Residents are being warned about a new wave of online scams where fraudsters hack into Facebook accounts in a bid to steal money from family and friends.
The sophisticated scam involves a hacker gaining access to an existing Facebook Messenger account who then message friends and family asking them to receive cash after an item has been sold on eBay.
Scammers will say that their PayPal is not working or that they do not have an account and ask whether the friend or family member can receive funds to their own PayPal account.
Once the undisclosed amount has been transferred to a bank account, they will then forward it to an account controlled by the fraudster.
Once the payment has been transferred, the transaction is then reversed, leaving the victim with a negative balance and the fraudster benefitting from cash.
Across the UK the total reported loss for these reports is around £44,035.
Cheshire Constabulary is now urging residents to remain vigilant when receiving a message asking for help with PayPal.
Detective Sergeant Chris Jacques, of the Economic Crime Unit, said:“We are extremely concerned with the national trend of fraudsters using social media accounts to make a criminal gain.
“Nationally there have been multiple reports from victims stating that their Facebook Messenger accounts have been hacked and fraudulent messages have been sent to their friends on their behalf.
“Interestingly, between June and July, there have been 95 reports of scam messages which specifically mentioned that the item sold on eBay was a camera.
“I would urge everyone to remain vigilant as this scam will not discriminate. Please follow the key messages and help us to stop more people from being targeted.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, David Keane said:“The concerning aspect of this particular scam is that there is multiple victims with each account that is targeted.
“Fraudsters will stop at nothing to target innocent victims with a range of different and sophisticated scams.
“I would urge residents to please share this warning in order to protect those we love and care about from also falling victim to these criminals.”
- Always be wary of unusual messages asking for help with financial transactions even if the message appears to be from someone you know and trust. Be sure to always check that the message was sent from them by calling them or speaking to them in person
- Never respond to any requests to send money or have money transferred through your account by someone you don’t know and trust
- Protect your online accounts from hackers by using a strong separate password and, when you can, turn on two-factor authentication
- If you have made a payment then inform your bank or payment service provider as soon as possible, they will be able to help prevent further losses. Always monitor bank statements regularly for unusual activity.
Anyone who believes they have been contacted fraudulently or have been a victim of fraud should call Cheshire Police on 101 and Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
Information can also be reported online via the Cheshire Police website.