Action Fraud – the UK’s national fraud reporting centre run by the governmental National Fraud Authority – has recently set up a dedicated e-mail address to which users are encouraged to forward every scam e-mail they receive.
The e-mails sent to this address – firstname.lastname@example.org – are forwarded to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau run by the City of London Police, which then engages in analysis in order to extract possible evidence from the messages, to think up ways for fraud prevention, for disruption of links between fraudsters and victims and for targeting the fraudsters’ networks in the future.
“The NFIB analyses this information, searching for patterns and similarities between reports, which come from across the country. Intelligence packages are formed from the data and sent to relevant law enforcement agencies such as the police and Serious Organised Crime Agency,” says Action Fraud, and adds a few tips on how to spot fake e-mails:
Fake e-mails often (but not always) display some of the following characteristics:
- the sender’s e-mail address doesn’t tally with the trusted organisation’s website address
- the e-mail is sent from a completely different address or a free web mail address
- the e-mail does not use your proper name, but uses a non-specific greeting like “dear customer”
- a sense of urgency; for example the threat that unless you act immediately your account may be closed
- a prominent website link. These can be forged or seem very similar to the proper address, but even a single character’s difference means a different website
- a request for personal information such as user name, password or bank details
- the e-mail contains spelling and grammatical errors
- you weren’t expecting to get an e-mail from the company that appears to have sent it
- the entire text of the e-mail is contained within an image rather than the usual text format
- the image contains an embedded hyperlink to a bogus site.
According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, only four days after the setting up of the dedicated e-mail address it has already received 19,000 scam e-mails.
“We thank the general public for this overwhelming response and urge them to keep on forwarding us their scam emails,” said Detective Superintendent Tony Crampton, Director of the NFIB. “These will all be analyzed at the NFIB and the resulting intelligence will be used to disrupt the architects of these crimes.”