Victims have reported being offered loans on their doorstep, on the telephone, or through social media, and some people who currently get government benefits or who qualify for Universal Credit have been targeted by the scam.
The fraudsters are then leaving the victims up to £1,500 out of pocket, and Action Fraud has issued a warning, advising segments of the public to be conscious of ways to defend themselves from being targeted.
People are being contacted by a fraudster, offering them a free or a low-cost Government loan or grant. The scammers are then asking private and financial information from the victim, and they’re using these details to apply for Universal Credit in the victim’s name, normally without notifying them about this.
With the details having been used to apply for Universal Credit, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) then approves the single claim, transferring the money to the victim’s account, and the fraudster then requests that the victim transfer them a notable part of the money as a finder’s fee.
But, due to having unknowingly received a Universal Credit advance payment, victims have then received a letter from DWP about their Universal Credit application, and due to the fraudster’s actions, they’ve then had to repay the entire amount originally obtained.
One victim has said that they were introduced to the scam by a so-called friend on social media, and after reaching the free grant of more than £1,000, they were later asked to transfer the £500 to the fraudster’s account as a finder’s fee.
But it was only when they got a letter from the DWP requesting the repayments for the advance was when they realised they had been scammed, but a DWP spokesperson said they’re working to encourage people to listen to their senses, and people should be conscious that if someone offers you a low-cost loan from the Government, they may be attempting to hijack your identity.
Everyone should manage their personal information for benefits in the same way they would their bank account, and if someone does believe that they’re being targeted, that they should contact the DWP immediately.
But it just proves how easily the stupid and their money are parted, however, the problem has been raised in Work and Pensions questions in Parliament, and Justin Tomlinson has offered to look into it as a matter of urgency, but I wouldn’t hold your breath, there’s still nothing from DWP, they’re supposedly still investigating whilst fraudster’s are exploiting the Universal Credits benefits system, leaving defenceless families poverty-stricken.
Criminals are posing as Jobcentre workers or helpful advisers are targeting people on low incomes and getting them to hand over their personal details by promising to help them apply for the interest-free loans offered by the Government to meet the waiting period until their initial Universal Credit payment comes through.
The fraudster’s then applied online for the benefit, and then take most or all of the loan and then disappear, but then the Government’s arrogance in thinking that everyone and anyone can manage an online account, and it’s going to feed this phenomenon.
And fairly soon there will be people out there lending out money from the back room of their houses or bars who are going to have a flourishing new cottage industry, helping people to claim Universal Credit and handling their claims because there’s no other help available or people will have to wait longer to get their money.
And the people out there lending money will hold the claimant’s login details, and the victim will come back to them to ask them what to do, and they will be glad of the help, and his fees will be as modest as is the APR’s on his loans.
Facebook is now being used as a way of contacting possible victims, and one victim was scammed into claiming Universal Credit on Facebook. She was informed she could get a £1,200 loan and it wouldn’t affect her benefits.
They took all her details and without her knowledge and lodged a Universal Credit claim and generated a full months payment in advance. The money went into her bank account but she was informed they needed to access her bank details and she gave them the log in details.
The £1,200 was then removed from her account and she contacted the police and her bank. The bank refunded £600 but said she voluntarily took part in the scam, so couldn’t have the full amount reimbursed, and by whoever the fraudster was who lodged the Universal Credit claim, this lead to CTC, HB and the ESA claim being closed down.
She said that the DWP agreed that it must have been someone within the Universal Credit call centre and agreed it was a scam, but they wouldn’t put her back on legacy benefits and are making her repay the £1,200 advance at £100 a month. The interesting thing is, the police said they’ve seen it a few times now.
There has also been a case in which a defenceless claimant, who also has an appointee, but these people turned up at her home when she was alone, plied her with alcohol and made the online Universal Credit claim. The claimant has mental health difficulties and the drink interfered with her medication and she couldn’t recollect much.
These people even drove her to the bank to withdraw cash once the advance came through, then drove off and left her with £25 in her pocket, wasn’t it was kind of them to leave her the taxi fare to get home? These people prey on the defenceless and are nothing more than the lowest of low dregs of society.