NOTTINGHAMSHIRE residents are being warned about a scam involving emails pleading for money from accounts belonging to a friend or family member.
Scammers are using technology to predict people’s passwords so that they can hack into email accounts and send out messages to contacts in their directory.
The messages tend to outline a sad story, such as them being robbed while on holiday, as a basis for asking for money to be transferred over.
The scammer attempts to convince the receiver to pay money, typically via payment methods that are hard to trace, such as Moneygram or Western Union.
Nottinghamshire County Council’s Trading Standards officers have recently received an increase in complaints about personal email scams.
Other common email scams often involve promises of financial, physical or emotional benefits, or appear to come from trusted sources such as a bank or the Inland Revenue. They encourage the receiver to click on a link and make immediate payments or disclose personal information.
Steps can be taken to prevent a person’s identity being stolen by taking care to protect personal information and using a secure email password that is updated on a regular basis.
It is advised that email passwords are a minimum of 10 characters and use a combination of numbers, letters and symbols to reduce the chances of them being predicted.
Mark Hughes, trading standards manager at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Personal email scams are particularly convincing because they take advantage of the natural instinct to assist friends or family when they are in need of help.
“If you unexpectedly receive an email matching this description then treat it with caution and ensure that you verify the identity of the sender by contacting them through other means such as by telephone or in person.”
People who think they may be a victim of this or any other scam should contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 040506.