Selected alerts from Thames Valley Police distributed through the Neighbourhood Watch scheme.

Wine Investment Fraud

A new investment fraud trend is targeting members of the public who are seeking to sell their wine investment.  Fraudsters agree to purchase the victim’s wine, but instead transfer the stock into their own account without paying the victim.  The fraudulently obtained wine is then believed to be sold on to other, unsuspecting victims.     How does it work? Fraudsters set up fake companies and websites as well as exploit the names of legitimate, established companies to facilitate this fraud.  They cold-call the victims and offer to purchase their wine for significantly more than the actual market value.     Fraudulent documents, such as purchase agreements, are used to facilitate the fraud and are sent to the victims via post and email.  Some fraudsters have gone as far as setting up fake escrow services in order to fool the potential sellers that the payments have been transferred.       The fraudsters send the victims instructions to transfer their wine into storage accounts held within legitimate bonded warehouses.  The victims are informed that upon doing this they will be paid the agreed amount.  The use of storage accounts held within legitimate bonded warehouses adds an air of legitimacy to the process but in actual fact these storage accounts are controlled by the fraudsters.         Once the wine is transferred into the new storage accounts the suspects break off all contact with the victims.  The wine is then moved again, normally within days and often abroad, and, needless to say, the victim never receives the money from the agreed sale. Protect Yourself

  • Never respond to unsolicited phone calls – if in doubt, hang up
  • Always check that the details of the organisation or company contacting you (such as website, address and phone number) are correct – the fraudsters may be masquerading as a legitimate organisation
  • Never sign over your wine (or any other investment) to another party without first checking they are authentic
  • Don’t be fooled by a professional looking website, as the cost of creating a professional website is easily affordable
  • Escrow services are regulated by the FCA under the Payment Services Directive 2009.  Only deal with a registered Authorised Payment Institution.  You can check the FCA register online at www.fca.org.uk/register
  • Consider seeking independent legal and/or financial advice before making a decision

If you have been affected by this, or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk

HMRC Tax Rebate Scam

Fraudsters are texting members of the public offering a tax rebate. The text message contains a link to a website and requests to provide personal information, such as bank account information, to claim the nonexistent rebate.  Protect Yourself

  • Don’t click on web links contained in unsolicited texts or emails.
  • Never provide your personal information to a third party from an unsolicited communication.
  • Obtain the genuine number of the organisation being represented and verify the legitimacy of the communication.
  • HMRC will never use texts or emails or tell you about a potential rebate or ask for personal information.
  • If you have provided personal information and you are concerned that your identity may be compromised consider Cifas Protection Registration.

Social Media Ticket Fraud

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has recently received an influx of reports that fraudsters are targeting the public, via social media, in relation to football tickets.   Fraudsters are posting pictures or statuses online telling members of the public to contact them via Direct Message for football tickets. This then leads to a mobile messaging conversation. During the conversation, bank details are provided by the suspect so that the tickets can be purchased.   After the victim has paid for the ticket the fraudster blocks them to stop further conversation, leaving victims without the tickets and out of pocket.    Protect yourself:

  • Check the security of the website and validity of the post
  • Avoid taking the conversation offline to private messages
  • When purchasing any products over the internet always try to make the payment via PayPal or a credit card where you have some sort of payment cover

If you, or anyone you know, have been affected by this fraud or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

Payment Diversion Alert

Fraudsters are targeting members of the public who are expecting to make a payment for property repairs. The fraudsters, via email, will purport to be a tradesman who has recently completed work at the property and use a similar email address to that of the genuine tradesman. They will ask for funds to be transferred via bank transfer and once payment is made the victims of the fraud soon realise they have been deceived when the genuine tradesman requests payment for their services. Protect Yourself:

  • Always check the email address is exactly the same as previous correspondence with the genuine contact.
  • For any request of payment via email verify the validity of the request with a phone call to the person who carried out the work.
  • Check the email for spelling and grammar as these signs can indicate that the email is not genuine.
  • Payments via bank transfer offer no financial protection; consider using alternative methods such as a credit card or PayPal which offer some protection and avenue for recompense.

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud you can report it online at:  http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by telephone on: 0300 123 2040.

Fake Email Addresses

Assault on Peartree Bridge

Did you see assault on Peartree Bridge?

At approximately 6.15pm on Thursday (18/2), the victim was walking along the redway from Fishermead on to Peartree Bridge when three men approached him.

One jumped on the victim’s back and wrapped his arms around victim’s chest and shoulders while attempting to punch the victim numerous times to the face. As a result of this, the victim has fallen to the ground and a struggle ensued. The victim received no injuries from the unprovoked incident but was left severely shaken.

The offender is white, 5ft 7ins, of average build, in his mid-20s and has short messy light brown hair, and glasses with a thick black frame. He was wearing a thick black outdoor coat and dark trousers. He had a strong eastern European accent.

The other two men who were with the offender are white, and all three headed off in the general direction of Fishermead following the incident.

Please click this link to reply to the message

Online Fraud

This is an update to a previous alert sent from Action Fraud in November 2015.

Fraudsters are setting up high specification websites advertising various electrical goods and domestic appliances. These goods are below market value and do not exist. The website will state you can pay via card; however when the purchaser goes to pay, this option is not available and the payment must be made via bank transfer.

The fraudster entices the purchaser and reassures them it is a legitimate purchase by using the widely recognised Trusted Shop Trustmark. They then use the Trustmark fraudulently and provide a link on the bogus electrical website to another bogus website (which purports to be Trusted Shops). This website shows a fake certificate purporting to be from Trusted Shops and provides thousands of reviews for the bogus electrical website. These reviews are all fraudulent. The website has not been certified by Trusted Shops and therefore the purchaser is not covered by the Trusted Shop money-back guarantee.

Protect yourself:

  • Check the authenticity of the website before making any purchases. Conduct a ‘Whois’ search on the website which will identify when the website has been created- Be wary of newly formed domains. You can conduct this search using the following website – https://who.is/
  • Conduct online research in relation to the website, company name and the business address provided to identify any poor feedback or possible irregularities.
  • Check the Trusted Shops Facebook page where warnings about websites using their Trustmark are published. If you are in doubt about the legitimacy of a Trustmark then you can contact Trusted Shops on 0203 364 5906 or by emailservice@trustedshops.co.uk. They will confirm whether they have certified that website.
  • Payments made via bank transfer are not protected should you not receive the item. Therefore always try to make the payment via PayPal or a credit card where you have some payment cover should you not receive your product.
  • If the item advertised seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

If you, or anyone you know, have been affected by this fraud or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

Car stolen while left to defrost

Today (15/2) two cars were stolen in Stony Stratford when the owners left the engine running and unattended as they defrosted them.
With sub-zero temperatures expected to continue, you should expect your windscreens to be iced up in the coming mornings.
You  should also be aware that opportunist thieves could be on the look out to take advantage of a vehicle left while its owner is warming it up to defrost the windows.
It literally only needs a moment for a thief to have enough time to jump behind the wheel and drive off with your car.
The simple message is not to leave a running car unattended for any length of time whether it is left on your own driveway to de-ice on a cold winter morning or for example while you pop to post a letter.
Give yourself extra time to defrost all your cars windows and don’t be tempted to leave the car even for a few moments.
Modern cars are quite difficult to steal without the keys so criminals are looking for opportunities to steal the car with the keys. A car unattended with its engine running is a golden opportunity for a thief.
Potentially you could lose thousands of pounds because leaving your car with the keys available in this way may leave you uninsured for the theft!
Further information regarding crime prevention can be found at www.thamesvalley.police.uk orwww.safermk.co.uk