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Rogues enjoying double-dupe recession

Created on 23/05/2013 @ 13:38


Scammers are enjoying a ‘double-dupe recession’ as they prey on people who are struggling to find work or battling with money problems, Powys County Council and Citizens Advice has said.

Now Citizens Advice and the council’s Trading Standards Service are warning people to be ever-vigilant against rogues and also urging residents to ‘spot scams to stop scams’.

They have issued the warning during Scams Awareness Month, which runs throughout May.

New figures reveal over 22,000 reports of scams were made to Citizens Advice service in England and Wales in the last 12 months but Citizens Advice says many fail to report if they have been ripped-off.

And according to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), almost half of us (48%) are targeted by scams with three million falling victim to cons costing individuals a total of £3.5 billion a year.

An analysis of the Citizens Advice scams scanner – which has tracked cons since 2007 – revealed opportunistic con artists are targeting people who have fallen on hard times with offers of phoney jobs, training and debt scams.

Cllr Barry Thomas, Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards, said: “Scammers have never had it so good as they exploit difficult economic times. For most people the recession has been really tough but it’s a different story for rogues and tricksters as they’ve cashed in on other people’s misfortune.

“We’re seeing people who have been dealt a double blow by losing their job and then losing money while trying to find a new one. This month we are warning people to be on the look-out for rogues looking to make a quick buck at their expense and reminding that scams are crimes so it’s vital they are reported.”

Ken Yorston, the council’s Trading Standards Manager, added: “Day in day out trading standards officers see first-hand the impact these unscrupulous fraudsters are having on often the most vulnerable in our communities and are working hard with other authorities to stop them.

“Scams Awareness Month is a great opportunity to put the spotlight on these opportunistic criminals and to engage with consumers so that they are empowered to protect themselves.”

What to do if you have been scammed
- Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to help stop it happening to others
- Often you can't get your money back if you've been scammed, especially if you've handed over cash
- If you've paid for goods or services by credit card you have more protection and if you used a debit card you may be able to ask your bank for a chargeback
- Get advice and report it to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06 (for advice in Welsh phone 08454 04 05 05) or online advice at
Signs of a scam
- The call, letter, e-mail or text has come out of the blue
- You’ve never heard of the lottery or competition they are talking about
- You didn’t buy a ticket – so can’t win
- They are asking you to send money in advance
- They are saying you have to respond quickly, so you don’t get time to think about it or ask family and friends before you decide
- They are telling you to keep it a secret
- They seem to be offering you something for nothing
- If it seems too good to be true – it probably is
How to protect yourself better
- Never give out contact details like your name, phone number or address to strangers or to people who should have this information already
- Never give financial information or details of your identity, bank accounts or credit card to strangers or to businesses that should already hold your details
- Shred anything with your personal or bank details on – don’t just throw it away.
- If in doubt, don’t reply. Bin it, delete it or hang up
- Persuasive sales patter? Just say: “No thank you”
- Resist pressure to make a decision straight away
- Never send money to someone you don’t know
- Walk away from job adverts that ask for money in advance
- Ask friends, neighbours or family about whether an offer is likely to be a scam
Common scams
– A phone call, text or email proclaims a huge lottery win – even though the receiver hasn’t bought a ticket. In order to collect winnings you are asked to send money to cover “processing” or “administration” costs.
Phishing – An email (or Vishing for phone calls) pretending to be from your bank asking for you to update, validate or confirm details which means that scammers can access your account.
SMShing – Mobile phone text messages that lure you onto fraudulent websites or invite you to call a premium rate mobile number or download malicious content via the phone or web.
Electricity meter credit – People on pre-payment meters are offered cut-price electricity but end up paying for their energy twice.  Criminals use cloned keys to top up energy credit illegally.  You end up paying for the energy twice – first to the fraudsters and then to the company at the correct rate.
Pyramid selling – This is an illegal trick where you are told you can earn money by recruiting new members to a money-making venture. In reality only a tiny minority make money, everyone else loses.

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