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Last Updated:

30th Mar 2014

All Saints Church

 Alerts 

We publish a list of the latest scams and local crime threats as posters throughout the village. There are some links to examples later on this page.

There is a long list of particularly significant scams at the extensive www.actionfraud.police.uk with an extract of some of the most important ones here.

 Many other scams are on this website,  and some of the latest are on http://www.essexnhw.org.uk/page_3071953.html

At the time of writing (March 2014), there are many very clever scams around, both by telephone and internet. Several of the recent internet ones are aimed at frightening you into ( or just getting you interested in) clicking on a web link which loads some sort of malware onto your PC or tablet. There have even been texts to mobile 'phones telling you to go to a web address to sort out banking problems or claim a prize or PPI refund.
One scam states that your recent blood test suggests cancer. Very frightening if you've just had a blood test.
Another looks very official and from the police, and includes stolen graphics to make it look particularly convincing.

The criminals pretend, convincingly to be bank officials, the Royal Mail, police, HM government or pretty much any other body that you might deal with regularly and so expect some sort of communication.

The usual old rules apply. Never give any personal data. Don't click on web links in email.  An don't believe that just because someone proves to you that they know some digits on your car or computer  they are genuine. If in doubt, hang up and use another phone to call the organisation that claims to be calling you.

Don't take up too good to be true offers for sale in small adverts. If you pay by debit card  you may well get the goods. But then later they will use the details they have to get the contents of your bank account.

Did you know that now fraudsters can not only fake the incoming address on an email, but even the 'phone number that shows up con caller display on your telephone. So you can't trace the criminal from their telephone number.

For a very comprehensive list of scams, many of which are not necessarily prevalent locally (but might one day be) the smartphone app Scam-detector is easy to install and use on iPhone or Android

Here are links to our own posters warning about scams

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

In January 2014 one of our members told us of this very clever and
convincing scam:-
A courier arrives with a bunch of flowers and a bottle of bubbly and says it is a present. When asked who from, they can't say. The only snag is that the benefactor didn't pay the delivery charges and there is 3.50 owing. The victim of the fraud offer the cash but is told, sorry, but they can only accept a card payment. If they pay, the card account is cleaned out shortly after.

There were several burglaries around the village late in 2013, mostly aimed at stealing keys to expensive cars. In one case the car's owner was followed to her house and the burglary attempted later. This suggests that cars are being stolen to order. The latest target of thieves in the area (but not yet in Doddinghurst) is the expensive
catalytic converters fixed underneath all petrol-powered cars. Everyone is advised to keep their cars as well secured as possible at all times, as it only takes a few minutes with a small angle grinder to steal several hundred pounds-worth of converter and render the car unuseable.

The 'Your computer has problems' scam is still going. It is getting ever more convincing, now telling people that their hard drive is reporting problems, something that is technically feasible these days. Ignore!!!

Other Warnings, received late January or early February:


1. Shed burglaries

The police report that as sheds are easier to burgle than properly secured houses, they are increasingly becoming a target. There have been several instances of this around Doddinghurst. The February Scary Be Wary poster suggests ways to reduce your risks.

2. Fake Police Officer on 101 call.

This is the usual sort of scam with an unusual twist. Someone calls you up and tells you that your card  or account has been misused and advises you to call 101 straight away and talk to a named police officer. He then manages to hang on to the call, and when you think you've called the real police on 101 you are actually talking to him. Then, as usual, he asks for enough banking details to enable him to steal a lot of money.

If you get this sort of call, bear in mind that no bank or police officer will really ask you for this level of detail. Just call the real 101 and give details.

3. Rare metal investment scam

 Police are warning the public to be aware of a national scam involving investment in “rare earth metals” [24 January 2013]

The scam involves fraudsters’ cold calling potential victims to persuade them into investing substantial amounts ofRare metal investment scammoney in “rare earth metal oxides”.

The caller claims rare earth metals are ‘the new big thing‘ in alternative investments and insist that high demand for the metals in the manufacture of many goods will lead to very attractive returns.

The fraud is being highlighted by Devon and Cornwall Police after five people have recently fallen victim in the area. Nationally the fraud totals millions of pounds.

Detective Sergeant Mark Newnham commented, “The extent of this scam is huge and anyone could become a victim of persistent fraudsters.

“Although there are bone fide companies who deal legitimately in metal investments this particular fraud involves investment in very poor valued or worthless commodities. Genuine companies do not ‘cold call’ and use intimidating and persuasive tactics and I would urge anyone who is contacted out of the blue regarding such investments to think very carefully. Do not agree to invest on a whim without making basic checks into the company”.

For more advice on fraud pr personal safety, contact your local Crime Reduction Officer, or, Colin Freeman, Essex Watch Liaison Officer, Police Station, 230, High Street, Epping, Essex CM16 4AP Tel: 01279 621862 email: colin.freeman@essex.pnn.police.uk ESSEX POLICE: NON - EMERGENCY Tel. No: 101 In an Emergency dial: 999 Website: www.essex.police.uk/my_neighbourhood.aspx

CRIME REDUCTION OFFICER

EPPING FOREST: Tony Ellis Tel: 101 Ext: 319383

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Received from Office of Fair Trading October 2012

OFT warns of PPI compensation scam

The OFT is aware that over recent weeks people  have been telephoned by an individual claiming to be from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and told that the OFT can pay them compensation for mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI). This is untrue.

Consumers are being told that on payment of an administration fee, usually between 100 and 400, the OFT will send them a compensation payment of several thousand pounds. They are then asked to obtain an electronic cash voucher and text it to an 0203 telephone number. An electronic voucher works by either going to a shop or going on line and paying for a voucher with a code number that you can then text to whoever you want. They can then use it to pay for goods.

If they do this the consumer receives nothing -  the electronic voucher is untraceable and irrecoverable.

Advice from the OFT

  • The OFT never calls people in this way and has no remit to give compensation to members of the public  on PPI or any other matter.

  • Be very wary if you are asked to pay an upfront fee for anything that you have not asked for.

  • If you are not sure do not agree to send money or give any personal or bank details.

  • Many vouchers and electronic payment vouchers are untraceable and irrecoverable, making them highly attractive payment methods to fraudsters. Treat them and use them as you would use cash.

  • If you are caught out, report the matter to the police.

Subscription traps

Alert summary

Subscription traps are deceptive devices which work by tricking consumers into signing up to  a long-term contract for goods or services. They do so by including a tie-in period or through a commitment on the part of the consumer to take deliveries until they cancel, with refunds not allowed unless goods are faulty. Consumers who are deceived are  not aware of a subscription until goods arrive or money is first taken from their account.

Consumers can be led to sign up by:

  • Attraction. Many subscription traps offer upfront 'trials, 'special offers' or 'rewards' that are free, discounted or described in reassuring but vague terms - for example as being 'risk-free' with no further explanation.  Details of the consumer's continuing commitment are hidden behind the offer.

  • Distraction. Another type of subscription trap offers products or services in addition to the purchase consumers set out to make - often in a pop-up window that appears during or just after the original sales process. Sometimes, consumers can sign up for a subscription just by entering an email address and clicking one button.

Subscription traps have been discovered in operation by some websites marketing:

  • Health foods and super-foods including acai berries and preparations based on them

  • Pharmaceuticals

  • Cosmetics, particularly 'miracle' anti-ageing or anti-wrinkle products

  • Membership-benefits schemes, typically offering vouchers, discounts or cash-back

Advice from the OFT

  • Be very wary if you are asked to enter any payment card details for a free offer and make sure you check the small print.

  • If you are not sure of the site, look for online reviews, and be careful about agreeing to any other options.

  • You should check your bank and credit card statements regularly to make sure that you are aware of what payments you are making. If you find any you are unsure of you should contact your bank or card provider at once

  • If you are caught out it is possible to stop future payments being made on your Debit and Credit Card by contacting your bank or card company.


Received November 2011

Every year pepole have cars stolen because they have left them unsupervised for a few moments with the engines running to defrost the windows.  The police remind us that insurance companies are very unlikely to accept a claim in these circumstances. Painful if you lose your car and get a hike in your premium. Devastating if you bought the car with a loan and have to keep paying the loan for the thief to drive it because the insurance won't pay. Catastrophic if you now can't get to work as you have no car.

Received November 2010 but still happening:-

A company cold calls you at home and states there is a problem with the anti-virus software on your computer. They know your surname - probably from the 'phone book. They sound very plausible and offer to help you download and install a programme, free of charge, to help you update your protection.
They can be quite persistent and when this programme is downloaded and installed on your computer they can then access your personal information including passwords and bank details.

The standard advice if cold called is to terminate the call without handing over any personal information.

If you are contacted please notify Consumer Direct on 08454 040506, providing as much information as possible.

For more information visit www.getsafeonline.gov.uk.

Added 27th November:-

Check your supermarket bills.  A local checkout operator has recently been found adding a cashback to the bill but keeping the cash.

There were several burglaries around the village a few weeks back, mostly aimed at stealing keys to expensive cars. In one case the car's owner was followed to her house and the burglary attempted later. This suggests that cars are being stolen to order. There have also been some local thefts of equipment from cars - Sat-Navs in particular. In several cases there is some doubt as to whether the car windows were all fully shut, making access easy.

The latest burglary technique is rather worrying. Burglars are looking for houses with integral garages that have up-and-over doors. These doors are reputedly very easy to force open, giving acess in many cases to tools and to a relatively insecure door to the rest of the house. Fortunately relatively cheap, simple but reasonably effective supplementary locks are available to make up-and-over doors more secure.

 The latest target of thieves in the area (but not yet in Doddinghurst) is the expensive catalytic converters fixed underneath all petrol-powered cars. Everyone is advised to keep their cars as well secured as possible at all times, as it only takes a few minutes with a small angle grinder to steal several hundred pounds-worth of converter and render the car unuseable.

Emma Clark, our local crime reduction officer sent some valuable advice located at BurglaryPrevention.html .

There have also been some very clever and convincing scams.

Examples include:

Telephone calls from people claiming to be from banks or Visa talking about unauthorised payments from your account (Yes there will be if you continue talking to them). 

Cards put through your door by an outfit called PDS (Parcel delivery Service)  telling you that they have been unable to deliver a parcel and that you should call them. The number they give is very expensive premium rate and there is no parcel anyway. Call Crimestoppers or Trading Standards instead!

Variants on the 'Your virus scanner has a problem" scam. Telephone calls from people claiming that your computer has a virus and volunteering to take you through a procedure to remove it. (They either actually install one so that they can steal your bank details or they charge you lots of money to remove the virus that you don't have)

Alarm companies calling or phoning and claiming, falsely, to be working with the police to offer very cheap burglar alarms. The alarms are cheap, but then cost you a fortune in maintenance charges.  One such company calls itsself SAS Security, but there are others.  Click for more detail on this. 

In General:-

Doddinghurst seems to have some of the lowest crime statistics around.  But people do drive away to other areas. So bear in mind that we have had reports of many clever attempts at distracting or fooling people into leaving their cars insecure.

If you get into your car on your own, you might care to lock yourself in using the central locking system.

Don't be fooled by someone who comes across the car park to ask for directions with a map or papers. Or someone who slaps a poster on your rear window. When you get out to help with directions or remove the poster, your valuables or the whole car might disappear.

When at home, don't forget to hide your car keys away from the front door. Even locally we have heard of cars being stolen by the keys being taken from near the door. And don't forget that your insurance may well be invalid if you leave the car unlocked - even briefly.

Keep an eye on those number plates. If they get stolen and used on another car, you could have some uncomfortable interviews about any crimes in which that car is involved.  It is possible to make the number plates harder to steal by fitting tamper-proof screws or to fit number plates which are destroyed by any attempt to remove them.