- Surge in number of reported email scams
- Well-known celebrity Martin Lewis used as a prop by scammers
- More than 1,000 reports of attempted scams reported in just three days
Consumer champion Martin Lewis has long campaigned against the risk of fraud, but that hasn’t stopped scammers from stealing his identity in an attempt to trick people out of their money. In the space of just three days, 1,178 complaints have been made relating to fake emails claiming to be from the MoneySavingExpert.com founder.
Fake News, Fake ‘Investment Opportunities’
The emails sent out to lure in unsuspecting victims follow a standard template. One targets those struggling to cope with the cost-of-living crisis and are likely to be desperate enough to be tempted into a scheme which would otherwise appear too good to be true.
The fake email starts with an attention-grabbing, matter-of-fact approach.
[Fake email title:] “Martin Lewis: We are in a crisis: Follow this revolutionary way to survive financially”.
The ‘revolutionary’ way mentioned to avoid the challenges many people face relates to a liquidity crisis, the possibility that an economic downturn could result in people hoarding cash and regular business activity grinding to a halt.
The answer to the problem is touted to be Bitcoin. While there is a valid debate about how cryptocurrencies might or might not challenge traditional fiat currencies, the email scam is a blatant phishing attack. Those who click on the links to take them to so-called ‘exclusive reports’ are simply opening the door to scammers accessing their online profiles and starting their campaign to defraud them.
How to Respond to a ‘Phishing’ Email?
Martin Lewis and the MoneySavingExpert team have publicised the fact that they are in no way related to the phishing attack. Users of the site should note that the only email correspondence sent out is a weekly newsletter or those a user would get if they’re signed up to one of MSE’s services – anything else is fake. Nor do the MSE team ever ‘cold call’ in any way.
Anyone receiving the email is advised not to click on any links in the body of the message and to report it to the National Cyber Security Centre or email [email protected]. Doing anything else starts the process of travelling to websites designed to steal personal and financial information.
The new Online Safety Bill, which is coming into law, will include new ways to protect innocent investors. Ironically Martin Lewis has been one of the campaigners calling for scam adverts to be included in the new legislation. Until the new regulations clean up that area of online communication, internet users will have to continue following the guidelines on how to stay safe and remain vigilant.
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Crowdsourcing information about scam brokers can help others avoid falling into the traps set by disreputable brokers, and you can share your experiences here. If you would like to know more about this particular topic or have been scammed by a fraudulent broker, you can also contact us at [email protected]
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