Scams are crimes. Help stop them.


May is Scams Awareness Month (organised by the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Trading Standards Institute.

These are just a few of the scams that the Essex County Council Trading Standards team has come across this month:

  • Emails purporting to be from HMRC in regard to being eligible to a tax return of £288.87 in which the business has to register details. The email address from which the email has been sent is a no-reply and not an HMRC email address.
  • An email to a resident purporting to be from a police force outside Essex.  It stated that his computer had been hacked and used to look at child pornography and copyright infringements.  The email stated that £100 needed to be sent to stop a virus destroying the hard drive of the computer.
  • A business has been contacted about their business rates.  The business was charged for the service but so far nothing has been delivered.  The company offering the service is purported to be operating from Bolton.
  • A resident ticked a box on a health food supplement website for a free sample.   The resident has now been sent a supply of capsules and the company is asking for £64.90 and have stated they will continue to send product at 30 day intervals.  On calling the company the resident was told that they needed to email head office for a refund but the “contact us” button on their website was not working.  The company is purported to be operating from West Lothian in Scotland.
  • A resident received an email purporting to be from HMRC stating that he was a beneficiary of a fund amounting to around $15 million dollars.  In order for the funds to be released a copy of their passport and drivers licence was required.

Spot Scams! Stop Scams!Scams are schemes to con people out of their money. They can be carried out by post, phone, email, online or sometimes via a knock on the door.  Scams take different forms such as fake lotteries, prize draws, bogus health cures, dodgy investment schemes, pyramid selling and phishing.

The best piece of advice is: “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is!”

You can check the Action Fraud alerts for common scams and frauds at

It is likely to be a scam if:

  • The call, letter, email or text has come out of the blue
  • You’ve never heard of the lottery or competition they are talking about
  • You didn’t buy a ticket – so you can’t win it!
  • They are asking you to send money in advance
  • They are telling you to respond quickly so you don’t get time to think about it or ask family and friends before you decide
  • They are telling you to keep it a secret
  • They seem to be offering you something for nothing

What should I do with something I think is a scam?

  • Don’t reply to spam mail, texts or emails
  • Say “no thank you” politely and put the phone down if they persist
  • Phone the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06 for advice
  • Check the Action Fraud alerts for common scams/ frauds
  • Ask friends, neighbours or family if the offer is likely to be a scam
  • Destroy and throw away mailings.

What can I do to tackle scams?

  1. Report scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or
  2. Get advice from Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06. It can provide advice and pass details on to Trading Standards
  3. Tell someone. Tip off a friend, neighbour or relative about any scams you become aware of
  4. Down load and read the My Scams Checklist leaflet at [PDF]

How can I protect myself?

  1. Never give out contact details like your name, phone number or address to strangers or to people who should have this information already.
  2. Never give financial information or details of your identity, bank accounts or credit card to strangers or to the businesses that already hold your details.
  3. Shred anything with your personal or bank details on – don’t just throw it away.


Neighbourhood Watch: scam warning

A warning received via Neighbourhood Watch:

Information received indicates that letters from the International Fifa World Cup Online Lottery are being delivered in Brentwood. These may soon be received in other areas. These letters are mainly being sent to elderly people, and are saying that the person has won a large sum of money and that to receive the money they are to fax over their bank details to the following fax number 020 7681 1447. This appears to be a scam.

Never give out your bank details to anyone, without checking to ensure that the recipient is bona fide.

Cold calling warning

The district council yesterday published advice about yet another cold calling scam.

A fire and security company, claiming to be linked to Crime Stoppers and The Home Office, has been cold calling people – usually elderly residents. They offer a free alarm fitting service and once they have done this try to tie the client into a contract often leading to them parting with thousands of pounds.

Consumer Direct and Essex Police have some good advice about dealing with cold callers here and here.

At the recent Safer Communities Conference I spoke to a representative from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (or the Fire Brigade as most people still think of it). The service is heavily promoting the use of smoke alarms and in some circumstances will carry out free fire safety checks and even install a smoke alarm. Call 0845 601 2495 for details.

Epping Forest Safer Communities Partnership (which brings together the district council, police, fire service and other public services which deal with crime) can also offer advice to people thinking of installing an alarm system. Contact them by email at or on 01992 564608. They will put you in touch with reputable local security companies.

Club 195 Licence review – agenda published

The district council’s Licensing sub-Committee will discuss Club 195 at its meeting tomorrow (starting at 10am). You can read the agenda (including all the representations which people have been willing to make public) on the district council website here. Be warned – some of the files are very large!

It looks likely that the actual discussion will take place in private.

UPDATE: According to the local paper the sub-Committee revoked the club’s licence. See here for the story, which includes a short explanation from the sub-committee chairman. It was evidently a marathon meeting. I believe the club has the right to appeal to a magistrates’ court but this is something I need to check.

Club 195 Update

I’ve spoken to a member of the Licensing Committee who has told me that after a very long meeting and hearing evidence from both sides the committee today upheld the original decision to suspend Club 195’s licence. So the club will remain closed at least until a full hearing later this month.

As I mentioned below, local residents are entitled to submit their views to the committee but should do so by 13 October (next Tuesday).

Club 195 Licence Review – how residents can have their say

Janet Whitehouse and I have been contacted by residents concerned about anti-social behaviour and violence outside Club 195 in Cottis Lane, Epping, especially following the shocking incident on Saturday 26 September which has been extensively covered by the local press.

Last Wednesday the district council responded to a request from the police and temporarily suspended the licence of Club 195. This temporary suspension was due to be reviewed yesterday (Monday 5 October) but the hearing has been postponed until Wednesday. This is not a full review but will simply decide whether the temporary suspension should continue pending a full hearing. The agenda can be accessed here.

The full hearing is expected to take place during the week beginning 26 October, and councillors on the Licensing Committee will consider representations from Club 195, from the police and other relevant organisations.  Local residents can also submit comments if they respond before Tuesday 13 October.

The law is quite strict about the issues that the Licensing Committee can take into account. These are:

(i) The prevention of crime and disorder
(ii) Public safety
(iii) The prevention of public nuisance
(iv) The protection of children from harm

so it is best to concentrate on these issues if you submit a representation. Recent experience suggests to me that points (i), (ii) and (iii) ae all very relevant. Submissions should be sent to: Mrs Kim Tuckey, Licensing Section, Epping Forest DC, Civic Offices, Epping, CM16 4BZ or Please also send me a copy at

You can obtain a full copy of the council’s licensing policy from here [PDF].

The incident outside Club 195 was shocking, and there have been far too many problems late at night in that area. According to the police Club 195 has been directly associated with at least forty seven incidents over the last twelve months including six incidents of Grievous Bodily Harm, ten incidents of Actual Bodily Harm, seven other disturbances, seven thefts and six common assaults.

This is not what we expect in Epping (or should tolerate anywhere else either). I believe these problems can be dealt with if the council and police take the right action