Croydon Council is warning the public to be aware of a scammer who posed as one of its employees to try and con over £1,000 out of local people with learning disabilities and connected professionals.
The scam involves a bogus email sent by a fraudster using the name of a genuine council employee from the adults commissioning team to ask for payment from people with learning disabilities and their carers. One such email read:
“Good day. This is a friendly reminder to let you know that your invoice is 3 days past due. Please pay this immediately or if you have any questions, please contact us to discuss. Total amount due: £1183.10.” The fraudster then includes a web link to view and pay the invoice, signing off using a council email address format of email@example.com
Six Croydon people with learning disabilities, their carers and connected professionals have alerted the council to the scam without paying the fraudster. The council’s adults commissioning team has already contacted approximately 100 people who use their service, including adults with learning disabilities, their carers and connected professionals, to warn them about the scam. The council is also flagging the fraud to another 200 individuals and local organisations in Croydon.
Spoofing email addresses is an increasingly common technique used by fraudsters. To protect yourself:
• Never click on unfamiliar links or download unfamiliar attachments, especially if it asks for personal information.
• Use your spam filters and junk boxes provided by nearly every free email service. If something goes into your junk email folder even if it looks like it is from someone you know, make sure it really did come from that person and that they intended to send it to you.
• Learn to read email message headers. When floating your mouse over an email address it should be identical to what you are floating over. If it isn’t, then it is most likely to be a scam.
“All scammers are sickening in the way they try to exploit people’s trust for money, and we’re warning people to be especially on their guard because this scammer is posing as a genuine council employee.
“If you have any doubts, even if the name used on the email looks genuine, don’t open it, don’t pay the money asked for, and report it to us.”
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice
To report a scam, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or report it online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or contact the council’s trading standards team via Citizens’ Advice consumer service on 03454 040506.