Crime Prevention advice from Herts. Cons
This button has been added because Crime Prevention advice has been in the past, scattered in different sections of the website. Its thought that this was impracticale given the seriousness of the subject. By centralising it we could then add more useful information:
Beware Whatsapp/text scams impersonating your relatives
Our team who support fraud victims have informed us of a number of recent reports of scams where people have been contacted by text or Whatsapp by someone claiming to be their son/daughter who tells them they are using a different phone number because they have lost or damaged their phone. The phoney son/daughter has then sent a follow up message asking for a bill to be paid. In some cases, the victims have lost substantial sums of money.
Please beware contacts claiming to be from people you know who are not using their usual phone number.
If someone you know contacts you to ask you to transfer money or pay a bill, it is a good idea to speak to the person directly to confirm that they are who they claim to be.
Stay Safe From Phone Fraud
Phone fraud or ‘vishing’ is when a fraudster calls pretending to be your bank, supplier, customer, internet service provider or the police. They’ll often call pretending from your bank, highlighting there is a problem with your accounts or online banking. They appear genuine as they’ll already have information on you.
159 a new fraud hotline will let you check whether a call from your bank is genuine.
If you think someone is trying to trick you into handing over money or personal details… …Stop, hang up and call 159 to speak directly to your bank.
Call 159 if:
Someone contacts you saying they’re from your bank – even if they are not suspicious
You receive a call asking you to transfer money or make a payment – even if it seems genuine
You receive a call about a financial matter and it seems suspicious
Remember, 159 will never call you. But you can rely on 159 to get you through to your bank.
What happens if 159 doesn’t work, for any reason?
You should contact your bank in the normal way, using the number on your bank card.
How much does it cost to call 159?
Calling 159 will cost the same as a national rate call; usually part of the included minutes in most phone tariffs.
Who is behind 159?
159 has been set up by banks and telephone companies who want to fight fraud. It’s a pilot scheme at the moment. The following banks are part of it:
Lloyds (including Halifax and Bank of Scotland)
NatWest (including Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank)
That covers over 70% of UK primary current account holders.
Vehicle security - Disabled badge holders
Due to an increase in incidents of theft of blue disabled badges from vehicles we would like to take this opportunity to remind residents to ensure that vehicles are secured whenever parked or unattended, and that disabled badges are only displayed when necessary. When parked in a suitably marked parking bay if you are so entitled, disabled badges are not required to be displayed between 6:30pm and 8:30am.
It also may be worth cosidering investing in a blue badge protector, which can be locked to the vehicle's steering wheel to prevent theft.
if you require any further help and advice please call our non-emergency number 101 or visit our website at herts.police.uk
Cold Calling Scams relating to Loft Insulation
Hertfordshire County Council Trading Standards is warning of fraudulent cold calls being made to residents who have had spray foam loft insulation applied in the past. The fraudsters may tell you that there are issues with the original installing company and they may frighten you by talking about fire risks associated with that insulation. They will tell you that you will be able to claim back the cost of the installation and that they will be able to remedy the works essentially for free.
None of those claims are true. What is true however, is that customer lists have fallen into the hands of scammers who are making these targeted sales calls. Once in a property, they produce a ‘report’ indicating safety problems and then arrange to carry out ‘remedial’ works themselves. Although they say the work is free, they will need paying first, telling you to try to claim money back from your bank for the original defective works. In the absence of a genuine inspection report, this will not happen. If payment was made by cheque or bank transfer, there is no obligation for the bank to pay anything back in these circumstances anyway. It is a scam.
If you, or anyone you know, has had this work done in the past please be prepared for these calls and tell them that you are not interested. Please don’t allow the trader to enter your home.
If you have had this work done and need advice, please contact Hertfordshire County Council Trading Standards via Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133. We have a small stock of call blocking devices that we can lend to victims of landline telephone frauds, please contact us to discuss if appropriate.
To report a fraud to the Police, please contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk
AT LAST SOME GOOD NEWS - Fraudsters jailed for series of courier scams
Two men who were involved in a series of courier scams across the county have been jailed for more than eight years in total.
The men were involved in courier fraud offences between October 2019 and January 2020, in which they contacted vulnerable people, pretending to be a DC Martin Rose. The victims were informed that their bank accounts were being used by fraudsters and asked to withdraw money, purchase high value items or provide bank cards. A courier was then despatched to the victims’ addresses to collect these items.
The men conned more than £10,000 out of victims.
The men were found in possession of a mobile phone upon arrest which contained a script in the name of DC Martin Rose, that they read out when contacting the victims. The phone also contained a voice recording of a call to a victim.
Ishmail Sarwar, 24, of High Road, Willesden, and Zhaigham Kiyani, 26, of Craigmuir Park, Wembley, appeared at court on 21 April, pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud.
On Tuesday 18 May, Sarwar was sentenced to 4 years 10 months imprisonment and Kiyani was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment.
Detective Inspector Rob Burns, from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit, said: “Courier fraud has been a significant concern in the county for a number of years. They often target vulnerable victims who can lose thousands of pounds to these scams.
“It can be very difficult to catch those responsible, they often change tactics when a scam becomes known but they very good at convincing their victims to part with money and they are often long gone by the time the police are alerted. Anyone in a similar situation should be aware that police officers will never contact you in this way or ask you to withdraw money, make electronic transfers or purchase goods and vouchers. If you are in any doubt contact the police on 101 using a different phone.”
Listen to a mock scam phone call (opens in a new window)
Whats App information
If you have a "Whats App" application on your Mobiles, this message is for you.
Whats App has changed the group setting to include “Everyone” so people you don’t know can add you to a group, especially those unwanted Companies or individuals. Possible future Scams.
You can change your settings :
1. Go to your Whats App Icon
2. Click on Settings at the bottom of the page
3. Click on Account
4. Click on Privacy
5. Click on Groups
6. Change setting from "Everyone" to "My Contacts"
You can change other settings, but that is your personal choice.
I personally have changed all my settings to "My Contacts"
Keep Safe and vigilant.
There are a lot of variations of scams, which do evolve on a regular basis, the vast majority if not all involve Social Engineering – Appealing to emotions, leveraging urgency and authority – and it’s crucial that we raise awareness of that ‘well-trodden path’ as I call it, because once you are attuned to looking out for those signs, it’s easier to identify a scam regardless of what type of one it is, how long it takes to come into fruition, etc. On average there is over 600 victims per month in Hertfordshire loosing many thousands of pounds
Typical scams in circulation
1. Scammers posing as Police Officers/Staff/Banking Officials.
2. HMRC monies owing or refunds
3. Dating websites – Romance scams. Exploiting vulnerable, lonely members of our society during Lockdown.
4. Spoof emails asking to click on links
5. Post office/ courier texts demanding payment for wrong postage. - This is a double scam whereby payment is demanded to redeliver a parcel. Then a few days later the victim is called by a scammer purporting to be from their bank, and they are told they were victim of a scam (which they were), but because this is a truth the victim believes them and then potentially parts with further money via a Push Payment.
6. Virgin Media network and account issues
7. Amazon prime accounts
8. Courier Fraud - when a victim (often elderly or MH concerns) will be contacted and told they need to move their money out of their account as they have been subject to a scam/investigation. They then arrange to meet with that individual to collect the money they take out of the account.
With large unusual payments or requests to take money out of a branch, the Banking Protocol will be enacted by banking staff whom inform the Police of potentially fraudulent activity
Please report all scams to Action Fraud on the following link: www.actionfraud.police.uk
Warning after residents targeted in HMRC scams
Hertfordshire Constabulary is warning residents to stay vigilant following reports of scam phone calls and text messages which appeared to be from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Seven victims in Borehamwood, Watford and Hemel Hempstead have been contacted by the fraudsters claiming to be the HMRC over the last few weeks. The victims were told there were outstanding debts or unpaid taxes in their names. The fraudsters then asked the victims to make bank transfers as payment. One victim lost £1,400.
The fraudsters cold call victims using a spoofed number that appears to be a genuine Hertfordshire Constabulary phone number, sometimes leaving voicemail messages claiming that the victim owes unpaid tax to HMRC. The victims are asked to call back on the number provided, through which they are told that there is a warrant out in their name and if they don’t pay, the police will arrest them. The victims are also sometimes contacted via text messages asking them to urgently call the number provided.
How to protect yourself:
HMRC will never use texts to tell you about a tax rebate or penalty or ever ask for payment in this way.
Telephone numbers and text messages can easily be spoofed. You should never trust the number you see on your telephone display.
If you receive a suspicious cold call, end it immediately.
If you believe that you are a victim of this scam please contact Hertfordshire Constabulary’s non- emergency number 101, using a different phone to that used to communicate with the fraudsters. If a fraud is in progress or someone’s life is in danger, call 999 immediately.
Visit www.actionfraud.police.uk or www.herts.police.uk/protectyourmoney for advice on avoiding scams
Appeal for information following thefts from motor vehicles in Waltham Cross
Police are investigating a series of theft from motor vehicle offences, in which disability blue badges have been stolen in Waltham Cross.
Since Wednesday 3 March, a total of 15 reports of vehicles having a window smashed and a blue badge stolen have been made.
The incidents have taken place on Park Lane, Hurst Drive, Raglan Avenue and the other side of Monarchs Way from Queens Road to Russells Ride.
PC Lucy Biddick, who is investigating, said: “I’m appealing for anyone who has information about these incidents or witnessed any of them take place, to please make contact with us.
“Any theft is upsetting for the victims, but this is particularly distressing for those involved, due to their vulnerabilities.
“If you do have a blue badge please be aware that blue badge locks are available to buy online and this may deter further thefts.
“If you are able to help I can be contacted directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org”
You can report information online at herts.police.uk/report speak to an operator in our Force Communications Room via our online web chat at herts.police.uk/contact or call the non-emergency number 101.
Alternatively, you can stay 100% anonymous by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their untraceable online form at crimestoppers-uk.org.
You can use our community voice platform ‘echo’ to let us know what you think we should be prioritising in your area. Your feedback will help towards shaping our local policing priorities, initiatives and campaigns. Visit bit.ly/herts-echo and tell u
Avoid Scams When Purchasing Items Online
We are continuing to see high numbers of frauds and scams involving online shopping, particularly relating to auction sites (such as Gumtree, Depop and Ebay) and private sellers who have advertised items through sites such as Instagram, Facebook. These frauds involve to a wide range of goods, from technology and electrical items to cosmetics, fashion and even pets.
When buying new or second hand goods online, please take care about who you are buying from, and how you make your payment.
• When making online purchases, NEVER PAY BY DIRECT BANK TRANSFER. Fraudsters often concoct stories to persuade you to transfer your money to a bank account instead of paying by a safer method – be suspicious of anyone asking you to do this.
• Payments made via bank transfer are not protected if you do not receive the item.
• Remember that credit card payments offer greater protection than many other methods.
• Alternatively, use a secure payment site such as PayPal, but beware phoney PayPal emails and DO NOT use the “Friends and Family” option unless you know and trust the person, as this option does not provide fraud cover. Check the rules, as PayPal Buyer Protection does not cover some items.
• Stay within the auction guidelines stipulated on the website. Auction sites should have Help/Information pages with advice and guidance about payment methods.
• Before making any purchases, research unfamiliar retailers online. It is also a good idea to conduct a ‘whois’ search at https://who.is to check when the site was created, be wary of newly formed domains.
• Before entering payment card details on a website, ensure that the page is secure. However, a secure page does not mean the retailer is reputable.
• Be clear about shipping and delivery costs (are they included or clearly stated?).
• If the item advertised seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Age UK Hertfordshire Warning
Age UK Hertfordshire have seen a pattern in a number of calls coming into them from their clients regarding the following two things:
• Someone is posing as a staff member from Age UK Hertfordshire over the phone, stating that our clients have outstanding bills and they are requesting payment/card details over the phone, for you to pay these bills.
• Someone is posing as a staff member from Age UK Hertfordshire over the phone, saying that they can help our clients with shopping but that they need their bank details in order to help them.
Please remember that they would NEVER ask for bank payment details over the phone for shopping. If our clients do receive such requests we have told them to be wary and to contact our Information and Advice Team if they need us on 0300 345 3446.
The Little Book of Scams is a helpful document to read.
Scam Awareness update
We continue to receive reports from our members on the scam emails/phone messages they have received since the COVID-19 Pandemic outbreak, some of these relate to scams we have seen in the past: TV Licence renewal: Washing machine out of Warranty: HMRC refunds/demands, and many more.
Attached is the Little Book of Scams, although not COVID-19 related,it does cover off the most common scams we are receiving. All scams you receive should be reported online to www.actionfraud.police.uk
The website also has useful information on the different scams,please take time to visit and study the advice given
Rogue Traders Warning Roof Cleaning
Trading Standards have received reports that companies have been cold-calling offering a ‘roof renovation service’ in Hertfordshire.
The service generally involves pressure-cleaning and painting of the roof; it is very expensive and experts advise it is likely to cause damage to the tiles, harm the lifespan of a roof and create an unnecessary need for ongoing maintenance.
We advise against having this kind of work carried out on your home, and against dealing with cold-callers.
If you do require home maintenance work, we suggest that you obtain 3 independent quotes. Seek recommendations from family or friends, or use a reputable approved trader scheme such as Which Trusted Traders to find reliable tradespeople: https://trustedtraders.which.co.uk/
Remember, you have certain consumer rights for when contracts are agreed to in the home (off-premises contracts) - including a 14 day right to cancel (shown below).
If you have any concerns or require advice, please contact Trading Standards via 03454 04 05 06.
If you need to reply regarding this message, tap on this email address: email@example.com
Is your purse protected?
Shoppers in Broxbourne are being reminded to remain vigilant following reports of purse thefts in Waltham Cross and Hoddesdon.
Five such incidents have been reported to police in the last three months.
Sergeant Chris Fisher, from the Hoddesdon Safer Neighbourhood Team said: “Tackling purse dippings is one of our current neighbourhood priorities and we are working hard to identify offenders. We are also trying to make people aware of this type of crime especially as we enter the festive period and educate shoppers and businesses on how they can prevent incidents from occurring.
We’re urging people to take simple steps to help better protect their valuables while out and about in shops and the town centres.” Advice includes:
• Never leave your bag or other personal belongings unattended while out shopping, this includes leaving it in a trolley or on a table in a café.
• Make sure your bag is kept zipped up and carried in front of you at all times to prevent opportunist thieves from reaching in.
• Keep your purse at the bottom of your bag so it is more difficult for thieves to locate.
• Be aware of anyone who may be acting suspiciously around you, especially at cash machines or while using chip and pin machines. Always keep your PIN shielded.
• Report any suspicious activity to shop staff or police straight away.
You can report information about this type of crime online at herts.police.uk/report, speak to an operator in our Force Communications Room via our online web chat at herts.police.uk/contact or call the non-emergency number 101. If a crime is in progress or someone’s life is in danger, call 999 immediately.
Alternatively, you can stay 100% anonymous by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their untraceable online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
Protect Yourself and Others
Please assist us by alerting people in your community who may be susceptible to this type of fraud, particularly older people who are often at home in the daytime.
To protect yourself, here’s what you need to remember:
Your bank or the police will never call you to ask you to withdraw or transfer your money. They would never call to ask for your full PIN or password.
Beware any time you are asked for personal or financial information. If you feel unsure, never hesitate to contact your bank directly, using a number you trust, such as the one listed on your bank statements or on the back of your card. Alternatively, seek advice from a trusted friend or family member.
Protect Your Money
Please be alert to this crime type and share this alert with neighbours and relatives.
When loading shopping into your vehicle, be conscious about where your handbag or other valuables are. Place them out of reach of passers-by and don’t leave them unattended, even for a moment.
Should a stranger approach you with a question, finish loading your shopping and lock your valuables into your vehicle before speaking with them.
Please use your hand as a shield while entering your PIN number when shopping or at cash points.
Alert: Three Current Scams
Here are some current scams being reported across Hertfordshire:
1. You receive a letter regarding your Direct Debit payment for your TV Licence. The letter gives ‘your’ TV licence reference number and says there has been a problem with your payments. It asks you to contact the person on the letter and let them know your bank details to get your payments back on track. This is a scam.
2. You receive a phone call from HM Inspector of Taxes. They say that you are being investigated and there is an arrest warrant in your name. The number that has called may be displayed as 0300 200 3300, which is a genuine HMRC enquiries phone number. This is a scam.
3. You receive a phone call from BT, who tell you that your internet is running slow and needs maintenance. They offer to talk you through some steps to help resolve the problem. This may involve you downloading some software onto your computer. This is a scam.
Home Burglary's security advice
Due to a recent increase in Home Burglary’s which has resulted in some residents vehicles being taken, during the night.
Please take time to secure your home and property before going out, work or bed by:
- Not leaving any keys near to the front door or on your window sill.
- Not leaving any handbags near the front door or on window sill. UPVC doors, remember to lift up the handle and use your key to lock it properly
- Take extra care when locking doors and windows
- Active your alarm if fitted.
- Do not leave valuables on show
- If you suspect something – call the police
- Look out for neighbours and be vigilant.
Scams Affecting Our Senior Residents
Please note the following important points that Owl Watch would like to share:
1. Beware all unexpected telephone callers, even those claiming to be police or your bank. If you don’t personally know a caller, be sceptical. Even if they know details about you, it doesn’t mean they are who they claim. Remember: Scammers are convincing, it’s how they make their money.
2. Criminals are able to “spoof” your caller display to make it show the phone number of your local bank or police station, so do not use the caller display as proof of identity.
3. I-Tunes voucher cards can only be used for purchasing music, games, phones and other technology from the I-Tunes store. They cannot be used for paying tax bills. No government department or other legitimate business would ever ask you to pay a bill using an I-Tunes card.
OWL MESSAGING. This is an e-mail facility from Herts Police giving very useful information. SIGN UP at www.owl.co.uk it is free and you have no obligation.
More ways to make your home secure
Hertfordshire Constabulary is reminding residents to keep their homes secure and report suspicious behaviour as the afternoon and evenings grow darker.
During the autumn and winter burglaries often increase, so police will be focusing on burglary as a priority with targeted patrols, and also providing residents with advice on home security, property marking and general crime prevention.
Safer neighbourhood officers will be holding crime prevention events across the county giving away free burglary prevention packs and offering advice on keeping homes and valuables safe.
Residents are also being advised to make their homes as secure as possible and consider installing some of the new security devices which have come onto the market lately. There is now a variety of inexpensive security lights and wifi-enabled doorbell cameras and interior cameras fitted with motion sensors, which enable you to monitor your home remotely using your phone.
These kinds of devices can be easily installed for minimal expense and have been successful in thwarting a number of burglaries across the country.
Residents can make their homes more secure by following some basic crime prevention advice such as:
Ensure doors are double locked at all times. Keep windows closed and locked.
Consider installing a door bell camera, internal camera and/or monitored burglar alarm.
Install ‘dusk to dawn’ external lighting and use timer switches in your home to control internal lights, radios and a simulated TV.
Keep keys and valuables secure and out of sight.
Ensure boundary fences are secure with side gates locked. Keep tools and ladders in a locked shed.
Join Hertfordshire’s Neighbourhood Watch for alerts and advice: www.owl.co.uk
Visit www.owlprotect.uk for discounts on security products.
Threatening Phone Calls from Phoney Tax Fraudsters
We are receiving numerous reports from local residents who have received telephone calls from fraudsters who have claimed to be from the HMRC, Tax Office or Inland Revenue Office. If the resident has been out, the callers have left messages urging the resident to contact them urgently, as they could be faced with legal fees.
The fraudsters have known some details about the residents and have told them that they owe a tax bill from several years ago. The fraudsters have claimed to have legal documents and have even claimed that they have a warrant for the resident’s arrest. This has caused some distress to elderly or vulnerable residents who have been threatened in this way.
The callers have tried several methods of obtaining monies from their victims, including asking them to make the payment by i-Tunes vouchers or money transfers.
The tax office would not contact people in this manner and would never request payments by these methods.
Please be aware of this scam and we would encourage you to alert friends and neighbours, particularly those who may be at home in the daytime.
As always, if you receive a telephone call from someone you do not know, please be sceptical, as they may not be who they claim. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed into a decision and never send money to someone who has only contacted you by phone, as you cannot be sure they are who they say.
If you have received an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from the tax office, it is unlikely to be genuine. However, if you are unsure, Action Fraud will be able to assist.
Their telephone number is 0300 123 2040.