Derbyshire County Council Scams Bulletin - September 2018

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Scams bulletin, Derbyshire County Council

Welcome to the ninth edition of the Derbyshire County Council Scams Awareness Bulletin 

September 2018 - Edition 9

This bulletin gives details of scams and tricks that our Trading Standards Department and other council staff have been made aware of in recent weeks. Please feel free to share this bulletin far and wide - you can send it to colleagues, family members or friends as it is a public bulletin.

Amazon phishing emails


Action Fraud have had an increased number of reports about fake emails purporting to be from Amazon. The subject line and content of the emails vary, but they all contain links leading to phishing websites designed to steal your Amazon login details. 

Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.​​​​​​​

Green energy company scams

Nationally there has been an increase in the number of reports of “Green Energy” companies fraudulently targeting individuals, attempting to sell devices for their property, as well as maintenance contracts.  This has resulted in substantial financial losses to many consumers who have fallen victim to this fraud. 

A resident is targeted by a solar energy company.  The company may use one of the following tactics to engage with the resident:

  • Informing the resident that their solar panel supplier has ceased trading and the panels installed may be dangerous.
  • Advising the resident that new legislation requires them to have a device installed, and failure to install it would mean the emergency services would not attend if the solar panels caused a fire.
  • Imply that they have taken over from the original supplier and are offering a “free health check”.

A sales visit is undertaken, and the resident is sold a device and / or maintenance contract for their system. The trend is to offer ‘positive input ventilation’ or PIV. Whilst this is a legitimate product, they are being sold a price significantly above their list value, and may not be appropriate for all households.

Another new method of operating for these companies is to offer maintenance contracts, possibly for as long as 20 years. These contracts are not insurance-backed, so are potentially of little value, and have no protection if the company ceases trading. In some instances, the trader is taking payment up-front for these contracts, rather than regular payments, with no service immediately provided.

Trading Standards advise:

  • Never agree to this or any other contract on the doorstep, and always check the identity of any caller.
  • Contact your original installer to confirm any information supplied about their current trading status.
  • The trader must give you a written notice of your cancellation rights when you agree the contract. If the trader doesn't provide you with this information, they commit a criminal offence.
  • You have 14 days to cancel the agreement. If you cancel, any monies that you have paid should be returned to you.
  • Never pay in full up front for work, and don't pay by cash. Pay by cheque (which can be traced if necessary) or if the service or goods cost more than £100 then use a credit card as this offers extra protection.

Get Safe Online - Meet the Fraudsters


Get Safe Online has teamed up with Lloyds Bank to raise awareness of impersonation fraud for small and medium businesses.

Research commissioned by Get Safe Online and Lloyds Bank has shown that:-

  • Impersonation fraud is costing victims an average of £27,000 each time.
  • The number of attacks has risen by 58% in the past year alone.
  • Over half (53%) of respondents say they have experienced scammers posing as their boss, demonstrating a rise in the popularity of CEO impersonation fraud.
  • A similar number (52%) say they have experienced invoice fraud - a rising scam where fraudsters pose as known suppliers to the company and send an invoice with a false change of bank account details.

A video, using celebrity CEO lookalikes, demonstrates the ways in which scammers impersonate suppliers, bosses or business contacts to dupe victims into making payments to them, instead of the legitimate contact.

Lloyds Bank teamed up with experts at Get Safe Online to bring you some top tips for avoiding this kind of fraud: 

Scams you've told us about

WhatsApp scam 

Email from a Derbyshire County Council worker: "My mum has had an odd WhatsApp message which we were very cautious about. The scam saw the sender pretending to be a friend stating they were using a new number. When we asked who it was (which friend) they sent a link to what they said was a photo (to prove their identity). Luckily neither my mum didn't click on the link. A colleague told me she had received the exact same message too. I searched the internet for WhatsApp scams and found an article on the Liverpool Echo website which exactly describes the scam messages my mum and colleague experienced. I'm very glad they didn't click on the link!"


HMRC Scams

Email from a Bulletin reader: "Every week I receive emails claiming to be from HMRC. HMRC have confirmed these are scam emails. A recent one stated:

"Here`s a confirmation from HMRC
You have received this email to be notified that HMRC has recalculate your last fiscal activity.

from last year and HMRC has decided that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of 448.98 GBP.

If you want to claim your tax refund now, you have to complete a required form with your personal information (link).

Please allow HMRC up to 5 business days in order to verify and process your request.If you already submitted the refund form once , please ignore this email as HMRC will not take in consideration multiple refund requests. If you will refuse to complete the refund form now, you will not be able to claim your refund online anymore."

Attempted romance scams via Facebook and Twitter

Email from a Bulletin reader: "I have recently been contacted on both Facebook and Twitter each time by a good looking guy, usually from the US, via the message system on each website. I am aware of these people and believe it's an attempted romance scam. It's always interesting for me to copy their image and search for it on Google image - it's always someone by a totally different name. Not everyone is as knowledgeable as me about the system and these people are very plausible. And I think that this would be a very useful thing to warn people about."

Mail credit card scam 

Email from a Derbyshire County Council social worker:  "one of my clients is an older gentleman who lives with his son. They have a letterbox which is not attached to the house.

The older gentleman had received  a credit card application form through the letterbox. Somebody has retrieved that application form from the letterbox and filled it in, in the older person’s name with another phone number.

Luckily, the son had noticed before any harm was done and informed the bank where a fraud investigation was initiated. Somebody had been watching the letterbox.

The son has asked me to warn others (especially elderly people or people with limited mobility) about the risk of being a victim of fraud if they have a detached letterbox."

Medication phone scams

Email from a Derbyshire County Council social worker: "One of my client’s has received a bogus phone call from somebody claiming to be from UK Health Department based in Birmingham.

The home care worker was present at the time and answered the phone. They were trying to sell medication for back pain to the client (who has dementia).

They gave a phone number as 1072285509 (which is clearly either a foreign number or fake) and said his name was Peter."

Telephone privacy services scams

Example 1: A Council social worker sent the following email: "Two years ago, my client paid a privacy protection company, £89 to stop nuisance calls. (NB. This is exactly the same thing the Telephone Preference Service does for free.) The company recently rang her demanding another £50 and threatening court action and debt collectors if she refused to pay. Fortunately, she told her family about this and they have contacted the Citizens Advice Bureau. Citizens Advice have now contacted Trading Standards who have agreed to investigate this. Her family also rang the company to demand they stop ringing and threatening their mum. The person at the company hung up the phone when he realised they were not going to get any more money."

Example 2: email from a member of the public: "I received a phone call to my home phone today from a person calling himself "Robert" but with a strong S.E. Asian (i.e. Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi) accent.

He stated he was calling from the "Telephone Preference Service and knew my name, address and also that I paid my phone bill by direct debit (probably a good guess).

He claimed he needed certain information from my debit card in order to confirm that I paid my phone bill by direct debit in order to be a able to register me with the Telephone Preference Service. He wanted the expiry date on my debit card and I refused to give this information - told him it was not relevant.  

He then insisted that he wanted the number from my debit card which is below the name on the left hand side.  (This is actually the bank's sort code.)  I refused to give him this.

I refused to give him any further information relating to my debit card.  He tried to insist, saying that he did not want the main card number (the 16 digit one) or the security code on the back but that he needed the "other" number below my name on the card.

I told him that I knew this was a scam call and that I had no intention of giving him any information.  He continued to try to worm information out of me, being extremely persistent, and I continued to tell him I would not give him any of the information from my card or my bank account.  Eventually. after a couple of minutes of his trying to obtain information, I put the phone down.

Note that I AM registered with TPS and have been for years."

Fake energy compliance checks

Email from a nursing home ownwer: "I am the owner of Ashford Lodge Nursing Home, Ilkeston.

We recently had a man come to our door claiming to be from UtilityWise.

He said he is working on an initiative with Care Quality Commission and Derbyshire County Council to check that we are Energy Compliant and have smart meters and Energy Certificate.

I have never heard of this and do not believe it to be true. He said he wasn’t here to alter our suppliers just to make us Regulatory Compliant.

When I said I had a certificate etc, he said he couldn’t help then and walked away. I contacted Trading Standards, who recorded it.

I then called UtilityWise who didn’t have knowledge of it and said they would pass it to the field office to investigate."

Fake leaflet scoping scam

Email from a Bulletin reader: "I was waiting for a parcel to be delivered when there was a loud knocking on my front door. When I opened it a man in his 20s handed me a leaflet for tree care company. My initial reaction was to ask him why he had banged on the door when we have an obvious doorbell? I then pointed to the notices that we have that we don’t accept  “Doorstep callers” which he again said he had not seen. I therefore told him to be on his way, and he demanded his leaflet back which I refused to give him, saying I would report him. He walked off across my garden & through my perimeter hedge to a waiting old transit style van. Unfortunately I was not able to get sight of its registration number. I later in the day asked several of my neighbours  if they had received a similar leaflet or knock on their door but none had been similarly bothered.

On the leaflet there are 2 alternative contact phone numbers. I tried to call the numbers and one went to answerphone but the other was answered by a gentleman of about 60 who coincidentally is a tree surgeon but who assured me he never used leaflets and did not trade as the company named in the leaflet. He did say that this was not the first occasion he had heard that someone had used his telephone number etc.

I called the police on their 101 number to report this incident and the police man asked me if I have a caravan or motor home? I do in-fact have a caravan stored behind our fence and well protected by locks etc which I confirmed to the police. The inference I took from the Police query was that the leaflet was a ruse to check out if my caravan was secure or could be stolen.

Since then I am thankful to say nothing untoward has occurred but I have asked my neighbours to be vigilant on my behalf, as I know caravans have been taken brazenly from people’s driveways."

Have you heard about a phone, postal, email or doorstep scam that's been happening locally? Or maybe you've come across an online scam or a copycat website?

Let us know so we can share the scam in the next Scam Bulletin to warn others.


This bulletin will be sent out periodically based on demand. We can't guarantee to publish all the information you send in, but we'll try and make sure to get the message across.

Gift card scams


Action Fraud is warning the public to #StayTunedToFraud as criminals are contacting victims, claiming to be from well-known organisations including Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Criminals are then tricking victims into making payments using iTunes gift cards. 

Criminals are using online store gift cards to collect money from victims because they can be easily redeemed and sold on. The criminals don’t need the physical card to redeem the value and will instead use tactics to persuade victims to purchase gift cards in large amounts and read out the serial code on the back over the phone.

This problem is not just linked to iTunes gift cards and more recently, Action Fraud has seen a spike in criminals requesting Steam Cards as a way to gain upfront fees from unsuspecting victims. Get more information

Rogue traders - South Derbyshire area

Email from a Derbyshire resident: "I am writing on behalf of my elderly and very vulnerable parents who live in Woodville.

On the 20th of July my parents were targeted and persuaded to part with a significant sum of money (in cash) in exchange for a driveway clean by some rogue tradespeople. These characters convinced my father they had a product that would fix slight subsidence to block paving on a driveway as well as clean concrete slabs immediately around their property.

This is a scam, the offenders are not official nor are they accredited to do this kind of work. We believe they are serial offenders and my parents have been victims of a very sinister crime. We have now notified the police who are investigating what happened and we are aware that other elderly residents, close to where my parents live, were also targeted on the same day. 

These unscrupulous and manipulative criminals drove my father to the bank (on the pretence of being helpful) so that he withdrew the cash immediately.

Our family are disturbed and deeply distressed that our elderly parents were cheated in this way and we are just so grateful that despite my father feeling ashamed of what he did he at least had the courage to speak out and let his family know, albeit some time after the incident.  

Derbyshire Constabulary are taking this matter very seriously and even though some time elapsed since the actual crime taking place, they are leaving no stone unturned in an effort to find the perpetrators. Within a few hours of being notified police officers were at my parents home, offering reassurance, crime prevention assistance and a guarantee that all CCTV cameras will be reviewed to see if they may have picked up the vehicle being driven by the offenders in and around the location of the crime and also on the way into Burton.

I am writing to alert all vulnerable residents in and around Woodville and the rest of Derbyshire to this kind of 'drive-way scam'. The police have informed us that it is quite likely that the offenders are not from the immediate area but they clearly knew where the soft targets were. It is of the utmost importance that if anyone is approached by these criminals that they report it to the police immediately so that the police can start to put together an incident map so they can try to catch these crooks in the act the next time they try to strike. 

My parents are left feeling robbed of savings, embarrassed that they fell for an aggressive form of doorstep hard sell and deeply ashamed for having fallen for the scam. This means otherwise trusting senior citizens are now more afraid to trust others leaving them more vulnerable and isolated than they were before this frightening incident occurred." 

Pension scams - how to spot a scam

pension scams

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) say that a total of more than £23m was stolen from pension funds in 2017, and have warned pension holders to “be on their guard” for potential criminals.

The Money Advice Service have tips and advice on how to spot and avoid pension scams.

Fake British Gas refund emails

Past and present British Gas members are being warned to stay alert as the number of fake refund scams increase.

Action Fraud have had a recent increase in reports about fake British Gas emails which claim to offer refunds and are urging people to never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

Action Fraud warns that the links provided in these scam emails lead to genuine-looking British Gas phishing websites which are designed to steal both the usernames and passwords for British Gas accounts. More information

Other scam news and information

Natwest Bank Scam Support - do you bank with Natwest? The bank have a dedicated officer who can support customers of the bank with any scam, fraud or internet security queries. You can contact Charlie Proctor on tel: 07552 259819 or email: 

Costa Coffee WhatsApp Scam - a new scam is currently doing the rounds on WhatsApp, offers users a £75 voucher in celebration of Costa Coffee's 50th birthday. More information

Ministry of Defence Phishing Scam - targets of the fraud have received emails purporting to originate within the MOD attempting to make contact or seeking money. More information

Fake LinkedIn emails -  Action Fraud have received multiple reports about fake LinkedIn emails. They claim that your LinkedIn profile has appeared in multiple searches and provide links you can click on to get more details. These links lead to malicious websites designed to steal your personal and financial details. More information

Reporting scams and getting advice


Get advice from Citizens Advice Consumer Service, tel: 03454 04 05 06 or visit:

Report scams and suspected scams to Action Fraud  or tel: 0300 123 2040.

Send potential postal scams with a covering letter to Royal Mail at FREEPOST Scam Mail, email: or tel: 03456 113 413.

Report unsolicited marketing calls to the Information Commissioner's Office  or tel: 0303 123 1113.

Register phone numbers with the Telephone Preference Service or tel: 0845 070 0707.

The Mailing Preference Service (MPS) is free and can help reduce unsolicited mail by calling 0845 703 4599.

Contact the Age UK Derby and Derbyshire Information and Advice Line on tel: 01773 768240. Age UK also have a downloadable guide on recognising and dealing with all kinds of scams.

Derbyshire Scamwatch is a project funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire. The aim is to raise awareness, particularly amongst older residents, of the potential harmful effects of mass-marketing, internet, doorstep and telephone scams and to provide one-to-one advice and support where potential scam/fraud victims are identified.

The Think Jessica website has lots of information and advice about all different types of scams and tricks.

Sign up to receive the Scams Awareness Bulletin by email (you'll be asked to provide your email address, set a password and then you can select the Scams Awareness Bulletin from the social care and health section).

Tell a trusted friend, relative or neighbour.