TRADING STANDARDS ALERT

09/07/2014 SCAM Alert: Local Businesses – Beware Bogus Advertising!
Local businesses are warned to beware of bogus advertisers after a spate of complaints, warns Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service.
Bogus advertisers con businesses in to paying for advertising in ‘safety’ or ‘community’ magazines/handbooks that have little or no circulation, making them effectively worthless.
They then demand payments ranging from several hundred pounds to thousands and threaten court action or debt collection agencies if businesses refuse to pay.
Bogus publishers usually cold-call the businesses they target and use a variety of approaches to sell advertising space. These include:
• Falsely claiming a link to a charity or good cause such as the Police, Fire or Ambulance Service.
• Claiming they have had a recent advertising cancellation and offering advertising space at half price.
• Falsely claiming to be a genuine advertiser already used by the trader and phoning to arrange a new contract or offering additional copies of the publication.
• Giving the publication a local name – even if the advertiser is based outside of the area.
Spotted a scam? Let us know. Email: simoncripwell@warwickshire.gov.uk
Phone calls are usually recorded and then carefully edited as ‘evidence’ of a verbal agreement, even if the trader declined the offer.
Businesses that have fallen victim to these scams and refused to pay have often been threatened with court action. However, in most cases they do not carry through with their threats because they are not operating within the law.
In an exceptional case where a local business was sued by an unscrupulous advertising company, Warwickshire Trading Standards supported the trader with advice and assistance and unsurprisingly, the advertising company did not appear in court. Presumably this was because they could not prove a single copy had been distributed.
Advice to Businesses
• Think twice before agreeing to advertise with someone you don’t know.
• Don’t engage in a protracted conversation with any one you suspect to be a bogus advertiser. Just say ‘no thanks’ and put the phone down.
• Make sure your staff are aware of these sorts of scams and how they operate.
• Shop around for advertising space.

08/07/2014 SCAM Alert: Coloured Diamonds Investment Scam
Investors are warned to beware of cold calls from fraudsters offering investments in coloured diamonds. The fraudsters claim that coloured diamonds are worth significantly more than white diamonds and that their value will accrue substantially.
In reality the fraudsters massively over-inflate the real value of the diamonds and their potential future value. Investors are told that the business will hold on to the diamonds for reasons of security and theft protection. Very often the diamonds don’t actually exist!
Buyers are continually cold called and encouraged to make further purchases. These bogus companies use fake or accommodation addresses to hide their tracks and the fraudsters behind them are often found to be running other investments scams in ‘fine wines’ or ‘carbon credits’.
Diamonds and similar investments are not regulated, so consumers are not protected.
A Warwickshire consumer paid out £16,000 to a London diamond investment business that has now disappeared, taking his money, and if the existed his diamonds with them.
Spotted a scam? Let us know. Email: simoncripwell@warwickshire.gov.uk

08/07/2014 SCAM: Alert: Council Tax Evaluation Office Scam
A resident reported to Trading Standards receiving a cold call from the ‘Council Tax Evaluation Office’, to inform him he was paying too much for his council tax. This was a bogus call, probably made by an unscrupulous firm that make money by charging residents large fees to challenge their council tax band. Householders who think they are in the wrong band can challenge the amount of council tax they pay, for free.
Spotted a scam? Let us know. Email: simoncripwell@warwickshire.gov.uk

08/07/2014 SCAM Alert: ‘American’ Card Scam
A Nuneaton resident reported to Trading Standards receiving a cold call from someone claiming to be calling from the USA and stating that the consumer’s credit card was about to be used. The caller stated that if the consumer could provide their card details, the payment could be stopped!
If you receive a phone call or any other sort of communication from someone claiming to be from your bank or card provider, never provide them with any personal or financial details, passwords or PINs etc. If you believe the caller is genuine, ask to phone them back on a publically listed number. For more information visit Financial Fraud Action
Spotted a scam? Let us know. Email: simoncripwell@warwickshire.gov.uk
08/07/2014 SCAM Alert: High Pressure ‘Medication’ Selling
An elderly Warwickshire resident was convinced to part with over £300 for what were described as ‘rosehip’ pills following a high pressure cold call. The seller was using a London accommodation address to make them more difficult to trace.
Never buy goods or services from cold callers or provide your credit or debit card details. There are a number of call blocking devices now available that can screen calls and can be very effective for blocking calls from unscrupulous traders.
Spotted a scam? Let us know. Email: simoncripwell@warwickshire.gov.uk

08/07/2014 SCAM Alert: Classified Ads Warning
A consumer contacted Trading Standards after paying over £900 in advance to rent a property advertised on Gumtree. The fee was paid by via bank transfer and Western Union. However, it then materialised that the listing was bogus and the property did not exist. The matter has been referred to the Police as fraud.
The consumer only had the email address of the ‘seller’. Gumtree do not recommend paying for goods you have not seen, but if you do plan to do this use some form of secure payment method. Sending money via Western Union and similar businesses means that the transactions are largely untraceable and do not give the buyer any protection.
Consumers buying goods or services valued over £100 and under £30000 are strongly advised to use a credit card. If then the goods arrived damaged or not at all, the consumer can claim the money back from the credit card company.
Spotted a scam? Let us know. Email: simoncripwell@warwickshire.gov.uk

08/07/2014: SCAM Alert Pop-Up Warning
A Warwickshire consumer reported a scam involving a pop-up that appeared on his computer screen. The consumer could not remove the pop-up, which was possibly some sort of adware, so followed a link to ‘register’ and pay £1 via a debit card, just to get rid of it. However, hidden in the terms and conditions was an agreement to pay £60, which was later also taken from his card by a US based gaming business.
Computer users are advised NEVER to enter their credit or debit card details on to unknown or unsecure websites, or follow instructions in an unexpected pop-up. This sort of adware, which is also associated with ransomware, usually appears if your computer has been infected by a virus. Anti-virus software should prevent and remove this type of infection. Run a scan on you pc and follow the guidance of your anti-virus/software security provider.
Computer users are also encouraged to enter their card details via these pop-ups after being enticed with offers of ‘free’ and ‘low-cost’ tablets and other IT equipment. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
Consumers caught out by these sorts of scams should cancel their debit or credit cards to prevent further payments being taken. Further, they should contact their bank and see if they can get their money back via chargeback
These rogue businesses are usually based outside the UK and are difficult to trace.
Spotted a scam? Let us know. Email: simoncripwell@warwickshire.gov.uk

07/07/2014 SCAM Alert: Bogus Solicitors
Fraudsters use the names of genuine solicitors to perpetrate advanced fee fraud and related investment scams. Warnings are regularly posted on the Solicitors Regulation Authority website.
Members of the public have received Skype messages falsely claiming to be from Attorney David Oram/David Oram Law Firm at Hill Dickinson LLP relating to a purported unclaimed inheritance. The message invites the recipient to contact the sender to discuss properties relating to the unclaimed inheritance using the email address officialfilelink2@turkmmo.com. The recipient is also directed to a website URL with the word ‘turkmo’ in the address. This has the hallmarks of a classic advanced fee fraud scam.
The message sets out the sender’s contact details, giving the contact details for the genuine firm of Hill Dickinson LLP. Mr David Oram is a solicitor employed by Hill Dickinson LLP. The genuine firm confirms it has no connection with David Oram Law Firm and that the messages have not been sent by them or by Mr Oram, and that their names and contact details have been used without their permission or knowledge.

07/07/2014 Information: Registered Competent Person Electrical
The Registered Competent Person Electrical single mark and register went live on 30th June 2014 and was officially launched in http://warwickshire.us5.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=a24b439ef7022ae0d86f9ca6e&id=6bf28c5b4e&e=c2aa4f4720 http://warwickshire.us5.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=a24b439ef7022ae0d86f9ca6e&id=6bf28c5b4e&e=c2aa4f4720Parliament on 2nd July 2014.
It was created following an agreement between all Government-approved electrical Competent Person Scheme Operators in England and Wales.
The single mark and register aims to raise awareness of electrical safety in the home by simplifying the task of finding and checking a competent, registered electrician.

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