NatWest has released the first NatWest Scam Super League Table featuring the top ten highest value fraud cases where celebrities have been unknowingly exploited by criminals.
Holly Willoughby tops the league with one customer transferring over £265,000 to a fraudster as part of an investment scam using the star’s image. The advert appeared on Facebook and linked through to a fake AOL.com article which falsely featured her endorsing an investment scam.
Holly’s This Morning co-presenter Phillip Schofield also features in the NatWest Scam Super League, with one customer reporting a £137,000 scam after seeing a fake advert featuring the presenter.
Investment scams often advertise online and are especially common on social media sites. They use images of well-known celebrities to help create an impression of legitimacy and convince potential investors they are authentic. The celebrity will be unaware their image is being used and is also a victim in this type of crime.
To further increase legitimacy, fraudsters are placing adverts on social media sites and creating links to spoof media and newspaper websites with fake articles featuring celebrities endorsing an investment.
Spoof emails are another means fraudsters are ripping off celebrity images and customers. The Financial Conduct Authority recently issued a warning alert after receiving reports of fake Money Saving Expert emails being sent by fraudsters. Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis who has been vocal about his image being used on Facebook, is at number four in the NatWest Scam Super League with one customer scammed out of £222,000 after being persuaded the investment was recommended by Lewis who was unaware his image was being used.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s image was used, unknowingly by him, to lure a football fan into investing £250,000 into a fake fund. Others making into the top ten of NatWest Scam Super League include well-known business leaders such as Dragons’ Den’s Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones as well as Sir Richard Branson, Bear Grylls, Sir Alan Sugar and Jeremy Clarkson.
Jason Costain, Head of Fraud at NatWest said: “You are now more likely to be a victim of fraud in the UK than any other crime and criminals are increasingly using celebrity images to entice people into investment scams. Life changing sums of money are being lost and we want to do everything we can to raise awareness and help not just our own customers, but everyone in the UK fightback against these criminals.”
How NatWest is helping to raise awareness
NatWest closely monitors online scams and is working with social media providers to have adverts taken down and rogue users blocked.