What is fraud?
Fraud covers any action used to deceive someone for financial or personal gain. It is a deliberate act to deprive someone of property or money by deception or other unfair means.
Below are some common ways that fraudsters attempt to deceive people.
Phishing is where a fraudster will contact you, posing as a legitimate organisation in order to gain your personal information, bank details or passwords.
Be wary of messages or phone calls claiming to be from official organisations, such as your bank, expressing a sense of urgency and asking you to click on a link, call a phone number or to share your information. Take a moment to stop and think about if the message could be fake, it is okay to ignore the message if you are unsure - only fraudsters will try to rush you.
Check the official website of the organisation that the message claims to be from or give them a call (using the number on their official website) and report any suspicious messages. You can also Google the phone number that any links have been texted to you from, to see if other people have reported this number as suspicious.
If you think you have been a victim of phishing, contact your bank immediately.
Some examples of organisations that fraudsters may impersonate include, but are not limited to:
- A bank – they may claim that there is an issue with your account and say that you need to click a link to prevent your access being blocked.
- The NHS – they may ask you to click a link or call a number to book an appointment or vaccine, or to claim a Covid-19 pass.
- Royal Mail or another delivery service – they may send a link asking you to arrange redelivery or collection for a parcel.
- The government – they may claim to be issuing a fine, offering you money or asking you to claim a tax rebate or refund.
- LiveWest - we have been made aware of customers receiving a suspicious phone call or email claiming to be from us and asking the recipient to rebook a repair or to open a document. Any emails that we send to you will be sent from an email address ending in @livewest.co.uk. If you are unsure about any emails or calls you receive from us, please contact us and do not give out any of your details.
An example of a text that fraudsters may send.
Authorised push payments (APP):
An APP scam occurs when you transfer money from your bank account to one belonging to a scammer.
For example, fraudsters may pretend to be from your bank, and warn you that you need to move your money into a safe account. This account will actually be owned by the fraudster.
If you have been hacked, fraudsters may be able to monitor your communications to find out when you will be expecting to make a large payment, for example when buying a property. They may wait until you are ready to make this payment, for example on completion day of a property purchase, and will send you an email or fake invoice changing the payment details for your purchase.
If you think you have been a victim of an APP scam, you should call your bank and the bank that the money was sent to immediately.
We recommend always using our customer portal to pay your rent and accessing this through our website. Be wary of emails from fraudsters pretending to be us and asking you for money. All emails we send will be from an address ending with @livewest.co.uk
If you have any queries or concerns about an email you have received from us, you can speak to someone in our Income team by calling 0300 123 80 80. You can also find out who your income officer and housing officer are on our website.
Romance fraud is where a scammer forms a friendship or romantic relationship with someone in order to get money or personal information from them.
Fraudsters often claim to be working oversees as a doctor or in the military. They will make excuses as to why they cannot meet in person, will try to move your conversations away from the website you met on and may tell you to keep your relationship private from friends and family. They will eventually ask for financial help, usually for something time sensitive that pulls at the heartstrings, such as for medical bills or for travel expenses to visit you.
Be wary if you or someone you know has been speaking to someone online who has declared their love quickly. They may look 'too good to be true' - their photos may be taken from someone else's social media pages or may be of a celebrity. You can reverse image search their photos to find out where they have come from.
As more of us are searching for work online, criminals are using this as an opportunity to scam job seekers out of thousands of pounds. Those aged between 18 and 24 are most likely to be targeted by this scam, with victims losing around £4,000 on average.
Fraudsters will advertise a job which does not exist, and which will usually require you to pay a fee for a training course, security check or other administrative fee. In reality, there is no job and fraudsters will steal this money.
If a job appears too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary uploading your contact details to CV building websites and check for spelling and grammar mistakes in job advertisements as this may be a sign that the job is fake.
A money mule is someone who transfers stolen money on behalf of others.
Criminals will target vulnerable people, offering them cash to receive money into their bank account and transfer it to another account. Fraudsters may approach you online or in person, advertising what looks like a genuine job and then asking for your bank details. Be wary of offers for quick cash and never give out your bank details to someone who you don't know.
Tenancy fraud is when someone is living in a home that they do not have the right to be living in. Tenancy fraud is illegal, can carry a fine of up to £5,000 and can potentially lead to imprisonment. The people who are committing tenancy fraud are preventing those most in need of a home from having one.
Some examples of tenancy fraud are:
- Unlawful subletting – when someone rents out all or part of their home to someone else without our permission.
- Obtaining housing by deception – when a person applying for housing knowingly gives false information in their application.
- Unlawful succession – when someone who is not entitled to the property takes over the tenancy.
- Key selling – when someone moves out and sells their key to someone else. Both parties may be seen to be working together to commit fraud and may both face prosecution.
- Keeping a social rented home when they own, or part own, another property.
- Failing to report a change in circumstances. For example; a single person living on their own moves a partner or family member into their home.
- Abandonment – when someone stops living at their home but does not tell us and does not contact the local authority to stop any benefits they have been claiming.
Some signs that tenancy fraud may be taking place include:
- A sudden change in who is living in the home.
- Someone being vague about who lives in the property or what their relationship is to them.
- Increased anti-social behaviour at the property.
- If a resident has passed away and a friend or family member is now living in the home.
- The property seems to have been abandoned.
- People talking about their landlord as a person, rather than as being LiveWest.
If you suspect that someone is committing tenancy fraud in a LiveWest property, you should contact us at email@example.com or notify the relevant housing officer.
You may be committing tenancy fraud without realising. If after reading this you are unsure if your tenancy is legal, you can contact us.
We are supporting International Fraud Awareness week from 14-20 November 2021.
In support of International Fraud Awareness week, we are offering an amnesty to our customers, giving them the opportunity to tell us about tenancy fraud taking place in their home, without facing any penalties. We simply want to help others get the homes they need.
You can help us with this by giving up your tenancy and keys if you are committing tenancy fraud. If you think you are renting a home from one of our customers, then please contact us. We will do our best to get you the help and support you need to find a new home.