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Brits need to be extra vigilant for festive fraudsters – as ‘purchase scams’ peak at the back end of the year

Brits need to be extra vigilant for festive fraudsters – as ‘purchase scams’ peak at the back end of the year, a bank has warned. Data, from NatWest, shows in the last four months of 2022, these cons – where scammers sell non-existent products at discounted prices to attract buyers – rose by 41 per cent. The victim intentionally makes a payment, but for products which do not exist – and will never arrive. The bank also commissioned research of 2,000 adults which found 17 per cent feel they are targeted more by scammers as Christmas approaches. And 44 per cent worry one misstep with a scammer could result in Christmas being ruined. To raise awareness of scams, the bank has revealed a board game, ‘All Mod Cons’, which challenges players to hold on to their cash as they make their way around the board while dodging the modern scams they encounter along the way. Participants are then encouraged to discuss and equip themselves with crucial information about how to detect, avoid and report the different kinds of scams. The game, which is available to play in selected branches of the bank from December 1 [https://www.natwestgroup.com/news-and-insights/latest-stories/financial-capability-and-learning/2023/nov/fighting-fraud-this-christmas.html], has been tested by TV presenter Jeff Brazier and his son Freddie. Jeff Brazier said: “My favourite part of Christmas is spending time with family – amidst the holiday hustle and financial pressures, it’s important to have open conversations with your loved ones about recognising scams and staying vigilant against them. “Christmas is the season of giving, and the most valuable gift I can give my family is the knowledge of how to safeguard themselves from scams and to help ensure their financial security. “NatWest’s All Mod Cons campaign is all about raising awareness of the different types of scams and sparking those all-important conversations. “The board game itself is the perfect way to combine the Christmas tradition of playing board games with loved ones while offering a fun way to learn about fraud and scam prevention.” The research also found 37 per cent have been targeted by phishing scams - where they receive fake emails, calls or messages from what seems to be a legitimate source asking them to provide personal or financial information. Impersonation scams (21 per cent) are also common, when fraudsters get in contact pretending to be a trusted organisation, such as HMRC. As well as refund fraud (13 per cent), which sees criminals impersonate an organisation claim the target is due a refund and ask for personal information. Other popular cons spotted in the last 12 months included romance scams, crypto refund swindles and get rich quick schemes. However, 42 per cent admit they either rarely or never discuss fraud and financial scams at home, yet 73 per cent believe doing so would help them avoid falling victim to one. And 69 per cent believe it will help people become more clued up on new scams doing the rounds. But 25 per cent would feel uncomfortable confiding in their family if they had been scammed and lost money. Despite the complexity and subtlety of scams improving, of those who have been scammed, 57 per cent blamed themselves and 52 per cent felt embarrassed. It also emerged 35 per cent know someone who has fallen victim to a financial scam, and of those who have, 36 per cent said it had caused them to worry about their finances. Stuart Skinner, fraud expert from NatWest, said: “The festive season is a time to spend with family having fun, but the fun can quickly end if one of you is hit by a scam. “Our ‘All Mod Cons’ campaign has been created to help increase knowledge of scams by getting people talking and learning about them, which is a major step in combatting them. “Of course, it’s concerning to see the modern developments from scammers to con people out of their money. “However, your bank is continually working to stay on top of the latest developments and keep you safe.”