Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Beware of Scam Advertisements

Joint warning from City of London Police, Metropolitan Police Service and Trading Standards

Police and Trading Standards Officers are advising the public not to reply to bogus adverts placed in local and national press by a company claiming to sell high value electrical goods at reduced prices. Customers who have attempted to buy goods from the advert have been asked to pay or transfer cash into a bank account. They are told that the items will be sent to them only to find that the purchases never arrive.

The adverts have been placed in local papers and magazines nationwide under a variety of names including Arash Ltd, The Gadget Company, Gadget Limited, Office Bits Warehouse, Office Supplies Cabin and Office Brands Megastore. The only contact details are telephone and fax numbers and occasionally an email address that is based on the URL @easymailorders.com.

(It should be noted that there are companies in the UK trading legitimately under names similar to ‘The Gadget Company’.)

Another aspect of the scam is that cards from company’s calling themselves ‘Parcel Express UK’ and ‘Network Link Couriers’ are posted through random front doors telling the householder that they have missed delivery of a parcel. It asks the recipient to phone a number and pay for a customs charge of the product by credit or debit card. Once this is done the parcel fails to arrive. Although money is not debited from the victims’ account, the card details are later used fraudulently.

Parcel Express UK and Network Link Couriers are not legitimate companies. As a matter of course unless you are confident of the legitimacy of the company contacting you then do not provide your card or bank details to organisations or people not known to you. If you have placed an order in response to one of the newspaper adverts concerned, or called ‘Parcel Express UK’ or ‘Network link Couriers’, you should inform your bank immediately and cancel your card.

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Head, head of the Economic Crime Directorate at the City of London Police and the force investigating the frauds, said:

"The City of London Police Economic Crime Directorate is working closely with Westminster Trading Standards Office and the Metropolitan Police to identify those responsible for this fraud. We are at an early stage, however it is evident victims have been duped by bogus advertisements for reduced price goods, placed in trusted newspapers and national magazines. Our advice to people is this: only ever part with your financial details to a known and trusted company. Likewise if an approach for delivery of a parcel is unexpected or unsolicited, be wary, question the reasons why and take time out to consider the validity of the request. Trading Standards or Consumer Direct can offer advice."

If you suspect you have been a victim of this crime please report it to the City of London Police at ophukka@cityoflondon.police.uk or phone their fraud line on 020 7601 6999 or contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.

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