Trading standards issue scam alert

TRADING Standards officials have revealed the most common scams used on residents – in the hope it will stop more people falling victim.The top ten cons in Suffolk have been unveiled as part of Scam Awareness Month, which aims to boost public awareness about the most common tricks fraudsters use to get people to part with their money.

TRADING Standards officials have revealed the most common scams used on residents - in the hope it will stop more people falling victim.

The top ten cons in Suffolk have been unveiled as part of Scam Awareness Month, which aims to boost public awareness about the most common tricks fraudsters use to get people to part with their money.

Top of the list are telephone lottery scams which involve people responding to unsolicited phone calls telling them they are being entered into a prize draw or lotteries abroad.

But to claim their prize, the victim is told they must send money to pay for taxes and processing fees and usually receives little if anything as a prize.


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The same type of prize draw/lottery scam - but using mailing to target unwitting residents rather than cold calling - falls in at number two on the list.

The schemes are usually based outside the UK although they might have a UK postal address and more often than not, there is no prize or reward on offer and if there is it is shoddy, overpriced and misleadingly described.

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The third highest complaint in Suffolk last year was premium rate telephone scams where people are notified by post they have won a prize but when they call the phone line all they are left with is a bill of £15 or more and little or no prize at all.

Graham Crisp, principle trading standards officer in Suffolk, said: "These scams only operate because people make them worthwhile.

"If people didn't hand money over then they would never exist in the first place. It's fair to say thousands of pounds must be being lost to Suffolk people every year because they're taken in by scams.

"People should treat anything with suspicion something they're not expecting. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Fourth on the scam list is Nigerian advance fee frauds, which offer to share a huge sum of money with someone for allowing them to use their bank account.

A victim receives a letter, fax or email from someone claiming to have access to a large sum of money usually £10-£20million. He tells the victim he needs to use a bank account in their country temporarily and for this will offer a share of the cash.

If a person replies with their bank details, the perpetrators will use the information to empty the account.

The fifth scam in Suffolk is Phishing. Victims are sent emails made to look as if they are from a bank or credit card company asking customers to submit personal details to avoid a fraud.

Matrix schemes are the next largest scam in Suffolk. These consist of websites offering the latest hi-tech gadgets as a free gift in return for buying a low-value product.

However, consumers who buy the product are placed on a waiting list and only the person on the top receives the free gift after a number of prescribed recruits are signed up.

Matrix schemes are followed by Pyramid scams, which come in seventh place and usually promise money in return for the number of people you are able to recruit to join the scheme.

Investment scams, which involve people being pushed into buying shares that turn out to be either worthless or never materialise, are in eighth place while credit scams come in at ninth.

Customers responding to these are asked to pay a fee up front to cover the insurance on a loan and once this is received, the victim never hears from the company again.

In tenth place are work at home scams that ask unsuspecting victims to fork out for materials to set up their own business but the equipment returned is low quality and cheap.

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