Your Story, a site run by a firm of solicitors, has just announced it is a year old and, in that time has grown with over 30 posts now online, all from people who have had experiences within the NHS – good or bad.
Of all the many different types of fraud committed it is those who target the frail and the elderly which cause the greatest revulsion and the case of Paul Frossell falls into this category.
Frossell was in charge of North Wales Mobility Solutions, a mobility firm obviously used mainly by the elderly and one couple, who had spent £17,250 on products from his firm were swindled into giving over their bank details after he told them that there had been an overpayment and they were therefore owed money. The 79-year-old woman later discovered that £5,000 had gone missing from her account.
Frossell later sent the couple a letter of apology and explained his actions by saying he was in deep financial trouble because of debts. His shop has since closed and he says he is “all but bankrupt”. The judge jailed him for a year after he pleaded guilty to three frauds and also to possessing cannabis.
Though his actions were despicable and it is a defenceless crime, it does appear that Frossell was desperate and, through sending the victims a letter, was deeply remorseful of his actions.
The Office of Fair Trading has looked into methods allegedly used by the gaming industry to pressure children into paying when playing games.
Its investigation has found that some games used “potentially unfair and aggressive commercial practices” with children being particularly at risk, with some games implying that a player would be letting others down if they did not buy content. The OFT feels that such behaviour is likely to breach consumer protection law, and warned that companies in this area should adapt to ensure they complied fully with their legal obligations.
If you have any experiences of your children being encouraged or even forced to buy items in games then let us hear from you. It is perhaps an area of law that has been ignored for too long, especially because of the dangers of children being open to exploitation. Let us know your views.
A man who dreamt of his son being the next Lewis Hamilton embarked on a complex tax fraud to be able to afford racing cars.
Michael Jones, who worked as a financial advisor, was sentenced to 32 months in prison after having admitted defrauding HM Revenue & Customs. He spent a fortune paying for his son’s hobby, running up huge debts and even remortgaging the family home before turning to criminal means. He made false tax claims on advertising deals which he wrongly claimed his son had won and also falsely alleged that his son had won some lucrative sponsorship deals.
However, none of these existed and he had in fact defrauded the taxpayer out of £140,625 in a scam amounting to £600,000. At Cardiff Crown Court he admitted making false statements, transferring criminal property and evasion of VAT. The judge said that the fraud had involved his expertise as an accountant, adding that his son had no idea that his father had been involved in such a crime.
It’s a sad case in a way of a father desperate to help his son but getting in too deep. How far would you go to help your children? Hopefully not as far as this, but let me know anyway.
Have you heard of a new type of fraud being committed, called “flash and crash”? Unfortunately, it is a growing crime, emanating out of the “cash for crash” offences which have had serious, even fatal consequences for many innocent motorists.
This new offence is being committed by some drivers who wait for victims to attempt to pull out from shops or petrol forecourts, the driver flashes to let them in, only to then speed up and hit the victim’s car full on.
It is believed to have been a trend since the start of the year and, because of the flashing headlights and the indication of being prepared to give way. It reinforces the impression that it is largely “your word against mine” when it comes to apportioning blame. It is of course a variation on the “crash for cash” schemes where drivers brake suddenly to try and force a rear-end collision which they will then claim for.
This type of scheme has had fatal consequences; a woman was killed after her car was hit by a vehicle being used in a fraud of this type, an incident which resulted in four men being jailed for their part in the scam.
The Insurance Fraud Bureau is currently investigating 49 rings, thought to be responsible for about £66m in false claims. It is a sickening crime, deliberately causing pain and suffering for innocent motorists in order to profit from their insurance. Have you ever been the victim of these offences? Let me know if you have.
Councils have warned pensioners to be on their guard for potential telephone scams. Whatever your age, you should always be on guard.
The particular scam that has been heard in recent weeks involves a recorded phone message claiming to offer cash awards linked to pensions with the person being invited to press buttons to access a payout of £1,000. It then tricks the person into providing personal information including their bank details.
Public Protection gives advice to those concerned they may be the victim of a scam. They should always be wary of unsolicited callers and should never give out personal details over the phone unless to a trusted source. If faced with a persistent caller always end the call. Never be hurried into making quick decisions about making payments and do not reply to unsolicited texts. Any more advice you would give to those concerned about such scams?
Have you ever had any spam texts? Assuming you have a mobile phone, you surely will have done. I get them at a rate of several a week and I hate them.
A new study by the mobile security firm AdaptiveMobile says that 61% of the population have received a mobile spam text – I’m surprised the figure isn’t higher – and 22% of them have replied to “stop” messages which has resulted in them receiving unwanted phone calls or even having had money charged to their phone bill.
The study found that consumers don’t generally report discrepancies on their bill unless it is for £5 or more and therefore mobile scammers could be raking in on average £20m in profits a month from unsuspecting customers. So, what is extremely annoying can, if left unchecked, turn to fraud. Better mobile controls can help reduce the number of nuisance calls or spam texts received. So, do you check your phone bill thoroughly? It can be hard given the amounts listed but it pays to have a good look so make sure you do.
The Electoral Commission is looking into the problems of electoral fraud which has been identified in the last few elections, general and local, and is looking specifically at whether voters should come to the polling booth with identification in the future.
The Metropolitan Police are already looking into the allegations of fraud in Tower Hamlets in London and other investigations can’t be ruled out. The government is to introduce individual electoral registration in an attempt to deter fraudsters but other measures may well prove to be necessary and with the last general election and possibly the next in 2015 very tight, surely the government should be looking now at what can be done to minimise the risks of criminal activity.
Obviously there are differences in terms of voters who turn up in person at the polling booth and those who don’t and there is greater concern about postal votes which have become much more common in recent years and with this sort of vote, of course there are greater opportunities for fraudulent activity to take place.
What more can be done to prevent this type of fraud? I’m especially concerned about postal vote fraud: what can be done to eradicate this? I’d like to hear your suggestions.
People in Northumberland have been warned about the dangers of fraudsters who are making money from phoning up people to claim they have discovered faults on their computer.
It’s been a problem in the area before and may be used in other parts of the country so beware! The fraudsters cold call people and say they have been made aware of a problem with their computer by way of the computer’s operating system and they offer to repair it but obviously try, along the way, to get hold of passwords etc and make their way into bank and savings accounts.
So, whether you are from Northumberland or another part of the UK, take care and even if they appear to be genuine, don’t divulge any personal information by phone or email.
The consumer organisation Which? is giving consumers tips on how to stay one step ahead of fraudsters.
It says the old adage that if something sounds too good to be true it probably is, still applies today and those suspicious or in any doubt, should always double-check who they are dealing with before giving away any personal information. One notable recent development has seen fraudsters claim to be from a company specialising in assisting people who may have been mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI).
They ask for personal information from the customer on the grounds they will then use it to help them get the compensation they are owed. Other scams involve making credit card payments on the computer and the Which? advice asks consumers to check that there is a padlock symbol next to the web address. The padlock, assuming it is there, should not be on the page itself and the website should start with https:// with the “s” standing for secure.
Which? also advises that a full contact address should also be on the site as well as a contact number. Just from these examples it is clear that there are steps people can take quite easily to guard themselves against fraud. Don’t be caught out!