Crime

Copycat Websites

Copycat websites are those which offer services from government departments or local government, but are not the official site and charge an often substantial premium for those services, often with no tangible benefit to the customer. They achieve this by using website tools to achieve high positions in search engines such as Google, often ranking them higher than the official site and making it appear as though they are ‘official’ or ‘authorised’. They also have website addresses designed to confuse with the official site, and often feature a similar look and feel and brand design.

Google does not allow promotion of firms which charge fees for services that are free from an official site, yet the copycat sites persist. They are meant to prominently display that the service they are offering is available free of charge or for a lower fee, but this often displayed in small type at the bottom of the page, or not at all. At least one government agency has taken action with the Advertising Standards Authority against sites which have copied their official logo and branding.

Get started…

Always be sure that you are using the official website, as copycat sites can occupy many of the top listings on your search engine page and end up costing you unnecessary money.

The Risks

  • Being misled into paying excessive prices for official services which can be purchased on the government department or local government site at the correct price. These services include:
    • Passports.
    • Birth and death certificates.
    • Fishing licences.
    • Driving licences.
    • Driving tests.
    • Congestion Charge.
    • European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC).
  • Being told that using copycat sites make a particular process or application faster or easier, when in fact you could do it yourself equally quickly and easily.

Searching and Buying Official Services Safely

  • Do not automatically opt to use the first website(s) you find in a search engine, even if the address seems authentic and you are in a hurry.
  • Instead, take time to look for the official website. You can normally tell that site is official if it ends in ‘.gov.uk’, it has the department, agency or council’s authentic logo and contact details and the prices are cheaper.
  • If you do opt to use an unofficial site to purchase official services, make sure that the payment page is secure by checking that the address begins with ‘https://’ (the ‘s’ is short for ‘secure’) and there is a locked padlock in the browser window.

If you think you have been misled into overpaying by using an unofficial site:

  • Contact the site to insist on a refund, saying you think you were misled.
  • Contact the relevant government department or agency or local government organisation and report the copycat site.

#scamaware

Get Safe Online
https://www.getsafeonline.org/shopping-banking/copycat-websites/

Talk about scams

Anyone can be scammed. Scammers are intelligent, charming and persuasive – but feeling embarrassed or ashamed about falling for a scam can stop people from reporting them or getting the help they need.

Read Michael’s story to see how it could happen to anyone.

Play your part and share your experience on social media with #scamaware and help stop scams.

“I saw my dream car being advertised on Facebook. I had many conversations with the seller and it all seemed above board. All I needed to do was pay a deposit of £3,850 and when the car was delivered I would pay the balance.

“The next day I waited for my car and it didn’t arrive. I tried calling the seller but he never responded.

“I went to my bank and they said their fraud team would investigate. A few weeks later they got in touch, said they had retrieved my money and would be transferring it back to me.

“I will say that if you see something that seems too good to be true, then it probably is and if I am ever asked to do a bank transfer again I’ll decline as your money is not protected.”

Michael

Citizens Advice
http://scams.citizensadvice.org.uk/

Is someone you know being scammed?

Older people and those who are isolated in their community are often targeted by scammers. If you know or visit someone who might be a target you can support them by keeping an eye out for potential signs of scams.

Someone you know might be being targeted if they:

  • have letters piling up – usually from abroad or what looks like junk mail
  • have a lot of items delivered, such as health or beauty products or fake jewellery
  • are anxious when the phone rings, or get a lot of phone calls
  • become secretive when discussing finances or have unexplained expenses to ‘friends’

Citizens Advice
http://scams.citizensadvice.org.uk/

Why you should report scams

Reporting is really important in the fight against scams and fraud. It might help you to recover your losses and it helps the authorities to learn more about the tactics used by scammers.

The more we know about scams the better we can tackle them.

If you suspect a scam report it to Action Fraud – you can use their online reporting tool: www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud.

If you’ve lost money in a scam, tell your bank, finance company or pension provider.

For more advice call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.

#scamaware

Citizen’s Advice
http://scams.citizensadvice.org.uk/

How to spot a scam

Scams are often hard to spot as they’re complex and use psychological tricks. You can keep yourself and others safe by knowing when it might be a scam.
If you’re not sure if something is a scam, get advice.

Talk to friends and family if something seems too good to be true, or call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.

It could be a scam if you:

  • Get a call, text or email out of the blue – genuine companies and banks won’t ask for your full personal or security details
  • Are rushed to make a decision or give someone your details – if it’s real, you shouldn’t have to make a decision straight away
  • See a deal that’s very cheap or too good to be true
  • Are asked to pay for something up-front, like collecting a loan, or starting a job
  • Are asked to send money or your bank details to someone you’ve never met, especially friends online
  • Get a text or email saying that your bank needs to contact you ‘urgently’ especially if there’s a link to a website or a premium rate number

Find out more about common scams:
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/scams/common-scams/

#scamaware

Citizens Advice
http://scams.citizensadvice.org.uk/

Vehicle Online Shopping Fraud

Action FraudFraudsters have been advertising vehicles and machinery for sale on various selling platforms online. The victims, after communicating via email with the fraudster, will receive a bogus email which purports to be from an established escrow provider (a third party who will keep the payment until the buying and selling parties are both happy with the deal).

These emails are designed to persuade victims to pay upfront, via bank transfer, before visiting the seller to collect the goods. The emails also claim that the buyer (victim) has a cooling off period to reclaim the payment if they change their mind. This gives victims the false sense of security that their money is being looked after by this trustworthy third party, when in fact it is not and the money has gone straight to the fraudster.

Protect yourself:

  • When making a large purchase such as a new car or machinery, always meet the seller face to face first and ask to see the goods before transferring any money.
  • If you receive a suspicious email asking for payment, check for spelling, grammar, or any other errors, and check who sent the email. If in doubt, check feedback online by searching the associated phone numbers or email addresses of the seller.
  • Contact the third party the fraudsters are purporting to be using to make the transaction. They should be able to confirm whether the email you have received is legitimate or not.
  • False adverts often offer vehicles or machinery for sale well below market value to entice potential victims; always be cautious. If it looks too good to be true then it probably is.

If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk, or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Action Fraud 12 June 2017
www.actionfraudalert.co.uk/da/182306/Vehicle%20Online%20Shopping%20Fraud.html

Make sure donations go to genuine charities

Generous public should make sure donations go to genuine charities supporting the victims in Manchester

Charity Commission and partners issue advice on safer giving

The Charity Commission, together with organisations helping the victims, have issued advice on safer giving in the wake of the terrorist attack in Manchester. The action follows steps taken by the Virgin Giving website after the Westminster attack, to suspend payment to site users until they had verified that the money would go to those for who it was collected.

The Charity Commission is encouraging people wishing to support the victims of this week’s terrorist attack in Manchester to donate to a genuine charitable appeal.

It says that the great British public are always generous in their support for charities and this has already been reflected via the many giving sites set up to support the victims and families of the appalling attacks in Manchester.

The Charity Commission, Greater Manchester Police, the British Red Cross, and the Lord Mayor of Manchester are urging people wishing to help to give to the We love Manchester appeal, launched by the Lord Mayor of Manchester’s Charitable Appeal Trust or to other registered charities. (more…)

Warm weather fire risks

Enjoy the warmer weather but be aware of fire risks

If you are out and about enjoying the warmer weather over the Bank Holiday weekend, Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) asks that you keep safety in mind.

Whether you are going camping, having a barbecue with friends and family or just out and about enjoying the great outdoors, please be mindful of how quickly a fire can start.

Smouldering cigarette butts thrown from car windows or dropped onto grass verges are a common cause of grass and heath fires. The sun’s rays magnified through broken glass or even the heat from a vehicle parked in the long grass of a make-shift field car park can spark a blaze.

Nearly 40 per cent of all the fires KFRS attended were outdoor fires including woodland, grassland, crops, etc. Sixty per cent of these (around 1000 fires) were believed to have been started deliberately and 45 per cent of these by youths (10-17 year olds).

KFRS Area Manager, Mark Rist explains: “Every year, outdoor fires destroy acres of countryside and wildlife habitats. Whether started accidentally or deliberately these types of fires spread much quicker than expected, particularly when vegetation is dry. They cause a great deal of damage and also tie up valuable firefighting resources which could be saving lives elsewhere.

“A number of outdoor fires are started deliberately, often by children and young people who think its harmless fun but what may have been intended to be just a small fire, can quickly spread out of control. Starting fires on purpose is dangerous and a waste of time and money. With half term approaching, we’re asking parents to talk to their children to make sure they understand they could be putting lives at risk, including their own.”

  • Tell-tale signs that your child could be starting fires include:
  • Do their clothes smell of smoke?
  • Are they using or carrying matches and lighters for no particular reason?

If you are concerned in anyway contact the KFRS’ Firesetters team on 01622 692121 or email firesetters@kent.fire-uk.org for advice on how to deal with the problem.

Mark ended: “We would like local people to help us by reporting suspicious behaviour to CRIMESTOPPERS anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the Police on 101. If you spot a fire, please help us by reporting it immediately, rather than presuming someone else has already made the call. Give as much information as you can including location and nearby landmarks to help our crews respond quicker and to minimise the amount of damage that these devastating fires can cause.”

Kent Fire and Rescue Service 26 May 2017
www.kent.fire-uk.org/news/news-releases/may-2017/enjoy-the-warmer-weather-but-be-aware-of-fire-risks/

Scammers taking advantage of global WannaCry attack.

Action Fraud has received the first reports of Tech-Support scammers claiming to be from Microsoft who are taking advantage of the global WannaCry ransomware attack.

One victim fell for the scam after calling a ‘help’ number advertised on a pop up window. The window which wouldn’t close said the victim had been affected by WannaCry Ransomware.

The victim granted the fraudsters remote access to their PC after being convinced there wasn’t sufficient anti-virus protection. The fraudsters then installed Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, which is actually free and took £320 as payment.

It is important to remember that Microsoft’s error and warning messages on your PC will never include a phone number.

Additionally Microsoft will never proactively reach out to you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support. Any communication they have with you must be initiated by you.

How to protect yourself

  • Don’t call numbers from pop-up messages.
  • Never allow remote access to your computer.
  • Always be wary of unsolicited calls. If you’re unsure of a caller’s identity, hang up.
  • Never divulge passwords or pin numbers.
  • Microsoft or someone on their behalf will never call you.

If you believe you have already been a victim

Get your computer checked for any additional programmes or software that may have been installed.
Contact your bank to stop any further payments being taken.
Report fraud and cyber crime to http://actionfraud.police.uk

Action Fraud 23 May 2017