Farmers are being warned not to fall foul of conmen aiming to get their hands on European Union grant payments being made this month.
From December, the funds are allocated through the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), the EU’s main rural payment scheme.
Last year, con artists scammed farmers and organisations in receipt of BPS funds out of significant sums of money.
Typically, they call, email or text their victims, claiming fraud has been detected on their account.
The conmen then persuade them to hand over financial information, or to transfer funds to what they claim is a ‘safe-account’.
Information about those in receipt of the funds – including their name and how much they are to be paid – is publically available, which allows criminals to directly target victims, making the con more convincing.
Tony Blake, Senior Fraud Prevention Officer at Financial Fraud Action UK’s dedicated card and payment crime unit, said: “Criminals are well aware of when these annual payments start to arrive and will look for any opportunity to defraud their victims.
“It is vital that farmers, and other recipients of the payment, are alert to these scams and are very wary of any phone calls, texts or emails out of the blue asking for personal or financial information, or to transfer money to another account.
“If you receive such a call or message, hang up the phone and do not reply directly. Instead, wait five minutes and ring your bank to alert them to the scam, using a phone number that you trust – such as the one from the official website.”
Det Sgt Mike Wood, from Humberside Police’s economic crime unit, said there were a number of things potential victims should be on their guard for.
- Calls, texts and email claiming to be from your bank, police officers, Government bodies or others which ask for personal or financial details, or urge you to transfer money.
- Cold callers who encourage you to hang up and call to verify who they are. Fraudsters can keep the line open, so you think you have called your bank, local police etc and instead you are still speaking to the original caller.
- Don’t rely on the number on your handset display to check a call is genuine. This can be altered.
- No genuine caller would ask for your pin number, password or for funds to be transferred to a new account for 'fraud reasons'.
He said: “If you are in any doubt, hang up the phone and use a different line to call your bank or police.
“If you believe you have been targeted, even if you haven’t lost any money or given the conmen your details, make sure you contact Action fraud, so the matter can be investigated.
“Try to remember as much detail as possible about the call – and forward on any emails – so a picture can be built up of the offenders.”
To report an incident to Action Fraud, click here or call 0300 123 2040.