Households across Cornwall are being duped by fraudsters using four main tactics, Cornwall’s Trading Standards has revealed.
Cornwall Council is highlighting the most prevalent scams as part of Scams Awareness Fortnight (June 13 – 26) and encouraging anyone affected to get in touch.
Recent scams reported to Trading Standards include:
- Home insulation and removal – Complaints about companies offering spray foam or loft insulation have increased by around 40% compared with last year. Customers are often charged far more than the normal value of the work. To make things worse, the same customers are then being targeted weeks later by another company claiming that the insulation has caused terrible damage and that they can remove it for a similar cost.
- Bogus car sales – Online car sales have increased since the pandemic, with people often buying vehicles unseen and with the promise of delivery to their door. Unfortunately, Cornwall’s Trading Standards team has received regular reports of people handing over a deposit or full amount and vehicles either not arriving, or in a worse condition than advertised. Scammers will sometimes use a business name that resembles that of another legitimate trader and give a real, but unconnected contact address – usually in a remote part of the UK.
- Fake deliveries – A person receives a text or email, claiming that a parcel has been unable to be delivered. The message will often provide a link to follow in order to re-book the delivery. At this stage the scammer may try to take a payment for further delivery or ask for personal details.
- Accommodation letting scams – Properties are advertised using photographs which have been taken from historical listings websites in the past. Prospective tenants pay a deposit, only to find that the advertisement and landlord were false, and the property is already occupied. Similar scams have affected holiday accommodation in the same way.
Gary Webster, Cornwall Council’s fair trading team manager said: “Our team works hard to help and support the most vulnerable victims, but we also know that anyone can fall victim to a scam, no matter what their age or financial status.
“At a time when people’s finances are already under pressure, scammers and fraudsters continue to pose a risk to the wellbeing of our communities. Whilst some scams may only lead to a small loss – we see many more that have devastating and long-lasting effects for their victims.”
Martyn Alvey, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for environment and climate change, said: “Scammers are adept at finding new and creative ways to get us to part with of our money and it is important not to feel ashamed or embarrassed about reporting an incident. The more we talk about scams, the better we can raise awareness among our communities.”
Visit Cornwall Trading Standards page if you think you may have been a victim of a scam and would like advice, or are concerned about a friend, neighbour or family member. You can also call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.