A member discovered his email had been hacked by fraudsters who plundered his details and attempted to steal funds using his signature. When his investment company contacted him, he knew it was an email scam.
Member Andrew Williams told us:
‘My investments are managed by a London-based company. Recently it phoned me to check a suspicious email that appeared to be from me, requesting the transfer of a large sum of money to a German account.
‘I never sent the request. It was an email scam and my email account had been hacked.
‘The scammers stole an image of my signature from an email and had created settings that meant I never saw the fraudulent email, nor any replies.’
Our say on email scams:
It’s lucky that in this case, the investment company was suspicious of this email.
If the money had been transferred, then currently Mr Williams would have no legal right to get the money back from his bank. However, as the email was sent to his investment company, Mr Williams may have been able to claim it back by challenging the company, arguing that it had been negligent in its duties.
Should that have been unsuccessful, he could have escalated the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service and then ultimately the courts (small claims track if the amount was less than £10,000).
Email scams will often involve conveyancing fraud, where a hacker poses as a solicitor and asks house buyers to transfer their deposit. Huge sums have been lost this way.
Another email scam sees individuals or businesses receiving fake invoices from someone pretending to be a builder or supplier with whom they’ve worked. If you receive a payment request via email, it’s wise to conﬁrm with the payee by phone using a contact number obtained independently.
That applies even if you expect to receive an invoice, as that’s often when your guard is down and fraudsters take the opportunity to pounce.
There are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself against email scams. Change your password immediately if you ever fear it has been compromised. Avoid checking your emails on public wi-ﬁ networks, and use two-factor authentication for extra security.
Always contact your bank if you lose money to a scam, and report it to Action Fraud (tel: 0300 123 2040).
Currently, the regulator is proposing that we introduce a reimbursement scheme for those who fall victim to bank transfer scams.