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Beat the con-men! Stay one step ahead and keep an eye on our consumer warnings...
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Consumer Warnings

 


Consumer warning – Estonian seller of high end watches

We have been informed that Estonian Company High End Watches Eesti OÜ, who sells high-priced watches on web-pages like www.highendwatches.ee , www.ebay.com , http://market.watchprosite.com , http://forums.watchuseek.com are a fraudulent company and that the Estonian police have opened a criminal investigation. The company do not send out goods after receiving money from consumers and they do not refund the money.

When buying any item at a distance make sure you know who you are buying from and what country the business is based in. Remember that you now have rights to specific information before you enter into a contract: See 'What can consumers expect'.


  Buying Tickets online

ECCS has been made aware of many different fraudulent websites offering tickets for popular events. Consumers are usually attracted by very good prices for the events which elsewhere are usually sold out. Unfortunately after making the payment consumers don't receive their tickets and the seller no longer responds to the correspondence...

We advise you to take extra few steps when buying tickets online:

  • Use a search engine and type in the name of the company (or the website where you found the offer), possibly adding scam or forum, to get a clearer view of the trader. Check out forums and talk to people. This way you may be able to gather information on how they trade, and get a clearer picture of who they are, enabling you to make an informed decision. There are many forums on the web that will give you invaluable information from people who have already had contact with this company. 

  • Check the website for the company’s address and full contact details. If it is not easy to find, ask yourself why?

  • Contact the trader before paying any money and check if they pick up the phone.

  • Ensure the site is secure - look out for the ‘s’ in https. A padlock on the payment screen is also a mark of security.

  • Beware of buying tickets once an event is ‘sold out’.

  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Contact the organiser of the event and ask if the seller is authorized by him

If you have any doubts, please contact us


 
BEWARE OF COLD CALLS FROM TIMESHARE RESALE COMPANIES

Many consumers receive cold calls (unsolicited telephone calls)  from a timeshare resale company saying that they have a buyer lined up to buy their timeshare.  Many companies will then ask you to pay an upfront fee.  Many companies then disappear and you never hear from them again.   

If you already own a timeshare, a seller may try to convince you to buy a newer or better one, on the promise that they will sell your existing timeshare. You should be very careful about accepting this type of offer as you may find that your existing timeshare is never sold, but you are still committed to buying the second timeshare. This is known as the 'buy-sell con'.

What can you do to protect yourself? 

There are ways that you can protect your self and you should follow the guidance and ask yourself the questions below:
  • Use a search engine and type in the name of the company, possibly adding scam or forum, to get a clearer view of the trader. Check out forums and talk to people. This way you may be able to gather information on how they trade, and get a clearer picture of who they are, enabling you to make an informed decision. There are many forums on the web that will give you invaluable information from people who have already had contact with this company. 
  • How did this trader contact you?  If they called you unsolicited, how did they get your contact details?
  • Has the trader given you an estimated price which you can get from the sale of the timeshare?
  • Ask the trader why they need the marketing fee up front? You need to be very cautious about paying any upfront fees.  There are many companies that use this method and then do not sell the timeshare as there were not any buyers lined up to purchase the timeshare and the consumer ends up having lost substantial amounts of money.
  • Has the company stated they already have a buyer lined up? A common practice timeshare resale companies often use can involve stating they have buyers that you must meet abroad or that you need to attend a meeting. On arrival the buyer is in fact a corporate buyer and many people end up buying into another contract for a holiday club membership and paying another fee for this.

In the current climate, timeshare is not a desirable a product, people do not want the  burden of maintenance fees.  In general Timeshare’s are not selling and there’s been reports that many people are trying to give them away for free to relieve themselves of the maintenance fees. Should this be the case then it may be unlikely that you will get a high price from the sale.

As the demand for timeshare is very low at the current time, then you may wish consider contacting the timeshare company you are currently with and asking their advice to see if there are any other options available such as selling it back to them or relinquishing ownership without a sale. It is unlikely that you are going to receive a large sum from the sale of you timeshare points.

If you do choose to go ahead with the trader, ensure you read the terms and conditions thoroughly, to be sure that you agree with all conditions that you are signing up to. But please remember that is not recommended to pay any upfront fees.

These are all important factors to consider in the event of trying to end ownership of the timeshare.

For more timeshare resale advice visit our timeshare resale page or contact us for more information.


Lotto Fraud

Lotto frauds are becoming prevalent in the UK with promises of huge winnings arriving in the form of unsolicited e-mail or letters to UK residents.

Invariably the communication will purport to come from an overseas lottery and claim that the recipient has been allocated winning numbers.

The recipient will contact the organisers, whether directly via the telephone, by post or e-mail and will be invited to send money in to assist in the administration for the release of the winnings.

These winnings do not exist. This is merely a scam and attempt to elicit money from unsuspecting victims. As the winnings on offer are substantial, so too can be the advance fees required to release the funds.

The real cruel part of this scam is that suspects will build up a rapport with victims through telephone contact in order to continue the flow of money.

Who are the victims?

In the case of e-mail anyone can be a victim. These spam e-mails are mass-mailed and anyone can become a potential victim.

With letters the criminals can be a little more specific and in many cases the elderly are most at risk. Suspects pay good money for mailing lists and they do target those lists that deal with the elderly.

Hard copy letters complete with certificates of winnings will be sent to the unsuspecting victim. On the face of it these look genuine.

The victim may respond and after sending a fee to the fraudsters may have telephone contact. The fraudsters will gain the confidence of the victim, hence elderly people are most at risk.

Communications are often sent to drop or P.O. box addresses. These are then collected by couriers or third parties and sent on to the fraudsters, in most cases overseas.

Payments are made through cheques, credit / debit card transactions or through sending cash via money transfer services.

Cheques can be cleared through international clearing services and the money will go through a series of further transactions before finally arriving in the pockets of the fraudsters.

Who are behind these scams?

Invariably highly organised gangs based overseas are behind these frauds. It is widely acknowledged that there area large number of Canadian and Spanish syndicates involved, specifically targeting the USA and UK.

The authorities are taking the threat very seriously and have put major resources into tackling the problem. Criminal networks taken down in the past have uncovered huge lists of victims, showing how much they have paid, when they were last contacted and when they are due to be contacted again.

Case Scenario

An elderly couple in London, both in their nineties, went into their bank and wished to draw out in excess of £20,000. When asked why they told the bank they had won money in an overseas lottery and were paying some fees to release the money.

The bank advised them that this was a fraud and tried to deter them from drawing out the money. The couple demanded that unless the bank allowed them to draw the money, they would close their account and take their business elsewhere.

The bank contacted the fraud squad and a manager from the bank together with a detective from the fraud squad visited the couple to convince them that this was a scam.

The couple were adamant that their luck had changed and that this was a genuine lottery. Had they not eventually been deterred, the loss of their life savings would have been a severe blow.

What to do in the event of receiving an unsolicited communication

If you receive these communications do not answer it. You can report these communications to Action Fraud.

Although Action Fraud cannot take up cases on behalf of individuals or give individual advice, anybody who has received a phone call and/or sent money to a lottery can report it to Action Fraud and help put a stop to the scam.

Action Fraud can be contacted on: 0300 123 2040 or 

http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

Funded by BIS

The European Consumer Centre for Services is hosted by the Trading Standards Institute and funded by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.