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Monthly Archives: April 2015

Alert: Fraudsters Buy-Back Diamond Courier Scam

  • April 23, 2015
  • 3 comments
  • The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau’s (NFIB) proactive intelligence team is warning people of a new scam dubbed “diamond buy-back courier fraud”.

    Information gathered by the NFIB’s proactive intelligence team suggests that boiler rooms operating from overseas (specifically in Thailand) are targeting existing investors of diamonds from victim sucker lists circulated by fraudsters internationally.

    How a typical diamond investment scam works

    Existing clients who have purchased genuine but lesser value diamonds are contacted by fraudsters who ask if they would like to increase the value of their investment as the return on their current stock has been so good.

    They are encouraged to purchase more diamonds and invest further – buying either overpriced or non-existent diamonds.

    How investors are scammed into sending their diamonds through a courier

    In this new type of scam, the victim is contacted and informed that the value of diamond(s) they have physically purchased have significantly increased due to the rarity and demand.

    They are then convinced that in order to revalue the diamond(s) they will need to be physically returned to be assessed by a fake “valuation team”.

    Victims are then offered a free of charge, no hassle return service to undertake the valuation process. Intelligence suggests the fraudsters use UPS (United Postal Service) to collect the diamond(s). The fraudsters have no intention of returning the diamonds.

    Protect yourself against investment fraud

    • If you’re considering any type of investment, always remember: if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. High returns can only be achieved with high risk.
    • If you get a call out of the blue, be wary; if in doubt don’t be polite, just hang up.
    • Take the time to seek independent legal or financial advice before making a decision.
    • Always check the credentials of the company you’re dealing with. Check for known fraudulent organisations at the FCA.

    All the reports taken by Action Fraud are sent to the NFIB who collate and analyse intelligence on fraud – the NFIB then send crimes to law enforcement agencies for investigation, disruption and prevention purposes.

    Recent arrest of diamond investment scammer

    The City of London Police (CoLP) recently arrested an Essex man suspected of working in a London boiler room. CoLP in its role as National Policing Lead for Fraud takes on some of the UK’s most significant, complex and high profile cases of investment fraud

    The man is believed to have made £1.5 million selling fraudulent diamond investments to victims. He was arrested as a result of reports made to Action Fraud.

    To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use the online fraud reporting tool.

    http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/news-alert-fraudsters-are-offering-people-the-chance-to-buy-back-diamonds-they-have-already-been-sold-through-an-investment-scam-apr15

     

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    by dave

Rogue Traders Sentenced after Police Find Cache of Fake Designer Goods

  • April 20, 2015
  • 3 comments
  • Surelock authenticated the seized Tiffany jewellery and J’Adore perfumes.

    When police and trading standards officers opened the doors to two industrial units they found a stash of trendy designer gear.

    The only trouble was, it was all fake.

    Among 10,000 items spanning 39 big brands was everything from J’Adore perfume to Tiffany jewellery, Hermes purses and Louis Vuitton socks, Bristol Crown Court heard.

    And a paper trial of documents led investigators to the two rogue traders in possession of the counterfeit cache.

    9846205-largeDarren Ward, 41, of Bleadon in Weston-super-Mare and Timothy Tivney, 35, of Balmoral Way, Weston-super-Mare, both pleaded guilty to unauthorised use of Trade Marks, contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994, between January and July 2012.

    The Recorder of Bristol His Honour Judge Neil Ford QC told them: “The seriousness is that it undermines the goods of the genuine Trade Marks holders.

    “Sentencing must involve an element of deterrent.”

    The judge handed Ward – who had a history of similar offending – 13 months’ prison suspended for two years, with 250 hours of unpaid work.

    He gave Tivney a year’s community order with 80 hours of unpaid work.

    Alan Fuller, prosecuting, said the fake goods also included Vans shoes, Adidas trainers, Jo Malone cosmetics, GHD hair straighteners, Chanel sunglasses and Superdry tops.

    He said the traders were brought to book after an auction of branded clothes in Bristol in 2011, sold in the name of Ward’s wife.

    The court heard they were bought by a Mr Lawson who, when he suspected they were counterfeit, contacted Lacoste and got a refund after his fears were confirmed.

    Officers from the South West Regional Trading Standards Enforcement Team (known as Scambusters) assisted police in searching two business units at BW Estate, Old Mixon Crescent, Weston-super-Mare, and found the fake gear as well as paperwork leading to Ward and Tivney.

    Though potential loss of £270,000 was estimated for the Trade Mark holders, at their reduced prices Ward was said to have be on for a turnover of £27,000 and Tivney just £3,000.

    Richard Shepherd, defending Ward, said his client was setting up a low price food business at the time.

    He said father-of-three Ward donated food to food banks and also helped his wife through serious illness.

    Mr Shepherd said: “He took a step back in order to make a quick buck, in order to supplement the income of the family.

    “Even purchase of fuel was difficult at this time because there was no money coming into the family.”

    Oliver Willmott, defending Tivney, said: “He has no intention of ever putting himself on the wrong side of the law again.”

    http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Rogue-traders-sentenced-police-cache-fake/story-26325534-detail/story.html#ixzz3XqfCh29q

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    by dave

Alibaba Rapped by US Clothing Body over Counterfeits

  • April 17, 2015
  • 3 comments
  • Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has been forced to defend itself once again from claims its websites are peddling fake goods.

    The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) has sent a letter to US Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman, complaining of “rampant proliferation” of counterfeit goods on Alibaba’s TaoBao site.

    “Our members encounter innumerable counterfeits on TaoBao every day,” it says, adding that Alibaba “is either not capable of or interested in addressing this problem.”

    In response, Alibaba said it had been working with the AAFA since 2012 and that its “track record of fighting illicit activities is clear.”

    The company has previously said it employs a 2,000-strong team devoted to counterfeit takedowns and will boost numbers by another 300 this year, and also claims it conducts random checks by using third parties to identify suspected counterfeits on its marketplaces.

    The AAFA has a different interpretation, however, saying that while Alibaba has publicly agreed to several measures  such as an updated take-down system, a trusted reporter programme and more physical raids and enforcement operations “implementation has been sluggish or non-existent.”

    TaoBao was listed on the USTR’s Notorious Markets list of copyright and trademark infringers until 2012, but was removed in later reports “in recognition of efforts to address rights holder and consumer complaints,” according to the 2014 edition.

    AAFA chief executive Juanita Duggan maintains that since de-listing TaoBao track record has worsened and it wants the site re-listed in the 2015 report.

    Earlier this year, Alibaba became embroiled in a spat with China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) after the government agency issued a report on a product sampling study suggesting the company had been lax in what it allows traders to sell on its online retail platforms.

    The report prompted an angry response from Alibaba – which insisted that the study methodology was flawed and threatened a formal complaint.

    The report has since been removed from the SAIC website, but the public dispute about the sale of counterfeit goods on its web platforms prompted an investigation by the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) to assess whether it misled investors about its counterfeiting problem ahead of its $25bn initial public offering (IPO) last September.

    http://www.securingindustry.com/clothing-and-accessories/alibaba-rapped-by-us-clothing-body-over-counterfeits/s107/a2321/#.VTF8UbR0xD9

     

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    by dave

Schoolboy, 8, Hospitalised Playing Deadly New Children’s Game of ‘Sleeper’

  • 3 comments
    • Eight-year-old boy was hospitalised after being suffocated during ‘game’
    • In it child’s nose and mouth are held shut by another until they pass out
    • Police in Manchester are warning that ‘sleeper’ prank is potentially fatal
    • Councillor says craze must be stopped before ‘we have a terrible tragedy’

    An eight-year-old boy was taken to hospital after falling victim to a prank when he was suffocated until he passed out.

    Police in Manchester have now issued a warning to parents over the game, known as ‘sleeper’, which officers say is potentially fatal.

    The child’s details have not been release but a Greater Manchester Police spokesman said the child is believed to have had underlying health problems and is expected to make a full recovery.

    Officers from Greater Manchester Police have been forced to issue a warning on Facebook (pictured) after an eight-year-old boy was hospitalised after a playground suffocation prank called 'sleeper' went wrong
    Officers from Greater Manchester Police have been forced to issue a warning on Facebook (pictured) after an eight-year-old boy was hospitalised after a playground suffocation prank called ‘sleeper’ went wrong

    The ‘sleeper’ prank involves a child having their nose and mouth held shut by another child until they black out from lack of oxygen.

    The youngster was treated in hospital on Wednesday after they were a ‘sleeper’ victim, police said.

    Officers in North Manchester believe it is a new craze and have alerted parents.

    GMP’s North Manchester division posted on their Facebook site after the incident: ‘Dangerous New Craze Warning – Attention all parents/guardians…We have received reports of a new craze called ‘Sleeper’ This involves children completely covering the mouth and noses of younger children until they completely pass out.

    Manchester's city centre chief councillor Pat Karney (pictured) has said the craze must be stopped 'before we have a tragedy on our hands'

    Manchester’s city centre chief councillor Pat Karney (pictured) has said the craze must be stopped ‘before we have a tragedy on our hands’

    ‘This is extremely dangerous, a child is currently in hospital being treated after falling victim to this game. Please advise every child you know and warn them of the dangers, this could easily lead to concussion or even death.

    The post has now been shared more than 11,200 times on the social network.

    GMP’s Facebook post received a flurry of responses from followers, some claiming the game dates back several years.

    Tasha Williams replied: ‘This was happening when I was at school although it was someone pushing on your chest really hard or on your throat, it is a stupid game.’

    Linzi Walker added: ‘It’s not new it’s been going for years and years.’

    But Pete James said: ‘Only buzz I used to get as a kid was putting a crushed carton in the back wheel of my bike and making it sound like a motorbike! What’s wrong with kids??’

    Stuart Roberts worte: ‘Are the children of today total numbnuts??’

    Sebastian Ziola added: ‘Back in my day, we played Pogs. Oh how times change.’

    A senior council boss in Manchester has issued a stark warning about the craze.

    Pat Karney, councillor for neighbouring Harpurhey ward, told the Manchester Evening News: ‘This news will put the fear of God in any parent or guardian.

    ‘I will be talking to the council officers in the area to see how we can provide more information and warnings to local schools and parents.

    ‘It has to stop before we have a terrible tragedy on our hands. The problem is that when kids hear about an incident like this, it goes viral in an instant in today’s world.

     Officers in Manchester (GMP headquarters pictured) believe 'sleeper' is a new craze and have alerted parents

     Officers in Manchester (GMP headquarters pictured) believe ‘sleeper’ is a new craze and have alerted parents

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3043286/Warning-deadly-new-children-s-game-sleeper.html#ixzz3XbXFgn2T

     

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    by dave

Unlimited Fines for Serious Offences

  • 3 comments
  • A new law came into force on 12 March 2015 which removes the £5,000 cap that used to limit the maximum fines magistrates could impose.  Now they can issue much higher penalties on offenders who have committed the most serious ‘Level Five’ offences.

    The move will give magistrates more flexibility when deciding on punishments – they will still be able to hand down prison sentences of up to 6 months and be able to refer more serious cases to a Crown Court if they think a longer jail term is necessary.

    Justice Minister Mike Penning said “Dangerous criminals will always belong in prison but it is important that magistrates, who sentence the majority of offenders who come through our courts, have the power to hand down the appropriate punishment with the severity they see fit. Criminals should be in no doubt that if they break the law they will face consequences and where a fine is the most appropriate sentence this could run into several thousands”.

    s300_court-960x640In 2012 the government changed the law to give magistrates more powers to fine offenders. Today’s change removes the upper limit on all current fines and maximum fines of £5,000 and above in the magistrates courts.

    Some examples of offences that will be included are:

    • manufacture, import and sale of realistic imitation firearms – maximum penalty of 6 months in prison or a Level Five fine
    • selling, supplying, offering to supply and hiring products to persons under 18, such as adult fireworks, crossbows/knives/axes/blades – maximum penalty of 6 month in prison or a Level Five fine
    • sale of alcohol to children – maximum penalty of 6 months in prison or a Level Five fine
    • unauthorised sale of (football) tickets – maximum penalty of 6 months in prison or a Level Five fine
    • harassment (without violence) – maximum penalty of 6 months in prison or a Level Five fine)
    • making false statement or representation to obtain social security benefit – maximum penalty of 3 months in prison or a Level Five fine
    • failure to comply with an improvement notice to ensure properties are safe and habitable – maximum penalty of a Level Five fine
    • Sentencing is a matter for the independent judiciary, based on the full facts of the case. When handing down any fines magistrates will still take into account the financial means of the offender according to the sentencing guidelines.

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    by dave

Pension Fraud

  • April 10, 2015
  • 3 comments
  • With effect from April 6th this year, when you reach 55 and if you have been saving in a personal or company pension, you will have wider choices with what you do with the fund you have accrued. You will still be able to cash in the fund to buy an annuity giving you a guaranteed income for life, but now you will also be able to release as much of the fund as you wish … to spend on what you like.

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    Like most financial products, pensions and annuities are regulated by law, including how they are advertised and sold. However, this does not stop scammers approaching you to put your money into fraudulent or otherwise unregulated/poorly managed annuities or investment schemes, with the result that you will lose some or all of the savings you were relying on for your retirement. There will also be less protection from pension companies in the way of your fund being frozen, if you have chosen to draw your money rather than transferring it between legitimate providers.

    Unfortunately, there are a number of fraudulent schemes in existence.

    Offers to help you cash in your pension before the age of 55 may not only be fraudulent, but could constitute an ‘unauthorised payment’ and cost you a considerable proportion of your fund in tax.

    The risks

    • Being given misleading information about cashing in your pension before you reach retirement age.
    • Tax charges and penalties of more than half the value of your pension savings.
    • High charges for entering into pension liberation arrangements … typically 20% – 30% of the accumulated fund.
    • Being duped with offers of up-front cash or free pension reviews to take advantage of offers or arrangements.
    • Your pension savings being invested in high risk funds or bogus investment schemes.

    How to spot if you are being targeted

    Be wary if the following occurs:

    • You see or receive offers for a ‘free pension review’
    • You receive unsolicited approaches over the phone, via email or text message or by a doorstep caller.
    • You receive unsolicited approaches about accessing your personal or company pension before you are 55 years old*.
    • You receive unsolicited approaches about investing the money released from your pension pot under the new rules.
    • You receive approaches claiming to be from the government offering retirement planning advice.
    • You are asked to provide your phone number and home address and/or personal financial information, when you are only enquiring about the products on offer.
    • You encounter pushy advisers or ‘introducers’ who offer upfront cash incentives or suggest legal loopholes.
    • You encounter companies that offer a ‘loan’, ‘saving advance’ or ‘cash back’ from your pension.
    • You are encouraged to speed up the transfer process, including the ‘provider’ using an express courier service for documents.
    • You are not informed about the possible tax consequences.
    • Documentation is withheld from you, either with or without an explanation.

    *Only in rare cases – such as terminal illness – is it possible to access funds before age 55 from your current pension scheme.

    Guard against pension fraud

    • Never divulge financial or personal information to a cold caller, or in response to an email or text.
    • Get as much information as you can about the company’s background – trying the internet first. Any financial advisers should be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
    • Request a statement showing how your pension will be paid when you retire, and question who will look after your money until then.
    • Gain an unbiased view from an adviser that is not associated with the proposal you have received.
    • Never be rushed or harrassed into agreeing to a pension transfer or investment of the cash you have released .

    More Information

    For more information about pension fraud, read the Pensions Reglator’s advice as follows:

    http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/individuals/dangers-of-pension-scams.aspx

    If you have been cold called and suspect it was a scam:

    Report it to the Financial Conduct Authority using their online investment scams reporting form or by contacting their Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768.

    If you have lost money to pension fraud:

    Report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting

    www.actionfraud.police.uk

    Action Fraud Logo

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    by dave

Going Bargain Hunting This Bank Holiday Weekend? Don’t Fall for Fake Goods Urges Council

  • April 3, 2015
  • 3 comments
  • SHOPPERS planning to bag bargains at bank holiday markets or car boot sales have been urged to ensure their finds are the real deal to avoid an unhappy weekend.

    Counterfeit items can prove more than just shoddy imitations, Staffordshire County Council has warned.

    Hidden dangers can include hazardous chemicals in fake vodka that can lead to health problems, while fake perfume can burn skin, leave a nasty rash or even contain harmful lead.

    Imitation sunglasses may offer no UVA protection, which could lead to eye damage, while counterfeit children’s toys could be unsafe and fake clothing for kids inflammable.

    Experts call for tobacco-free worldCounterfeit tobacco often contains unknown chemicals and higher tar levels, the council warned, while counterfeit cigarettes may be a fire hazard as they do not burn out like legitimate products.

    Most of the rogue goods seized by the council in 2014-15 were illicit tobacco products, although others included counterfeit electrical goods, clothes and cosmetics.

    The sale of fake goods not only affects legitimate businesses but funds organised crime gangs, the council added.

    County Councillor Mike Lawrence, Cabinet Member for Community Safety said: “Counterfeit goods are increasingly hard to detect just to look at, so when something is being sold at a knock-down price, people should be extremely wary. We always say that if something is too good to be true, it usually is.

    “Anyone who buys counterfeit goods will land themselves with shoddy goods which may be dangerous and at the same time line criminals’ pockets.”

    Anyone who sees counterfeit goods on sale can report incidents anonymously by calling the Staffordshire Fight the Fakes line on 01785 330356.

    From the Staffordshire Newslettter
    Read more: http://www.staffordshirenewsletter.co.uk/Going-bargain-hunting-bank-holiday-weekend-Don-t/story-26270335-detail/story.html#ixzz3WGv96A6z

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    by dave

Biggest Overhaul of Consumer Rights in a Generation

  • April 2, 2015
  • 3 comments
  • Consumer Rights Act 2015 has been given Royal Assent.

    Under the Act, consumers and businesses will have clearer rights and responsibilities. These include:

    • new rights for consumers to get a repair or a replacement of faulty digital content such as online film, games, music downloads and e-books. Currently the law is unclear and has failed to keep up with the huge demand for digital products
    • consumers having a clear right to demand that substandard services are redone or failing that receive a price reduction
    • a 30-day time period to return faulty goods and get a full refund. The law is currently unclear on how long this period should last
    • consumers being entitled to some money back after one failed repair of faulty goods (or one faulty replacement) even if more than 30 days have passed, rather than having to put up with repeated attempts to get a repair done
    • consumers being able to challenge terms and conditions which are not fair or are hidden in the small print

    s300_department-for-business-innovation-skillsMeasures have been included in the Act to specifically reduce the burdens to businesses of understanding and applying consumer law.

    These include:

    • a new requirement for enforcers such as Trading Standards Officers to give 48 hours’ notice to businesses when carrying out routine inspections, saving business £4.1 million per year. Trading Standards Officers will still be able to carry out unannounced inspections where they suspect illegal activity
    • faster and lower cost remedies for businesses who have been disadvantaged from breaches in competition law

    All businesses will need to consider providing staff training to ensure the new rules are properly understood and implemented and existing terms and conditions may need to be amended.

    For further help or advice our Business Advice team may be able to assist, give us a call on 01372 371737

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/biggest-overhaul-of-consumer-rights-in-a-generation

     

     

     

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    by dave