There are many unscrupulous people out there and without being completely distrustful of everyone, you have to make sure you don’t get taken in.
Use basic common sense and keep yourself safe. If anyone knocks on your door, rings you by phone, or sends an email or letter, be very careful about how you respond, and DON’T immediately give information out without checking their identification first.
Fraud Victims Warned to Avoid Being Hit Twice
Blackpool Council’s is warning residents to be aware of “scandalous” scammers who try and capitalise on people who have already been the victim of fraud.
The Council’s Public Protection team have echoed the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau’s advice to let residents be aware of ‘recovery room’ phone scams.
Recovery room fraud is when scammers call up victims of fraud, claiming to be able to get their money back if the victim pays them ‘no win no fee payment’.
The calls are bogus and tend to results in the victims being scammed for a second time.
The current trend appears to be cold callers attempting to trick previous victims of timeshare fraud.
In July 2014 the Financial Services Authority (FSA) estimated that 30% of people who had lost money through investment fraud would also fall victim to a ‘recovery room’ fraud.
When recovery room fraudsters target victims of timeshare frauds they usually claim to be a legal professional or a representative of a government agency – normally within the country where the original timeshare property was based – in order to legitimise the scam.
The fraudsters know personal details about the victim and their previous investment which gives them credibility. They claim that the advanced fees requested are for ‘local taxes’ or ‘litigation costs’ incurred during the recovery of the funds.
It is suspected that the persons behind Recovery Room frauds are often the same people involved in the original scams even though these crimes may have occurred years earlier.
Initially, a small fee, typically in the region of £200-400, is requested by the fraudsters, which they often claim is refundable as part of a ‘no-win no-fee’ basis.
The fraudsters rely on the victims seeing this as a nominal fee compared to the amount lost, which often run into the tens of thousands of pounds, and therefore being worth paying if it facilitates the return of their money.
Once paid, various excuses are made by the fraudsters to explain delays in the recovery of the funds. Subsequently, further larger amounts are then requested by the fraudsters. Needless to say, no refunds ever materialise and no money is ever recovered.
Tim Coglan, Head of Public Protection at Blackpool Council, is reminding people that the best way to stay safe from fraud is to remain vigilant to cold callers. “The saying goes that if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is,” he said.
“That’s absolutely true, and once you’ve been burnt by a fraud, the temptation of somebody offering to get your money back can be too attractive.
“However, it’s important that people don’t end up getting hit twice by these scandalous fraudsters. The best way to remain safe is to never respond to unsolicited phone calls – if you are in doubt then hang up.”
The five ways to avoid becoming a victim of a recovery room scam are:
- Never respond to unsolicited phone calls – if in doubt, hang up.
- Always check that the details of the organisation or company contacting you (such as website, address and phone number) are correct – the fraudsters may be masquerading as a legitimate organisation.
- Don’t be fooled by a professional looking website as nowadays the cost of creating a professional website is easily affordable.
- Be wary of any firms or individuals asking for advanced fees.
- Consider seeking independent legal and/or financial advice before making a decision.
If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud you can report it online: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by telephone: 0300 123 2040.
To contact Blackpool Council’s Public Protection team, contact 01253 478375.
Don’t Respond to People Contacting You
We had a phone call. ‘I’m from (mumble, mumble) Halifax, and I’d like to talk to you about your recent visit to Cleveleys’. Now we knew we’d not been in the Cleveleys branch (and he didn’t actually mention the branch) and replied as such, at which point they put the phone down very quickly. It all felt very odd and like a scam.
A neighbour suggested that we phone the police on 101, to pass on the intelligence in case other instances were happening. The police told us that it is a common scam, and that they go down the phone book in retirement areas, hoping to drop on vulnerable elderly people – so our hunch was right.
If you get any phone calls from people saying they are from a bank, don’t give them any information about passwords and account details. Always ask for their phone number and ring them back, or check first with your branch.
If you get any emails asking for the same kind of information, DON’T REPLY! They will almost certainly be spam that’s ‘phishing’ – trying to collect details that can be used fraudulently. The HMRC, your bank and people like that don’t send emails asking you to provide data. But spam emails that you get are becoming increasingly sophisticated and can use all the logos and graphics to make them look genuine. Don’t reply to letters asking you to send money to receive gifts or chances to win something – just put them in the blue bin where they belong!
If people come knocking on your door asking for work around the house you would be best advised not to allow them to do anything. There are plenty of reputable companies in the area who can mend a roof tile or gutter, or lay your drive, so have a look in the Link magazine or Local List and phone someone to come and make your repair. Plus, ask for a proper quotation before the work is carried out.
It’s such a big problem, that earlier this year Lancashire County Council Trading Standards and the Police teamed up to collect examples of scams from the public to try and gather intelligence to help them to raise awareness of the scams that are out there, and to give advice to help people to avoid being taken in. Apparently, only one in 20 people reports it to the police, with estimates for Lancashire alone being an annual cost of a whopping £64 million, with 76,000 people a year becoming victims. Many of the criminals running the scams are based outside the UK and its laws.
In fairness, the vast majority of people by percentage are honest and reliable, but the small minority who aren’t are the ones who cause the most damage. So just remember that you are in control and you haven’t invited these people to approach you, so you don’t owe them anything and don’t have to respond or give them information. Be cautious and be safe, and if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
If you are suspicious about any offers you can report them at www.actionfraud.org.uk/ or ring 0300 123 2040
Oh wow, this email said I’d got a ticket to America – NOT!