Fraudsters Fish for Benefit Hack Victims on Social Media

By Gary Cutlack on at

Scammers have found a way to steal future income from those eligible for the new Universal Credit benefit, and are advertising their thievery as a form of "grant" people are eligible for on social media.

Researchers found the scams being promoted on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, where heaps of fake people were found leaving positive comments beneath the ads for official-sounding grants along the lines of "Wow, mates, thanks for hooking me up with all this legitimate free government money!" and encouraging others to do the same.

The BBC charts one such case, where a victim handed over her personal details to fraudsters who were offering a series of entirely free government "grants" -- only to find they'd used her details to reverse engineer her benefits accounts to withdraw a chunk of Universal Credit allowance. That's where the grant came from. Her future self's allowances.

It's an issue with the way Universal Credit itself works; new claimants or those transferring to UC from other benefits systems are able to get large chunks of their claim paid in advance to cover bills while the forms are being processed, although this advance is then slowly repaid over following months. And that's the scam; transfer people to UC without their knowledge and pocket half the advance payment, then hand over the other half pretending it's the imaginary "grant." [BBC]