Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Police issue alert as scammers hit north west

Police in the north west have issued a warning over brazen new scams in the region.

In one operation, phone fraudsters are pretending to be from a police magazine and are homing in on schools and businesses in the Derry area.

Others which have come to light in the PSNI’s G District — taking in Derry, Strabane, Limavady and Magherafelt areas — include scammers offering cheap goods at open air markets, with people returning home to find their boxed electrical items are actually telephone directories.

Foyle City North Neighbourhood Team has now issued advice to local organisations to be wary of unsolicited phone calls asking them to advertise in magazines they are not familiar with.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: “The advice follows a report at the start of this month when a school was asked to advertise in a police crime prevention magazine.

“Fortunately the school realised it was a scam and hung up. This scam has been used by fraudsters throughout the UK and the crime prevention angle is used as a ploy to gain a degree of credibility.

“Genuine magazines, including those catering for the interests of police officers, will not hesitate to tell you who they are and where they can be contacted.”

Police have advised schools and businesses that they should never disclose financial details or make commitments to pay by credit card to cold callers.

“Reputable organisations will give you the chance to think about your response.

“Do not let anyone pressurise you into making a commitment. Take your time in coming to a decision,” the spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, police have also urged people to be wary of bargains that are offered for sale to them in public places, such as retail outlet car parks across the north west.

The PSNI spokeswoman said: “The crooks show an unsuspecting person a genuine item, such as a TV, camera, or a laptop computer.

“The price always seems attractive. However, once the money has changed hands, the victim will be given the item in a box.

“At home the victims find that the item they were shown has been replaced — we have had reports of what people thought were laptops turning out to be telephone books, catalogues or televisions without any working parts.

“If you are already thinking about presents for the holiday season, don’t be tempted by these unrealistic prices — there are no bargains to be had in transactions of this kind.

“If you are in the market for a TV, laptop or camera, go to an established retailer.

“At the very least, if something goes wrong, you will know who to approach for replacement or refund.”

Anyone with information about the activities of such sellers is asked to contact police on 0845 600 8000.

Alternatively, information can be given to Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.

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