My name: Ripon Ray. I am a consumer debt and welfare rights specialist. I am a regular contributor to James Cannon's advice and information show on BBC Sussex. I have been on BBC Money Box, BBC London Radio and LBC.
I trained London's Institute of Money Advisors, Trust for London grants managers, Positive Money campaigners on a number of money and welfare rights related issues. I specialise in universal credit and am a registered money trainer with the Money Advice Trust.
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What is to be done with scammers who prey on your money?
In 2016 in the
United Kingdom, according to the National Crime Survey, you were 10 times more
likely to be robbed at your computer by someone based in another country than be
a victim of physical theft. Financial losses due to being a victim of fraud in
such a scenario can be quantified and maybe refundable. Mental and emotional
suffering caused by these perpetrators may be a life changing experience for so
many vulnerable individuals. How can you avoid minimising devastating financial
losses? What remedies do you have available if you have been a victim of such a
horrific crime? Are you entitled to any form of support when you have been the
victim of scammers?
someone who refused to speak about being a victim of a scam in public due to
the shame involved. He is a pensioner in his late 70s. He lives alone. He was a
proud independent and self-sufficient man. He managed his money
meticulously. His life changed dramatically once he became a victim of a
This is his
story. Someone climbed onto his roof uninvited and damaged his roof tiles. The
victim brought in a professional roof tiler to fix the damage. It cost him a
few thousand pounds which he paid out from his savings. Straight afterwards he
received a phone call from a stranger. The imposter introduced himself as being
a member of the police force. The police needed his help to catch criminals who
had committed a fraud otherwise they would carry on doing it with other
victims. To verify the caller’s genuine status, he suggested that he called 999
to make sure that the call was genuinely from the police. However, unbeknownst to him the phone line was
open and he was actually talked to his accomplice. They instructed him
that he must not disclose their activities to anyone. It must remain a secret.
They quoted national legislation to build trust. They said that to get hold of
the perpetrators his support in the process was needed. Thus he was asked to
transfer £10,000 into a designated bank account supposedly to aid tracing the
perpetrators. It was said that the perpetrators could then be caught in the act
of withdrawing the money from the account.
Due to the
persistent phone calls and ‘reassurance’ that he was doing the right thing, he
transferred the money online from his bank under intense pressure. He made the
transfer by a single click. Once it was transferred, the callers
disappeared from contact. Within minutes he phoned his son. He was very cautious
about how much information he disclosed to him. His son pointed out that
something was not right. His son then telephoned 999. The victim
has been anxious about building trust with anyone else since and he has sought
support from his GP.
He told his
bank about his emotional state when he transferred the money. The bank
representative told him that the money had already been withdrawn from his
account. Also, he authorised it by confirming the transfer on his phone.
There is nothing the bank could do. A similar case was mentioned in
the Hackney Gazette:
An issue like
this raises a question as to what extent the banks are responsible for
transferring the money when it was made with the ‘authority’, ‘consent’ and
‘free will’ of the victim. In this case, clearly, this was not a free
will scenario and the consent cannot be said to have been informed rather a
direct result of deception. He was preyed upon by scammers and the bank
could have taken extra precautionary measures to mitigate the losses.
There are two
potential ways to remedy the blow: pursue the case through your bank at first
and make a complaint to recover the money. If you were in a vulnerable
position, there is a duty on the service provider to take reasonable care with
your money. In this case, the financial institution has a duty of care
regarding your money when consumers are vulnerable to scams.
you have made a transfer of money by using a credit card you can make a claim
under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 or charge back
where you paid for goods or services and it turns out these were neither
available or the ‘seller’ has vanished. Under the section, the credit card company
is jointly and severally liable for any breach of contract or misrepresentation
by the company. For the section to apply the item or service you
purchased has to be more than £100 and not more than £30,000.
financial institution is unable to offer an adequate remedy, try taking your
case externally to The Financial Services Ombudsman and/or bring a claim in the
county court. The other option would be to contact Fraud Action to get a
crime reference number and the case will be referred to the National Fraud
Intelligence Bureau for analysis by the City of London Police. According
report results in an investigation, but each helps build a clear national
picture of fraud’.
support maybe needed at some point due to psychological impact scammers can
cause. If this is you contact Victim Support or Think
Jessica. They provide emotional and practical help to victims of crime
and scams. SamaritansHelpline is another service available, if
you feel anxious and need someone to talk. If your situation is severe and you
require care and support, you can contact your local council’s Adult Social
Services Department. The local authority will assess your means and your health
for the purpose of assessing what advice and support it can provide directly or
procure from other providers. There maybe Safeguarding issues that the local
authority social services department should consider in this and other matters.
Your local GP can also refer you for therapy under the NHS.
precautionary measures you can take to avoid being scammed in the first place.
If you see in a shop window or on Gumtree a ‘To Let a Room’ and
you think: oh my god – this is cheap! It’s too good to be true!’ and this
is your first impression then perhaps, it is too good to be true in
reality. As stated by Marc Lancaster from Tower Hamlets Council’s Trading
Standards on East London Radio’s Money Matters:
believing what is said, start to investigate it and ask a thousand
ever transfer your money straight away or give money up front’, He
emphasised that true renters are not going to ask for a transfer of money so
quickly without giving a contract in the property.
As he pointed out:
‘Ask for the
landlord’s identity to find out whether the person and the provider is genuine.’
‘Check with your student union or accommodation office as
many Universities and Colleges will have an approved housing list. Also look
for accreditation membership such as National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS),
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or Association of Residential
Letting Agents (ARLA).’
investigative will take you further. Your landlord or agent has to secure your
rental deposit by law. The Housing Act 2004 introduced two requirements:
deposit should be protected in an authorised scheme within 14 days of receipt
(increased to 30 days of receipt from 6 April 2012; and
should be provided with prescribed information about where the deposit
protected scheme provided by the landlord within 14 days of the deposit being
landlord or agent is unwilling to provide information regarding the scheme,
he or she is breaking the law. Check whether the terms of tenancy
set out an Alternative Dispute Resolutions process to remedy the issue. If it
does not state a due process, the County Court is available to resolve such a
conflict. Check Shelter’s website here: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/tenancy_deposits
using modern methods to prey upon victims to make money swiftly. The repeated
advice would be: be cautious and ask questions before you make your decision to
identify the genuineness of the person on the phone or online. If money has
been transferred you must act quickly, there is a chance that the money has not
gone through. Use your right to make a complaint and take it externally to
challenge these companies based on the regulatory body that regulates their
affairs. There are also criminal proceedings to be followed because what the
perpetrators have done is criminal. Do not to transfer your money if
in any doubt. Seek advice. Click on the link below to listen to my radio podcast: https://www.mixcloud.com/EastLondonRadio/money-matters-april-2018/
It’s a well-known fact that individuals who suffer from a hampered mental capacity - be it mental health or learning difficulties - are most likely to be vulnerable in our communities. They are also more likely to be victims of miss-sold products and services by companies, even though organisations that are providing financial products and services have a duty under the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to take extra care towards these individuals. This is what the FCA has to say about vulnerable customers: ‘ The vulnerability of the customer, in particular where the firm understands the customer has some form of mental capacity limitation or reasonably suspects this to be so because the customer displays indications of some form of mental capacity limitation (see ■ CONC 2.10) But due to a culture of intensive selling to consumers, generated by employers placing and enforcing - often difficult and unrealistic - performance goals which are attached to tempting
‘I have not been able to pay my council tax for last four years. Bailiffs have lied to me to get money from me. I still can’t afford it!’ says Joanna Robinson on Money Matters show on East London Radio in March 2018. During the period 2016-17, bailiffs were used by councils on nearly 1.5 million occasions in order to attempt recovery of council tax arrears. As in Joanna's case, residents were summoned to court for being too poor to pay - accruing court costs, subjected to the ignominy and anxiety having to face enforcement agents, and already too poor to pay, further indebtedness. As I hear the horror stories of bailiff’s knocking on debtors’ doors under the new Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS), I am beginning to worry that the Scheme is really just a Poll Tax rehash. I was too young to remember what the Poll Tax was when it was first introduced in the late 1980s. My parents never spoke about it. In my work I started to notice from 2013 onwards that mo