Phantom goods scam warning from Richmondshire Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice in Richmondshire and North Yorkshire Trading Standards are urging people to look out for so-called ‘phantom goods’ scams

Citizens Advice is taking part in Scams Awareness Month, a campaign encouraging people to report and talk about scams that starts on Saturday 1 July.

The drive to get more people reporting scams comes as national Citizens Advice reveals a 17% increase in people being scammed after purchasing ‘phantom goods’.

The scam works by conning shoppers into buying high value items, namely online, which turn out not to exist. The average loss was £1,100.

People were most likely to be scammed when buying cars, flights and furniture. Other ‘phantom goods’ included jewellery and cameras.

The Citizens Advice consumer service received 555 reports of ‘phantom goods’ scams during January and March 2017, compared with 495 over the same period the year before.

July has been designated ‘Scams Awareness Month’ and North Yorkshire Citizens Advice in partnership with North Yorkshire Trading Standards and North Yorkshire Police are keen to offer advice to residents to protect them from rogue traders, frauds and scams.

Too often this type of crime is targeted at the elderly and most vulnerable in the community.

Andy Fox, a divisional officer from the Multi Agency Safeguarding Team at North Yorkshire Trading Standards said: “We have seen a number of incidents where rogue traders have cold called vulnerable residents in North Yorkshire offering goods or services which are not needed at often inflated prices.

“This can involve repairs to roofs, gardening work or power washing driveways. A number of reported incidents have involved traders claiming to be working on nearby road repairs and claiming to have tarmac left over and offering to re-tarmac driveways at a reduced price often resulting in poor workmanship and overcharging.”

North Yorkshire Trading Standards also highlight the dangers of online fraud and scams with a number of incidents being reported of residents being contacted by phone with the caller stating they are from Microsoft, Talk Talk, Virgin Media, Sky or similar and advising that a problem has been identified with the computer or router.

This invariably results in the caller gaining access to the person’s computer and or bank details.

The simple advice is, if you are unhappy with the person at your door or on the phone, terminate the call and contact the police. Remember never give your bank details to a caller.

Getting advice and report scams:

  • Get advice on an offer you’ve had, or find out how you can get your money back if you’ve been scammed, from the Citizens Advice consumer service: 03454 04 05 06
  • Report scams or suspected scams to Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040
Richmondshire Citizens Advice will be attending the Stronger community event in Richmond Library on Wednesday, July 12 from 1pm to 4pm where residents can get more information on the latest scams.