‘I can see why people commit suicide over this’


It is sad that many people dismiss repeat victims of scams as somehow unintelligent or naive. Many of us are incredulous how people can fall for such seemingly transparent cons. However, when you deal day to day with the hard reality of this type of crime you quickly see a different side to the story.

Mr X who lives in Solihull is an 88 year old man who has struggled for years with an incessant barrage of phone calls and letters peddling ‘investments’ and money recovery deals. He has paid out over £100,000 to fraudsters. The scams range from diamond investments, fine wine, carbon credits and land banking schemes. He is an aware,  intelligent person who worked for years within the financial sector.

Solihull Trading Standards have visited and spoken to the gentleman on many occaions. It has taken up to two years for us to convince him to change his telephone number to stop these rogues contacting him. He has always been reluctant to do this because he was afraid that family and friends would not be able to contact him. He said to us that he feels like a prisoner in his own home and he can understand ‘why people commit suicide over this.’

It is a sad fact of life that we live in a more cynical, suspicous age . Mr X believes what people say to him and implicitly trusts that the ‘deal’ he has entered into will be honoured. It has taken a very long time to convince him that the people who call him are only after ONE thing.  The criminal world has evolved and he cannot conceive the fact that people will make false promises and say anything to get his money.

There are many people out there who are very vulnerable and at risk of being targeted by criminals. As soon as they fall for one con they WILL be approached again.

If you are concerned about a Solihull resident or feel that you yourself have been affected by a scam please call us via Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06.


Scam BT call

It maybe a new year but the scammers obviously haven’t made any new resolutions to stop ripping people off.

A recent case involved a cold caller claiming to be from BT. The victim was told that he was about to be disconnected because of an unpaid bill.

The caller then demanded an immediate payment of £31, saying that the cost would rise to £118 for reconnection at a later date.

Despite having an obviously foreign accent, the scammer claimed the very English name John Peacock and when questioned said he could “prove” he was from BT by cutting off the targeted victim’s phone.

He apparently did this, and then rang again asking for an immediate credit card payment, but when told that his victim had no intention of paying, he hung up.

A subsequent call to the police revealed that the caller had appeared to cut off the phone line by simply staying on the line but turning it to mute, which meant that the line was engaged and his proposed victim could not dial out.


Top 5 Scams to look out for in 2016


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


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.

Is YOUR business ready for a ransomware attack?


(Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-35091714)

What is it?

Ransomware is the fastest growing form of computer malware, experts warn.

Ransomware is a malicious virus that locks the user out of their computer and demands a fee to return their files.

A recent report claims 72% of businesses surveyed experienced ransomware incidents in 2015. The figure was just 17% in 2013 .

Like most computer viruses, ransomware often arrives in the form of a ‘phishing’ email, spam, or a fake software update – and the recipient clicks a link or opens an attachment. The virus then sets to work encrypting the user’s files. Once the computer is effectively locked down, it demands a fee – often in bitcoins because it is less easy to trace – for the return of the files.

The fee is generally one or two bitcoins – the equivalent of about $500 (£330).

It is less common now, but in the earlier days of the malware – about five years ago – the ransom note could take the form of a law enforcement notice. The user was directed to a web page that appeared to be from, for example, the FBI, falsely claiming illegal images of children had been been found on the machine and a fine was payable.

There is generally a time limit to comply, after which the ransom increases.

What can you do?

Sometimes it is just a threat, but mostly the virus really does encrypt files.

The only way to retrieve your files without paying the ransom is to go to a backed-up version.

Neil Douglas, from Edinburgh-based IT company Network Roi, has just helped a small business client whose server was hit by ransomware.

“We had to recover everything from back-up. We’d had a back-up two minutes before the infection, so the timing couldn’t have been any better – but it did result in quite a bit of downtime,” he says.

“You could risk paying them – but it’s a bit like paying a blackmailer. We would only recommend it as a last resort.

“You don’t know whether they’ll come back for more, you don’t know that they’ll clear the infection.”

Cybersecurity expert Prof Alan Woodward says paying also leaves you vulnerable to further cybercrime.

“As soon as you pay up, you get on a suckers’ list and you’ll probably get contacted again,” he says.


93 year old Solihull resident taken to the cash point by ‘roofers’


There has been a report that a 93 year old Solihull resident was taken to the cash point by roofers to withdraw £3,500. The resident fogot their PIN number when they got to the bank and thankfully no money was handed over.

This is a very common tactic of rogue traders. They do not want to wait to get their hands on their ill gotten cash. It is not rare for a conman to go into a bank with a victim and make sure their victim is withdrawing money. One vulnerable elderly lady we recently helped was persuaded to make a long bus journey EVERY day for almost two weeks to satisfy the criminals insatiable demands for cash. Needless to say they did NO work for her and pocketed £20,000 in cash while they sat around doing absolutely nothing.

Vulnerable victims are often completely trusting and very confused. Their infirmities will be seized upon by criminals and exploited in every possible way. These conmen seem to have NO morals or pity whatsoever for their targets.

Help us stop these despicable crimes. If you suspect rogue trader activity is taking place in Solihull please call us on 03454 04 05 06.

Bogus Solihull MBC ‘Council Tax rebate’ caller


An elderly Solihull resident has been contacted by a woman claiming to be from Solihull MBC Council Tax team offering a ‘rebate’ on her council tax. The victim handed over all her bank details to the woman believing the call was genuine. She has subsequently cancelled all her cards and informed her bank of the scam.

Solihull Council are NOT contacting people in this manner and will not ask for your bank details. If you come across this scam or any other in Solihull please contact us on 03454 04 05 06.


Solihull Council gets targeted by scam e-mailers


NOBODY is safe from scam e-mails. Solihull MBC have been receiving fake e-mails from someone today claiming to be from our Human Resources department asking the receiver to open an attachment or make a payment.

Scammers will target any organisation. Let us all be wise to their crimes and not give them ANYTHING.

Fake voucher scams on Facebook


(Image from: https://myturriff.co.uk/2015/11/free-vouchers-scam-warning/)

Scammers are persistent and innovative if nothing else. Fake voucher offer scams purporting to come from large, well known companies have recently been reported on Facebook. You should NOT click on any links as these will take you to a website that will ask you for personal information, under the pretence of being able to post the vouchers to you. The website may also try to download malicious code to your computer.

Stay ahead of the conmen. NEVER release any personal information if you are not 100% sure of their legitimacy.

Solihull resident called by bogus ‘Citizens Advice Bureau’ company


The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is a charity that offers free advice to the public on debt and general consumer issues.

A Solihull resident has reported that he has received two calls from a company claiming to be the CAB. The calls were from a mobile number and they were offering to consolidate the consumer’s debts. When he questioned them about the legitimacy of their claims they put the phone down on him. The genuine CAB will NOT cold call people offering debt solutions.

Please be aware of this con and do NOT give out any personal details or agree to anything from these people.

Looking for a job? Don’t let the scammers get you


(Picture Credit – http://www.jobvine.co.za/)

We all know that scammers will try to infiltrate EVERY possible area of life to steal your money. Who knows what nefarious meetings they have to discuss their new ‘project.’

Scam artists are acting like an employment agency and tricking job seekers into sharing their personal information. A jobseeker will receive a phone call or email from a business that is supposedly an employment agency and looking out for your interests (If only!). One person reported allegedly receiving numerous calls from unknown numbers after talking to one of the scam company’s ‘representatives.’

It is a stark and unpalatable fact of modern life that you cannot trust ANYONE who calls you out of the blue. Information is power in the world we live in and it is vital that you do not let people who will abuse that information have any access to it whatsoever.