Solihull Multi Agency vehicle check uncovers some seriously heavy loads

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Solihull Trading Standards joined forces today with Solihull Licensing, West Midlands Police, HM Revenue & Customs and other agencies to carry out checks on vehicles travelling in the Solihull area.

On a particularly ‘crisp’ January day, taxis, vans, lorries and cars were stopped and numerous checks were made in relation to their roadworthiness and overall legality. Solihull Trading Standards dealt with several cases of vehicles being unsafely overweight. One van was almost 1.5 TONNES over the legal limit and constituted a grave danger to its driver and other road users. We will take the appropriate action in dealing with the offences.

Solihull will continue to do our utmost in 2016 to ensure that the public in the borough are safe. If you have any information that would suggest otherwise please contact us via Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06.

 

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Top 5 Scams to look out for in 2016

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Solihull Trading Standards’ continued goal is to stop the scammers getting hold of your hard earned cash. Here are some likely scams you want to avoid in 2016:

(article taken from http://www.which.co.uk)

Top five scams to look out for in 2016Leading fraud experts identify up-and-coming scams in 2016

02 January 2016

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Ahead of the new year we spoke to Trading Standards and other leading fraud experts to identify the up-and-coming scams for 2016.

Perpetrators of scams are criminals who are very convincing in their fraudulent tactics.

At the start of 2015, a Which? survey found that 54% of respondents had been personally exposed to a scam in the past two years, or have a friend or family member who had.

We’ve worked together with leading fraud experts to tell you what you need to know to avoid being caught by five scams – all identified as growing threats in 2016.

We’ve also produced a number of guides and advice on the latest scams.

1. Criminals selling dodgy products on social media

According to the latest Intellectual Property Crime Report, social media has overtaken auction sites as the criminal ‘channel-of-choice’ for counterfeit and piracy activity.

The growing concern is that the fraudulent sale of high-cost items, such as electrical goods and clocked cars, could potentially put lives at risk.

The old adage that ‘if it’s too good to be true, it probably is’ always applies.

2. Telephone Preference Service scams

Trading Standards has seen a rise in cold-callers claiming to be from the Telephone Preference Service.

They then charge you for registration or useless call-blocking devices.

The Telephone Preference Service is the only service that all organisations are legally required to screen calls against – and it’s free.

3. Loan sharks

The increasing threat of loan sharks has been identified by the Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Team, which it says stems from the combined effect of the introduction of the Universal Credit single benefit and the cap on payday loans.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with debt, our Dealing with Debt guide contains straightforward tips, plus contact details for free debt advice.

4. Investment scams

Criminals have been quick to seize the opportunity to take advantage changes to pensions that came into effect in April 2015, and reports of scams are increasing.

Phrases such as ‘one-off investment’ and ‘free pension review’, as well as promises to access to your pension before 55, should ring alarm bells.

They’ll often approach you out of the blue – either by phone, text or in person. Don’t be tempted, as they’re lying.

5. Scam ticket sites

Unauthorised sellers selling counterfeit or duplicate tickets for concerts, festivals and sports events are a growing problem that was highlighted in the run up to Rugby World Cup 2015.

When dealing with ticket seller you’re not sure of, check websites that aggregate reviews such as Trustpilot or Feefo.

But look out for repetition among the reviews – this is a red flag that reviews aren’t authentic. As is any company that doesn’t have a regularly updated Facebook and Twitter presence.

Jail for 400,000% Loan Shark

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Christopher Harvey from Caerphilly, South Wales is facing over three years in jail for a loan sharking racket where he charged members of his OWN family interest rates up to 400,000%.

Harvey pleaded guilty to two counts of illegal money lending, three charges of theft and four charges of fraud. Describing himself as the ‘patriarch’ of his family, he took money from ‘disadvantaged’ members of his extended relations and their associates over a 10 year period.

Prosecutor Timothy Evans said: “It was deliberate and sustained abuse of vulnerable members of his own family. He acted in a truly predatory way and was seen by these people as a friend….the phrase loans shark conjures up predatory creatures taking advantage of smaller fish around them. It seems an appropriate image for those who do that – prey on victims who are naïve and vulnerable. They are seen by the people they lend to as friends, and there is a cycle of further loans, further debts, and this can be a form of psychological abuse. These victims have learning difficulties, an inability to read and write, and no understanding of financial matters. Victims may be grateful and may not understand the amount of interest mounting against them. This case involves the lengthy and systematic financial abuse by Chris Harvey of members of his family and extended family.”

Illegal Money Lending Teams operate throughout the United Kingdom. If you have any information about potential loan sharks you are urged the 24 hour hotline on 0300 123 33 11.

 

Birmingham couple’s £14,824 Instagram iPhone con

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A Birmingham husband and wife conned more than 50 victims into buying non-existent iPhones and watches on Instagram.

Saqib Bashir and his wife Rimla Chaudurey made almost £14,824 by setting up a string of bogus web companies between September 2013 and April 2014.

They advertised the valuables online and simply pocketed the cash from the orders they received.

But they were arrested in January last year and later charged with fraud when angry customers called in the police.

Bashir, 27, and his 24-year-old wife, from Washwood Heath, were each handed eight-month suspended jail sentences at Birmingham Crown Court.

The court was told the pair used bogus online firms called Cosmetic Bargains, Alinas Accessories, Designer Discounts, Crystal Discounts, Designer Boutique, Designer Couture, and Beauty Boutiqu3 to dupe customers.

Bashir initially denied the offence, claiming he had never heard of Cosmetic Bargains and did not use Instagram.

He also denied being linked to bank accounts or mobile phone numbers used in the con and maintained the pair were victims of identity theft.

But when detectives provided more evidence – including proof that a web page for Cosmetic Bargains was created on their home computer – they eventually admitted fraud by false representation.

Investigating officer Matt Leach, from West Midlands Economic Crime Unit, said: “They used ten different bank accounts – one of which was linked to 23 frauds – and six Instagram accounts offering items for sale.

“Customers parted with sums ranging from £52 to £1,000.

“Many of these were birthday and Christmas presents so they are responsible for creating a lot of upset and worry among the people they deceived.”

(Source – Birmingham Mail)

On patrol with West Midlands Police

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Solihull Trading Standards were out on patrol with West Midlands Police yesterday. Our working relationship with the police force is becoming closer and closer and our joint patrols around the borough will be a regular sight in the months to come.

A van was seized for having no insurance and valuable intelligence gathered during the patrol.

Enfocement bodies are pooling their resources in this climate of austerity and combining their skills to target criminals operating in Solihull. If you have any information for us that could lead to illegal trading activity being stopped please call us on 03454 04 05 06.

 

2 bags of sugar for £500?

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See the shocking article below from West Midlands Police (https://www.west-midlands.police.uk/latest-news/news2.aspx?id=3902) :

‘Police are warning people not to be tempted by offers of cheap Christmas presents being sold by fraudsters in Birmingham in the run up to the festive period.

The message comes after a report of a scam in Northfield on November 10, when a shopper was approached and asked whether they wanted to buy a new iPhone 6.

The man was asked to look at the phones, which were kept in the fraudster’s car nearby. He agreed to buy one of the phones and went with the man to a nearby bank, before handing over £500 cash.

The bogus seller then gave the man a package and sped off in his vehicle towards the Rubery area.

When the shopper checked inside the bag, they found two bags of sugar.

The fraudster is described as a white man, mid 30s, chubby build and 6’-6’2 tall. He had ginger hair and stubble and wore a black top, dark jacket, black shorts and trainers.

DC Michelle Beasley from the force’s acquisitive crime team, said: “People need to remember that if a deal is too good to be true it usually means it is and only buy from reputable firms. I want to hear from anyone who may recognise the description of this man and who was also approached in the past few weeks about buying Iphones. I would also like to warn people to be aware of this scam as Christmas approaches. ”

Anyone with information should call police on 101.’

Dixie sniffs out another stash

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Dixie the springer spaniel sniffed out 16,500 cigarettes and 3.5kg of hand-rolling tobacco as 12 premises in Glasgow were targeted by Trading Standards and HM Revenue & Customs.

See an article about the find here:

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/dog-detective-dixie-helps-seize-6041124

Solihull Trading Standards have used specially trained dogs in the past (and will be doing so in the near future) to check premises for artfully concealed stashes of illegal tobacco. These may be counterfeit or non duty paid goods VERY carefully hidden from our prying eyes.

Just to show you the lengths to which people will go to in concealing their dodgy stuff Solihull Trading Standards recently seized illegal tobacco concealed inside a hollowed out fire extinguisher, stereo speakers and in the cash till itself!

Sellers of illegal goods are going to increasingly bizarre lengths to cover up their crimes. We are utilising every method we can get to stop them. If you believe illegal tobacco or alcohol is being sold in Solihull please call us on 03454 05 06. These people undermine legitimate traders and will often be involved in more serious crimes.

 

Bogus repairmen steal £9,000 from elderly man

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Thieves posing as repairmen are thought to have stolen around £9,000 from an 85 year old man.

One of the men took the man to the rear of his property after saying he was inspecting faulty guttering while the other man rooted through the house and stole a large quantity of cash.

See the full article here:

https://www.west-midlands.police.uk/latest-news/news2.aspx?id=3752V

Distraction burglary is a common crime. Please beware of leaving your property unattended at ANY time.

Consumers saved from losing £252m to rogue traders in a year

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The inaugural ‘Consumer Harm Report’ compiled by National Trading Standards (NTS) states that £252 million worth of loss to consumers and businesses was prevented by NTS teams in the last year.

You can see the report via this link:

http://www.tradingstandardsecrime.org.uk/consumers-saved-from-losing-252m-to-rogue-traders-in-a-year/

As well as looking at the results from last year the report identifies seven emerging threats reported by teams across England and Wales which could constitute problems in 2016:

  • As government funding for the Green Deal comes to an end, scammers who had exploited the scheme are likely move on to new energy scams such as solar panels.
  • There is a general increase in the variety of products now available to buy on social mediaand some of these can be downright dangerous – such as electrical items and ‘clocked cars’.
  • Telephone preference scams are increasing, where a caller pretends to be from the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), claiming that the service now costs money, or offering to fit a – usually useless – call blocker device.
  • Loan sharks are continuing to targetthose vulnerable to financial problems as they get to grips with Universal Credit and the cap on pay day loans.
  • The use of subscription traps is on the rise. Enticing consumers and businesses, usually via email or a social media advert, to sign up to a free trial or pay a small fee to access an offer, victims are then trapped into making costly monthly payments.
  • Changes to pensions that came into effect in April 2015 mean that new investment scamsare emerging
  • Secondary ticket sales, where unauthorised sellers sell fake or duplicate tickets while passing them off as official, are a growing problem that’s been particularly highlighted in the run up to the Rugby World Cup.

Solihull Trading Standards will be keeping an eye out for the above and will continue to ensure that a fair trading environment is maintained in Solihull

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Victims of scam mail ‘typically’ lose more than £1,000

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Investigators at National Trading Standards (NTS) have released research that suggests that the average age for scam mail victims is 74 and they have typically lost more than £1000 each.

10,843 victims were identified in the year to April but this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg as it is thought that over 90% of people never report that they have fallen victim to a scam.

See the full article here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34489206

Solihull Trading Standards are working closely with vulnerable victims of scams in the borough. We are here to help. If you have any information on scams affecting Solihull residents please call us on 03454 04 05 06.