The rise of complex scams

Complex scams are continuing to hit the headlines in the UK, with the Financial Ombudsman service reporting a rise in complaints, particularly involving investments and cryptocurrency.

In essence, a complex scam is a scheme involving the features of more than one scam. This could see an individual duped by a fraudster posing as a love interest – the classic romance scam – into investing in a fraudulent cryptocurrency scheme.  

Complex scams have been a sad fact of life for some time. But with the continued proliferation of AI making them ever more convincing, individuals need to be increasingly vigilant to stay one step ahead. 

In fact, AI scams may even be a greater threat than initially thought, with fraudsters only requiring a 3 second clip to clone your voice. This perfectly replicated voice could then be used to try and trick your family, friends or colleagues into parting with potentially significant sums of cash. Of course, the methods used by bad actors vary in both magnitude and target groups but pose a significant threat to individuals.

With fraudulent crime showing no signs of stopping, that’s where we come in to stop it in its tracks. 

To put this into context, we were approached by an overseas client who had been a victim of dating fraud. Initially, the individual developed a relationship with an unknown male (or so he thought!) on a dating app, eventually being duped into sending over $400,000 to an individual in the UK. Over several months, the fraudster was able to implement clever tactics, such as recorded bank voice messages to verify his identity and financial position to earn the victim’s trust. 

As ever, our objective was to discover the individual behind the scam, liaise with authorities and retrieve the funds for our client and using Open-Source Intelligence, we were able to trace down some of the individuals involved in the UK and Europe. Once the sources had been located, we handed over our evidence to the UK police, who acted on our findings immediately. 

The UK based subject has since been arrested and charged with money laundering. With the scammer now in the hands of the law, justice has, at the very least, been served. 

In reality it’s very common to hear that victims of financial scams usually struggle to get initial, if any, investigatory interest or assistance from law enforcement in the UK.  In fact, most UK Police forces will not even accept a report of financial fraud. They will now divert the victim to Action Fraud, the UK national reporting centre run by the City of London Police. Anecdotal comments suggest this service is currently significantly over stretched and under-funded. As a result, it’s common to hear that many cases reported to Action Fraud appear to never to see the light of day.

It therefore makes perfect sense to turn to and consult professionals in the private investigation sector to get some real action on the fraud.

If you have a victim of something similar or you feel like you, or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at [email protected] for a no-obligation chat on the available next steps.


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