Spoofing Scams & Fraud

Spoofing scams and fraud are on the rise and we’re seeing more and more clients come to us who have lost money through spoofing. Spoofing fraud is a type of online scam where a criminal will disguise themselves behind an email address, false website, display name, phone number or text message in an attempt to convince victims that they are interacting with a trusted and known source. 

Spoofing communications will often look legitimate and in most cases, there will be just one letter, number or symbol which has been changed so that, at first glance, it appears to be valid. However, these communications will have been designed as part of a spoofing scam to gain access to important information, steal the victim’s data or be part of a wider scam.

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What Is Spoofing?

Spoofing is a broad term for the behaviour which is displayed by criminals carrying out spoofing scams and fraud. It involves the criminal masquerading as a trusted source to get victims to do something which benefits them, the scammer. Whenever an online criminal disguises their identity to appear as someone or something else, this is known as spoofing. 

Spoofing scams can be found across several different channels and, depending on the type of scam, involve different levels of complexity. This means that scams can be hugely varied in terms of how sophisticated they are – inexperienced and low-value spoofing scams will be easy to spot, whilst the more sophisticated and high-value scams will be much trickier to spot. 

One common trait in spoofing scams is the use of social engineering, which is where the scammer will try to manipulate their victims by playing on their vulnerabilities, such as fear, lack of knowledge or greed, so that the victim feels more inclined to do what is asked of them. 

How Spoofing Works

Spoofing scams usually rely on two separate elements. One is the spoof itself, which may entail a scam email or fake website, and then there is the social engineering aspect. Spoofing scammers will attempt to gain the trust of the victim and rely on them believing their spoofed communication is real. Often, spoofing scammers will hide behind big named and trusted businesses where people won’t pay as much attention to the sender’s information and will be more likely to share and send information. 

For example, victims might receive an email which seems to be from Amazon, indicating an issue with a recent order and prompting the recipient to click on the link to find out further information. By clicking this link, this could then download malware onto your device, you may be redirected to a false login page where you share your sensitive information or it may ask you to pay for additional “shipping costs” following an error with postage. 

Spoofing scams lead to victims disclosing personal and sensitive financial information, sending money to the fraudster or downloading harmful and malicious software, which can in turn lead to financial and identity theft. 

What Are The Different Types Of Spoofing Scams? 

There are several different types of spoofing scams circulating, some more sophisticated than others. Essentially, if there is a form of online submission or communication, then spoofing scammers will be able to find a way to scam your online and personal data.

Email Spoofing Scams

Email spoofing scams are when emails are sent, often seemingly from legitimate businesses, but with false sender addresses. In a lot of cases, these emails seem to be valid emails from the business, with the scammer using the “From:” line to trick their victims into believing that the message is from a verified source. Remember that any email which asks for you to submit additional sensitive information is likely to be a spoofing scam. 

Email spoofing scams will likely include a number of features which, once you are familiar with them, make them much easier to spot. These include:

  • False sender addresses which appear to be from someone who you know or a business you trust. 
  • Missing sender details, or information that is hard to find or concealed within the email.
  • Uses familiar corporate branding, such as colours, logos and wording, however, it might be outdated.
  • You may notice spelling mistakes, bad grammar, unusual syntax or heightened formalities, such as “Good day Sir”.

SMS Spoofing Scams

Text messaging scams, or SMS spoofing scams, follow similar patterns to email spoofing scams. The messages will initially appear to be coming from legitimate sources, such as your bank or a postage/shipping company. The message may request you to click on a link to reschedule a delivery or warn that there has been concerning activity within your account. Victims may then be redirected to a false site, or be sent to a payment portal. 

There is also a growing trend with this type of spoofing scam in that scammers are sending messages from an unknown number pretending to be a family member, such as a mum or child, and encouraging you to make conversation with them or send them money due to an unforeseen emergency. This plays on the social engineering aspect by using emotion to influence decisions. 

Caller ID Scams

With caller ID spoofing scams, the scammer will falsify a legitimate number in an attempt to bait you into answering the call. The number may appear on your display or be linked to show a suggested name, one which you would be more likely to trust, as a prompt to answer. This is a popular technique used by telemarketing companies, as well as scammers, to try and get you to purchase or invest in a product or service. As well as this, there is also an ID scam called neighbour spoofing, which is where scammers will impersonate someone you know or a person from the local area.

Website Spoofing Scams

Website, or URL, spoofing scams occur when scammers create and set up a fraudulent site in an attempt to get information or money from victims or look to install malicious malware on their devices. Website spoofing scams will direct users to a website which looks like it belongs to their banking platform or energy provider and then ask them to provide their user ID and password. If the person logs in, then the scammer has the login credentials they entered and can then use this information to access multiple other platforms.

How To Detect Spoofing Scams

Spoofing scams can be highly sophisticated, so it is important that to avoid falling victim, you pay close attention to the details and trust your instincts. Be aware of accessing websites that have no SSL certificate (URLs without the padlock symbol), or URLs which begin with HTTP instead of HTTPS. 

With email spoofing scams, if you’re not sure about the legitimacy of the email, check the sender’s address and keep in mind that these scammers will use domains and addresses which look similar to legitimate emails. You can always copy and paste the email and search it online if you aren’t sure to see if anyone else has reported the email. 

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Can I Get Money Back From A Spoofing Scam?

If you find that you’ve been the victim of a spoofing scam, then it’s important to remember that you are not alone. This is a highly common scam and one which affects people from all walks of life and ages. With spoofing scams becoming more complex and sophisticated, they unfortunately show no signs of slowing down. There are some ways in which we can trace the journey of your lost finances, especially if paid using a cryptocurrency.

If you believe that you have been the victim of a spoofing scam, then our team at Wealth Recovery Solicitors are on hand to help. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation.

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    In the UK, spoofing scams aren’t illegal, but perpetrators of certain forms of spoofing scams are subject to heavy fines. Compared to the US, where spoofing scams are an illegal activity, UK law still has some way to go in terms of how it deals with nuisance and resilient scammers. It has, however, been seen before that scammers who use call spoofing scams have been given large fines, depending on the severity of the scam activity.

    Because spoofing scams aren’t illegal, a lot of victims feel as though they can’t do anything about it, but this isn’t the case. We recommend that, if you have been the victim of a spoofing scam, you get in touch with us to arrange a free consultation and see what we can do for your recovery case.

    The terms spoofing and phishing are often used interchangeably, but they do mean different things. Spoofing is where there is a level of disguise, so the use of a fake email address, display name, website or phone number is used to trick victims into thinking that they are dealing with a legitimate and trusted source.

    Phishing is used to trick potential victims into providing personal information and data which can then be used for identity theft. Many phishing criminals tend to lean on and use spoofing tactics to trick victims into believing that they are sharing their information with a trusted recipient.

    There is nothing new about spoofing scams – they are a long-standing and highly common form of online scam. The word “spoof” actually dates back over a century and references trickery and deception, which is exactly what spoofing scams involve. Caller spoofing scams have been used for years by telemarketing companies, but different types of spoofing scams are becoming more complex and sophisticated, meaning that there are different types of scams which are gaining popularity with scammers.

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