City Corporation backs Citizens Advice campaign to expose fraudsters

The City of London Corporation is supporting Scams Awareness Month - a national campaign launched by Citizens Advice to help people avoid falling prey to scams.

The campaign urges people to take three steps to avoid being ripped off - get advice, report them and tell others about it.

The Square Mile is the world’s leading international financial centre. It’s local authority Trading Standards team is working closely with the City of London Police on Operation Broadway - a multi-agency initiative that includes the Met Police, HMRC and the FCA - which is designed to disrupt investment fraudsters operating in the City and surrounding London boroughs. It is spreading awareness throughout the mail forwarding, virtual and serviced office industry, of how criminals operate – typically by using prestige addresses to run investment fraud operations in the City and key Metropolitan Police Boroughs.

Research conducted by Citizens Advice finds fraudsters are using a variety of tactics to get people to part with their cash, with people losing an average of £2,500. Scam methods include Vishing whereby scammers cold-call people in a bid to get their bank details, and offers of fake services, such as telling people their computer has a virus which they can fix remotely. Investment scams carried the highest price tag, with people investing in fake diamonds or bogus stocks and shares losing of on average £20,000 each.

To help consumers spot scams,a typical fraudster may:

• Contact you out of the blue.

• Make promises that sound too good to be true - if something sounds too good to be true it probably is.

• Ask you to pay for something up-front - for example, they'll ask you to pay a fee before you can claim a prize.

• Ask you to make a quick decision by saying things like ‘if you don’t act now you’ll miss out’. This puts you under pressure and doesn’t give you time to think.

• Be over-familiar and over-friendly with you.

• Tell you an offer has to be kept secret.

• Ask for your bank account details. Never give your bank details to people you don’t know, especially people you meet online.

• Give a mobile number or PO Box number as the contact for their company- these are easy to close and difficult to trace. It may be a sign that the company doesn’t exist or isn't legitimate. Check out the company's details with Companies House or look on the internet for more details about them.

• If you think something might be a scam, don’t reply - then throw it away, delete it or hang up and get further advice.

Steve Playle, Trading Standards Manager at the City of London Corporation, said:

“Scams Awareness Month is an important opportunity to the raise awareness of how the public and businesses can help protect themselves from fraudulent activity.

“Trading Standards is a key player in the clampdown on fraudsters. Working closely with our partners, we are creating a hostile environment for investment scammers who try to create an illusion of respectability that plays an important part in persuading people to part with their money.

“Fraudsters use sophisticated techniques to con people and because they vary their methods, it can be tricky to spot when something is a scam. If you come across something that seems suspicious, seek advice so you don’t put yourself at risk.

“Our message is simple: don’t send your money to someone you don’t know, for a product you haven’t seen. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Find out more about Scams Awareness Month and how you can take part click here.

To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.