People in Hartlepool are increasingly being targeted by scams.
According to Hartlepool’s Citizens Advice Bureau as many as 300 residents in the town have been approached by scammers in the last year – from April 2016 to 2017 - a figure that is on the rise as technology develops.
The comen’s tricks include:
*Lottery scams in which people are asked to pay an advance fee.
*Investment scams, where a pot of money is said to be available but a financial contribution is required.
*Copycat ‘government official’ scams, where conmen claim to be from official departments.
*Phantom goods, where people are conned, mainly online, into buying high value items which turn out not to exist.
Bosses at Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau say that scammers are becoming more sophisticated and clever and are warning residents that if an offer sounds to good to be true - it probably is.
The warning comes during national Scams Awareness Month, campaign encouraging people to report and talk about scams.
Joe Michna, CAB manager, said: “Being scammed can ruin people’s finances.
“People can lose significant amounts from phantom good scams, so it’s important they don’t rush into online purchases until they’re sure seller is genuine.
“During Scams Awareness Month we’re encouraging people to play their part in preventing scams by reporting them and telling others about them.
“People can also come and see us or call the Citizens Advice consumer service if they want advice on whether something is a genuine deal or a scam, or for advice if they have been scammed.”
Nationally, Citizens Advice is also warning of people being caught out by purchasing ‘phantom goods’.
The scam works by conning shoppers into buying high value items, namely online, which turn out not to exist.
The average loss is £1,100.
The Citizens Advice consumer service received 555 reports nationally of ‘phantom goods’ scams during January and March 2017, compared with 495 over the same period the year before.
Ian Harrison, Hartlepool Borough Council’s Trading Standard and Licensing manager said: “This is an ever increasing problem and it is important that the general public remain vigilant.
“Scams can come in many forms and these high value ‘phantom goods’ are just the latest attempt by fraudsters to cheat us out of our money.
“Fraudsters are constantly looking for new ways to con their victims and Trading Standards and Citizens Advice will be working together to help the public spot a scam and to explain what to do to protect themselves.”
To get advice on an offer you’ve had, or find out how you can get your money back if you’ve been scammed, you can call the Citizens Advice consumer service: 03454 04 05 06
Or to report scams or suspected scams to Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040.
Alternatively visit: www.actionfraud.police.uk
Hartlepool gran targeted by scammers
A Hartlepool gran is warning people to be vigilant after claiming she was contacted by phone scammers demanding cash.
Seventy-five-year old Jean Tabley says she was called one evening by a man with a foreign accent claiming that she owed £900 in tax.
After questioning the man on where was getting the information from, Jean says he warned her that she would be arrested if she did not pay up.
Jean stood her ground, saying she did not owe any money.
Instead, she alerted her granddaughter, who contacted Action Fraud, and now Jean has made it her mission to warn others of such cold callers.
She said: “I received the call at around 6.15pm.
“It was quite threatening, with the man saying that if I didn’t pay the £900 then I was going to be arrested.
“Luckily I am OK and didn’t give any payment details, but other people might get confused and pay.
“I know that I have paid my taxes, but I am from the generation where people don’t like to owe people anything so they may have just paid.”
Jean says she spent 10 minutes on the phone to the man disputing his claims and he eventually gave up.
She then called 1471 and took down his number and rang her granddaughter to put her on guard in case she got a phone call.
Jean continued: “She then contacted police who referred her onto Action Fraud who are looking into it.
“I am just worried about other residents who may get confused and pay.
“Particularly older people as I think these scammers try to prey in the older generation.”
Action Fraud said they are looking into the incident.
A spokeswoman said: “It is currently being assessed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) at the City of London Police to determine whether there are sufficient lines of inquiry for an investigation based in the UK.
“This process can take up to 28 days.
“Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime.
“Action Fraud does not have investigation powers, the reports taken by Action Fraud are sent to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) who collate and analyse intelligence on fraud, and make the decision to send crimes to law enforcement agencies for investigation, disruption and prevention purposes.”