Rogue traders and scams - 2 March 2017


Bromley Trading Standards are always working hard to prevent Bromley residents from becoming victims of doorstep crime, particularly those who are most at risk in our communities. We encourage family, friends and neighbours to look out for those around them who could fall victim to rogue traders or scams.

Rogue traders
Rogue traders are generally those who cold call, i.e. knock without invitation and exploit the vulnerable by convincing them to pay for shoddy or incomplete repair work, charging extortionate fees for their services, or threatening residents who do not comply.

Scams
Scams are dishonest ways of ticking people out of their money or getting them to pass over private information. They come in many different forms including via post, internet and telephone.

Rapid response
If you or somebody you know is affected by rogue traders or a scam get the advice, support and assistance you need by calling 07903 852090.

Some advice

  • Treat all callers as bogus until you can satisfy yourself that they are genuine.
  • Fraudsters are very plausible and are skilled in persuasion.
  • You cannot win a prize in a competition that you have not entered.
  • Only send money to a person who you know and trust.
  • If it appears too good to be true then it invariably is.

Additional advice can be found here. See also Crime Prevention and Neighbourhood Watch for further advice.

Courier Fraud - 12 June 2014
Courier fraud is a sophisticated fraud where scammers telephone the victim purporting to be someone from their bank, the police or other law enforcement agency. They then dupe the person into revealing their PIN and handing over their credit or debit card to a courier or taxi driver, who may not know they are being used as part of the scam. The victim may be asked to ring the number on the back of their card, thereby further convincing the victim that the call is genuine, however the scammer keeps the line open so that the victim unknowingly talks to another member of the gang, posing as a bank employee. 

More recently, fraudsters have pretended to be police officers, telephoning the victim and asking them to assist in a police investigation into a bank employee. The victim is requested to withdraw a large sum of cash from their bank and take it home, where it is then collected by a courier. 

In the last year, the percentage of unsuccessful offences has increased to from 40% to 76% of all courier fraud calls reported to police. Officers believe this success is due to a combination of intensive efforts by Ofcom and the telecommunications industry to cut the amount of time taken to disconnect a call, and increased public awareness of the scam. 

Despite these advances, police are warning people to be on their guard as criminals work ever harder to defraud their victims. 2556 courier fraud offences were reported to the MPS between April 2013 and March 2014 and the crime continues to evolve. Variations of the crime include:

  • asking the victim to assist in a police investigation. The victim is requested to withdraw a large sum of cash and take it home, where it is then collected by a courier. 
  • being told there is a corrupt member of staff within the bank and asking for help in identifying them. The victim is told to withdraw a large sum of money which will be ‘marked’, with the purpose of it being placed back into the banking system. A taxi driver is sent round to collect the cash.

As part of their Courier Fraud Awareness Day on 4 June 2014, officers are advising Londoners and particularly those who may be elderly or vulnerable to be aware of the following:

  • Police and banks will never ask for your PIN or bank card
  • Never give your PIN or bank card to anyone
  • If you are contacted by someone who asks for these, hang up
  • Use a different line to report the call to police on 101 or allow at least five minutes for the line to automatically clear
  • Call 999 if the crime is in action.

A/DCI Gary Miles of The Metropolitan Police Service's Specialist and Economic Crime Command, said:

Much has been done in the last year to tackle courier fraud, but scammers are always looking for new ways of defrauding the elderly and vulnerable, and the crime continues to evolve. It is vital that people stay vigilant. Courier fraudsters put a huge amount of time and effort into being convincing because the pay-off is immense. This is a massive part of what makes them so successful. We want people to question even truly genuine sounding calls and, most importantly, remember police and banks will never ask for your PIN or bank card, so you should never give these away.

Lynn Parker, Ofcom’s Director of Consumer Protection, said:

Ofcom is working closely with the police and the telecoms industry to help stamp out courier fraud. 

Over the last year, a number of telephone providers have made changes to their networks to cut the time a phone line remains open to a couple of seconds. This action has stopped fraudsters from being able to stay on the line to impersonate a victim’s bank or the police – a key feature of how this scam works. We have also been working to drive awareness among consumers to help them avoid falling victim to courier fraud. 

It’s very encouraging to see this work paying dividends, with more fraudsters being foiled in their attempts to scam people. But we’re fully aware that there’s more work to do to prevent courier fraud completely. We are continuing our work in this area to ensure that the necessary technical changes are fully implemented across the telecoms sector as quickly as possible.

Detective Chief Inspector Perry Stokes, Head of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit, said: 

Fraudsters can be extremely persuasive – do not be fooled. Your bank or the police will never call you to request your bank card or ask you to transfer money to another account. Anyone attempting to do so is a fraudster. If someone on the phone asks for it, hang up immediately. If you believe you have had one of these calls or know someone who has, get in contact with your bank straight away.

Scams Awareness Month - May 2014
We are told by the Neighbourhood & Home Watch Network (England & Wales) that May is Scams Awareness Month! As you are probably aware, there are thousands of different types of scams, and it can get confusing and difficult to know how best to protect yourself. Their advice follows.

According to the Trading Standards Institute, only five per cent of scams are reported. This is because so many people feel shame or embarrassment at being caught out. We don't want people to suffer in silence. We want you to help us encourage your neighbours, relatives and friends to report scams or attempted scams to www.actionfraud.police.uk or 0300 123 2040.

You can download useful anti-scam resources from www.thinkjessica.com, a charity protecting elderly and vulnerable people from scams. For a small charge of £2 to cover postage and packing you can also order hard copies of A4/A5 posters from them - contact advice@thinkjessica.com for more information.

This week the campaign is focusing on online scams. For information about staying safe online, we recommend you visit www.getsafeonline.org or www.cyberstreetwise.com. Both of those sites have lots of useful information.

More information is available in the Scams Awareness Month pack at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/sam14-resources. It includes some 'key messages' and ideas about activities you could do to help promote the month.

Don't forget to let us know whether you are doing anything for Scams Awareness Month by emailing enquiries@ourwatch.org.uk.

Update 2 February 2011
A resident in BR3 just bought floor cloths at the door sold by a chap purporting to be just out of prison and doing some work to earn a place at college. However, London probation service web site states that the probation service do not sanction door-to-door sales and even if they did, the person would be supervised. Apparently what often happens is that the area can experience burglaries after a week or two. Be careful!

Adobe Acrobat Reader scam
We have become aware of a massive fraudulent e-mail campaign using what seems to be stolen e-mail addresses.

Most have a subject beginning with “News Releases : Upgrade New Adobe Acrobat Reader 2011

They ask you to click on a link to download a PDF-related software package or update. The one that has come to light so far today concerns Adobe.

These e-mails link back to one of a number of malicious websites seeking the user to install software that ultimately tries to steal personal details and credit card numbers.

It is the nature of these types of attacks that the websites concerned change frequently so you will need to be vigilant, so please do NOT click on any link in an e-mail unless you are confident of its validity.

Normal software updates are not usually delivered by e-mail, and this is a classic approach adopted by fraudsters.

Warning regarding a postal scam
The following scam has, we understand, been confirmed by Royal Mail and Trading Standards: A card is posted through your door from a company called PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) saying that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact them on 0906 661 1911 (a premium rate number). Do not call this number. If you call the number and you start to heara recorded message you will already have been billed £15 for the phone call. If you do receive a card with these details, please contact Royal Mail Fraud on 020 7239 6655.

Rogue Tree Surgeons
(info. courtesy of Copers Cope residents association)

A crackdown on rogue tree surgeons has been launched.

Bromley Council’s trading standards team has found that a number of rogue tree surgeons, using several names and false addresses, are operating in the borough.

Investigations are under way and the team wants to hear from anyone who has been cold-called by the traders, had a card put through their door or had work carried out by them.

Anyone approached by cold-calling traders should always ask for a written quote before agreeing to any work.

By law, consumers have a seven-day cooling off period to think about it.

To contact the council’s rapid response team, call 07903 852090.