Scammers use Facebook, Whatsapp and PayPal to target victims in Suffolk

WhatsApp Sainsburys scam.

WhatsApp Sainsburys scam. - Credit: Archant

Tactics to fight rogue doorstep sellers, fake online giveaways and Facebook scammers who target thousands of people in Suffolk every year will be discussed at Trading Standards’ ‘Join the Fight’ conference today.

Postcode lottery scam.

Postcode lottery scam. - Credit: Archant

Scams come in a variety of forms, including people turning up at your door dealing in faulty goods, fake prize draws being posted through letterboxes and scammers convincing people to let them access their computers and personal information.

From November 2015 to February 2016, Suffolk Trading Standards took part in a national scam mail project to find out how many people were being targeted across the county.

In that time 1,494 Suffolk residents were identified as being victims of a scam – and that the average age of victims was 79.

The estimated loss by those targeted by scams within this three-month period was £650,000.

Smyths Toys scam.

Smyths Toys scam. - Credit: Archant

Of that amount, just £948 was returned.

Today, Trading Standards has invited regional partners, organisations and agencies to get together at Trinity Park to discuss how to take the fight to the scammers, and have issued advice to the public in how not to be taken-in by something that looks too good to be true.

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The conference, now in its second year, hopes to focus on ways to tackle scams and examine the wider impact this type of crime has on the community.

Cllr Matthew Hicks, Suffolk’s County Council’s cabinet member for environment and public protection, said: “The Join the Fight conference will bring together professionals and individuals who are committed to fighting against rogues who target the most vulnerable consumers across Suffolk and Norfolk.

“We have brought together more than 50 organisations and services across the region and will be exploring the wider impact of scams in our community.

“We anticipate the day will enable us all to work more effectively in the ongoing fight against scams.”

Scam: Rogue doorstep sellers selling garden furniture

These have been reported in Ipswich and Gislingham in the past week. They go door-to-door saying they have leftover furniture from an exhibition that they are looking to sell for cheap. The furniture could be of poor quality or stolen, and the victim is unlikely to be able to get a refund.

Prevention: Do not buy any products from your doorstep.

Scam: Rogue doorstep sellers selling mattresses

A seller goes door-to-door saying a consumer didn’t want the mattresses.

Not only could the mattresses be poor quality, they could also be a fire risk or dangerous.

Prevention: Do not buy anything from doorstep sellers.

Scam: Tech support scams

Scammers are cold-calling people claiming to be from an internet provider or computer company and telling them they have a virus on their network.

They then convince the person to let them have access to their computer so they can fix the problem.

The scammer then either plants a virus on the victim’s computer or gets the victim to access certain websites, such as bank accounts, to take money from them.

A victim from Suffolk recently lost £2,000 after scammers gained access to their bank account.

Prevention: Put the phone down and then call your own internet service provider or internet company to see if there is a problem.

Scam: Euromillions International People’s Postcode Lottery

Letters come through the post telling people they have won the lottery. Thousands of these letters are sent out.

In order to claim your winnings you are asked to send an administration fee.

Victims are then asked to pay for a customs release fee to receive their big prize.

Prevention: Rip the letter up and throw it in the bin.

Scam: Bogus emails from Paypal saying your account is locked

These emails are usually not addressed to the victim in person. The email gets the victim to click on a link to access their account which scammers can then access and use.

Prevention: Do not click on the link and close the email. If you have concerns about your account, access it manually.

Scam: Fake Facebook pages and giveaways

People are asked to like and share posts, usually in order to win something. This also occurs on other forms of social media.

Prevention: Check to see if the page is the company’s official page, usually indicated by a blue tick. The post may also contain spelling errors.

Scam: Fake Whatsapp messages

These messages look like they come from one of your accounts and look legitimate – often saying you have won a competition. If you click the link it downloads malicious software onto your device so your personal information can be stolen.

Prevention: Ignore the message and contact the person who sent the message by another means as they may not know they have been affected.