News and Scam Alerts from Coventry Trading Standards - 25 July 2017

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News and Scam Alerts from Coventry Trading Standards - 25 July 2017

In this issue:

Scam Awareness Month - week four


Scam Awareness Month continues and this week the focus is on older people.

Week Three (24 July) – Older People

Research shows that older people are often targeted by scammers with 75 being the average age of reported scam victims and those over 70 having the highest detriment from a number of different types of scams.

The average financial loss was found to be £4,500 for those between 75-79 years old.

Older people tend to fall victim most to phone and email scams and figures from National Trading Standards show that older people are deliberately targeted more than other demographic groups. This group also sees the largest proportion of people who are repeat victims of scams.

Those aged 61-80 are more likely to be victims of investment fraud which has a huge detriment with an average loss to victims of £10,500 compared to an average loss across all scams of £395.

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Older people at 'heightened risk' of investment scam calls


It is reported that there has been a sharp rise in the volume of unsolicited calls from investment scammers which is putting growing numbers of older people at risk of being conned.

They can fall victim to unregulated and often fraudulent investment schemes involving everything from land, wine and classic cars to gold, diamonds and art.

With the current low interest rates, some of these ‘investments’ appear to offer a much better rate of return on monies.

However, unsolicited contact via cold calls, letters and emails is the most common technique used by investment scammers.

One of the most popular scams involves investing in land. So-called ‘landbanking’ companies typically buy agricultural or other land without residential planning permission and with no chance of ever obtaining it, divide it into small parcels and sell these to investors.

These firms employ hard-sell tactics, and many of those targeted are older people with a lump sum or an inheritance to invest and will often misleadingly state that there is either planning permission already in place, or it is to be granted which would see the value soar.

Trading Standards advise:

  • Never deal with people who cold call you to sell investments.
  • Not all investment products are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority - work out the risks.
  • Just because you are promised a 12% return, what if the business you are dealing with goes bust?
  • Thoroughly research all investments and consult trusted family and friends before parting with any cash.

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Common Scams to watch out for


The aim of any scammer is to part you and your money.  Everyone should be on their guard as scammers are now using more sophisticated methods in their attempts to convince people that what they are offering is legitimate or official.

The following list provides a summary of the typical scams encountered by the Trading Standards services that are predominately aimed at older people:

  • Letters from psychics or clairvoyants - promise to make predictions that will alter your fortunes for a fee. Sometimes they threaten that bad things will happen if you don't respond.  
  • 'Phishing' for your identity - scammers ask for your personal or account details claiming they are from a legitimate business or organisation that you deal with.  They then use your details to take money from your account or buy luxury/high value goods using your account details.  
  • Lotteries, sweepstakes and competitions - usually sent through the post and promise that you have won something....however, you must send an "administration" fee first. These scams typically originate from companies you have never heard of and are based abroad, but despite never entering you have still won!  These scammers make their money from the fees people send to them and also from selling on the details of those responding.  Beware of mobile phone calls like this, as ringing the number they ask you to will cost a fortune on your next bill.   
  • Foreign money and advance fee scams - offer you a large sum of money to do something apparently minor i.e. like sending off a small fee).  They may claim they are trying to get money out of their country, that you have been left money in a will or that you have been awarded a large loan at favorable rates.  You will never see the money you send off again and you may receive more similar scams once you have replied. 
  • Catalogue scams Offer ‘miracle cures’, products and vitamins that are often overpriced. The products either do not arrive or are of little or no value. Victims are often entered into fictitious prize draws as an incentive to continue ordering products.
  • Copycat websites – These try to look official but charge a premium to handle the application or renewal, with no tangible benefit to the customer. If you are applying for any official document or licence, ALWAYS begin your search on the UK Government's own website  GOV.UK

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Help for older people


There are organisations that can offer help for older people who have been scammed or are at risk of becoming scam victims:  Think Jessica is a charity protecting elderly and vulnerable people from scams which come through the postal system and by telephone.  Age UK has local branches providing help and support for older people. The Coventry Branch can be contacted on 024 7623 1999.  The Silver Line is a free 24 hour dedicated helpline providing information friendship and advice for older people across the UK. Call 0800 470 80 90. The website provides information and befriending for elderly people.

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For more information on scams, visit:

How to report scams