This page is regularly updated with details of scams and rogue trader activity, particularly incidents where Surrey residents are targeted. The updates will provide advice on how to protect yourself against rogue traders and scams and provide other useful information and advice.
Are you aware of something that we should be reporting? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note we will not be able to provide any response to emails submitted. If you require advice you should contact Consumer Direct. We reserve the right not to report every incident submitted to us.
11 June 2007
The following information has been received from Surrey Police
‘There is currently an e-mail being circulated that suggests that Surrey Police are concerned about or dealing with paedophiles in the Walton area. This e-mail has been circulated widely and is causing unnecessary and unwarranted anxiety.
The message appears to be based on an incident reported to police by a lady in April. That incident was investigated and there are no grounds to believe that this was an attempt to interfere with or abduct a child. The lady reporting the incident did not attend Walton Police Station and so the suggestion that she was told there was an active paedophile ring in Walton is malicious or ill informed.
I would be grateful if anyone receiving this message ensures that it is passed on to everyone who may have received the e-mail. I would urge that before any similar e-mails are forwarded on to address books the information is verified so that fears are not raised unnecessarily’
Elmbridge Neighbourhood Inspector
Tel. 01932 205519 or 157265
5 June 2007
Attempted distraction burglary in Fetcham
(information received from Surrey Police)
An elderly man was recently approached in Fetcham by two men purporting to be from the Inland Revenue carrying a box with an Inland Revenue sign on it. The men said that two friends of theirs had spoken to him last week at the post office regarding money owed by the Inland Revenue. The elderly man refused entry to his house without identification and they were not able to provide this. The man was later also approached in a similar manner in the street when getting into his car.
This case highlights the importance of always asking for identification and not allowing people to access your property without knowing they are genuine callers. For more guidance on avoiding distraction burglary visit the Distraction Burglary Mini Site (Part of the Crime Reduction website managed by the Home Office).
30 May 2007
Surrey Police ask for your help to locate a vehicle
Surrey Police have asked us to disseminate the following message:
The public are asked to look out for the following vehicle - a dark coloured Mercedes saloon - this vehicle has been seen near distraction burglaries in Surrey and other south east counties recently, bearing different false plates each time. If a vehicle of this description is seen in suspicious circumstances, please contact Surrey Police on 0845 125 2222, please quote crime ref D/07/10979.
14 May 2007
New Reality Show to follow Surrey Trading Standards
Officers from Surrey Trading Standards are set for "stardom" in a new reality TV show following Trading Standards Officers at work. Why not tune in this Tuesday evening at 8:30 on BBC3 to watch! The BBc write up is here.
10 May 2007
Distraction Burglary, Avern Road, West Molesey
We have received the following information from Surrey Police:
On Tuesday 8th May 2007 at around 11am the following offence was committed in Avern Road, West Molesey.
The elderly female occupant was approached by two suspects who stated her husband had been involved in an accident however the lady has no husband so they used the guise of coming from the water board which unfortunately was successful to gain entry. They entered the property then left shortly after. At this time it is unknown if any property was stolen.
Suspects: Two white males, 6' tall, aged mid twenties with dark hair
For more information and advice on distraction burglary visit the Home Offices distraction burglary mini site.
2 May 2007
Identity Theft - How can you ensure you are protected?
We are constantly being reminded of the dangers of identity theft but it can sometimes seem difficult to know how to really protect yourself. Help may be at hand as the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has created a Personal Information Tool Kit which contains all you need to know about managing and protecting your personal information including:
- How to access information that organisations hold about you
- How to correct inaccurate information held about you
- How to protect yourself against identity theft
The ICO has also produced a series of public information films to highlight the importance of protecting personal information:
Other sources for advice on identity theft are:
17 April 2007
Share Selling Scams
We have been in receipt of 2 complaints in recent weeks concerning elderley males in their 80's falling victim to share selling scams often known as Boiler Room Scams.
The first victim paid £24k for worthless shares and the most recent paid out £5k.
It starts with a cold call via the telephone from some smooth talking salesmen. These share selling businesses are based abroad and purport to be selling shares in various companies. The companies whose shares they are selling either do not exist or if they do the shares the consumer is getting are either not genuine shares and are therefore worthless, or they are sold at greatly inflated prices and again are effectively worthless.
The chances of victims recovering money is zero and money transfers are usually made to conmen in the US, New Zealand and South America.
27th March 2007
Doorstep Callers operating in the Burpham area
Trading Standards have been made aware of door to door callers looking for scrap in the Burpham area. We reiterate our advice not to buy or sell from doorstep callers and ask that if you want to report a call or to seek advice please call Consumer Direct on 08454-040506.
21st March 2007
Bank Job ExtendedAs part of the ongoing battle against rogue traders, Surrey Trading Standards are contacting every bank, building society and post office in Surrey to ask for their help. Often unscrupulous traders will target elderly and vulnerable people in their own homes with offers of cut-price tarmac or home services and repairs. These crooks take the victims to their bank to withdraw large amounts of cash – sometimes tens of thousands of pounds. The work is usually unnecessary, invariably of very poor quality and extremely overpriced and often is necessary to spend even more money putting right the mess created by these criminals.
Banks, building societies and post offices can play a key role in tackling these offenders by helping to protect vulnerable customers who may be intimidated into making large cash withdrawals to pay off the gangs who operate in this way. Counter staff are in an ideal position to spot irregular withdrawals and to tactfully enquire if everything is alright. These staff are encouraged to involve and work with Trading Standards and the Police and prevent their customers from being ripped off.
The initiative known as ‘The Bank Job’, which was primarily aimed at banks and building societies, was formally launched in 2004 by the then Consumer Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe and since then there have been a number of successful interventions of this nature by quick thinking bank staff in the past, which have saved thousands of pounds for Surrey residents.
Due to these successes Surrey Trading Standards is taking the opportunity to extend the Bank Job to now include Post Offices across Surrey so that they may help in the fight against this kind of crime.
The department would also like to remind the people of Surrey to be vigilant against these kind of criminals and to also remind local banks and building societies of the valuable roles that they can play to help protect some of the most vulnerable members of our community from doorstep criminals.
If you need advice regarding any consumer issues or on the type of crime described above, then please call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 for expert advice.
21st March 2007
Crushed rogue traders van
This is what happened to a van belonging to a team of rogue traders. The van had been seized by Surrey Trading Standards and the police after being tipped off by an 86 year old woman in Ashtead.
The rogues had claimed the woman needed repairs to rotting timbers on her roof. The Trading Standards Rapid Action Team and the police lay in wait for the rogues as they turned up to receive payment for their so called work. The timber for the job was worth £1,100 less than the £2,400 the gang tried to charge.
Trading Standards officers found a baseball bat and a kitchen knife in the back of the van.
It was decided to crush the van because it had a fictitious owner.
Peter Denard of Surrey Trading Standards, said that cold callers are not entitled to payment unless they first give householders written details of their cancellation rights. He said: "It is not unusual for us to lie in wait for bogus traders. Offenders often become aggressive when they hear that they must leave without a penny."
Three men were arrested in connection with fraud, criminal damage and doorstep selling offences.
21st March 2007
2nd Hand Car Seats Can Cost Lives
The British Standards Institution and the Baby Products Association advise that car seats should not be bought or sold second hand.
Many seats sold through local advertising, car boot sales and internet auction sites have been found to be dangerous.
This also applies to prams, pushchairs, buggies, child restraints, mattresses, barriers and stairgates and highchairs.
For further information please go to www.b-p-a.org or call the leaflet request line on 01296-399005. 21st March
16th February 2007
Beware the Rogue Pest Control Officers, warns Council
Calls to Mole Valley District Council Environmental Health team today (Friday 16th February) have made them issue a warning to residents to beware rogue pest control officers operating in the area.
Two residents, in Bookham and Leatherhead, have been separately misled by a trickster at their front doors when he said they had a rat problem in their area. The Environmental Health team, led by Mark Wilkinson, are warning residents to be alert and not give any doorstep caller money on demand when offered a service to get rid of rats in and around homes. Mark Wilkinson said: "The two independent residents called this morning, to tell us that a man in a fluorescent yellow jacket knocked on their doors and said he was from the local council and had come to deal with the reported rats problem. He wanted £35 payment there and then. One resident said no and shut the door. "One unfortunate elderly lady told us that she gave him £5 out of her purse and he offered to collect the rest of the payment next week. He said that he would come back this afternoon to put a trap down for the rats that were a problem in the garden next door. He didn't return."The Council has provided a free rat eradication service for domestic premises up to the present. When demand has out-stripped the budget for the service additional money has been provided. The rat population will fluctuate naturally but the steady downward trend in infestations, reported to the Council in recent years, is good news for the district.Mr Wilkinson added: "We urge our residents not to part with any money for any pest control services that are said to be from the local council. Neighbours are encouraged to be alert and report to the police as well as the Council if this occurs in their street." Surrey Police were alerted to these incidents today.
Surrey Trading Standards Service operates a Rapid Action Team. During office hours (Monday-Friday 9-5) we can, where appropriate, send officers out to your home if there is a doorstep caller present and you feel in need of assistance. If you need us call Consumer Direct on 08454 040506 and they will refer the matter through to us for immediate attention.