Have you fallen victim to a scam? Or did you spot the warning signs? Fraudsters have been quick to take advantage of the pandemic and its impact on people with a whole range of scams that cost their victims millions of pounds a year.
Gas Safe Register hears regularly from gas engineers who have been offered so-called guaranteed contracts. And although we know that many of you have been wary, some gas engineers have fallen victim and have lost significant amounts of money.
This is how they work: a company contacts you by phone or email, offering you exclusive and substantial guaranteed work in your postcode area. The company, often describing itself as a property maintenance firm, says it’s giving you a contract to provide landlords’ gas safety record checks and maintenance of gas appliances in a postcode area local to you.
It sounds great, doesn’t it? But here’s the catch: you’ll be asked for a fee to secure the ‘exclusive’ contract, usually around £2,000. Or you may be invited to apply through a tender for the work.
However, several gas engineers have contacted Gas Safe Register to say that they have never received any work. Then they can’t get hold of the company to which they have paid their hard-earned money and can’t recoup it. These companies pop up regularly, and change name frequently. Their addresses are often serviced offices and any phone numbers provided are not in service or go through to virtual assistants only.
A recent victim told Gas Safe Register: “The cost is my case was £2,300. If you are hungry for work, it is easy to get taken in by these people.”
Other scams doing the rounds at the moment take advantage of the pandemic, whether it’s faking tax refunds, spurious online sales of PPE, fake Covid-19 vaccination call-ups, cryptocurrency scams, fraudulent online shops and spoofs involving organisations including TV Licensing, HMRC, Gov.uk and the DVLA.
If you think you have been a victim, contact your bank and report anything suspicious to the police or Action Fraud.
And always remember: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.