Advice from the Police on Corona Virus scams

The scams take several forms which include (so far):

·        Messages claiming to be from HMRC offering a tax refund due to changes in the law around Covid-19, recipients have to click a link which takes them to a fraudulent website

·        Messages claiming to be from the Center for Disease Control or from the World Health Organisation. These messages offer the recipient the chance to view a list of confirmed cases within their local area by clicking on a link and making a Bitcoin payment.

·        Emails claiming to be from a virologist sending an attached document with instructions on how to avoid the Coronavirus. The attachment is malicious.

·        Fraudulent online sales of masks and hand sanitiser which never materialise. If an online shopping offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

Please do not click on links or open attachments and take time to check that the email is from a legitimate source. Please be aware that fraudsters go to great lengths to make their communications with you look genuine.  

As Covid-19 continues to spread, fraudsters are likely to continue using the anxiety it generates to trick people out of their personal data and hard -earned money. You can find more information about the scams listed above online. The BBC have summarised these scams in this article

More than ever, as a community you need to be aware of those in your locality who are elderly, live alone and who are vulnerable. Please look after and support each other

Speed camera vans – Warning over scam Notice of Intended Prosecution emails

PCC Julia Mulligan with a mobile speed camera van

North Yorkshire Police say they have been made aware of a scam where people are being emailed with false Notice of Intended Prosecution letters (NIP) regarding alleged speeding offences.

North Yorkshire Police is keen to alert people to the fact that these are scam communications and are not sent from their Traffic Bureau department.

A genuine NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution, Section 172 request for driver details) is sent by first class post or recorded delivery, along with a request to identify the driver at the time of the offence. There would not be a request for any form of payment at this stage. The letter would also carry the North Yorkshire Police crest.

People are urged not to make any payment in response to these emails and not to click on any links contained.

Police are advising that if a member of the public receives a NIP and is unsure of its legitimacy, they can visit the FAQ section of the Safety Camera pages on the North Yorkshire Police website

Alternatively North Yorkshire Police Traffic Bureau can be contacted via email or  by dialling 01904 618968 Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm.

Dyson vacuum cleaner servicing scam

A mother and son who ran a company that fraudulently serviced Dyson vacuums have been sentenced at Leeds Crown Court today (25 September) for a total ten years for conspiracy to defraud following an investigation by National Trading Standards.

Thomas Scoffin (aged 31 from Park Avenue, Leeds) was the sole director of Leeds-based Excel Servicing Ltd and has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment. His mother Linda Scoffin (aged 61 from Hall Drive, Lincoln) who helped him run the business, has been sentenced to three years in prison.

The judge said that the fraud was so serious that it required a custodial sentence. There were also disqualified from being company directors: Tom for eight years, Linda for six years.

Following complaints against their firm, the National Trading Standards Yorkshire & Humber Regional Investigations team based at City of York Council took 34 witness statements from 24 February 2014 to 30 May 2015. They found that the Scoffins’ company defrauded customers – many of whom were elderly or vulnerable – by falsely claiming to represent Dyson and then conducting unnecessary servicing on their Dyson vacuum cleaners.

The company cold-called members of the public from across the north of England and told them their Dyson vacuum cleaners required a service. Customers were misled to believe Excel Servicing represented Dyson, with some being told Dyson had contracted out their servicing to Excel.

Despite their claim that Dyson vacuum cleaners required servicing, this is not the case which was confirmed by Dyson Ltd itself. When company representatives visited customers they carried out unnecessary ‘servicing’ and, in some cases, actually damaged the vacuum cleaners and voided customers’ Dyson warranties.

Customers were often charged between £50 and £200 to service the cleaners, and charged £40 for a new filter which were, in fact, worth between £2 and £5.

While ‘servicing’ victims’ Dyson cleaners, Excel Servicing staff used pressure-sales tactics to persuade them to buy another brand of vacuum cleaner. The new cleaners – which are designed for industrial use – were sold for between £500 and £2,000 and were often too heavy for the customers to whom they were sold.

The investigators found that Linda Scoffin also ran her own business, KB Midlands Limited, from Lincoln. It supplied and sold Kirby cleaners, and also emailed instructions to Excel Servicing. KB Midlands Limited supplied Kirby cleaners to Excel Servicing.

£1.5 million was received into the Excel Servicing business account for the period of the investigation and payments were made – sometimes through a finance company – to buy Kirby vacuum cleaners.

The investigators also found that the couple paid for numerous foreign holidays from money made by Excel Servicing, while Tom Scoffin spent in bars, restaurants and casinos. During the period of investigation, he was found to have withdrawn £17,000 in cash, and the business bank account for Excel Servicing was used to buy international flights.

Despite this spending, Excel Servicing declared a loss to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs during this period and paid no Corporation Tax.

Both now face confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said:

“These individuals preyed on elderly and vulnerable people, exploiting their trust and defrauding them. I would like to thank all involved in bringing these criminals to justice – these sentences send a strong signal that National Trading Standards will not hesitate to prosecute those attempting to defraud consumers.

“If you think you or someone you know may have fallen victim to a fraudulent business then I would urge you to contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”

Councillor Ann Reid, interim executive member with responsibility for Trading Standards at City of York Council, said:

“This tenacious investigation is to be congratulated: it has revealed a disgraceful fraud against vulnerable people and has brought those responsible to justice. I hope this sentence goes someway to reassuring the victims of this fraud and helps restore consumer confidence in legitimate businesses.”

Colin Rumford from the National Trading Standards Yorkshire and Humber Regional Investigations Team said:

“Being aware of consumer rights, not settling for spurious assurances and reporting concerns to Trading Standards is the right thing for people to do: this case proves that. I’m delighted with this team’s work and its outcome.”

York Police warn on puppy and kitten fraud

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and Action Fraud have recently noticed a rise in the reporting of pets, and in particular puppies and kittens, being advertised for sale via popular online auction websites.

The fraudsters will place an advert of the pet for sale, often claiming that the pet is currently held somewhere less accessible or overseas. Upon agreement of a sale, the suspect will usually request an advance payment by money transfer or bank transfer.

However, the pet does not materialise and the fraudster will subsequently ask for further advanced payments for courier charges, shipping fees and additional transportation costs. Even if further payments are made, the pet will still not materialise as it is likely to not exist.

Tips to staying safe when purchasing pets:


£15,457 penalties for Blue Badge on-line scammer

The conviction follows an investigation by the National Trading Standards eCrime Team

A man and his company who misled disabled people into paying £49 a time for Blue Badge parking permits was sentenced to financial penalties totalling £15,457.35 yesterday (30 March 2017) at York Magistrates’ Court.

Ramiro Rohan Depass, aged 23 of Thameshill Avenue, Romford, Essex, pleaded guilty to misleading consumers by using copycat websites to sell Blue Badge parking permits, contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.  He was fined £1,230, ordered to pay £5,139.98 compensation to 102 of his victims, and pay prosecution costs of £4,847.37 and a victim surcharge to the Court of £120.  His company, Impetus Solutions Limited, was fined £4,000 and pay a victim surcharge of £120.

Depass’s activities came to light after over 100 complaints were made to the Citizens Advice  and Action Fraud helplines over an eight-month period in 2015/16, triggering an investigation by the National Trading Standards eCrime Team.

Depass’s scheme worked by diverting those searching online for Blue Badges to apply via his own website, meaning that badges were never issued. Disabled drivers were charged £49 for these non-existent badges, which are normally bought from the local council for £10.

In April 2016 officers from the National Trading Standards eCrime Team (NTSeCT) raided a house in Romford and found documents linking Depass to the scam. He presented himself to police later that week.

Councillor Nigel Ayre, Executive Member with responsibility for Trading Standards at City of York Council, said: “This profiteering is despicable and shows a casual disregard for the law alongside a willingness to exploit vulnerable people genuinely eligible to hold a Blue Badge. I applaud our expert investigators for unveiling and successfully prosecuting another ecrime which impersonates legitimate, at cost local authority services.”

York Police scam alert


The police have issued the following warning, ”

NHS members are being targeted by tax rebate companies, purporting to offer services whereby they obtain a tax rebate on the victim’s behalf. However, the company obtains the refund but does not provide any of the funds to their customer, leaving victims over £34,000 out of pocket.

Information suggests that the companies have managed to infiltrate NHS practices/hospitals as part of training/open days and in lunchtime meeting sessions for staff. They also advertise their services to staff members and have been known to set up stands in the reception or restaurant areas.

The companies request the victim sign forms which give them permission to liaise with HMRC on their behalf, stating their fee will be charged to the rebate received. HMRC have confirmed that they have issued refunds to the companies in relation to requests received and authorised by the staff member. Once the refund is obtained all contact with the companies are broken and the victim does not receive their rebate.

Tax rebate fraud does not only affect NHS staff but can also affect Police Officers, airline staff and teachers. However this list of professions is not exclusive and anyone can be targeted.

Crime Prevention Advice
  • · Do research online to ensure the company is reputable by checking the registration details are correct and by viewing feedback online.
  • · Do not feel pressured to sign documentation without doing some basic checks.
  • · Do not respond to unsolicited emails, texts or calls offering rebate services.
  • · Make sure that you are aware and agree to the commission that will be paid to a rebate company prior to signing any documents.

· If you have been affected by this, or any other fraud, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting

York Police warn of charity giving scam

North Yorkshire Police have been informed of an emerging fraud whereby social media platforms are being used to attract members of the public to donate money to animal welfare charities overseas that do not exist.

Criminal groups based in Spain or Cyprus and are using social media to target donors from the UK. The money is then laundered from the UK to overseas and rather than be used to tackle animal cruelty it is simply used to support a criminal lifestyle in the sun. They will canvass for contributions through their existing social networks which will expand over time, attracting more donors.


Sometimes the article or post on social media may indicate the payments are for charitable organisation or a “worthy cause”. Sadly not in all instances are these genuine, and if any doubt please undertake your own due diligence.
Other signs to look for include:

• Genuine charities are registered with the Charity Commission and print their registration details on all documentation, collection bags, envelopes, electronic communications etc.

• Check these details exist and also contact the Charity Commission to confirm they are authentic. You can call them on their helpline 0845 300 0218 or by visiting, where they have an online charity register.

• If the collection is for a charity you know is genuine, check the collection is authorised by asking the charity directly, using contact details from the phone book or a website that you know is genuine.

• Watch out for poor grammar and spelling in emails and other documents, including collection envelopes.

• Send your donation to the charity directly. This may mean going to a little more trouble, but at least you can be sure your donation will get to where it’s intended.

• If you have any concerns you can also gain further information from the government website –

• If you have been affected by this, or any other fraud, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting

York Police issue Amazon scam warning

amazonNorth Yorkshire Police has received several reports from victims who have been sent convincing looking emails claiming to be from Amazon.

The spoofed emails from “” claim recipients have made an order online and mimic an automatic customer email notification.
The scam emails claim recipients have ordered an expensive vintage chandelier, Bose stereos, iPhone’s and luxury watches.
The emails cleverly state that if recipients haven’t authorised the transaction they can click on the help centre link to receive a full refund.
The link leads to an authentic-looking website, which asks victims to confirm their name, address, and bank card information.

Amazon says that suspicious e-mails will often contain:
•Links to websites that look like, but aren’t
•Attachments or prompts to install software on your computer.
•Typos or grammatical errors.
•Forged (or spoofed) e-mail addresses to make it look like the e-mail is coming from

In addition
•Amazon will never ask for personal information to be supplied by e-mail.
•Read more about identifying suspicious emails claiming to be from Amazon.

If you have received such an email or been victim of the above scam please report the matter to Action Fraud, National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre 0300 1232040

Bogus callers claim to be from York council and asking about accidents

sCAM ALERTCity of York Council is acting on reports of a scam in which phone calls have been received by local people claiming to be from the council regarding supposed accidents and aiming to gather personal detail from them.

The week before International Fraud Awareness Week, council has been informed that residents have been contacted by callers claiming to be from the Council and saying they were calling following an accident.

The numbers they are ringing from appear to be from York but are not.

Please, never give out any personal details to anyone who calls or emails you unexpectedly. Anyone concerned about the validity of an email or call should report it by calling 0345 4040506 or emailing

Caution urged following spate of cases involving fake officials in York

sCAM ALERTPeople in York are being urged to guard themselves against being approached by fake officials, as some residents report that they have been telephoned about car accidents by callers claiming to be from or informed by City of York Council.

The fake calls are being investigated by trading standards officers following a number of complaints from people claiming that they have been called unexpectedly about car accidents. The callers either claim to be from the council or, in some cases, claim to have been given information about the ‘accidents’ by the council. When questioned, the callers have hung up.

Other scams across the country involving fake officials have led to significant losses for their victims. An elderly couple from the Home Counties lost £900,000 in a scam – involving a bogus trading standards officer. The pensioners, who had already been defrauded of £300,000 by so called roofers, believed their fortunes had changed when the bogus official came calling.

The ‘official’, thought to be part of the same gang as the ‘roofers’, tricked the couple out of a further £600,000 in ‘up-front fees’ with promises to recover the money. For his part in the crime, Gary Andrew Booker, aged 55 of Surrey, was jailed for three-and-a-half years, earlier this July – also Scams Awareness Month 2016.

Other recent cases include an 83-year-old woman tricked out of £30,000 to fake police officers; a women who lost £170,000 to conmen posing as trading standards officers; and a number of elderly people who were caught out by callers masquerading as NHS workers.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Scammers target people in all sorts of ways, including online, over the phone or even at their own front door.

“If you suspect someone is running a scam or are worried you have been a victim of a bogus offer you can get help from the Citizens Advice consumer service.”

Advice to guard against doorstep callers:

  • · Fit and use a door security chain when you open the door.
  • · Check the identification of a caller by ringing their employer. Use the telephone number from your telephone book and not one they might supply.
  • · Do not let anyone to carry out work on your house until you get a second opinion and never agree to callers who say “we are only in the area today”.
  • · Never keep large sums of money in the house and keep purses out of sight, not near the door.
  • · Get advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service 03454 04 05 06 who can provide advice and pass details on to trading standards.
  • · Report scams or suspected scams to Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040
  • · Tell a friend, neighbour or relative about any scams you become aware of.