Active Local Scams
Scams aren’t just aimed at individuals, these criminals will target whoever they feel is vulnerable. Be wary when receiving emails, texts and messages – remember, genuine organisations will never ask you to click on links in messages or ask for your bank details.
The following list provides details of the active scams encountered by the Trading Standards services on the Isle of Wight:
Internet provider scams
- Scam calls claiming to be from your internet provider – these threaten you with the police and arrest if you don’t press 1. This is a scam. Your provider would never contact you in this way. Hang up immediately.
- Automated scam call – this starts off by saying: "you have missed a call from your internet service provider." They will then tell you your internet service is about to be cut off unless you make a payment immediately.
- Scam emails from BT – the emails ask you to click on a link to log into your account and update your details. Never click on links in emails, legitimate organisations will never contact you in this way.
- Fake BT letters – the letters claim payments are overdue. It tells you to call a 0800 number to make the payment immediately, to avoid incurring charges. This is a scam. If you google the phone number, you can see reviews from others who have also received this letter. Do not call the number.
- Scam calls – scammers will tell you your internet is about to be disconnected and to press 1 to contact BT and 2 to disconnect immediately. This is a scam, hang up straight away Companies will never contact you in this way.
- Declined payment scam emails– emails from BT advising that your payment has been declined.
- Imperial Telecom call – the scammers claim they are from a company called Imperial Telecom. They say they have taken over BT bill payments. They are trying to get your bank details to set up a direct debit. Hang up straight away, no legitimate company would contact you in this way to advise you of changes to your payments and would never ask for bank details over the phone.
Council Tax scams
- Be wary of phone calls claiming to be from the IW Council Tax department. A resident received a call on Sunday saying they owed £29. The Council Tax department does not work on Sundays and would not contact you in this way.
- Also be wary of emails claiming to be from Council Tax. The message says that there has been a reduction in your Council Tax and you are entitled to a refund. It asks you to click on a link to action the refund. We will never contact you in this way, this is a scam. Never click on links in messages – delete the message straight away.Please be aware of a scam email that has been received by an Island resident. Due to its appearance it looks very genuine with the HMRC logo and a link to a Government looking web site. The email states that you have made an overpayment in your council tax and you are due a refund, it directs you to click on a link where you will be asked to complete a form which requests your bank details and card details. This is a scam.
- Your Council Tax payment is made to the Isle of Wight Council and not a Government website, the council will never contact you in this way. If you receive this email delete it straight away – do not click on any links and under no circumstances should you give out your bank account or card details in this way.
- Island residents have been targeted by a phone scam claiming to be able to reduce your Council Tax banding. For an initial fee of £55 the Company offer to see if they could arrange for your Council Tax banding to be lowered. They then arrange for a direct debit for this new reduced Council Tax to be taken monthly.
If you wish to check your Council Tax banding, this can be done for free through the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) website.
Trading Standards are warning Island residents to be really cautious if looking for a new pet. Scammers are putting up fake online adverts for pets. Google searches for “buy a puppy” soared by 120% in the month after lockdown and “adopt a puppy” saw a rise of 133% in online searches.
Reports of animal scams tripled in April to 524 across the UK and has seen 669 people lose a total of £282,686 after paying for pets they had seen advertised online but never received, and these are just the cases that have been reported to Action Fraud.
In some cases, fraudsters are using the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions not only to exploit victims for an initial payment, but to con them out of additional money by asking for the cost of insurance, vaccinations and delivery.
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and Action Fraud have recently noticed a rise in the reporting of pets, and in particular puppies and kittens, being advertised for sale via popular online auction websites. The fraudsters will place an advert of the pet for sale, often claiming that the pet is currently held somewhere less accessible or overseas.
Upon agreement of a sale, the suspect will usually request an advance payment by money transfer or bank transfer. However, the pet does not materialise and the fraudster will subsequently ask for further advanced payments for courier charges, shipping fees and additional transportation costs. Even if further payments are made, the pet will still not materialise as it is likely to not exist.
Tips to staying safe when purchasing pets:
• Stay within auction guidelines.
• Be cautious if the seller initially requests payment via one method, but later claims that due to ‘issues with their account’ they will need to take the payment via an alternative method such as a bank transfer.
• Consider conducting research on other information provided by the seller, for example a mobile phone number or email address used by the seller could alert you to any negative information associated with the number/email address online.
• Request details of the courier company being used and consider researching it.
• Agree a suitable time to meet face-to-face to agree the purchase and to collect the pet. If the seller is reluctant to meet then it could be an indication that the pet does not exist.
• A genuine seller should be keen to ensure that the pet is going to a caring and loving new home. If the seller does not express any interest in you and the pet’s new home, be wary.
• If you think the purchase price is too good to be true then it probably is, especially if the pet is advertised as a pure-breed.
• Do not be afraid to request copies of the pet’s inoculation history, breed paperwork and certification prior to agreeing a sale. If the seller is reluctant or unable to provide this information it could be an indication that either the pet does not exist or the pet has been illegally bred e.g. it originates from a ‘puppy farm’. A ‘puppy farm’ is a commercial dog breeding enterprise where the sole aim is to maximise profit for the least investment. Commercial dog breeders must be registered with their local authority and undergo regular inspections to ensure that the puppies are bred responsibly and are in turn fit and healthy. Illegally farmed puppies will often be kept in inadequate conditions and are more likely to suffer from ailments and illnesses associated with irresponsible breeding.
• When thinking of buying a pet, consider buying them in person from rescue centres or from reputable breeders.
If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040.
- Scam texts – scammers claim to be from the HMRC. It says that a tax rebate has been issued to you, for an over payment in the year 19/20 and asks you to click on a link to proceed – This is a scam. The HMRC will never contact you in this way.
- Untrustworthy links– many have seen text messages which look like they come from GOV.UK and suggest that some kind of financial support package is available. They require your bank details and provide a link for you to click on. These texts are scams and should be deleted immediately. Remember, if the link does not end in “gov.uk” or “nhs.net”, it is not legitimate.
- Refund scam– this scam claims you are eligible for a refund direct to debit or credit card. This is a scam, if you receive an email like this delete it straight away, do not click on any links and under no circumstances give your card details out.
- Phone call scam– residents are being contacted by phone and told that they are being investigated by HMRC as they owe money. If they do not pay, they will be arrested. Some residents are being told to buy iTunes vouchers (£1000's at a time) others are being told to press buttons on their phone to take them through to make the payment. Both are scams. The HMRC would never contact you in this way. If you should receive a call like this, hang up straight away.
Pop up advertising
- When on social media or the internet, be very careful of “pop up” advertising. These tend to be “too good to be true” offers, free trial products that you will receive but they will then continue to debit your account monthly for large sums of money. One Island resident reported that she clicked on one of these adverts for a new face cream and received her trial sample but was devastated to realise later that her account had been debited a further two times for the sum of £199.
- Do not click on pop-up adverts. If you do, look very closely at the small print and google the company for any reviews as victims will put their comments online. Be very careful about who you give your bank details to – check them out before giving over any information.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
British Gas scams
- Trading Standards are warning all residents to be aware that British Gas have reported scam emails being sent to residents in their name. The email states that your bill is overdue and still needs paying and looks very authentic with the British Gas logo and reference numbers. If you receive one of these emails do not click on the link to pay this is a SCAM. Remember never click on links in emails or texts and legitimate organisations will never ask you for your banking details in this way. If you receive this email delete it immediately. If you are a British Gas customer and are unsure if it is genuine please contact British Gas using contact details you have found yourself.
For more information on how to stay safe from scams visit IWASP or Friends against Scams to watch a short scam awareness video.
- We’ve had an increase in reports about fake British Gas emails claiming to offer refunds. The links provided in the emails lead to genuine-looking British Gas phishing websites that are designed to steal the usernames and passwords for British Gas accounts.
Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.
For more information on how to stay secure online, visit Cyber Aware.
Government support scam
- Trading Standards and the Revenues department are warning businesses to be careful when applying for Government support due to Coronavirus. We have had reports that companies are offering their services but are charging £99 to apply on your behalf. This is a free to claim service and you can do this yourself. Go to Application for support for business affected by COVID-19.
School parents scam
- School parents are being warned about a coronavirus scam asking for bank details in order to fund their children with free school meals. The email states: As schools will be closing, if you’re entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we’ll make sure you’re supported'.
People's postcode lottery scam
Trading Standards are warning residents to be aware of a scam letter purporting to come from the People’s Postcode Lottery. The letter looks very official and tells you that you have won hundreds of thousands of pounds in the Postcode Lottery.
Even if you have entered the postcode lottery please be wary as at the end of the letter it requests a “processing fee”. This is a big indicator that this is in fact a scam and not genuine.
Two rules to remember
• If you haven’t bought a ticket you can’t win
• You should never have to send money to receive your winnings
If you are unsure, find your own contact details for the postcode lottery (not those given on the letter) and contact them yourself.
TV warranty scam
Residents are receiving cold calls offering to renew their TV warranties from a number identified as 01903 924518. Some of the residents they are calling have old televisions or no television at all so we would like to remind residents that if they don’t know the number that is calling them not to answer it and any unsolicited or uninvited contact is likely to be a scam so hang up straight away.
Users of Facebook be wary of requests of money from “friends”. Scammers are hacking unused and current accounts and messaging all of the friends on the account with a believable story asking for money in an emergency. This scam will involve payment through PayPal and if you are the victim of one of these scams, you won't be able to get your money back.
If you receive a request for financial help in this way contact your friend via text or phone to check if this is valid. We would also suggest that you report it online on the Action Fraud website.
Be wary of unsolicited requests for money or bank details from anyone, they are likely to be scams.
TV Licensing scam
Trading Standards have been advised of a scam email that has been received by Island residents, allegedly from the TV Licensing department. The email is entitled “Your Direct Debit payment request was declined by your bank”.
If you receive this email, do not click it. It is a scam.
Police email scam
Police are warning motorists about a new scam which claims that the driver has received a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) for a speeding violation. Police are urging drivers not to click on an email that is being sent to them which could put them at risk. The email contains a ‘Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP)’ which alleges that police are taking action against an offence. It comes with Great Manchester Police branding and logos, bogus PTN numbers and other details that look official. However, GMP tweeted that drivers should delete it immediately, “Fixed penalty notice, please don't click any links and delete. “It's a scam. We issue NIPs by post to DVLA registered address, not to emails”. While the scam has some spelling and formatting errors, if you scanned across it you could feel at risk and threatened by it.
If you receive it you should delete it immediately as the DVLA will not email you an NIP and will instead send it by post.
Action Fraud has seen reports, made mainly by parents on behalf of their children, of fraudsters who are taking advantage of Fortnite gamers. In most reports, the gamer has seen an advert on a social media channel which claims that by following a web link and entering some information, they will receive free Vbucks (currency for the game). Fraudsters will ask the victim for information about their account which will then allow them to log in and create fraudulent charges.
Fraudsters are targeting victims in many other ways. These include asking for people’s phone numbers in return for Vbucks to then sign the victim up to a premium rate subscription service, selling access to other people’s Fortnite accounts, and offering VBucks for free then actually charging for it.
A new scam, which is currently doing the rounds on WhatsApp, offers users a £75 voucher in celebration of Costa Coffee's 50th birthday. Costa Coffee was founded in 1971, making it only 47 years old!
The message requests customers to complete a survey and is NOT genuine. Trading Standards recommends that you are very careful about who you give your personal and banking details to.
One for All Card
Residents have been receiving repeat calls from people claiming to be from the Ministry of Justice or a ‘claims advisory service’, urging them to pay money to a ‘one for all card’ from the post office as a handling fee. Once paid, the caller says they will then release the money the resident is supposedly owed from a bank (in this case, Nationwide).
The caller is then calling back to check the card has been purchased before they say that they are sending their solicitor to the house to do the exchange of the ‘one for all’ card for the money owed to the resident. The scammer already has the address and number and the resident believes he may be using the UK phone book to have this information.
This is a SCAM – NO company would ever contact you in this way and would NEVER ask you to purchase something in return for releasing cash you are supposedly owed.
Do NOT give your personal details out over the phone and always check the number that is calling you – if you don’t recognise it – DON’T pick it up.
Fraudsters are contacting victims by telephone and purporting to be a police officer or bank official. To substantiate this claim, the caller might be able to confirm some easily obtainable basic details about the victim such as their full name and address. They may also offer a telephone number for the victim to call to check that they are genuine; this number is not genuine and simply redirects to the fraudster who pretends to be a different person. After some trust has been established, the fraudster will then, for example, suggest;
• Some money has been removed from a victim’s bank account and staff at their local bank branch are responsible.
• Suspects have already been arrested but the "police" need money for evidence.
• A business such as a jewellers or currency exchange is operating fraudulently and they require assistance to help secure evidence.
Victims are then asked to cooperate in an investigation by attending their bank and withdrawing money, withdrawing foreign currency from an exchange or purchasing an expensive item to hand over to a courier for examination who will also be a fraudster. Again, to reassure the victim, a safe word might be communicated to the victim so the courier appears genuine.
At the time of handover, unsuspecting victims are promised the money they’ve handed over or spent will be reimbursed but in reality there is no further contact and the money is never seen again.
Watch out for fake Argos texts offering refunds. These fake text messages purport to be from Argos and claim that you're owed a refund. The link in the messages lead to phishing websites designed to steal your personal information as well as payment details. Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it's a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.
Be wary of texts claiming to be from
the TSB. The fraudsters are using specialist software to change the sender ID
on the message so that it looks like it was from the bank. The message requests
that the recipient clicks onto a website link that leads to a phishing website
designed to steal online banking details. Never automatically click on a link
in an unexpected email or text.
We have received reports from the police about a parcel delivery scam where fake emails have been received from Yodel.
The emails try to convince the potential victim that they have missed a parcel delivery, and then prompt them to update their details, it appears to be an attempt to gain personal/banking information. If you are unsure about an email that you receive always contact the sender using contact details that you have obtained independently.
If you are in the process of buying a house be aware of this nasty scam that is currently destroying home buyers dreams. Scammers are hacking solicitors accounts and sending emails with fake bank account details on them so that when you transfer the deposit to your solicitor it goes straight to the scammers bank account. You can read about a recent case here which took place in London however we have also had reports of Island residents falling victim to this scam.
We have recently been made a ware of various different inheritance scam letters that are being received by residents. These are from various different sources and countries but all share a very similar theme. the premise is that you are the only living relative of somebody who has died overseas and left a large inheritance. This letter will have been sent to thousands of other people all saying the same thing. If you engage with this scam you will be expected to send endless sums of money to release your inheritance - this will never happen.
Phone call scams
- We are always advising residents to check the number that is calling them and if they don't recognise it don't answer it. We have been advised that scam calls have been received using and 01983 number - please be wary when answering calls from unknown callers.
- Please be aware of calls allegedly from the Telephone Preference Service. This is a free service that you can sign up to in order to block nuisance and scam calls. Scammers are now using this company as a way to con residents out of money.
One of our members of staff has been receiving calls on their mobile claiming to be from Tunisia (Code +216). They called back but nothing happens - This is a call back scam and you are charged extortionate amounts of money whilst your "call is being put through" Ignore this call it is a SCAM.
- We have had reports that people are receiving high volumes of nuisance/scam calls in quick succession from various different sources offering services or products. A short time later someone purporting to be from the Telephone Preference Service will then call and offer to stop nuisance calls for a fee. This is a Scam. The Telephone Preference Service will never contact anyone to do this and certainly not take any bank or card details.
If you wish to sign up to the Telephone Preference Service use the details on our Protecting Yourself, Family and Friends page.
Please be wary of cold callers claiming to be from moneyexpert.com they are calling at doors wanting to check your details and potentially offer you a better energy deal. These may be genuine however we don't recommend that you engage with callers on the doorstep in this way. If you wish to change provider we recommend that you carry out your own investigations. This company is nothing to do with Moneysavingexpert.com.
Social media fraud
We have received several reports from victims who have had their Facebook account hacked by cybercriminals who have then sent messages to their friends asking for a favour relating to PayPal. For further information on this scam please click on the following link: Action Fraud Police UK
Please be aware that scammers are calling residents claiming to be debt collectors acting on behalf of Southern Water saying that thousands of pounds are owed. - This is a scam If you receive a call like this do not make any payments - just hang up.
The email is as follows:
We detected irregular activity on your Amazon.co.uk Account
Click on the link below to Confirm Your Identity using our secure server:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/css/homepage.html/ref=nav_youraccount_ya (Do not click this link!)
Amazon.co.uk Customer Service.'
For advice on what to do if you receive an email like this from Amazon visit the Amazon Help and Customer Service. Amazon take Phishing and Spoofing attempts on their customers very seriously and would like customers report it to them.
TV Licensing refund
This scam involves the victim receiving an email detailing a fake TV license refund they are due and getting the victim to click a link titled 'refund me now'.
Do not respond to this email or click the link, it is a scam. Just delete the email.
Respectable Island business
We have received a call from a respectable Island business who wanted to share their story to prevent others from becoming victims of similar scams.
Its important to remember that these criminals are incredibly sophisticated and prepared to put a huge amount of effort into conning people out of their money. Its not just people that get scammed businesses can also fall victim.
“Around 2014 first contact came from a lady offering us some advertising space in a Drugs Awareness Booklet to be distributed in Island High Schools at a cost of £199, as we like to support local charities we agreed to advertise in one issue. There was no mention of any further payments.
Shortly after sample of the brochure was sent to us in the post, no doubt to further convince us of this being legitimate.
A few months after we were contacted again and informed that we were, in fact, committed to a year of payments and needed to pay again of which we argued and categorically said no.
We received calls every few months from then chasing the money. Each time the call was made by women and each time we said no and requested paper work to back this up but they kept saying it was a verbal agreement recorded on the phone.
Onto September 2017 and I received a call from a Man calling himself Mark Taylor on a mobile number.
He said he was a high court bailiff working on behalf of an advertising company who were chasing the money we owed them for the verbal agreement to advertise for a year in the Drugs Awareness Booklet. He said he had a High Court Writ.
He said his bailiffs were 40 minutes away and would be arriving on site to collect payment. If they arrived on site we would incur an additional £1000 charge.
When we questioned why we did not receive CCJs or any other paperwork he said that the advertising company said we did and it was our word against theirs.
He went from nasty to nice even suggesting if we pay the money we stood a good chance of appealing it in court. He was very believable and despite previous doubts we believed that the bailiffs would shortly be with us.
He then suggested he could potentially make a deal with the company and said he would call us back. He called back and offered us a deal where we pay a reduced amount and he would tell his bailiffs not to come. There was also a promise of the paperwork being sent by recorded delivery to arrive the next day.
This went on for some time he kept calling back, every time he was stressing how the bailiffs were getting closer putting more and more pressure on us to pay. He was so convincing.
Unfortunately we paid.
Since this has happened we have done some research and found out that this is definitely a scam and some people have been tricked into signing up for regular monthly payments of £199.
We just want to let people know that these type of things happen and not to be bullied into giving money to these criminals”
The following story happened to somebody on the mainland just this month - it is a scam!
The victim received a telephone call from a man she did not know. The man told her to buy £400 of ITunes gift cards from a particular store. He had already called the store to make sure they had the gift cards and told them to reserve them and he would send a family member to collect them. The scammer said to the victim that she was entitled to compensation of £800 and to claim that money she had to buy the ITunes vouchers. He said they would call later to get the codes and then they would send the money to her bank account. The scammer booked a taxi which collected her and took her to the store. She had to pay for the taxi too.
The staff at the store became suspicious when the victim spoke to them in the store and called police. An investigation has now been launched. They became suspicious when she produced a note stating that she needed to buy ITunes vouchers for her personal use. The lady stated that she didn’t know what an ITunes voucher was and seemed confused about the circumstances.
The Microsoft Scam calls typically consist of the scammers usually declaring that they have detected a fault with their victim's PC and trick them into giving them remote access to it. Once they have remote access they then often install images that appear to show the computer is infected or install malware themselves.
Finally, they demand a fee to fix the issue or otherwise convince the victim to share their bank account details.
Sometimes the victim is then contacted again at a later date from someone else claiming to work for the same service, who says they are due a refund. If the victim hands over their bank details again, further money is taken from their account.
Please note: Microsoft will never contact you to provide support, any contact must be initiated by you.
If you get a call do not give them permission for remote access, just put the phone down.
Arrests have been made in the UK and the report into this can be read on the BBC website.