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Nine vehicles seized and two arrests in operation against rural crime, cold callers and scams

189 checkpoints set up during day-long multi-agency operation

Nine vehicles were seized and two arrests made during a multi-agency operation to clamp down on rural crime, cold callers and scams.

A total of 189 checkpoints were mounted by the PSNI during the operation which also involved Gardaí, HM Revenue and Customs and Trading Standards.  

PSNI T/Chief Supt Simon Walls said Thursday’s operation involved targeted vehicle checkpoints and proactive patrols in known ‘cold caller’ areas, as well as a “number of local engagement opportunities to share advice and information around scams”.

He added: “While it should be noted that not all cold callers are rogue traders, it is our intention that this, and future operations, will help put a stop to those unofficial traders who overcharge for poor quality work or work that is never completed at all.

“This was also about raising awareness around the various scams used by fraudsters to take money from unsuspecting members of the public and we were delighted to have the support from our colleagues in HMRC and Trading Standards Service to help share the message.

“We all need to be vigilant of any contact from an unsolicited source, whether that is from doorstep callers, telephone, mail or online and education is our best weapon in preventing people from becoming victims.”

Damien Doherty, Northern Ireland’s Chief Trading Standards Officer, said rogue traders and doorstep fraudsters prey on the most vulnerable in society.

“They exploit vulnerable consumers by providing low quality work or recommending work that is unnecessary,” he added.

“At Trading Standards, we regularly receive complaints from people who have become victims of this type of crime. These victims are mostly older people.

“We send a clear message to doorstep criminals that we will always treat these complaints as priority.

“However, it also crucial to raise awareness of doorstep crime to attempt to safeguard potential victims and as such we will continue to work jointly with our partners to do so.

“Consumers should always take their time when deciding to get work done to their house. Ask for recommendations from friends and relatives. Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t do business on the doorstep. If in doubt – keep them out!”

An HMRC spokesperson said, “Unfortunately HMRC remains one of the most phished brands in the world, due to the strength of the brand and strong reason for customer contact.

“Scammers contact members of the public through cold calls, emails and text messages, usually claiming the individual owes tax.

 “Our advice to customers is: Recognise the signs – genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details.  Stay safe – don’t give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in emails you weren’t expecting.

“Take action – Emails – forward to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk; Texts – forward to 60599; suspicious phone calls – email us at the above address with as much detail as possible – caller number (dial 1471, the number displayed could be spoofed), date of call and a brief description.

“If you have suffered financial loss contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online fraud reporting tool.

“Check GOV.UK for information on how to avoid and report scams and recognise genuine HMRC contact.”

Further advice and information on scams can be found by visiting www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni

 

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