Posts Tagged ‘scam’
Scam merchants are everywhere, and now they are even trying to mis-sell Government green incentive schemes in an attempt to separate you and your money.
Investigations across the country, but concentrated in South Wales have discovered a number of less than reputable sorts are deliberately misleading people into signing up for the Government’s Green Deal scheme. The scheme allows you to access funding for energy-efficient home improvements like cavity wall insulation that will (theoretically) reduce your bills. However, the amount funded is actually a loan, and it is repaid by adding a levy to your bills. The idea is that the energy savings will go some way to cancelling out the loan repayment increases to your bill.
Sounds simple in practice. However, a number of cold-calling firms have been neglecting to mention to homeowners that the funding is actually a loan that requires repayment, giving shivering householders the impression that they can be warmer for free.
The firms, who often have the word Green and/or Deal in their name, have been accused of targeting older people, with widespread examples in Swansea in particular. Welsh consumer programme X-Ray launched an investigation following complaints from consumers who said they were under the impression they would get a free new boiler if they paid the assessment fee. An assessment fee that can sometimes be more than small change- like Green Deal Direct customer Julie Hibbert from Ogmore Vale, who paid £359 for a non-free boiler.
When X-Ray researchers posed as customers they were wrongly told that the Green Deal was not a loan and that they qualified for the scheme – even though they needed to have an assessment of their home first. In addition, one of the firms, Green Deal Network – which has refused a comment to BBC Wales – wasn’t above inventing random additional benefits, like a reduction in council tax that would be applied once their homes were made more energy efficient.
Across Wales and England only 219 Green Deal plans have been completed but X-Ray has received more than 250 complaints from viewers who say they have been misled by cold calling companies.
Hooray. It’s December. That means everything is now officially mince-pie scented and dusted with picturesque snow that never actually arrives. Even Trading Standards (or specifically the National Trading Standards Board (NTSB)) have been hitting the sherry are getting in the Christmas spirit and have produced a “Twelve Scams of Christmas” that you just have to sing along to…
Twelve Vishers Vishing
Vishing has caught a lot of people out recently – consumers have already lost £7million to this scam, according to Financial Fraud Action UK. Scammers call victims pretending to be a bank, building society or similar official and attempt to get personal information. Consumers must remember that their bank or building society will never ask for details over the phone – they already have them
Eleven Alarming Alarmists
The National Scams Hub is warning consumers about a possible burglar alarm scam where consumers receive a cold call from a company offering to install security systems. The security system may be free or available at a nominal cost but the on-going maintenance cost is high and there is a daylight-robbery cancellation fee.
Ten Dodgy (Car) Dealers
Not very festive, but apparently yuletide is also a time to be wary of buying second hand cars, as greasy second hand car salesmen might be clocking the car to make a few extra quid.
Nine Grants Disappearing
It’s like something from your Christmas list- an email from the ‘Commonwealth Secretariat’ and ‘HM Treasury’ telling explaining that you qualify for a free £1,000 grant to be paid directly into your bank account. Unfortunately those who gleefully hand over said bank details will normally see more than the fictional grant disappear…
Eight Council Tax Bands- a- Playing
Getting your property rebanded for Council Tax purposes could save you a pretty penny, always assuming you have a genuine case and you fill in the relevant forms from the Valuation Office Agency (available free). Still, these pesky facts don’t bother claims company fraudsters who are happy to take your money and run- North-West Scambuster investigations discovered that less than 0.1% of claims submitted by companies claiming they can obtain council tax refunds are legitimate. You just pay high, up-front fees to a company that does no work on your behalf.
Seven Computers Crashing
Sometimes the old ones are still good. The National Scams Hub and trading standards are warning of a simple scam where the victim receives a bogus call from a computer company claiming that they had been alerted by the internet provider to a serious virus attack. The scammers tell the victim the only way the problem can be fixed is to buy a special computer programme. You can guess the rest.
Six Alternative Investments
Targeting the ‘more money than sense’ brigade (and we all know a few of those) these cold-callers offer attractive ways in to a range of exciting investments- diamonds, wine, carbon credits (?!)- but at hugely inflated prices, and with magical disappearing companies. Some cat is getting the cream, but it’s not the hapless investor.
Five Doorbells Ring
December is not the warmest time of year to be knocking on doors, but this time it’s not carol singers ringing your bell. Bad weather is used by rogue traders to convince some residents that they need unnecessary and often substandard home improvements at extortionate prices. Or by unscrupulous
energy companies to pressurise the elderly and vulnerable into signing expensive service contracts.
Four Calling Loans
Christmas (and January) are often times when money is tight,and that’s where loan companies sidle in offering relief. The National Scams Hub says many people have received unsolicited text messages or telephone calls from firms offering them an unsecured loan. Those who accepted were charged large, upfront fees for little or no service.
Three Free Trials
Christmas and New Year is also free trial target time. Whether it’s trying out a one-day delivery service, a film streaming service or a weight loss programme, these companies make their money on the guarantee that people will forget to cancel the trial in time, or worse, require notice of cancellation of almost the same period as the trial itself.
Worse, some scammers hide expensive contracts in amongst the fine print and after customers enter their card details to pay for the post and packaging on a freebie, the nasty people use these hidden contracts to regularly take sums of moneys from the victim’s account.
Two Bogus Charities
While no-one wants to curtail the season of goodwill, the NTSB just want to make sure you are actually giving to charity and not to some clever scammer lining his own pockets. Consumers should be wary of vague statements on packaging such as ‘donations for work creation’ or ‘donations to poor children’ and look for registered charity numbers where you can. Also check things like charity collection bags to make sure they are destined for who you think they are- before you fill them
And a dangerous toy under the tree…
The NTSB want to stress that, while a cheap toy or electrical gadget might seem a bargain, sub-standard foreign imports will not adhere to safety guidelines and have the potential to be dangerous for kill unsuspecting gift recipients. And that will not make a merry Christmas.
NTSB chairman Lord Toby Harris, wearing a red suit and white beard, chortled: “Last year, UK adults spent an average of £592 on Christmas. At a time of year when we know consumers will be parting with hard earned money, it is imperative that they be made aware of current scams. The NTSB encourages all consumers to check the legitimacy of chosen traders before buying gifts or committing to contracts.”
Consumer Minister and part-time elf Jo Swinson advised: “The first thing people should do is follow the old adage – if something sounds too good to be true than it usually is. If something is not quite right or they are being pressured into buying goods or services they don’t need, then they should report this to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06. They can ask trading standards to investigate claims and make sure consumers get a fair deal.”
There’s a lot of concern regarding a company called Alpine Electronics. Not to be confused with the Alpine who make car accessories, but rather, a site people have spotted some bargains that appeared to be too good to be true. And, it appears they were indeed not to be believed.
The company, trading via alpineelectronicsltd.co.uk had offers on cheap consoles. After taking numerous orders, the site is now down and it appears that all orders have gone with it.
BW staff contacted the numbers that were on the site before it went down, and there’s no answer. After finding the address of the company, we called the company next door and found that Alpine Electronics had upped sticks and moved on. The person we spoke to admitted that they’d taken numerous calls regarding this matter.
Looking at scamvoid/alpineelectronicsltd, it seems this was a very new company, which makes it difficult to assume that this is anything but a scam.
Over on HUKD, there’s a lot of discussion about the company, with one user noting too many indescrepencies (see here), and lots of comments about emails going unanswered and phone calls which were vague about the company’s history. Many customers have said that they’ve received fake DHL emails about delivery.
Amazon customers have also been talking about Alpine Electronics, with many feeling they’ve been duped. Some customers have already contacted the police about the matter.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE AN ALPINE ELECTRONICS ORDER?
To be safe, it is worth getting in touch with your credit/debit card company or call Action Fraud on 0300 1232040. When contacting Action Fraud, be sure to let them know that the company has vacated their premises, which means they won’t instruct you to send a Breach Of Contract letter to Alpine. Your bank should stand the cost of the transaction, but you’ll need to contact them for more details.
Should your bank prove difficult, remind them that you are in fact protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act whenever you make a purchase for goods or services worth between £100 and £30,000 using your credit card. Section 75 states that you and your credit card provider are “jointly and severally liable” for your purchase. That means, if you’re scammed, your card provider must refund you if the retailer won’t.
Most debit card providers offer protection also. A scheme called Chargeback offers protection on purchases made using Visa, Visa Electron, Mastercard and Maestro debit cards. This makes it possible for you to claim a refund if your transaction is unsatisfactory (goods not being delivered, multiple billing, fraud). Claims must be made within 120 days of when your goods should have been delivered and ask your bank to initiate the Chargeback process and a dispute will be opened by your bank.
If Chargeback fails, take your claim to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
In a triumph for minimum wage Walter White-esque jet sprayers everywhere, some over privileged woman’s Bentley got a valet car wash and ended up looking like this. Oops.
Jessica Sawyer, from Bramhall, Cheshire, was distraught when the £80,000 Bentley GTC her mum bought for her for her 30th birthday was totalled after she put it into the five star ‘Wash and Shine’ in Cheetham Hill, Manchester.
When she discovered that instead of a nice polish it had been driven through the car wash reception area by a thief, she burst into tears. But the car wash deny responsibility, saying that the guy she gave the keys to didn’t even work there. Police have refused to get involved, saying that it is a civil matter.
Obviously, poor Jessica will be sobbing into her 10,000 thread count Egyptian cotton pillows at this terrible situation – and bemoaning her insurance premiums when the £38 grand worth of damage is fixed.
Sorry, but let’s all take a moment to play the WORLD’S SMALLEST VIOLIN. She gave her keys to some random serf, assuming he was there to shine her 80k car. An 80k car bought as a birthday present, while other people are lucky to get a crumpled tenner and kick up the arse. Now she has a rubbish car like the rest of us.
Seems like a happy ending to me.
Elengo -who I like to imagine as a dark handsome type in a fedora carrying a guitar case in the desert – doesn’t exist on the UK Electoral roll, but he’s still managed to con people who have been selling festival tickets online.
The scam is as follows: Elengo snaps up your gig tickets using PayPal. Some time later, he/it/them orders a ‘chargeback’ on the payment, which is the facility you can use to get your money back if your goods don’t arrive or are unsatisfactory.
After a BBC Wales documentary exposed the scam, they got a reply from someone claiming to be Elengo, who complained that he received the tickets and it was PayPal’s fault. The plot thickens…
With dozens of victims taking to the Internet to complain about the fraud, PayPal has since closed Elengo’s account. But don’t be surprised if he springs up in another guise. If Stelios Shufflebottom or Regina Felangi contacts you wanting to buy Glastonbury tickets, report it to the eBay police, OK?
Cybercrooks are usually pretty cutting edge when it comes to prising your hard-earneds out of your pocket. However, one of the latest scams is unlikely to affect anyone because it involves QR codes.
Ne’er-do-wells are putting stickers up which feature URLs embedded in QR codes in the hope of directing whoever still uses QR codes toward dodgy websites.
The nice thing about QR codes is that you can print a load of stickers off and just place them over codes you (don’t) see in the wild.
Warren Sealey, director enterprise learning and knowledge management, Symantec Hosted Services said: “We’ve seen criminals using bad QR codes in busy places putting them on stickers and putting them over genuine ones in airports and city centres.”
Sian John, UK security strategist at Symantec, said: “There has been an explosion in the number of QR codes over the last couple of years, and cybercriminals are taking full advantage. Because QR codes just look like pictures it’s extremely difficult to tell if they’re genuine or malicious, making it easy to dupe passers-by into scanning codes that may lead to an infected site, or perhaps a phishing site.
“If users want to make sure that their mobile is protected they should consider a QR reader that can check a website’s reputation before visiting it,” she added.
Have you seen your Facebook feed filling up with people claiming their £175 Tesco vouchers? Have you noticed how there’s always ’107 left’ too? Okay, chances are, you’re smart enough to know that it was a scam… but alas, some poor unfortunates who have seemingly never used the internet before have blindly wandered into it and… well… here’s what Tesco have to say about it.
This is a screengrab from the Official Tesco Facebook page so, you’ve been warned. Or indeed, feel free to warn your mates about it. You don’t have to, but you’ll have to put up with them complaining about it for the next fortnight if you don’t.
Hello there reader. Guess what? If you happen to be reading this frankly brilliant article on your O2 mobile phone, you’ll be thrilled to bursting point to learn that O2 have already sent us your mobile phone number within the HTTP headers which normally contain information about how content can be displayed on your device.
Alas, these headers aren’t usually seen by users and don’t tend to be logged by sites, however, this clanger of a flaw will absolutely allow malicious sites to get some of that lovely personal information of yours.
How bad is this? Well, should you open an email on your O2 phone, and say, read a message which includes external images, simply opening the mail would divulge your phone number. Of course, that could then be used in a phishing attack or some other lousy scam.
This was uncovered by @lewispeckover and the problem is still affecting many smartphones. If you’re a user of an O2 phone and want to check if you’re being affected, then visit Lewis Peckover’s website to find out more.
We strongly suspect a lot of ranting and swearing from the Twitter community over this.
EDIT: As of 2pm today (25th January), this ‘glitch’ has been fixed. In a blog post, O2 say that it has been going on since 10th January.
Old people are, once more, being shown to look really bloody stupid, as they’re getting hoodwinked by people flogging dodgy “energy saving devices” that could well end in fire or electrocution.
The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) are currently dealing with more than 200 complaints about rogue traders who are claiming to be the victim’s energy supplier, or working partner. A plug-in device costing £99 is being offered, under the claim that it can save you 40% on energy bills.
Alas, trading standards has done some tests on these devices and discovered that they not only fail to satisfy electrical safety standards, but they don’t save you any energy.
Ron Gainsford, TSI chief executive, said: “Consumers are warned not to use the product as they pose a risk of fire and electrocution, and a safety recall has been issued for the items traced so far. Unscrupulous criminals are using the rising energy prices as an opportunity to lure cash strapped consumers – elderly people seem to have been deliberately targeted. The number of complaints we are currently dealing with is bound to be only the tip of the iceberg.”
So, if you think you’ve responded to one of these cold calls, you need to report it to Action Fraud’s website or call 0300 123 2040. Failing that, call Consumer Direct on 0845 404 0506. If you’re using one, stop or you’ll probably set your arse on fire or something.
The plugs involved have the model number SD 001 and are manufactured by MacroPlus, B1208 City Square, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China.
Some seemingly innocent apps are actually filthy malware that will secretly send expensive messages which will run up your bill no end and, according to experts/people who stand to make money from securing your phone, these rogue apps are on the rise.
Fraudsters are planting rogue apps that sit in the back-end of mobiles, which send messages and make expensive calls to premium-rate services that don’t show up in the sent messages folder or call history.
Some messages are costing as much as £6 a pop and some of the malware sends these messages at a rate of one per minute. You’ll only become aware of it when you get a unpleasant surprise with the cost of your phonebill. Which is nice.
Rik Ferguson, director of the cyber security website and of security research at Trend Micro, says: “This type of malware is capable of sending a steady stream of text messages to premium rate numbers. The user won’t know this is taking place, even if they happen to be using the device at the same time, as the activity takes place within the device’s “back end” infrastructure. This can often continue for weeks before being noticed.”
The malware is typically hidden in apps that look like games or security tools. Once you download it, the malware enables fraudsters to take control of the victim’s phone. This in turn enables them to access your personal info and payment data.
Online fraud should be reported to www.actionfraud.org.uk. If you’ve been hit by the ‘premium rate SMS scam’ then get in touch with PhonepayPlus via www.phonepayplus.org.uk.
Scam mail has been a pretty constant fixture in Britain for some years now, usually being taken up by the vulnerable and making off with their money. Of course, the Royal Mail are obliged to deliver this nefarious mail once it enters their system; but is there more to the Royal Mail’s involvement than they’re letting on?
A BBC Panorama investigation has discovered that Royal Mail owns 33% of a Netherlands-based company that is aiding the flow of scam mail through our letterboxes.
While Spring Global Mail handles a lot of legitimate international business correspondence, they are used by fraudsters. Together, Spring Global and Royal Mail offer something called “local look”, which means that overseas mail has a Royal Mail postmark and no trace of their overseas origins, leaving these scam letters undetectable and bearing what many feel is a seal of legitimacy.
Fraud investigator Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Head of City of London Police says: “I think the downside is that when people get that and they see that Royal Mail brand, that brand counts for something. That whole idea that in actual fact there is this local look, somehow gives that mail that kind of credibility.”
Mike Haley, director of the National Fraud Authority, says: “We’re trying to make Spring Global and Royal Mail more aware of the human tragedy that this type of fraudulent mail impacts on victims. I think they need to understand the terrible consequences of delivery of this mail to some people.”
In a statement, Royal Mail have said that they are working closely with police to stop scam mail from entering the system: “We very much understand the upset and disquiet that scam mail can cause households across the country, including vulnerable people. We do not want our postmen or women handling or delivering mail that causes harm. We have made significant progress in our efforts to root out scam mail as we intensify our drive against it.”
“If this turns out to be scam mail harmful to the recipients, we will stop it, irrespective of the cost and loss of revenue to Royal Mail.”
Spring Global are also working with authorities in an attempt to stem the flow of junk and scam mail, but if they are both making money from the ventures, are they likely to really put the scuppers on it, especially given that the postal service is being phased out in favour of electronic communication?
The Panorama: Why Hate Junk Mail? special will be on BBC One, Monday, 4 July at 2030.
Tired of trotting out tales about their fathers being international diplomats or in service of the Nigerian royal family, spammers are having to dream up more devious scenarios in order to fleece you of your cash. Some of them just aren’t very good at it, however, as this epic tale of epic epicness goes to prove. Thanks to avid Bitterwallet reader Emma for sending it in:
I write to inundate on your recent dealings with my boss. I was a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on local and foreign debt attached to the World Bank office in Washington, DC, USA. I resigned honorably when I discovered the unholy activities of my colleagues during a private investigation I carried out. I suspected some kind of foul play in their act which they would never inform me because they know I would never be a party to such as a Christian.
I discovered that my boss connived with some top officials of the World Bank to divert funds approved to settle lottery winners, international contractors and withheld inheritance. The World Bank has already given approval for these payments while they deliberately withheld your payment file. They incessantly ask you for one fee or the other from different quarters in order to justify their selfish interest. I wonder why you haven’t noticed all this.
Well, I just hope you believe me, if not, your fund is gone. Your fund is currently authorized to be paid to you from a financial consultant in the UK or US, approved by the World Bank with a Key Tested Reference/Claim Code Numbers, which was supposed to have been issued to you, but they decided to divert your attention by telling you that they have something to do with one committee or the other especially in Holland (Amsterdam) or Africa and they make you believe that the fund will be transferred into your account – FALSE!
The reason why I am giving you this information is because of the fact that I was aware of it and my doctrine does not permit me to withhold such information. The only help you can get from me now, is the actual link to your payment, please do not give this information to my boss as he may influence a total blockage of your payment, so you have to be very careful with this information.
Upon your response, I shall give you all you needed to contact the World Bank payment centers in UK or US.
FBI/WB. WDC, USA.
It’s a conspiracy! And it goes right to the top! Marvellous. Maybe the spammer is Chris Carter. Can your inbox full of bullshit-baffles-brains spam beat Tracy Sanson’s effort? Stick them in the comments below. Props!
Former Demon Headmaster and MP sort, Jack Straw, is demanding a reform of the motor insurance industry by stamping his feet and shooting his mouth off about something he thinks he’s onto.
He reckons that says insurers are getting paid for referring clients’ details to personal injury lawyers without asking us first. He’s saying that the wild cost of insurance is caused by referrals to personal injury lawyers, and basically, he thinks its ‘a racket’.
He says, with his oddly brown teeth: “It’s become a huge racket. The insurance companies are complicit in this. They should and could have said this is outrageous.”
He added that senior executives from two of the largest insurers in the UK have admitted that it was the industry’s “dirty secret”.
“They said, ‘If we don’t do it everyone else will be doing it’. The garages, the recovery firms – even the police are selling on this information.”
This suggestion is backed up by a report from the Transport Select Committee who have also detailed how companies are paid referral fees for giving lawyers the names of people involved in crashes. As a result of this, premiums are going up despite the fact that the roads are safer and theft is down.
Have you had an accident and suddenly found yourself being harassed by injury lawyer types constantly on the phone at you? Have a gripe in the comments.
Microsoft are again warning everyone about a scam being run from fake tech support callers. It isn’t the first time this has happened, with a scam being run from an Indian call-centre, very similar to a scam being undertaken by people claiming to be from Sky.
And again, scamsters are cold-calling people while claiming to be calling from Microsoft offering “free security checks”. Microsoft surveyed 7,000 computer users in the UK, Ireland, US and Canada and found that an average of 16 per cent of people had received such calls.
Those who were tricked ended up giving the crooks remote access of their machines, which allowed them to obtain credit card information to make purchases.
Microsoft are saying that, if someone calls you, claiming to be from Windows or Microsoft Tech Support calls you, you should “not purchase any software or services. Ask if there is a fee or subscription associated with the ‘service’. If there is, hang up.”
If you think you’ve fallen foul of the con, then change your passwords, scan their machines for malware and get in touch with your bank and credit card providers, post haste.