Action Fraud the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime has reported members of the public are being contacted by scammers who are offering ‘free’ or ‘low cost’ government grants and loans.
Victims have reported being offered the loans on their doorstep, via telephone, and over social media.
Fraudsters target victims who currently receive government benefits, or are eligible for Universal Credit:
- The victim is contacted by a fraudster offering them a ‘free’ or ‘low cost’ Government loan or grant.
- The fraudster requests personal and financial information from the target and uses these details to apply for Universal Credit in the victim’s name, usually without informing the victim about it.
- The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) approves the eligible claim and transfers money to the victim’s account.
- The fraudster then requests that the victim transfer them a significant portion of the money as a ‘finder’s fee’.
- The victim receives a letter from DWP about their Universal Credit application and realises that they have been duped. The victim is then left to repay the total amount initially borrowed.
One victim was introduced to this scam by a friend on social media. The friend helped them receive the ‘free grant’ of over £1,000, only to later be asked to transfer £500 to the fraudster’s account as a ‘finder’s fee’. The victim only realised they had fallen victim to a scam after they received a letter from DWP requesting repayments for the loan.
- Never share your personal or financial information with someone you don’t know and trust, especially if it’s in response to an offer of “free money” or a “free grant”.
- DWP will never approach you in the street or ask for your personal/financial details over social media.
- If you have concerns about your benefits, you should visit www.gov.uk/contact-jobcentre-plus
- If you suspect your identity may have been stolen, you can check your credit rating quickly and easily online. You should do this every few months anyway, using a reputable service provider and following up on any unexpected or suspicious results.