Santa’s Cyber Workshop: 6 scams to avoid this Christmas

Santa Scams Infosec Article
For financial professionals only

UK consumers lost £580 million to scams in the first six months of 2023 [1], with criminals using anything from social media and online marketplaces to texts, phone calls and emails to deceive victims into giving up their personal details and their money.    

The holiday season can be busy with many of us juggling social events, travel, and shopping, making it the perfect time for scammers to strike. 

Keep your holiday season stress-free by maintaining a healthy level of scepticism, staying up to date with popular scams, and sharing this information with your loved ones. 

Keep your funds jingling all the way to the right destination

Authorised push payment (APP) fraud cases – where people are tricked into authorising a fraudulent payment – increased by 22% this year, compared to the same period in 2022 [1]. Scammers use online profiles to advertise items that don’t exist. Consumers pay for the items and the scammers take the money, leaving the victim without the item they ordered.

Without verifying the authenticity of the person or company you’re speaking with, you may be left significantly out of pocket this Christmas.

Don't let scammers turn your festive getaway into a 'silent night'mare!

If you’re planning a trip this Christmas, you may be deceived through hotel booking scams. Scammers use all sorts of tools to deceive like:

  • Fake booking sites impersonating legitimate companies,
  • Phishing emails disguised as legitimate booking confirmations or reservation changes,
  • Fake customer service calls requesting payment details to verify bookings or pay a deposit, and
  • Fake rentals of non-existent properties on sites like Airbnb.

Protect yourself from hotel booking scams by using reputable booking sites, double checking the URL to make sure you’re on the correct site and exercising caution before sharing any personal information or making financial transactions.

Look out for band Santa in online marketplaces such as Facebook, Gumtree and Vinted

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re shopping online for gifts, check seller profiles for user ratings, profile creation dates and reviews to check for authenticity. Keep conversations within the platform you’re buying from and only use trusted payment methods – fraudsters commonly request bank transfers so look for alternative ways of transferring money.

Oh deer - keep watch for package delivery scams

With many of us expecting Christmas deliveries at this time of year, we’re likely to assume package delivery texts and emails are related to a genuine order we’ve placed, but it could be scammers attempting to trick us into providing personal and payment information., Legitimate companies won’t ask for payment via text or email so contact the company directly if you’re in any doubt about suspicious communications you receive. 

Let the warning bells ring as you remind your loved ones about popular scams

Romance scams (one of the fastest growing scams of 2023) are breaking hearts, and bank balances. Scammers set up fake profiles on dating sites, lure their victims into a trusting online relationship, and then extort them for cash.  The Tinder Swindler on Netflix is a great example of this type of scam.

You can also warn vulnerable family and friends about other popular scams, including the WhatsApp and Amazon Prime scams we highlighted in our previous articles.

Don't let the Grinches of the cyber world 'snow' you under!

The cost of living crisis has sparked a rise in fake refund scams, including impersonations from energy providers, government rebates, price comparison phone calls and HRMC tax refunds that ask for your personal details so they can send out “rebates” or “payments”.  Contact companies directly before providing your details if a communication doesn’t appear genuine.


This article is for financial professionals only. Any information contained within is of a general nature and should not be construed as a form of personal recommendation or financial advice. Nor is the information to be considered an offer or solicitation to deal in any financial instrument or to engage in any investment service or activity.

Parmenion accepts no duty of care or liability for loss arising from any person acting, or refraining from acting, as a result of any information contained within this article. All investment carries risk. The value of investments, and the income from them, can go down as well as up and investors may get back less than they put in. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.  

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