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Don’t Feel Guilty About Being Scammed

There are many crimes for which the victim is likely to feel angry, upset, threatened and so on but there are also crimes for which the victim may feel partially or completely to blame.

Fraud is one of those crimes that leaves many people feeling foolish for having fallen for it and this is a key reason why a high percentage of frauds are thought to go unreported.

A recent Barclays survey of 1,500 people who have been victims of fraud shows that one in four fraud victims has not even told their partner what happened. The same number feel that being scammed would be more embarrassing than doing a live performance or being stood up on a date.

The words “stupid” and “angry” are commonly used. Yet the survey also suggests that it happens to all of us. For this reason, Barclays ran a series of “Embarrassing Fraud Clinics”, in places such as shopping centres, where the public could talk about their concerns. The idea was to get the message out that we are all potential victims but there is no shame in being defrauded.

Barclays Advice on Dealing with Fraud

  1. Don’t feel guilty

Do not feel ashamed and guilty. Instead remember that fraud happens to people from all walks of life.

  1. Contact the police

Report it to Action Fraud and your bank (if relevant). The quicker you do this, the more likely you are to recover any losses.

  1. Get advice from your bank (if relevant) e.g. Barclays say they are happy to offer such advice.
  2. Talk about it with friends, relatives, colleagues. Spreading the word raises awareness of fraud and helps other victims to deal with it.

Advice on Protecting Yourself Against Fraud by Scammers Caliming to be from Your Bank

  1. Never give your online banking PIN, passcode or password to anyone, even a caller claiming to be from the police or your bank.
  2. Your bank or the police will never ask for your details by text, email or phone, or request that you transfer money or make a payment to a “safe” account.
  3. Don’t rely on the caller display on your phone or SMS messages claiming to be from Barclays – fraudsters can manipulate these.
  4. Always cover your PIN to prevent anyone from seeing it, and don’t let anyone distract you during a transaction

Stay safe!

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The Damaged Roof Scam

This is a doorstep scam that has been happening in the Hampton area of Surrey recently, but is common in many areas.

One or more men knock at your door and say they have damaged your roof accidentally and are willing to fix it free of charge. They usually claim to have been working on next door’s roof when the accident happened.

Doesn’t sound like a scam so far, BUT they will need something that requires a deposit such as scaffolding. They had the cheek to tell one resident that he would need to pay £2,500 deposit for scaffolding for just a few hours.

Fortunately he recognised the scam, as otherwise they would have taken the money and disappeared.

They may claim the roof is damaged or the guttering is broken or in some cases they offer a free check of your roof tiles. Once on the roof they deliberately cause damage and demand an exorbitant price to fix it.

One resident says:-

This exact scam happened to me some months ago. “I am sorry, my ladder accidentally caused your roof damage. I will repair it at no cost”. It sounds like the same gang. Foolishly I allowed him to go up and he then caused damage which I had to get repaired. Yes, follow them and get vehicle number, but do not let them spot you as they then know where you live.

A local roof tiler says:-

“I was called to a job last week where two guys offered a free inspection and once on the roof removed ridge tiles and then refused to put them back unless the owner of the house paid them £350

He told them to come down and reported them to the police.

He then called me and I re-cemented the ridge tiles back and changed some broken tiles at a reduced fee as the

The various residents involved have all reported this to the Police, who already knew about the fraudsters and they have been caught.

However, there are numerous other gangs who also operate this scam.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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PDFs Are Not as Safe As You Think

We are all used to having to be careful opening certain emails, zipped files,  WORD, EXCEL and other types of files in case they contain some kind of malware – virus, ransomware, Trojan etc.

But most people feel safe opening PDF documents.

However, scammers are using PDFs more and more as attachments in email or malicious downloads on websites.

PDFs can contain javascript programming which can have malicious intent and they can contain links which of course could go to any website.

Microsoft Malware Protection Center released a list of PDF filenames that are commonly used in malicious emails and websites. Scammers keep making new names of course.

  • pdf_new.pdf
  • auhtjseubpazbo5.pdf
  • avjudtcobzimxnj2.pdf
  • pricelist.pdf
  • couple_saying_lucky.pdf
  • 5661f.pdf 7927
  • 9fbe0.pdf 7065
  • pdf_old.pdf

Q. How can you protect yourself against malicious content?

Most of the PDF exploits use Javascript so if you disable that then a large part of the problem is blocked.

However, common sense goes a long way in protecting you.

  1. Do not open an email or download anything that is sent to you by someone you don’t know
  2. Make sure your email settings are on high protection and your anti-virus and anti-malware programmes are working
  3. If there’s a file on email you really want to open but aren’t sure then save it and then scan it (usually you right mouse click and select scan – depending on which anti-malware solutions you use)

Of course, you should run regular scans of your computer to ensure no malware has been installed.

How to Turn Off Javascript in PDFs

If you use a programme other than ADOBE for opening PDFs then you’ll need to check how to disable Javascript. If you use ADOBE then see below:-

  1. Start Acrobat or ADOBE
  2. Select EDIT then PREFERENCES
  3. Select the Javascript category
  4. Uncheck the Enable Acrobat Javascript option
  5. Save and exit

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Neighbourhood Watch

In these day of everything going digital, does the Neighbourhood Watch still have a role to play?

YES!

Neighbourhood Watch can provide security and assurance that nothing online can offer.

The Neighbourhood Watch scheme began in the United Kingdom in 1982 and is a partnership intended to bring people together to make their communities safer. It involves the police, Community Safety departments of local authorities, other voluntary organisations and individuals and families who want to make their neighbourhoods better places to live. It aims to help people protect themselves and their properties and to reduce the fear of crime by means of improved home security, greater vigilance, accurate reporting of suspicious incidents to the police and by fostering a community spirit. It is claimed that over 3.8 million households are covered by a neighbourhood watch.

Objectives of Neighbourhood Watch

  • To improve community safety generally including e.g. fire safety
  • To prevent crime by improving security, increasing vigilance, creating and maintaining a caring community and reducing opportunities for crime by increasing crime prevention awareness.
  • To assist the police in detecting crime by promoting effective communication and the prompt reporting of suspicious and criminal activity.
  • To reduce undue fear of crime by providing accurate information about risks and by promoting a sense of security and community spirit, particularly amongst the more vulnerable members of the community.
  • To improve police/community liaison by providing effective communications through Neighbourhood Watch messaging systems which warn Coordinators of local crime trends which they can disseminate to their scheme members, and by members informing the police of incidents when they occur.

Neighbourhood Watch schemes are run by their members through a coordinator and are supported by the police and in many divisions, a local Neighbourhood Watch Association.

A volunteer resident coordinator supervises the scheme and liaises with the police, they receive information and messages to keep them in touch with activities and some have marker kits, alarms and other security items, which are available to members. The schemes are a community initiative, which is supported by the police, not run by them, so success depends on what the members make of it.

Do Neighbourhood Watches Help to Reduce Door-to-Door Scammers?

The anecdotal evidence is that they do reduce this type of crime. This is largely because people are more aware of possible crimes and do keep an eye out for unexpected visitors to their doors. Also, door-to-door crooks tend to avoid areas where there are any signs of organisation against crime and Neighbourhood Watch areas are usually identifiable by stickers on homes and buildings.

If there is a Neighbourhood Watch in your area, then consider joining.

If there isn’t one, then consider starting one.

Do you have an opinion on this matter? Please comment in the box below.

The Wangiri Phone Scam

This is the call back scam, which has risen to epidemic levels in Ireland.

Ireland’s phone operators say that tens of thousands of scam mobile phone calls are sweeping across Ireland in an “unprecedented” surge.

The calls, often have international prefixes including +231 (Liberia), +269 (The Comoros Islands), or +43 (Austria) and are intended to trick people into phoning back at premium rates.

The numbers are high cost international numbers and the fraudsters will get paid for each call back. The fraudsters will try to keep you on the line for as many minutes as possible.

The scam is known as a ‘wangiri’ call, (means one ring) because the mobile phone typically rings just once or twice.

The scammers hope that people will automatically call back without looking too closely at the number.

The telecoms watchdog admits there is no easy way to identify such calls but advise not calling back unless you know the number that called you and certainly do not call back if left a blank message.

Some mobile operators do block these scam numbers as they are identified and that stops them  from calling their customers and blocks their customers from returning the call.

If your receive such calls, then notify your phone company of the calling numbers.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

Stupidest Scam or Spam of the Week

An email titled ‘No More Veggies. Substitute This”

This is from Tyler Bramlett, who seems devoid of basic common sense.

He’s pushing a drink made of greens, that is called Organify and he seems to believe it is very healthy.

Not eating vegetables cannot possibly be a healthy action to take.

He goes on to claim he gets sent around 35 supplements each week by people wanting him to endorse their products but he only picks 1 or 2 to do so.

Drinking apple juice is not as healthy as eating apples. Drinking green vegetable water is not as healthy as eating green vegetables. It’s very simple really.

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Time-Wasters Update

So, what rubbish emails and calls have there been to Brooklands Radio station in the last few days?

An email from Sara asking for full-time work or to be an intern in order to gain experience in the field. But she has no idea who we are or what we do so it’s just a scam.

Another message supposedly from Whatsapp (there’s a few of these every week) telling us our trial subscription has ended. But we don’t have such a subscription so it cannot be ending and the email is from lifeteen.com which always means it’s a scam.

Mr. A James Lyon offering a free mortgage review. But he works for a Marketing company so he’s just trying to find leads to sell to mortgage companies. No thanks.

This email starts ”Did You hear the News?” and goes on about a man assaulted at a bar as he tried to collect his 5th winnings on the lottery. A surprising but still pitiful attempt to claim someone knows the secret to winning the lottery. It’s simple – the more you play the more chance you have of winning. But also the more you play the more you lose is the general experience.

Now a man who had discovered the secret that Big Pharma has tried to keep from us – the  cure for diabetes. Nope. The scammers only secret is their identity while they try to con money from people.

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