LATEST SCAMS – 11/07/2017

I generally don’t see that many scams in the work that I do as an Anti-Money Laundering, Fraud and Investigations Manager for a global Bank funnily enough, although I am in tune with various common trends that I thought I would share with you and I shall periodically update this page to keep it fresh.

DOCTOR’S PHOTOGRAPH CERTIFICATIONS FOR DRIVING LICENCES AND PASSPORTS

This one came to light on the day of writing this from a friend in the Isle of Man who is in the process of relocating to the UK and needs his photograph certified to renew his Driving Licence for proof of ID.

In essence, he needs this doing urgently and was told by the receptionist that it’s not possible to get it done straight away due to backlogs, etc (you know the script), although it could be fast-tracked if he was prepared to pay £35.

Money talks all languages and if this is going on in the Isle of Man, it’s fair to say that they got the idea from the scam artists in the UK because they couldn’t think it up themselves!

GUMTREE

In a nutshell, do not sell anything from your home premises and arrange to meet the prospective buyer in a busy public place.  This rule especially applies to selling cars and motorbikes, as you are giving thieves an open invitation to scout your home and steal your pride and joy.

(September 2017) – I am trying to sell my scooter via Gumtree now that the winter is approaching and I am working from home, and the first response I got was from a Nigerian (at a guess) who sent a text message from a landline in Sheffield asking me to e-mail him as he was interested in buying it.  He went by the name of Bradford Lewis with a wife called Bradley who sent the text (!), and I sent an e-mail just out of curiosity to see what tack they would take.

I also googled the landline number and the e-mail address, which revealed this originator to be well known for scams.

In a nutshell, he said he was working overseas, was happy to make a payment via PayPal, had no access to a phone and would arrange a courier to collect the scooter and sort out the paperwork.

His grammar was a bit patchy but his grasp of English is better than my grasp of Nigerian (if he was Nigerian and I am only surmising that he was because this is one of many popular scams that originate from that country).  Nevertheless, his e-mails were fairly well written but I have seen all this before on the back of working for many years in financial services and having an awareness of these scams.

I drew the line there and did not provide any PayPal details as I do not know where it would have led to, but suffice to say it wasn’t genuine yet astonishingly people have sent money to these fraudsters as an upfront payment pending receipt of the full payment that they were promised.

P60 TEXTS

I received a text a few days ago purporting to come from HMRC promising me a refund which was not too far removed from the figure that I am expecting in the foreseeable future, with a link opening up what is virtually a carbon copy of HMRC’s website for me to enter my personal details and card number for the refund to be applied.

I clicked on the various links at the bottom of the website (contact us, etc) only to find that every link just refreshed the scam page.

I have the Truecaller app on my phone, which flashed that it was a scam but it was very realistic and it’s fair to say that a few people will inadvertently fall for it.

BUYING CARS BY FASTER PAYMENT -v- DEBIT / CREDIT CARD

This is a new scam that has only just been brought to my attention (14/07/2017) by someone who has bought a car this week from a well known national car dealership that claims to cut out the middleman (I’m sure you’ve seen the adverts on prime time TV).

This customer contacted me for advice after buying a dud and the salesman pushed her to pay by bank transfer rather than by card, saying that it will save her paying a card handling fee.

The Dispute Team told her that they can’t reverse the transaction if you pay by faster payment, and clearly the car dealerships know this.

 

If you pay by debit or credit card, you have more clout with the Banks and Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 holds the card provider jointly liable when things go wrong.

SELF EMPLOYMENT SCAMS

In the age of austerity where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, we now have a plethora of various ‘opportunities’ that are dressed up as self employment whereby the employer hires gullible and vulnerable workers with various far fetched promises to avoid paying tax, National Insurance, holiday and sick pay, pension contributions and the responsibility that comes with employing staff.

I think we have all ‘been there and done that’ when it comes to finding ourselves on hard times and willing to take a chance on anything to keep things ticking over.  Nevertheless, it is worth looking at HMRC’s definition of employment and self-employment to gauge the true status of any work that you are doing.

HMRC state that a person is self-employed if they run their business for themselves and take responsibility for its success or failure.

Self-employed workers aren’t paid through PAYE, and they don’t have the employment rights and responsibilities of employees.

Employment law doesn’t cover self-employed people in most cases because they are their own boss.

However, if a person is self-employed:

  • they still have protection for their health and safety and, in some cases, protection against discrimination
  • their rights and responsibilities are set out by the terms of the contract they have with their client

Someone is probably self-employed and shouldn’t be paid through Pay As You Earn (“PAYE”) if most of the following are true:

  • they’re in business for themselves, are responsible for the success or failure of their business and can make a loss or a profit
  • they can decide what work they do and when, where or how to do it
  • they can hire someone else to do the work
  • they’re responsible for fixing any unsatisfactory work in their own time
  • their employer agrees a fixed price for their work – it doesn’t depend on how long the job takes to finish
  • they use their own money to buy business assets, cover running costs, and provide tools and equipment for their work
  • they can work for more than one client

Someone is probably self-employed and doesn’t have the rights of an employee if they’re exempt from PAYE and most of the following are also true:

  • they put in bids or give quotes to get work
  • they’re not under direct supervision when working
  • they submit invoices for the work they’ve done
  • they’re responsible for paying their own National Insurance and tax
  • they don’t get holiday or sick pay when they’re not working
  • they operate under a contract (sometimes known as a ‘contract for services’ or ‘consultancy agreement’) that uses terms like ‘self-employed’, ‘consultant’ or an ‘independent contractor’

I would add to this that the individual has their own limited Company to bill invoices for time spent and engages an Accountant to deal with their tax returns and affairs.

I am aware of people that profess to be self-employed and think they are on to a good thing in being paid commission for their time spent, yet in reality they are just being scammed and do not fully appreciate that they are not entitled to any benefits or a state pension whilst they continue with these engagements.

OVERSEAS SCAMS – 23/10/2017

FAKE CHARITY COLLECTORS

These people frequent bars and hotels, often pretending to be deaf and mute, and thrust a clipboard under your nose, asking you to sign up to join a charity and hand over €10 to support it.

The deaf and mute thing is usually not true and it is simply a handy way to avoid questions if you can’t communicate with them.

This scam is quite well organised and appears to be controlled from Eastern Europe.  Police in the Canary Islands have released information suggesting there is a group from Romania running this scam right now, and are asking business owners and people approached by them to call them on 112 as soon as they are spotted.

VILLA SCAMMERS

These scams seem to be quite popular in the Balearic and Canary Islands, with scammers targetting properties in popular destinations such as Mallorca and Lanzarote.

They put up websites, post a load of properties on there for holiday letting, take people’s money and when they arrive on the Island nobody is there to meet them as is usually promised.

I would suggest always speaking on the telephone before completing a booking.  It should be easy to test their knowledge of the property and area, and most scammers will do anything to avoid having a phone conversation with you.  If in doubt, ask them to send you some proof they own the property or are agents for it that can be verified.

ELECTRICAL SHOPS

There are electrical shops selling cameras, sunglasses, phones, tablets and various other electrical items in each of the popular resorts around the (Duty Free) Canary Islands.

They are generally run by people from India, Bangladesh or Pakistan.  I am aware of people buying fake goods, old model products or stuff that breaks in a few days from them as well as credit cards being double or triple charged.

They’re not all bad, and you can get a bargain, but research what you’re buying thoroughly, know what you’re talking about and bargain hard – the price sticker on the product is at least double what they will take and pay cash.

Remember the old adage – if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.

THE PHONE BOX SCAM

There are folk who seem to hang around phone boxes and ask for €2 to make an emergency phone call, or for the bus fare to get home.  They are simple beggars who have created a story to make it easier to ask for some cash.  Easy to avoid, don’t make eye contact and walk on by.

Whilst I don’t explicitly cover scams in my book, I certainly cover problematic and fraudulent scenarios with templates based on real-life test cases that work in my book now on sale via Amazon as an e-book and paperback priced £2.99 / £7.99.

DOWNLOAD to your Kindle or get the free Kindle app from Amazon and read the book on your IPad / tablet / smartphone / laptop.

If you have enjoyed reading this, feel free to take a look at my other website http://www.awriterinedinburgh.com which showcases my writing and services I offer.

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