Scammers are targeting residents with fake 'foreign emergency' emails

26 September 2017

Residents are urged to be on their guard against scammers using email to obtain money by posing as someone, often a member of their own family, who is caught up in a fake emergency situation abroad.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Trading Standard team is aware that scammers are emailing residents and pretending to be a member of their family or someone else in their contacts list.  The information is sometimes obtained by hacking their computer. The most recent example involves scammers claiming they are caught up in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

The scammers, sometimes posing as a desperate stranger, but often as a friend or loved one, tell their potential victim that they are in an emergency situation in a foreign country and ask for a sum of money to be sent to them urgently.

The Council’s Trading Standards officers are offering the following top tips to avoid being taken advantage of by this scam:
  • Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.
  • Don’t send money to a stranger
  • Verify the person’s identity by asking questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer.
  • Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine.
  • Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
  • Don’t wire money or send a cheque or money order by overnight delivery or courier. 
The Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Councillor Karen Shore said: “We advise Cheshire West residents to be on their guard for this scam.  It’s surprisingly easy for a scam artist to impersonate someone you care for.  Your instinct is to help your relative or friend and the scammers hope your worry and concern will outweigh any scepticism.

“The scam is perhaps easier to spot if the email is from someone you don’t know.

“Please follow the advice of our Trading Standards officers and don’t get caught out.” For further help and advice about all consumer matters call Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506.

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