A reminder: don’t trust an email or WhatsApp message from a friend asking for a short-term loan.

We are increasingly seeing reports from people who have been duped into sending money after seemingly being contacted by a friend.

Fraudsters are hacking into people’s email systems and, having read previous correspondence, sending victims a series of chatty emails asking about a mutual friend.

The emails and WhatsApp messages are designed to persuade the receiver that the person is who they say they are. A few hours later comes a plausible request for a short-term loan. It might be that they are stuck abroad, have been robbed, or their car has broken down.

The way to protect yourself is straightforward – don’t send any money after receiving such a request without talking to the person first and establishing that they really need a loan. If they start making excuses as to why they can’t talk to you, be doubly suspicious. The same is true of sending companies money. Just because you were expecting to send a firm some money, don’t automatically assume that the email request is genuine – if it’s a significant sum, always phone first.

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