Scammers’ ‘socially engineer’ victims

Back to News & Views

17% increase in suspicious or scam-related activity

Any of us can fall victim to a scam. Scams are increasingly common and many people are caught out. They can be very distressing, and the impact is often emotional as well as financial. If you’ve been the victim of a scam, remember that you’re not alone

Increasingly, scammers are relying on our psychological biases to trick us into handing over important data, financial information and our money. There are a growing number of scams that are harder to identify, with scammers using increasingly complex psychological tactics to ‘socially engineer’ their victims into handing over personal data or money.

Would-be investors are vulnerable to manipulation from scammers when put under time pressure, promised greater returns on investments or contacted by what they think is an authority figure. Research highlights the psychological tricks that scammers use, as data shows a 17% rise in reported scams[1]. The data highlights that almost three-quarters of Britons have seen an increase in suspicious activity and of those who were scammed nearly four in ten (39%) didn’t report it.

Criminals carrying out scams usually apply pressure tactics, illusions of scarcity or pretending to be a trusted authority to ‘socially engineer’ their victims. The findings come as consumer polling shows that seven in ten Britons claim to have seen an increase in suspicious or scam-related activity, but almost a third of respondents (31%) admit they wouldn’t know what to do if they found themselves in that position.

Purchase scams

Purchase scams, where people buy goods online which don’t exist or never arrive, accounted for over half (53%) of reported scams – with an average value of £980.

Scammers create a perceived scarcity and therefore ‘value’ in what they are selling to motivate consumers to act quickly and not rely on their better judgment. This might be advertising something as a ‘one-time offer’, a limited edition price or availability, or rushing us into buying something that ‘has’ to be bought now – even if you’ve never seen the product in real life.

You should never be rushed; it’s always important to take the time to check before proceeding with a purchase. If it’s a big-ticket item like a car, unless you’re buying directly through a well-known brand, it’s good practice to see it in person before spending any money.

Impersonation scams

Over two-thirds of Britons (64%) would be more likely to comply with a request if they believed it was coming from an institution they knew, such as their bank, the police or even the NHS.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that scammers exploit this insight. In these situations, scammers will harness that sense of authority to instil fear in their victims – perhaps suggesting their bank account has been compromised, a payment is overdue or that they will be fined if they do not pay the full amount. Psychologically, many of us will take these at face-value if they’re coming from what we believe to be a reputable institution.

Real phone calls from a bank will never ask customers to do things like share their PIN/security information or to transfer money to a ‘safe account’.

Investment scams

Investment scams often account for the highest average value type of scam, which is why they’re such enticing options for fraudsters – with £15,788 lost on average to these types of scams in the last quarter.

Investing should generally be a very measured activity and people who are looking to invest their money will often do a lot of research before making their decision, or at least ask for a second opinion. However, scammers are experts at exploiting the fact that people want to grow their assets, and that we can sometimes put our better judgement aside for a high return opportunity.

Worryingly, this is reflected in the research, with three in ten (32%) admitting they would be willing to go with an investment or savings provider they’d never heard of if they thought the returns would be higher than those of their existing provider. A further fifth (21%) stated they were unsure, indicating they could potentially be convinced.

Check the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website and its warning list ( for cloned companies to make sure you’re dealing with a genuine company. If you have any suspicions, talk to someone you trust and don’t ignore your concerns. It’s important to ask questions and make sure you feel comfortable in the choices you are making – and remember, if the returns seem too good to be true, they probably are.

We’re here to help you

If you would like to speak to us about any concerns you may have, we’re here to listen to you. To find out more or to discuss your situation, please contact us.

Source data:

[1] Barclays data on reported scams from October 2021 – December 2021. Mortar Research study of 2,002 participants, January 2022.

Book your FREE, no obligation discussion today. Schedule Appointment

Sign Up to our mailing list - Receive regular news, tips and financial commentary from the Gemini Team.

Latest News

  • Financial planning essential to help balance priorities As the cost of living crisis continues to rise, midlifers are set to be impacted particularly hard. This is because many midlifers are still paying off mortgages and other debts, while also trying to support their families. This means that they often have less disposable income than younger people. [...]

  • How to invest your money and avoid costly mistakes It’s not surprising that the world of investing can seem complex, especially in the current global economic climate. Investors face an endless supply of market news, many investment choices and often-changing market conditions. [...]

  • Millions of savers think inflation will leave them better off Despite inflation reaching its highest rate for many decades, some people in the UK are not aware of its impact on their finances. More than half of all cash savers (52%) don’t know what impact inflation will have on the real value of their cash savings over time. [...]

  • 3 tips to maintain your financial wellbeing The rising cost of living is one of the most pressing issues facing many families today. The price of food, energy, fuel and other necessities has risen significantly in recent months. This has made it difficult to make ends meet and has put a strain on many household budgets. [...]

  • Just two out of five have planned for inflation in retirement Retirement planning can be complex at the best of times, so it is easy to understand how some people can find it daunting to take into account factors like inflation. The reality is that inflation hurts everyone, but it can be especially harmful to retirees. [...]

  • New research highlights that 81% aren’t seeking financial advice As more and more people reject the traditional working structure in favour of becoming self-employed, some people could be at risk of financial insecurity as they lose out on employee benefits that offer protection in the present, and financial planning for the future. [...]

  • How you can keep the cost of bills down while inflation is high Rising inflation and increases in taxes are set to leave millions worse off in 2022. Households are already grappling with the worst cost of living crisis in a generation but budgets have been further squeezed by a raft of price and tax rises. [...]

  • Key financial changes that have affected millions of people from April Most taxpayers started to see their tax bills increase from April 2022. As we move into the new 2022/23 tax year, now is the time to review your tax affairs to ensure that you have taken advantage of all reliefs available and have considered some planning opportunities to help reduce your tax liabilities. [...]

  • 30 million parents want to leave wealth in their Will Millions of Britons say they want to plan to pass on wealth to their children and grandchildren in a Will – but fewer than half have written one, according to new research. [...]

  • Ensure your financial security for when you might need it most There are a number of reasons why you might need life cover and critical illness cover. If you have dependents, then it is important to make sure that they will be financially secure if something happens to you. If you have a mortgage or other debts, then life cover can help to pay these off.  [...]

  • Revolution in family law finally removes the need for blame as a basis for divorce No one enters into marriage expecting it to end in divorce. However, for many couples, divorce is the sad reality. If you are facing divorce, it is important to know that you are not alone. Each year, thousands of people go through the divorce process. [...]

  • 3 weeks ago

    The average British child is worth just under £5,000 by the time they reach school When we talk about the Bank of Mum and Dad, we are effectively talking about handing money over to your children. There are many reasons why your descendants might look to you for financial support, and many routes you could take in funding them, if you so choose. [...]

Gemini Wealth Management Ltd is Authorised and regulated by The Financial Conduct Authority Registered in England & Wales No. 5919877 Registered Office: Gemini House, 71 Park Road, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands B73 6BT The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax and trust advice, will writing and some forms of buy to let mortgages. The guidance and/or advice contained in this website is subject to regulatory regime and is therefore restricted to those based in the UK.

Website by Mellow Marsh Software
© Gemini Wealth Management Ltd
Privacy Notice | Cookie Policy