Fraudster Targeting High Net Worth Individuals

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) have asked UK police forces to alert high net worth individuals who may be targeted by this fraud:

Modus Operandi

Since December 2016, the MoD Police has received over 60 reports from UK residents concerning calls received from a fraudster claiming to represent the Secretary of State for Defence.

The fraudster, who sounds male, targets UK business leaders and other wealthy individuals and attempts to persuade them to provide funds on behalf of the UK government in order to pay ransom money for UK nationals held hostage overseas. Although the sums demanded have varied, each instance of this attempted fraud has always involved at least £1 million.

The victims may feel personally flattered that their assistance has been sought and pleased that they can help the UK government in such matters.

Communication with potential victims

The fraudster sends an initial email to the intended victim’s office, or to their personal assistant. The use of email addresses, such as @mod, @parliament or @mod-parliament.uk, or similar make it appear that the emails originate from the Ministry of Defence or other government department.

On other occasions the fraudster has contacted the target victim directly by telephone and thereafter seeks to speak with the victim alone, i.e. so that their phone conversation cannot be overheard. The fraudster uses VOIP numbers which purport to be MoD/Parliamentary phone numbers.

While speaking to the fraudster, the victim can hear the ‘Secretary of State’ speaking in the background. The fraudster sometimes invites the victim to call back to speak to the ‘Secretary of State’ in person. The ‘Minister’ seems to be immensely grateful for the victim’s assistance and makes efforts to focus the conversation on how and when the government would repay the funds.

Advice

  • Potential victims are advised to not engage with the fraudsters either by phone or email. They should hang up the phone and not reply to any emails. No money should be passed over.
  • Contact police, collate and preserve any communications data, including phone numbers and the original email.
  • Local police to report incidents to: MoD Police Crime Command

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