In the world of financial fraud, there are lots of scams that centre around a bank transfer. So whenever you’re setting up a new payee in the Coconut app, it’s really important to make sure the person or organisation is who they say they are.

We want to help you spot the warning signs. Here’s our overview of the main bank transfer scams to be aware of, and how to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

The following 6 scams are all types of APP scam (Authorised Push Payment scam), meaning that a criminal has persuaded you to willingly transfer (“push”) the money to them.

‘Safe account’ scam

Someone contacts you to tell you that your money is at risk and that you need to transfer the funds to a ‘safe account’, where they take it and run. (At Coconut, we will never ask you to move your money elsewhere.)

Purchase scam

You pay for a product or service online which doesn’t really exist and is never delivered to you. For example a phone, car or holiday. These are often items that were advertised on social media or through an unregulated marketplace such as Facebook Marketplace. 

Investment scam

You’ve offered a fake investment opportunity from a fake company. Usually these seem “too good to be true”, promising you very high returns on your money in a very short time. Use this FCA tool to check whether the company exists: https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart

Email hack scam (AKA invoice redirection)

You’re a client or customer of a company. A criminal hacks into that company’s email account and sends you an email posing as your business contact to tell you that they have new bank details. They then send you a fake invoice with updated bank details, so any payment you make ends up going to them instead of the company.

CEO scam

You’re contacted by someone pretending to be your CEO (or boss, or other high-standing colleague) and makes an urgent demand for you to pay an invoice. 

Romance scam

You meet someone online who earns your trust and then asks you to send them money for a worthy-sounding cause, such as an ill relative who doesn’t exist.

What to do to protect yourself from APP scams

Whenever you’re setting up a new payee for a bank transfer, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Are you 100% sure the person you’re about to pay by bank transfer is who they say they are?
  2. Is there a valid reason to make this payment to this particular account?

If you’re not sure, or if the request seems unusual:

  • Look up the official telephone number of the company or institution contacting you and give them a call to confirm that the request you've received is genuine.
  • Check that the links and email addresses are genuine. (Does the “from” email address use the official website domain, or does it include a weird mix of random letters and numbers? Is the logo wonky? Is the email itself full of mistakes? Does it include the official email footer or not?)
  • Ask around. If it’s a scam, you’re unlikely to be the only person who was targeted. Take a screenshot and show it in confidence to someone you know and trust. Or try copy-pasting pieces of the message into a search engine to see if it’s been reported before (be careful not to click on any links!).

And if you’re still unsure after that:

  • Walk away. 
  • Report the situation to Action Fraud through their website or by calling them on +44 (0) 300 123 2040.
  • For any questions about a payment you’ve been asked to make from your Coconut account, we’re happy to help you out! Get in touch with our support team using Coconut’s in-app chat, or on [email protected], or by calling our emergency number: +44 (0) 808 169 9928.
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