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The cons happening in Cornwall & how to spot them

The cons happening in Cornwall & how to spot them

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 11:37am 18th June 2018. (Updated at 11:43am 18th June 2018)

A Cornish charity issues a warning after 1,200 reports of scams in the last year.

Citizens Advice in the Duchy has drawn up new advice, amid a 6% rise in legal and financial cash-cons across the UK.

Officials from its consumer service say nationwide, victims lost an average of £330 per scam.

The organisation and Cornwall Trading Standards are reminding locals of the signs to watch out for.

What sort of scams are being reported?

Cryptocurrency: Fake websites claim to offer cryptocurrency investments, like Bitcoin. Often, scammers will pretend household names have endorsed the company to give it some legitimacy.

Binary options: Scammers pose as stockbrokers and get you to place bets on whether phoney shares will rise or fall within a certain date. They'll promise big returns. You should check if they are on the FCA Register and not on the warning list of firms to avoid

Holiday timeshares: Scammers promise to buy your membership off you for an advanced fee.

Bogus solicitors: A scammer will intercept emails from a legitimate solicitor and pose as them. Scammers often strike when a property is being exchanged on and get the funds diverted to their bank account instead. Check if they are on the Solicitors Regulation Authority to see if they are genuine.

How are people falling victim?

Mrs C from Cornwall got a call on her landline from a man who said he was a computer-security expert from Microsoft and that her laptop has been infected with malware and they could help her solve the problem.

Mrs C had noticed her laptop was slow recently and thought being infected could be the problem, so she accepted the offer. She followed the caller's instructions to allow him remote access to her computer and also agreed to pay an invoice the man on the phone would send through to her.

Mrs C said the invoice never arrived but the following week, Mrs C's credit card details were used to purchase expensive goods. The man had monitored her computer use and gained access to her credit card information.
Mrs C called her bank to cancel her card and see what else could be done. She also had to change all her passwords, usernames and bank and credit card logins.

What do the experts say?

If you have received a call like this, put the phone down, don't ever give out any personal information or bank details and make sure your scam security software is up to date. Tell everyone about this scam as it preys on people's insecurity about lack of technical knowledge. It is very easy to be a victim and the best defence is sharing knowledge.

Neil Colquhoun, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Cornwall, said: "Scammers can make for convincing white collar professionals, especially online, and are skilled at persuading people they are legitimate.

"The stakes are high with financial and legal scams as you can end up losing your savings or pension fund, which can put your long-term financial stability at risk.

"When you get approached about any investment, don't rush into anything without making sure it's legitimate first, particularly when you're contacted out of the blue."

Anthea Durant, of Cornwall Trading Standards, said: "Scams affect the lives of millions of people across the UK and come in different ways: online, by phone, by post or in person. Scams that prey on people's trust or hopes can be devastating for the victim.

"By being aware and staying ahead of scammers, we can stop them winning and keep your money safe and secure".

How can I spot a scam?

To help stop more people being fleeced by these types of scams, Citizens Advice Cornwall has these top tips:

  • Be suspicious if you're contacted out of the blue, even if it's from a name you recognise
  • Don't be rushed - you never need to make a decision straight away
  • If it sounds too good to be true it probably is
  • Never send money to someone you have never met
  • Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you 
  • Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance
  • Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer
  • Suspect a scam? Hang-up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call 
  • Persuasive sales patter? Just say: "No Thank You"
  • Don't suffer in silence - speak out about scams

The National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team along with Cornwall Trading Standards, is fighting for a scam-free nation by "Taking a Stand against Scams".

You can also learn more about how to protect yourself here.

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