A new phishing scam that tricks victims into thinking they’re renewing their TV license has been unearthed – but only after it hooked in one Hampshire couple who lost nearly £10,000.

The scam begins with an email claiming to be from TV Licensing, which fraudulently uses the official branding and colour schemes to appear legitimate. It claims there’s been an issue with a previous payment and users need to rectify the issue or they’ll face a hefty fine.

Clicking through the link provided in the email takes users to a website that has also been designed to look like the official one of TV Licensing – which even has a Privacy Policy and language options to further build the look of legitimacy. This website, however, is a fake, and providers scammers with the personal details of anyone who provides their information (with fields including name, email address, payment details and mother’s maiden name).

If that wasn’t all, the brazen scammers are then using this information to trick their victims into parting with their cash through simple bank transfers.

In the case of Hampshire’s Jerry and Carole Tack, this involved losing almost £10,000. Initially, the scammers phoned up claiming to be from Nationwide (having worked out this is who the Tacks banked with from the information already provided).

Pretending to be from Nationwide’s fraud team, the crooks claimed there had been suspicious activity on the account and that a verification code needed to be sent to one of their mobile devices and then confirmed on the call. Rather cleverly, the scammers then triggered an official text message from Nationwide to be sent to Jerry’s mobile, which he duly passed on.

With this information the scammers were free to make transactions from within the Tacks’ online banking. They cleaned £4,000 each out of two savings accounts and even had the audacity to warn Jerry that he needed to transfer £1,900 to a “safe account” or risk hackers getting access to that too.

Though the Tacks may have lost the most money to this scam, they’re not the only ones who have been targeted. Action Fraud said it had received more than 5,000 complaints about these emails in the last three months of 2018 alone.

Anyone who receives an email purporting to be from TV Licensing is urged to exercise caution and, if there’s any doubt, visit the website through a search engine and not via any links contained within an email.