Thieves can steal everything a VA owns

Should a Vulnerable Adult (VA) fall prey to a financial fraudster, they may also might be less able or unable to assist in the investigation of these crimes. In fact, unlike most business-fraud victims, the VA might be less willing to assist in the investigation because they’re ashamed, embarrassed or deny they were victimized. Nevertheless, it’s important to discover evidence on alleged predatory fraudsters who target VAs, and Certified Fraud Examiners (CFE) can substantially help.

A thief can steal everything a VA owns.

A financial predator can also use a VA’s stolen personally identifiable information to open their financial or even mobile phone accounts. VAs are more likely to entrust others with their financial affairs. If that trust is abused, then the victim may suffer substantial financial loss.

Financial Abuse is a term that describes a wide range of acts, all of which deprive someone of money or property that is rightfully theirs. This may occur through dishonestly or fraud (intentional deception made for personal gain), or may occur in other ways, such as through Negligence or carelessness.

To be classed as vulnerable, the adult's circumstances must be unable to be altered or improved by the adult's own individual actions without direct assistance from a more capable adult. The vulnerable adult must also be shown to be, on some significant level, a risk to themselves if assistance is not provided.

In conjunction with Action Fraud, various campaigns have been launched to have a positive impact on the way financial crime is dealt with against vulnerable adults, and to raise awareness amongst all agencies involved in dealing with this sort of crime.

Vulnerable Adults at Risk of Fraud

An “adult at risk” is:

  1. an adult who has needs for care and support,

  2. is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect, and

  3. as a result of those needs is unable to protect themselves against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.

Vulnerabilities leading to an adult being at risk can take many varied forms. The vulnerability may be permanent or temporary. A person may be vulnerable due to their personal circumstances (for example having a mental health illness or cognitive impairment) or they may be vulnerable due to the circumstances they are in at the time of the incident (for example a person who has been bereaved and is grieving, or a person who is experiencing loneliness and isolation).

The following factors may contribute to an adult being vulnerable to risk:

  • Family Circumstances (for example bereavement or isolation);

  • Personal Circumstances (for example drug/alcohol misuse);

  • Intimidation (fear or distress)

Look at: Section 42(1), Care Act 2014

If they can make and exercise their own informed choices, free from duress, pressure and undue influence of any sort, and are able to protect themselves from abuse, neglect and exploitation; they may not be at risk. A person with the mental capacity to make their own decisions can also be at risk.

There are several forms of abuse and neglect:

  • Financial Abuse: having money or other property stolen, being defrauded, being put under pressure in relation to money or other property and having money or other property misused. 

  • Psychological: Including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, forced marriage, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks. 

  • Sexual: Including rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult has not consented or could not consent or was pressured into consenting to. 

  • Neglect or acts of omission: Including ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care of educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has an “Economic Safeguarding Project”; a nationwide initiative set up to highlight instances of Financial Abuse against Vulnerable Adults.

Mobile Phone Theft

76% of adults in Britain own mobile phones, most of which always have their phones with them. Since we can be connected 24/7, we open ourselves up to the opportunity to be scammed. You can lower your chances of being scammed on your mobile phone by being cautious of unknown numbers and taking appropriate actions to keep your personal information private.

Stolen Phones accounted for 442,000 thefts in the UK in 2015 alone.

If a stolen or lost phone winds up in the wrong hands it can be used to make unauthorised calls.

The criminals could also gain access to personal information saved on the mobile phone, such as saved bank account information, which could be used to make purchases on the phone. To avoid losing or having your phone stolen, try to keep it in the same spot on you whenever you are out so you don’t lose track of it.

Make sure to use a secure passcode so the thief cannot gain access to your information.

Some smartphones come equipped with an app that will help you find your phone in a situation like this. If your smartphone doesn’t have such an app pre-installed, you can download one.

If your phone is lost or stolen you can use the app to help you track your phone down. There are also apps that enable you to wipe all the data on your phone remotely when the phone is online.

As he pats his pockets, checks for mobile phone, wallet and keys. All there.

What are romance scams?

Romance scams happen when victims are deceived into ‘false’ relationships by fraudsters who aim to steal their money or personal information. Romance fraud is typically carried out by criminals using fake profiles.

All frauds require the offender to establish trust and rapport with the victim. In romance fraud, the victim believes there to be a genuine relationship. Techniques include attempts to build rapport with and gain the trust of the victim by claiming to adhere to the same religious faith or spiritual beliefs and articulating an intense desire for and attraction to the victim.

Types of romance fraud

  • ‘Foot-in-the door’ technique, in which the perpetrator initially asks for a small sum and, then having gained this small sum from the victim, manufactures new or escalating crises requiring larger and larger sums of money.

  • ‘Face-in-the-door’ technique, in which the perpetrator initially asks for a sum of money so extreme that most would refuse, followed by a request for a far more modest sum(s) to persuade the victim to part with their money.

Scammers can be experienced in spinning stories to lure in their victims. Phases of a romance scam normally tend to follow the pattern below:

  1. The victim being motivated to find an ideal partner

  2. The victim being presented with the ideal profile

  3. The grooming process

  4. The sting (crisis) - where the scammer needs money from the victim

  5. Continuation of the scam

  6. Potential sexual abuse

  7. Re-victimisation

If you’ve lost money to a romantic scammer or think that they may have stolen your personal information, you can contact Action Fraud, who treat reports in confidence.

Thieves and Pawnbrokers

Pawnbrokers have a common law duty to take what is described as 'reasonable care' of the property that they take into pawn. They must take all reasonable measures to ensure that pledges are not lost, damaged or stolen and it follows that their premises need a high standard of security for both customers' goods and, highly importantly, members of staff.

According to the National Pawnbrokers Association of the UK, ‘Effective security arrangements for pawnbroking premises have become crucial in an environment of rising crime’. Sadly, it doesn’t stop thieves from stealing wedding or engagement rings to pawn for cash.

Anyone thinking of establishing a pawnbroking business will need to satisfy certain criteria in addition to possessing the fundamental ability to run a new business … something I knew very little about until researching the topic.

Grooming for Cash

Grooming is the predatory act of manoeuvring another individual into a position that makes them more isolated, dependent, likely to trust, and more vulnerable to abusive behaviour.

Adult grooming is correspondent to child grooming and applies to any situation where an adult is primed to allow him or herself to be exploited or abused. It happens online and in real life.

A “groomer” skilfully plays with words, learns to identify what the perceived victim wants to hear, and uses this knowledge, for personal gain, to direct and to keep the focus of her attention exclusively to meeting his emotional and physical needs — at the expense of her own.

In this sad case picked up from the US … not sure what this type of fraud is called.

"In our less than seven-month marriage, my then-husband schemed and scammed between $60,000-100,000 from me. In the almost year-long courtship, he groomed me.

"I'm about the fifth or sixth person he's scammed, and I got out pretty quickly — but I'm in so much debt because of him. I'm trying to save my credit and make payments while hoping I'll recoup some or any of my money through the legal system."

— Anonymous, 39, submitted with permission by Joseph A. Davis of Fit Divorce Planning

Pearls before Swine

New to me this week … the expression usually expressed in the negative proverbial form - 'don't cast your pearls before swine', and is found in the Bible, Matthew 7:6, first appearing in English bibles in Tyndale's Bible, 1526:

The biblical text is generally interpreted to be a warning by Jesus to his followers that they should not offer biblical doctrine to those who were unable to value and appreciate it.

In other words, to offer something valuable or good to someone who does not know its value i.e. I'm afraid you're casting pearls before swine with your good advice - she just won't listen.

Love Bombing Part 3

Love Bombing is not a new concept it seems. The expression was coined by members of the controversial Unification Church of the United States in America in the 1970s. The phrase then started to be used in psychology when discussing how cults use persuasive and coercive techniques to recruit new members.

Love bombing is a coordinated effort, usually, under the direction of leadership, that involves long-term members' flooding recruits and newer members with flattery, verbal seduction, affectionate but usually nonsexual touching, and lots of attention to their every remark. Love bombing - or the offer of instant companionship - is a deceptive ploy accounting for many successful recruitment drives.

Think of the seemingly perfect guy (or girl) as a cult, he really wants you to become a fully paid-up member and, until you do, he’ll say or do anything to get you onboard. Once you are, however, he’s likely to turn his attentions elsewhere and this really should set alarm bells ringing.

Love Bombing is a manipulative strategy to make individuals more emotionally pliable.

The individuals engaged in love bombing are more likely to be egomaniacs and/or narcissists who like to feel dominant and powerful and/or love psychologically humiliating others. If someone you barely know is lavishing you with excessive attention and affection then, sadly, the odds are that sadly it’s because they want to manipulate you and you’re unlikely to be the only one. By constantly flattering and communicating with you, you cannot focus on anything else which is where the control comes in.

At its most serious this can be the foundation for a problematic and abusive relationship.

The thing about love bombing is that it doesn’t last forever.

Once the toxic person has taken what they need from you, they’ll pull the rug out from under you. A person who was affectionate and attentive suddenly becomes scornful and controlling. Experts call this shift the “devaluation phase.”

They seem to be doing all the giving until you realize you’re doing all the giving and they have used you for your body, your wallet, your home, your caretaking ability and your empathy. This can lead to a vicious cycle that includes a period of idealization followed by a period of devaluation, again and again. During the periods of devaluation, the victim may try desperately to get back in the love bomber’s good graces.

Another good read:

And again: Huffington Post

Threats & Intimidation

If you intimidate someone, you deliberately make them frightened enough to do what you want them to do (verb). In other words, to make timid or frightened; scare. To discourage, restrain, or silence illegally or unscrupulously, as by threats or blackmail. In American English, to make timid; make afraid; daunt … to force or deter with threats or violence; cow.

In short … to intimidate someone means to frighten them, sometimes as a deliberate way of making them do something. Or, not do something maybe. Intimidation or harassment may also constitute a criminal offence under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. That Act also provides for a civil injunction to prevent harassment, breach of which is a criminal offence.

The intensity and frequency of incidents, combined with the proximity of victim and perpetrator, not only makes harassment and intimidation extremely distressing, it also makes it difficult for recipients of this kind of abuse from taking a stand and speaking out against the behaviour.

As for a threat … a statement of an intention to inflict pain, injury, damage, or other hostile action on someone in retribution for something done or not done.

According to Avon and Somerset Police, a threat is a statement of an intention to cause pain, injury, damage or other hostile action. The types of threat include verbal, written or psychological harassment, threats of a sexual nature, threats to kill or racial or religious threats known as hate crime.

If you are receiving threats that you feel put you in immediate danger or at risk, you should call 999 straight away. If you are not immediate danger, you can report being threatened on the phone by calling 101.

Examples of Intimidation … making you afraid by using looks, actions or gestures … smashing things … destroying property … displaying weapons. Examples of Threats … making and/or carrying out threats to hurt you … threatening to leave or commit suicide … making you do illegal things.

Who is behind an email address

Using an Email Risk Assessment tool, you can identify who is behind an email address.

Email risk assessment goes beyond basic comparative information and paints a complete picture based on the reputation of the buyer by using IP address, email and other information to validate identity.

Within a second, you can get a Risk Score and establish the owners name, when the email address was first seen, location and even photos of the owner.

Smart companies are increasingly reaping the benefits of using the email address, and the wealth of data that comes along with it, as a key part of their fraud prevention strategy. As much as providing insight as to who they are … it can also point out who they may not be.

One such example of how to interpret what you get from an Email Risk Assessment follows.

When there is NO supporting personal data in the lookup … DoB, gender, location, title, company name & social media link … you may start to smell a rat.

Dodgy … definitely maybe.

With a fraud score range of 301 – 600, a moderate risk score of say 500 (classed as neutral) may be enough to set hares running.

Dodgy … definitely maybe.

When the set of risk factors show ‘limited history for email’ is may suggest to you that this is a new or infrequently used email address - being used to cover-up their real intentions - and therefore not someone you want to engage with as a client,  customer, friend or even acquaintance.

Dodgy … definitely maybe.

The tools are out there … more fool anyone not choosing to use them.