Skip to site content Skip to main menu

Main Electronic Fraud Types

  • Account takeover
  • Advance fee fraud
  • Boiler room
  • Business telephony fraud
  • Cold call frauds
  • Card holder not present
  • Computer pop-up scam
  • Dating scam
  • False job offer scams
  • Loan scams
  • Microsoft scam
  • Paypoint scam
  • Property let scam
  • Purchase fraud - fraudster falsely advertises items online
  • Safe account fraud 
  • Sale fraud - fraudster  responds to online advertisement by a victim selling an item
  • Ticket sale fraud
  • Vehicle sales scams (ebay, Gumtree, Autotrader etc)

Account takeover and phone redirection

This is where the victim's phone company is contacted with a request to temporarily redirect calls to a new number (usually a mobile) used by the fraudster. 

The fraudster, who has obtained the victim's banking details then makes various transfers between the victim's account to consolidate funds, before making transfers to their own account. 

Sometimes the victim's account has received loans which have been applied for by the fraudster who then transfers this sum to their own account.

Advanced fee fraud

This is a popular crime with organised crime groups based overseas.  There are numerous schemes and scams designed to get victims to part with money.  All involve requests to help move large sums of money with the promise of a substantial share of the cash in return. 

Boiler room fraud

In this scam type the fraudster cold calls the potential victim and offers shares or stock at a price that appears too good to be true, or investment in something up and coming such as mining or carbon credits.  They specifically target individuals who already have shares and whose details therefore appear on share registers.

The fraudsters tend to have extensive knowledge of the stocks and shares market and can be very persuasive.   The investment turns out to be worthless or non-existent.

Business telephony fraud

This is a type of electronic fraud whereby a company's internal telecommunications system is 'hijacked' by criminals and used either to redirect calls, or to dial premium rate telephone numbers, the revenue from which is paid to the criminals.

By using autodialler programs, the criminals can make multiple calls simultaneously, each call generating revenue, sometimes to the value of thousands of pounds before the fraud is detected.

Cold callers – eg Microsoft scam, PPI refunds

Computer repair scam – this scam is believed to be conducted from fraudsters based overseas.  The fraudster telephones the victim at random and advises he/she is from Microsoft or other reputable computer or software company.  They tell the victim that they have numerous viruses on their computer.  The fraudster requests access to the victim's computer and thereafter spends a considerable amount of time (sometimes up to 2 hours) on the phone whilst interfering with the victim's computer.  After some time the fraudster requests bank details to make payment for the work they have done.  In reality they have not done any work but may have copied files and obtained personal information.

PPI refunds - again it is believed this is generally conducted from overseas.  The victim receives a phone call from the fraudster advising that they are entitled to a large PPI refund.  In order to receive the refund, the victim is advised that they must first pay fees or taxes.  The payments are usually requested via Ukash or similar money voucher service.

Compromised bank cards – card holder not present

The fraudster has managed to gain the victim's bank account details and thereafter makes purchases online or transfers money to another account.

Computer pop-up scam

Whilst the victim is using the internet a pop-up screen appears purporting to be from the police (most commonly Metropolitan Police).  The pop-up freezes the whole computer and states that the victim has been viewing illegal material.  In order to avoid police action they are required to pay a fine which is to be paid by Ukash voucher and the voucher details entered into the screen.  Once this has been done the text on screen advises the computer will unlock.  Paying the voucher does not unlock the screen.

Dating scam

In this type of scam the fraudster registers with a genuine online dating agency and befriends another member or befriends a potential victim on a social networking site such as Facebook. 

Over the course of time the victim begins to trust the fraudster who presents themselves as charming, trustworthy and reliable.  Often the fraudster pretends to be a member of the US military posted in Afghanistan or Iraq or a successful businessman who travels extensively. 

The fraudster 'confides' in the victim that they have to get home because of a sick relative but they have no money or some other elaborate story.  The victim often then sends money to the fraudster.  There have been occasions where the victim has lost life savings as the fraudster makes more and more demands for money for various things.

There are male and female victims of this scam type.

False job offers

There are several variations on this type of fraud but the common theme is the fraudster advertises for job positions such as night porter, cleaner or mystery shopper on sites such as Gumtree.

The mystery shopper scam is again advertised as a job on sites such as Gumtree.  The victim is sent out forged travellers cheques or stolen bank cheques and asked to put them into their own bank account.  On occasion the funds clear without the forgery or the stolen cheque being noticed.  The victim is then asked to make a purchase somewhere such as Tesco with the funds, to keep some of the funds and to send the remainder of the funds to the fraudster, often at a London address.  However, a week or two after the cheques have been lodged they are uncovered by the banking system and the victim can be left out of pocket.

Often the jobs are advertised pertaining to be from local businesses.  Emails are sent out with application forms and requests for sizing for uniforms.  The victim is often asked to send a copy of their passport.  The victim is notified that they have got the job and need to attend an induction or training course at some time in the future.  In order for the job position to be finalised the victim is asked to forward a sum of money (usually around £50 or £60) by Ukash voucher to pay for advanced background checks or administration but they are told this money will be reimbursed.  Often it can be a week or two, when the victim attends their 'induction' course, that they realise they have been scammed.

Loan scams

The fraudster registers with loan brokerage sites and when the victim enters their details into the site the fraudster offers them a loan.  The victims often have poor credit ratings and may be struggling financially.  The fraudster then requests various sums of money up front for administration fees etc and the victim never receives their loan.  Payment is often requested by online money voucher such as Ukash.

Paypoint scam

The fraudster telephones a business that processes Paypoint transactions and purports to be an engineer calling from Paypoint.  The fraudster advises the victim that there is a problem with the processing of Ukash vouchers.  In order to remedy the problem the fraudster induces the victim to carry out Ukash transactions and thereafter pass the Ukash numbers to the fraudster. 

The fraudster is simultaneously spending or laundering the vouchers through money transfer sites or online betting sites.

This 'technique' has also been used in relation to Moneygram transfers.

Property let scam

There are two main types of this type of fraud:

1) the fraudster places an advertisement for accommodation on a site such as Gumtree and when the victim responds to the advertisement it transpires the alleged property owner (the fraudster) is out of the country but will return to show the victim the property.  However, to prove his time isn't being wasted, the victim is asked to send money to a relative via Western Union and send a copy of the receipt to the fraudster.  The fraudster thereafter uplifts the funds leaving the victim out of pocket.

2) the fraudster hacks into a genuine property letting website (usually for properties to let abroad) and intercepts customer emails.  The fraudster then passes himself off as the genuine property owner and provides his bank details for payments to be made.

Purchase fraud

The fraudster places a false advertisement online (eg Gumtree) pretending to sell an item such as a mobile phone.  The victim thereafter responds to the advert and agrees to make payment into the fraudster's bank account.  The victim never receives the item.

Safe account fraud

This type of scam has become more common in recent times. The victim receives a telephone call from someone pretending to be calling from a credit card agency or the victim's own bank. The fraudster advises there has been suspicious activity on the victims' bank account and in order to stop any further loss the victim should transfer all their money into a 'safe account'.

The fraudster then instructs the victim to hang up the phone and call the number on the back of their bank card. Unbeknownst to the victim the fraudster keeps the line open. The fraudster, then pretending to be a bank official, provides the victim with details of the 'safe account' and induces them to carry out the transfer of all the money in their account. On occasion the fraudster may request online banking information from the victim, in order to carry out the transfer on the victim's behalf.

Sale fraud

The fraudster replies to an advertisement for an item for sale, placed by the victim.  The fraudster then sends a fake email purporting to be from Paypal advising that payment has been made, inducing the victim to post their item to the address provided by the fraudster.

Ticket sale scam

Popular concert tickets are advertised on various online media including websites set up by the fraudsters.  The victim pays for the ticket, often well in advance of the concert date and it is not until months after the initial purchase that they realise they have been scammed. 

Vehicle sales scams

The fraudster advertises a vehicle or plant machinery online on sites such as Gumtree, Ebay or Autotrader.  The victim enters into discussion by email or mobile telephone with the fraudster and agrees to pay a sum of money.  There are variations in how the payment is requested.  Sometimes the fraudster sends a fake Paypal invoice and sometimes they request the money is paid directly into a bank account.


Recruitment 217X145

Are you ready for a life changing career - Join us.

Coronavirus 101 Feature Bnr 217X145

101 calls are not for Coronavirus information, read our FAQs to help you understand how we are policing the new restrictions.

Ask The Scottish Police Feature Bnr 217X145

The Ask the Police Scotland mobile app is available for Android or Apple iOS.