Police issue warning on two scams operating in the Marlborough area
Police have been alerted to two scams operating in the Marlborough area – one involving computers, the other a household cleaning service – and issued a warning to residents.
The scams, so far mainly affecting people living in the Manton area, have been reported to Police Community Support Officer Mark Braithwaite (pictured), who has not logged one of them before.
This is an out of the blue phone call informing computer owners that a virus has been detected on their machines and offering help. The caller asks you to type in www.ammyy or www.support.me, which eventually asks for your bank details to make a charge of £185.
The scam – from an Indian call centre – can seriously damage your computer, as well as raid your bank account, some vulnerable people in the past losing thousands of pounds from scams elsewhere.
Wiltshire Police revealed this afternoon (Tuesday) that it is supporting the Met Police’s appeal for officers to help it tackle any riots that might take place tonight (Tuesday).
“There isn't a statement at this time,” a spokeswoman told Marlborough News Online. “I can tell you that at this point we haven't sent any officers to Avon and Somerset or Birmingham, but we will be sending 25 officers to The Met today.”
“I haven’t come across this particular one before, but these scams are happening all the time and everybody has to be vigilant about what is going on,” PCSO Braithwaite told Marlborough News Online.
“I suffered from one scam myself with my computer at my home here in Marlborough. Luckily I was protected by a network system. And that’s what you want when these scams appear.”
He urges computer owners to contact BT, Sky, Virgin or whatever service operator they use whenever they receive suspicious calls or offers. For there are fears too that scams may be a means of funding terrorism.
“Anyone can feed terrorism without knowing it,” he warns. “Some groups get their funds from old and vulnerable people. It can be their way to supply themselves with cash.”
“Terrorism does benefit from it as well as ordinary criminals. So the message has to be, Do Be Careful.”
The cleaning scam involves a Dorset-based company called Enterprise Cleaning Services, already exposed on the BBC Watchdog TV programme by an undercover reporter, which offers carpet cleaning for just £8.99.
“People should be aware that on the internet this is known as the bait switch technique, which is illegal,” said PCSO Braithwaite. “At £8.99 you get what you’ve paid for. If you want to pay more money for what is on offer, then that’s down to you, but it can escalate dramatically.”
It is one of a number of cold call scams, including people being told that they have won a prize or an inheritance but first of all have to send £200 or £300 to unlock it.
“Some of these scams, which are happening all over the country, are very successful unfortunately,” added PCSO Braithwaite. “One person in Marlborough lost £9,000 and there have been other cases where people have lost up to £40,000 or £50,000.”
There are also rogue builders who fail to give customers the seven day cooling off period on contracts they are entitled to under the law, and then cash in.
The latest case, in Ealing, West London, has revealed that a plumbing company charged a disabled pensioner £14,400 for five hours’ work to clear a blocked drain.
“And a lot of people locally do become victims of this kind of crime,” says 42-year-old PCSO Braithwaite, a former pupil at St John’s School, Marlborough, who has served in the force for seven years.
“There are various scenarios where people can be cold called and asked if they want their lawn cut or a tree treated. It starts off at £50 and at the end of the day it can develop into £500 or £600.
“Some people are too easily led, some live on their own and are very lonely, so they’re happy to have a bit of communication. And some people just don’t know better.”
Wiltshire Council’s trading standards can also be contacted on 0845 4040 506.