Solihull won’t stop persuing sellers to underage young people

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As part of our on-going commitment to stop young people in Solihull being exposed to age restricted products such as alcohol or cigarettes Solihull Trading Standards carried out test purchases at four premises across the Borough last night. Two volunteers under the age of 18 helped us by trying to buy cigarettes and alcohol from these shops. 2 premises sold cigarettes or alcohol to young people without verifying their age.

We will continue to reinforce the message that it is totally unacceptable to allow young people to buy certain products. We will do this by education and, if necessary, enforcement action where traders completely ignore the law.

If you think age restricted products are being sold to young people in Solihull please let us know on 03454 04 05 06.

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Rogue traders continue to operate in Solihull

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Vigilance is essential in the world we now live in. Solihull, like every area of the country, remains a target for criminals who will mercilessly exploit the most vulnerable members of our society out of EVERY single last penny they possibly can. They just don’t care who they hurt or deceive.

Solihull Trading Standards have recently dealt with several very elderly people who have been visited by men offering roof work to their properties.  We believe that these visits may not be random ‘fishing’ exercises but targeted approaches from criminals who KNOW that their intended victims are vulnerable. This may be due to the fact that the victims have been scammed before or that the fraudsters have access to other sources of information about their physical or mental condition.

An 85 year old Solihull resident recently agreed to building work and was driven to the bank to withdraw £5,500 in cash. The following day the victim was persuaded to go to the bank again for a futher £2,500. The fraudster waited in the victim’s car while he went to the bank. Thankully the bank questioned the transaction and the man was unable to get access to more cash. The criminal had disappeared by the time the victim returned to the car. No work whatsoever has been carried out to the property.

We are working closely with banks and potential victims to stop this despicable form of crime. However, we always rely on information from the public to help close the net over these people. Please contact us on 03454 04 05 06 if you have any information about rogue traders operating in Solihull.

 

 

Highs legal for not much longer…

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Solihull Trading Standards joined forces with West Midlands Police yesterday (Thursday 21st January) to visit and give advice to premises in the area that sell seemingly innocuous ‘legal highs.’

New Psychoactive Substances (NPSs) have hit the headlines in recent months after a catalogue of tragic deaths resulted from people using them.

The ‘legal’ part will soon be a misnomer, however. Legislation comes into force in April that will make it a criminal offence to sell these substances. As you can see from the pictured packets above, found openly on sale in a Solihull shop, there is NO indication whatsoever as to what you are actually buying. For all you know you could be eating or smoking anything. Would you trust the ‘manufacturer’ of this type of product to sincerely have your health and wellbeing as their primary concern?

The exercise was designed to give advice to retailers about the risks of these products and to provide prior warning about the changes to the law that will follow. It is also hoped that the considerable dangers inherent in using these type of products will be widely publicised.

‘I can see why people commit suicide over this’

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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.

Homebuyers Beware!! Couple lose £45,000

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Newlyweds Sarah and Richie Tough had been on the verge of securing their new dream home in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire. The first-time buying couple had been saving for 10 years for their £45,000 deposit.

Everything was going smoothly when they received an email from their conveyancing firm stating that the deposit was ready to be paid. A few days later another email arrived that appeared to be from the same company, stating that the cash should instead be paid directly into a Barclays Bank branch, with the account number and sort code provided.

The cash was duly paid.

But when Sarah spoke to her solicitors a couple of days later, they said they hadn’t received the cash and, the email regarding the change of plan had not been sent by them.

She told the Daily Mail: “I was sitting at my desk in pieces. I couldn’t stop shaking. I was just in complete disbelief that everything we had saved had gone.

“It makes me sick to my stomach that someone could even think of doing something like this.

“It was our money for our future, we had been saving for ages — and now it is gone.”

This is becoming a common scam and the effects can be devastating. Double-check, triple-check with the legitimate company befor you pay ANY money over

 

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

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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.

‘Firefighter’ selling fire extinguishers door to door

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Solihull Trading Standards have received a report from a resident on Sharmans Cross Road about a door to door fire extinguisher sales woman.

The incident took place at 7pm yestersday (Tuesday 05th January). The caller is described as an asian female in her 20s with long dark hair. She claimed to be a ‘firefighter’ when the resident asked who was at the door.

West Midlands Fire Service do NOT sell fire extinguishers door to door and if someone claims they are operating on their behalf then it is NOT true.

If you have any more information about this or any potential rogue trader please contact us on 03454 04 05 06.

Hoverboard fires continue…

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We have reported all too often on the risks associated with unsafe hoverboards. Surrey Fire and Rescue Service have now released these photos of counterfeit hoverboards – which have caused fires in homes over Christmas.

Unsafe imports, notably from China, continue to flood the market and threaten damage to life and home. Over the last few months we have seized numerous consignments coming through Birmingham Airport which are just not safe for everyday use.

See this video for what to look out for when buying a hoverboard:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34996871

 

Warning issued over personal breathalyzers

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A Scottish Trading Standards authority has revealed worrying discrepancies in the readings delivered by personal breathalyzers.

South Ayrshire Council tested a variety of products freely available on the internet or at retailers. Devices can range from £6 to £70. The disturbing results revealed a range of alcohol concentration from less than half the correct reading to more than double the correct reading.

See the article below for more information:

http://www.ayrshiredailynews.co.uk/#!Council-warns-drivers-to-avoid-personal-breathalysers-as-they-can-be-inaccurate/qrzdl/567975f80cf203da56e857a5