Scamming methods and how to avoid them

The progress of digital channels is unfortunately accompanied by the development of scamming tactics. Although banking systems are completely secure, scams aimed at defrauding clients of their funds occur worldwide on a daily basis. To avoid traps, its is therefore important to be aware of the possible scamming methods and to recognise red flags when you get different proposals.

Don’t forget that scammers target not only private individuals, but also businesses, therefore make sure that you discuss the topis with your family members, colleagues and friends.

What do scammers do?

Scammers pursue the main objective of defrauding funds. This involves various psychological manipulations (aimed at persuading the client to make a hasty, irrational and unsafe decision), misleading the client by presenting a large amount of information, blackmail (aimed at emphasising the ‘inaptitude’ of the client and coercing him to take decisions without assessing the situation), pretending to be another person or business, faking internet websites, customer service, communication (aimed at persuading the client that he is communicating with someone who is not a scammer). Scammers also do their reconnaissance, i.e. they try to find out your details (e.g. via social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) that they later use for in their scamming schemes.

Most common scamming methods

1. Scamming by pretending to be a bank or other financial intermediary

In this case, scammers use a wide range of methods to approach their victims: phone, regular mail, e-mail, online. The client is under the impression that he is being contacted by a bank. The most frequent excuse is some urgent matter related to the client’s bank account: proposals to block an erroneous payment order, stop unauthorised actions, verify data, demands to repay a bank loan, information about a money transfer, etc.

If contact is made in writing (e-mail, text message), it often contains a request to press a link that looks like the bank’s website or online banking. The client is then asked to enter their log-in details which the scammers then steal.

If contact is made over the phone, the client may be asked to provide their user ID, personal ID number, card PIN code or number. Later on you may see a request to enter your passwords sent by your means of identification.

Don’t forget – the scammer wants the client to authorise a payment transaction because in that case scamming is more difficult to recognise, and recovery of the transaction amount is more problematic.
 

Below are some examples when clients have received letters purportedly sent by Šiaulių bankas. Please, note that the sender is unclear (despite referring to Šiaulių bankas, the e-mail address is not @sb.lt), the text of such messages often contains typographical or business language errors (but not necessarily – an increasing number of scammers have good writing skills), the letter contains attachments infected with a virus or directing to external websites.

2. Offers to make money quickly and risk-free

Sometimes clients receive a call or a message (not necessarily from a bank – it may be another organisation), or press on an online advert offering to make an investment and get a quick return. Usually, such offers are ‘instantaneous’ – allegedly due to particularly favourable conditions. They are investment offers with a particularly low risk, offering quick and high return. Offers involving cryptocurrencies are particularly common. The information during communication with the scammer and on their website is presented rather professionally and sometimes involves the use of images of well-known people, false feedback and articles.

The aim of this scheme is to encourage logging-in to the investment platform and depositing a small amount of money (usually EUR 50-500). After the money is ‘employed’ it shows very profitable, albeit false, indicators that stimulate the desire to invest more funds.

The scam is usually discovered when the client tries to withdraw his funds. When the client tries to make a withdrawal, scammers ask for more money – purportedly to cover the ‘cash-out’ ‘fees’, etc. Alternatively, they may say that the account balance must amount to a certain sum, and that a ‘mirror’ payment would allegedly be made. The term ‘mirror’ payment is a scammers’ term claiming that the account balance must amount to the sum which is attempted to be transferred from the money earned.

When the defrauded person realises that they have lost their funds, scammers may take advantage of them once again by offering different legal services, purportedly aimed at recovering the funds.

3. Romantic scamming

Romantic scamming is based on a personal connection with the potential victim and usually happens online. It begins with messages inviting to become friends, the communication is then escalated into exchanging photos, phone calls, making plans for the future and planning a meeting. For this to happen, the scammer asks to transfer some money for some urgent reason (e.g. to buy a ticket, to address health issues, etc.). Such urgent situations often recur, each time followed by requests to transfer more money. Finally the scammer disappears.

4. Bogus loans, prizes, inheritance, apartment reservation deposits

It is one of the scamming methods where scammers advertise loans and ask to pay various fees (loan fee, notarisation fee, etc.) before the loan can be granted. Usually, the fees have to be transferred to a foreign bank. Needless to say, no loan is granted after the payment is made.

The same principle is used in prize and inheritance schemes when a person is contacted with information about a huge amount, and asked to pay fees before it can be transferred.

Deposits for the rent or purchase of housing is another scamming method. Scammers publish photos of accommodation allegedly offered for rent or sale, and coerce the interested persons into paying a deposit by wire transfer. Later on, the ‘owner’ of the apartment simply disappears.

5. Accidents, debts

Accident scams exploit human emotion and desire to help other people. Scammers approach their victims (usually persons in the senior age group) over the phone and pretend to be their relative or a representative of some government authority. In both cases, their story is similar: they tell about an accident and ask for financial support for treatment. Scammers often use online resources and social networks to collect their information in advance, therefore they may mention the relative’s name and even the potential circumstances how the accident could have credibly occurred.

Scammers use the same principle when contacting relatives demanding a repayment of a purported debt and making threats.

6. Change of payment details

In this case, a company receives an e-mail from their business partner notifying a change in the bank account details for making payments to the partner. The notification usually refers to a purported ‘change of the bank account of the business partner’, etc. Scammer may create a very similar e-mail address and send a very similar invoice with different payment details.

7. Invoice fraud

This scamming method involves the sending of purported ‘outstanding’ invoices, or simply the sending of ‘invoices’ with a small note that it is an offer and that the payment of the invoice would mean acceptance of the offer. This method is particularly common in Scandinavian countries.

How to avoid scammers?

Do not share your User ID, PIN codes or payment card details under any circumstances. Don’t trust a person who introduces himself/herself as a bank employee and requests the details, although you have not called the bank and had no intention to conduct any transactions – log-in or money order authorisations.
Do not press any links in e-mail or text messages, do not comply with requests to enter or dictate your online banking log-in details or card details; carefully consider the request on your phone screen to enter the password of your log-in device, unless you have a control code or unless the control code matches.
Consider whether it is realistic for someone to ask you to decide on the spot. Or why do they need your details if there are reporting an incoming payment? Did you participate in the lottery in which you may have won the prize? Is the ‘risk-free’ and ‘highly profitable’ offer realistic?
Do not download e-mail attachments, particularly if the email is unsolicited. Check if the e-mails received from the Bank end with @sb.lt
Do not rush to enter your passwords unless you have thoroughly reviewed the information displayed on the screen of your device.
Dot transfer money to strangers, consult your relatives about their opinion on the new online acquaintance and the situation.
If in the slightest doubt, do not rush and stop any action immediately.

What should I do in case of suspected scamming?

Stop any actions immediately and protect your data, do not authorise any transactions.
If you are in doubt regarding any information sent by the Bank, or if you can’t understand a request – it is better to contact the Bank at official details published in the website of the Bank (phone 1813, e-mail kc@sb.lt); our experts are ready to answer your questions and help identify scammers.
Contact the police if you suspect that you are targeted by scammers.

What do I do if I fell victim to scammers?

If you have opened an attachment of a letter sent by scammers, you must check your computer or other device for infection with malware (computer virus). Under any circumstances, do not log-in to your online banking system from such a computer. It is recommended that you disconnect your machine from the network and contact the experts specialised in removing viruses and other malware.
If you have lost your payment card, or if scammers may have somehow managed to find out your PIN code, call 1813 immediately and block the payment card.
Notify the Bank and the police as soon as possible.