|Timeshare Scam Hits Wandsworth Businesses
Trading standards team warns businesses to beware
Borough businesses are being warned about scammers who have been cold calling consumers and posing as representatives from two Wandsworth firms in a bid to trick unsuspecting customers into paying them thousands of pounds.
In one case, one of the deceived customers was duped into parting with more than £6,000 by fraudsters pretending to be from a borough-based financial service business.
Wandsworth Council’s trading standards team is calling on businesses to beware after details of the scam came to light.
The con features fraudsters contacting genuine timeshare owners and claiming that money they put towards the sale of their timeshare has been seized - but that they are entitled to refund packages of up to £13,000.
In order to qualify for a refund the con-artists ask for an upfront payment using either a Western Union money transfer or Ukash voucher.
To give the con an air of legitimacy, the scammers have given out the name and registered office details of two Wandsworth financial services businesses and, on one occasion, even gave the name of one of the company directors. They also encourage consumers to check the companies out at Companies House, the Government’s national register of limited companies, so they see that they exist.
Those consumers who are taken in by demands for money discover payment is quickly followed by requests for more money, but no refund or loan materialises.
The borough’s trading standards officers have been inundated with complaints from across the country – and subsequently discovered the businesses named by the fraudsters are victims too and have no involvement with time share or loan brokerage.
Investigations have revealed that the money was being transferred abroad, and as far away as Russia.
Wandsworth’s community safety spokesman, Councillor Jonathan Cook, said:
“Businesses in Wandsworth are also advised to be alert to what may be a developing trend of business identity theft to perpetrate scams. If they are contacted by a previously unknown consumer claiming they are owed money, or to have dealt in activities the business is not actually engaged in, they should immediately contact Trading Standards on 020 8871 7720 or email@example.com.”
Police have been alerted about the scam and Citizens Advice Consumer Service has also been informed so that anyone enquiring about similar loans or refunds on their Consumer Helpline – 08454 04 05 06 – will be instructed not make any payments and to give the scammers short shrift.
Anyone who believes they may be a victim of a scam involving payment by Western Union or Ukash voucher should telephone the Western Union fraud hotline on 0800 026 0309, or Ukash on 0808 234 6244.
October 5, 2012