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Police join forces to beat the pilgrimage fraudsters

POLICE forces across the country have launched a campaign to tackle fraud relating to the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia - the birthplace of Islam.
Some 49 cases in which pilgrims were conned out of thousands of pounds for bogus trips were reported to Action Fraud - the UK's fraud reporting centre - between April 2015 and 31 March this year.
The average loss was around £2,600 and hotspots for offending were London, Birmingham, Manchester and Blackburn. Around 25,000 British Muslims make the annual pilgrimage to Mecca each year.
A total of 16 police forces across England and Wales are taking part in the initiative to raise awareness of scams.
The campaign is being supported by the British Council of Hajjis, travel association ABTA and ATOL, a financial protection scheme from the Civil Aviation Authority.
People booking package trips with flights this autumn are being advised to make sure the firm they are using is covered by the ATOL scheme - and to not use cash or a direct bank transfer for payment.
They are also being advised to get everything in writing and to check the details of their flight and accommodation and make sure their Hajj visas are valid.
City of London Police Commander Chris Greany said: "Many victims will have saved for years to be able to afford to travel to Saudi Arabia and as a result will be absolutely devastated when they find out that they have in fact been conned by fraudsters.

Beware these mystery funeral planners

SUFFOLK Trading Standards have been made aware of businesses cold-calling in Lowestoft, offering funeral planning services. Whilst this is a perfectly legal method of doing business under normal circumstances, we are concerned by the particular practices being employed by these callers.
According to reports, the representatives of the business have been knocking on doors in the Warren Road and Corton Road area of Lowestoft.
Allegedly, the callers are not carrying identification, they are not giving out their names when asked and, most importantly of all, are allegedly making the following claims that are false:
Their funeral planning services are Government backed
The Government has passed a law that requires over 60’s to have a funeral plan. See full story

Funeral

Trading Standards get rogue victims their money back

A very special event took place at Endeavour House, Ipswich yesterday, as Officers from Suffolk County Council Trading Standards alongside Councillor Sarah Stamp were able to present a cheque totalling £59,000 to consumers who had fallen victims of rogue traders who operated in the Suffolk and Essex areas.
The consumers, aged between 57 and 87 were invited to the Headquarters of Suffolk County Council where they were reunited once again with their hard-earned money, their life savings in some cases.
The payback was possble following the convictions of a father and son. Full story inside

Suffolk TS compensation awards

Ghost companies closed by police

A BOGUS business set up to fraudulently obtain money has been shut down by the Government.
3D Media Ltd, registered to Nobel Square, on the Burnt Mills industrial estate, Basildon, was one of six “phantom” companies closed by the High Court after winding-up orders were presented by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. No-one was based at the listed address of 3D Media Ltd, which sought credit from suppliers to obtain electrical goods worth more than £49,000.
The six companies closed down by the Government were all linked, with all but one business set up by the same person, Jade Evans, who has not been tracked down.
The court heard more than 50 businesses had been formed by Ms Evans as part of a network of companies engaged in “systematic fraud."
Each of the six bogus companies had fictitious directors and were engaged in identity theft, the filing of false accounts, and ordering goods regardless of the price quoted by the supplier.

Ghost companies

News in brief

Step up and become a Victim Support volunteer

VICTIM Support, the charity for victims of crime in England and Wales, is appealing for more volunteers in Essex to help them provide a valuable service in the County.
As a Victim Support volunteer you can help support victims of crime by phone or face-to-face, listening to their concerns and helping them to move on with their lives. You will get a rewarding sense of having made a positive difference to people’s lives.
No experience is necessary, just the willingness to help and between 4-6 hours a week to spare. Training is given and expenses incurred when working for us are reimbursed.
If you are interested in finding out more about what is involved in becoming a Victim Support Volunteer, please visit http://www.victimsupport.org.uk/ , or email essexvolunteering@victim support.org.uk or call 01277 357557.

Victim Support

Beware bogus lottery

POLICE are warning householders to beware of scam involving letters claiming the recipient has won almost £1 million.
Several families across the country have received letters telling them they have won an International FIFA World Cup online lottery. But the recipients are told they will have to pay a fee to claim the money.
Now a nationwide alert has been issued to residents warning them to beware of a letter from ‘Westpac Equity Holdings Ltd’ of Hanover Square, London, claiming they have won £900,000.

Not all tradesmen are rogues says Craig

ROGUE tradesmen, as we all know, give builders, plumbers, painters, joiners, electricians and roofers a bad name and get them all branded as cowboys.
The media must accept their share of the blame for this because only horrific stories of bad workmanship ever make the headlines even though they make up a small proportion of the work carried out across the country every day.
However, a recent survey of 2000 consumers and 320 tradesmen in the UK by insurance giants AXA has confirmed what Checkatrade has been saying for years – that most tradesmen are reliable, dependable and professional. See full story

Warning to bargain hunters

BARGAIN hunters could be unwittingly handing over their personal details to criminal gangs if they sign up for online discount vouchers.
Police have warned shoppers about a spate of fraudulent vouchers which have been circulating on Facebook.
It comes after Aldi issued their own warning about vouchers offering 40% off at their stories, which turned out to be false.
Members of the public could be unknowingly giving their personal details to criminal gangs when they sign up to websites offering the bargains.
Now police have urged social media users to be vigilant at
all times when using devices that can store personal information.
A spokesman said: “The public needs to be on guard against vouchers appearing on their social media newsfeeds claiming to offer incredible savings.
“Criminals are constantly devising more complex and devious methods to unlawfully take your information and your savings – which is why fraudulent offers can often appear official, however if an offer looks too good to be true, it more than likely is.
“Be cautious when online, at a time when savings are so often stretched it is especially important that we don’t fall victim and instead take what measures we can to limit risk."