Scammers are smart and have a vast range of tactics and tools at their disposal to trick their targets and steal their money.
Unfortunately, the fact that scammers are smart means their tactics are constantly evolving, making it difficult for everyday people to stay safe. A scam gaining in popularity at the moment is the “mission scam” – sometimes referred to as a “YouTube Like and Subscribe” scam. Mission scams are used to target hard-working people looking to make money and subsidise their income, ideally from the comfort of their own homes. Due to the current cost of living crisis, this impacts an ever-growing number of people.
Fraudsters are presenting lucrative jobs allowing people to work from home, fulfilling “missions” for (often legitimate) online e-commerce companies with the promise of commission and/or high hourly wages.
Victims of these scams are often sold on the idea of earning easy money in their spare time outside of work hours.
Katie – Richmond, London
Katie (name changed for anonymity) from Richmond, London was initially hesitant. While the prospect of more money was tempting, she already had a full-time job.
“At first I turned it down because I have a full-time job, but the ‘recruiter’ was quite persuasive. They gave me a training course, they seemed very knowledgeable, and they made me feel reassured.”
The fraudsters claimed to represent a legitimate digital agency, which meant nothing stood out as odd to Katie when she attempted to confirm that the job offer was real.
After completing her onboarding training, Katie was tasked with completing various missions. She was first required to deposit a relatively small amount of money (£80) to set up her account and began to see gains straight away. Naturally cautious, Katie withdrew both her earnings and her initial deposit after each mission.
This continued without issue for a few days and Katie came to trust her new part-time employers, depositing more and more money into her account to take advantage of missions with even greater rewards.
Unfortunately, as with most scams of this kind, once Katie could no longer afford to keep depositing more money, the scammers removed her ability to withdraw her funds.
When the scammers assured Katie that her money was safe and that she simply needed to deposit more money to make a withdrawal, she became suspicious.
“I couldn’t afford to keep going, and I didn’t know how long it would go on for”.
Katie was eventually contacted by another individual who claimed that they could help her get the money she had deposited back if she just invested a further £2,000. By this point, however, Katie understood that she had been scammed.
“I ignored them and tried to move on. I was so upset that I’d lost the money – I felt so guilty and I lost sleep over it. I didn’t tell anyone about it because I was too embarrassed.”
Avoiding a Mission Scam
Many people are struggling due to the ongoing cost of living crisis, and the prospect of making easy money from home quickly and easily is a tempting idea for anybody. It’s important to understand, however, that fraudsters prey on the worries and insecurities of their targets and use these vulnerabilities as a means of drawing them into their scheme.
Paul Hampson, Chief Executive at CEL Solicitors said: “You should sense-check any job offers you have with a friend or family member, if anything seems too good to be true, then it usually is. And even if it is inviting, try to contact the company through its official channels before accepting work, rather than just with someone who’s messaged you on WhatsApp.”
“Victims often feel betrayed and guilty, frustrated that they have wasted time and their own money in a scam. You should never throw good money after bad when scammed, even if you believe it is your only hope to regain money you have already invested. Contact the police and gain legal support if you find yourself in this situation.”
A version of this case study can be found on WalesOnline.