Utility scams: What they are and how to handle them
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Research conducted by Which? found that people between the ages of 20 to 39 are more likely to have been reported being scammed in the last year. Examples of fraud which many people fall victim to include pyramid schemes, online shopping scams and rental fraud. The latter is more likely to affect younger people as fewer of them are homeowners and are reliant on letting agents and landlords provide them with accurate information.
Of this particular age demographic, pyramid or Ponzi schemes and online shopping scams were more likely to be reported to authorities like Action Fraud than other groups.
The Government is preparing a response to the rise in online scams via its Online Safety Bill which is set to support victims and target fraudsters.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, one young person shared their story about how they were conned by scammers when moving home four years ago.
Jonny Yeoman, 27, is now a music teacher in London, lost £2,500 when moving to the city after being scammed into paying a deposit to a fake landlord.
Hoping to move to a property in Clapham, Jonny saw a place advertised on Gumtree which included a link to Spareroom.
He then received a message from who he thought was the landlord who tricked him into arranging a viewing at the property.
Mr Yeoman was told the estate agents were keen to sell the flat instead of renting it out so he went out for himself to view, and later, put in an offer for the place.
Inquiring with the Land Registry, he was able to verify the property’s landlord and decided to put down a deposit.
However, when trying to move in, Mr Yeoman realised that all was not as it had seemed.
Upon knocking the door, the real landlord’s daughter answered it and was shocked to see him prepared for him.
She explained she had no knowledge of the rental agreement and realised the landlord’s email was fake.
It was at this point that Jonny reported his case to Action Fraud and the recipient bank of the deposit.
He was able to recover most of the money he lost, but was not able to see all of it returned.
Jenny Ross, Which?’s Money editor, explained why scammers are continuing to target vulnerable people and what can be done to combat it.
Ms Ross said: “Fraudsters don’t discriminate when it comes to scams and everyone is susceptible to these growing numbers of crimes, with many young victims being tricked into losing life-changing sums of money.
“The government’s decision to include paid-for scam adverts in the Online Safety Bill, along with promises to make reimbursement mandatory for bank transfer scam victims was a huge step in the right direction, but it’s now up to the government and regulators to get it right.
“We will be checking carefully that the Online Safety Bill goes far enough in protecting consumers from fake and fraudulent adverts.
“It’s vital that the Government swiftly introduces the right legislation for bank transfer fraud that will ensure victims get fair and consistent treatment.”
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