These are the new scams you need to watch out for
- Credit: Archant
Netflix, Brexit and even bees are being used by local scammers trying to find new ways to con people out of personal details and money.
Trading standards officers at Norfolk County Council work to prevent scams, issuing warnings, supporting those targeted and, where possible, bringing more sophisticated set-ups to court.
And Alice Barnes, safety and fair trading manager at the county council's trading standards, said scammers were having to evolve to keep pace with society - Brexit has given rise to a new wave of scams, while some centre around Netflix accounts.
One Norfolk door stepper even recently asked for funds to pay for 17 beehives, in response to growing awareness about the plight of honeybees.
Green energy is also a focus, with scams relating to solar energy and insulation becoming attractive. And colleague Stephen Maunder, community protection officer, said no-one is excluded.
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"We have had ex-lawyers and bankers caught up, losing thousands of pounds," he said. "People in IT who get to the point where they've almost clicked on the link. They do say there is a scam for everybody."
Mrs Barnes said while plenty of scams fall into a handful of categories - door stepping, for example, or mail-based schemes - they had noticed a rise in recorded messages.
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In particular, many in the last few months claim to be from Amazon, telling people their account is in arrears or their Amazon Prime has been suspended.
She said: "They can send those to thousands of people at the same time, and they don't need many people to respond for it to be profitable. The classic example is being asked if you've been in a car accident, but we also see them claiming to be from HMRC, telephone and internet providers."
With scammers generally hunting one of two things - information or money - Mrs Barnes said people were becoming aware of the value of their data, and how small pieces entered online added up.
She said those who gave out information risked being put on a "sucker's list", which could increase the chance of being targeted again.
And their advice? "Just because something is there it doesn't mean you have to act," she said. "Slow down, take a step back and think about it. We would like to make Norfolk a place that rogue traders don't come to."
'I felt a complete fool'
One woman had a lucky escape after scammers tried - but failed - to take £11,000 from her account.
Sally, 73 and from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, said she'd had three weeks without a working telephone, with multiple visits from BT engineers.
But three or four weeks after the line was reconnected, she received a call from someone claiming to be from BT.
"They said I was due compensation," she said. "How did they know that I had been without a phone? They got me on the phone and kept me there for ages and ages. Somehow they got into my current account and they took £4,000. Then they got greedy and tried to take £7,000 but there wasn't enough in there."
The second attempt alerted her bank, who, thankfully, was able to retrieve the funds and ensure she was paid back in full.
"I felt a complete fool," she said. "It was extremely stressful and while I was very lucky I believe others aren't so."
Work to tackle scams
What does the trading standards team do to crackdown on scams?
- Alerts on Facebook and via email, where they have 5,000 people and 2,500 businesses subscribed.
- Cold calling zones - areas communities can designate as no cold calling zones. There are around 240 in Norfolk, covering 11,000 properties.
- Friends Against Scams - a training platform empowering people to take a stand against scams. There are 3,739 in Norfolk.
- Scam marshals - usually someone who has been targeted and now wants to help others. There are 15 locally.
- Norfolk Against Scams Partnership - services, businesses, charities and bodies that come together against scams. So far, it has 51 partners.
- Young Friends Against Scams - a similar initiative for schools and young people.
- Norfolk Scam Prevention Service - working with Norfolk and Suffolk Victim Care to support those affected.
- Trusted Trader - a directory of vetted local traders.