Honest John’s top tips to stay safe from scammers

Honest John’s top tips to stay safe from scammers

Criminals are looking to use the pandemic as an opportunity to trick builders out of their money. Stay safe with these tips from Honest John Vans.

If you’ve never been scammed before it’s very easy to look at someone else who has been and be ever so slightly judgmental, because of course, ‘it will never happen to me’. Strangely enough, though, everybody who’s ever been scammed – or come close – thought the very same thing before it happened to them. Reports of Coronavirus scam are on the rise, as criminals look to use the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to trick tradespeople out of their van and/or their money. These are the latest tricks that are targeting builders in the UK.

Tax or compensation scam

Fraudsters often start this trick with the opening line that you’re owed some compensation in relation tax or finance, including a bank loan or VAT payments. These tricks can be difficult to spot, with the criminal making a copy of the bank or HMRC website that makes the claim look legit.

These cloned websites can be very convincing, but the first giveaway is usually found in the web address (domain name or URL) which will not match that of the company or organisation it claims to represent. The email address will also come from a non-official host.

The safest option is to avoid opening any links from emails or texts that claim to offer a tax rebate or compensation. And trust that if it’s really important, your bank or HMRC will get in touch by post.

The ‘I have a buyer waiting for you’ trick

Also called the ‘vehicle matching’ scam, this trick targets van sellers. The con will start with a phone call that will claim someone is ready and waiting to buy your van – all you need to do is pay a fee (usually around £100) to complete the transaction (which will be refunded if the sale doesn’t happen).

Sounds great, right? Until that is, the ‘buyer’ transpires to be a figment of someone’s imagination. And the cold caller disappears with your money. Aside from the money loss, the scammer is also given access to your bank details, which can lead to the possibility of a criminally depleted bank account.

These callers are trained in high-pressure selling techniques, never give money to anyone that’s cold called you. Don’t give out your credit card details to anyone either.

The virtual vehicle scam

The virtual vehicle scam is one of the most common types of used vehicle scams, so-called because the van you’re trying to buy doesn’t exist for sale and the advert has been cloned from elsewhere.

In most cases, the advert will entice a buyer by advertising an in-demand make and model of van, with below-average mileage and a slightly below-average price tag – because scammers have learned that ‘too good to be true’ doesn’t fool many builders these days.

Once the scammer has opened up email dialogue, he or she will attempt to extract a large deposit, in various ways but always before you actually see the van. Once equipped with your bank or credit card details, the scammer can empty your accounts. And of course, the van will never turn up.

Never transfer any money to anyone – no matter how pleasant they seem or legitimate their company appears – without having seen the van first. Likewise, never buy a van or pick-up that’s being sold from overseas – this is a classic scammer’s way of avoiding a viewing.

For more van and pick-up advice visit www.honestjohn.co.uk/vans 

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