. He had also set up shop in the UK by 2016, before he was unmasked last month.

“The defendant has been arrested in the United Kingdom based on a request for his provisional arrest submitted by the United States with a view towards his extradition,” an FBI spokesman in San Diego, California, told AFP.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 18: Kathleen Kennedy attends the "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" European Premiere at Cineworld Leicester Square on December 18, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Tahilramani is also alleged to have impersonated Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy

Among the Hollywood moguls Tahilramani allegedly impersonated were Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy, former Sony movie chief Amy Pascal, and ex-Paramount boss Sherry Lansing.

He also claimed to be Wendi Murdoch, the ex-wife of News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch, Christine Hearst Schwarzman, the intellectual property lawyer and wife of billionaire Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman, and prominent Singapore business magnate and so-called “Boss of Bond Street” Christina Ong.

He would “use fake accents and alter his voice to sound like a woman” – the documents state.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tahilramani was arrested by Manchester police last week with the assistance of private investigators.

In a statement to AFP, co-founder Jules Kroll said K2 had helped US, British and Indonesian authorities in “bringing the individual known as the ‘Con Queen of Hollywood’ to justice”.

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Police investigating 14 separate incidents of scams involving online car sales

More than a dozen people across Adelaide have become the latest victims in a scam involving the online sales of motor vehicles.

South Australian police are investigating at least 14 separate incidents where people have sold their car without receiving payment.

Police say offenders, masked as prospective buyers, are making arrangements to meet with the sellers to complete the purchase.

“All victims have described several male suspects at these meetings,” police said in a statement.

“Victims are not alerted to the deception until well after the incident when funds fail to arrive into their accounts.”

The scams have taken place across metropolitan Adelaide and through the Adelaide Hills since June this year, with police believing many more incidents have gone unreported.

Police are reminding those selling or buying items online to arrange meetings in public settings, to ask for a receipt or proof of purchase and to ensure funds land in the designated account before handing over property.

Those who have been a victim of this type of scam are encouraged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Couple warns consumers about tractor and machinery ad scams suspected of swindling almost $400,000

Verna and Gary Elks needed to update their old tractor and found a deal that seemed too good to be true — and it was.

The couple discovered a website advertising a $20,000 tractor and began the purchasing process, after conducting some checks to see if the offer was legitimate.

“As we’re getting older we simply need a little more help,” Mr Elks said.

“We just needed one with a bucket, we’ve got an old tractor but it hasn’t got a bucket and it was just going to make life a little bit easier for us.”

Mr and Ms Elks initially received helpful emails, phone calls and were even given access to an online tracker to watch the tractor’s journey to their small property in Western Australia.

But it never arrived.

NT Consumer Affairs said websites like this lift images from other sites and misuse ABNs to appear legitimate.(Supplied: NT Consumer Affairs)

They said they were embarrassed but determined to expose the fraud.

“It’s the old adage, if it looks to good to be true it is, so just be really careful,” Ms Elks said.

“Well, we’re one of them and we thought we’d done all the right things.”

On closer investigation of the website Mr and Ms Elks had contacted, a street view map of the listed “tractor showroom” address revealed it was a vacant block in Darwin’s industrial area.

“It was a big blow, big, big blow,” Ms Elks said.

“A small farm the size of ours, it was a real hit in the guts, it’s put us behind the eight ball now.

“It destroys you when it happens,” Mr Elks added.

Gary Elks uses his tractor on a property in Western Australia.
Gary Elks had hoped to upgrade his tractor for use on his family farm in Western Australia.(Supplied: Verna and Gary Elks)

Western Australian consumer protection website WA ScamNet last week published a warning about the scam site, which it said was impersonating a company called Bora Machinery.

WA ScamNet said the real owner of the Australian Business Number (ABN) had been contacted.

NT Consumer Affairs has also listed more than 20 websites it believes to be fraudulent.

NT Consumer Affairs deputy commissioner Sandy Otto said consumers across Australia had lost more than $380,000 so far to these sites.

“They’re very attractive to people who are wanting to update their machinery because the prices are so good.”

The websites have focused on advertising “big ticket” items, such as tractors, motorbikes, campervans and heavy machinery.

Fake Pakenham Tractors website.
NT Consumer Affairs said it was finding more fake websites like this one each week.(Supplied: NT Consumer Affairs)

Ms Otto said the sites were misusing content from legitimate sites and lifting ABNs to appear more legitimate.

The scam websites constantly evolve and rebrand and Ms Otto said two more had popped up in the past few days.

She said any website requesting a direct transfer of funds into a bank account, whether or not it was an Australian account, should raise a “red flag” for consumers.

Senior Constable Jason Corbett from the NT Police Cyber Crime Unit said they were looking at several lines of enquiry with NT Consumer Affairs and the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

Mr and Ms Elks said they would encourage people to purchase items in their local area, even if it meant spending more.

“Try and buy local if you can, it’s better to spend an extra few thousand dollars than it is to lose $20,000,” Mr Elks said.

“It’s highly unlikely they’ll be caught and you definitely won’t be getting your money back.

“They got us a beauty.”

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