More than 100 local residents are being helped after falling victim to a scam.
Trading standards officers are working with residents and the national scams team to help the victims understand the nature of the scam they have fallen victim to and give advice to ensure they do not get conned in the future.
As part of Scams Awareness Month (July 2017) Wigan Council is urging people in the borough to spread the word about scams and expose the tactics of fraudsters to protect others by following a three-step rule: Get advice, report it, and tell others about it.
National research completed by Citizens Advice finds scammers are using a variety of tactics to get people to part with their cash, with people losing an average of £2,700 across a number of different scams.
A method which scammers use quite often is cold-calling, this is in a bid to get a person’s bank details and offer fake services, such as telling people their computer has a virus which they can fix remotely.
Investment scams carry the highest price tag, with people investing in fake diamonds or bogus stocks and shares losing on average £25,000 each.
Julie Middlehurst, Wigan Council’s group manager for regulatory services, said: “Our dedicated trading standards officers have helped many victims of scams across the borough by visiting them to provide help and guidance to ensure the victims avoid being scammed in the future.
“Our advice would be to never respond to any uninvited letter, email, phone call or text which promises a prize or other reward.
“During July all local libraries have free advice cards available which will help residents spot scams and know who to contact for advice.”
Councillor Kevin Anderson, Wigan Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: "We are determined to protect and help any vulnerable residents of the borough and stop these fraudsters from duping them out of their hard earned money.
“These con artists are often based abroad and have no conscience whatsoever. Once a resident responds to their mailing, they will target them again and again.
“We would ask friends and relatives of vulnerable residents to be on the lookout for these scam mailings and let us know if they know of someone being targeted."
Anyone who thinks they or any of their relatives or friends have been involved in a scam can call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506, or you can report any fraud to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk
Eight common scams reported to Citizens Advice are:
1. Investment - victims are persuaded to invest money into fake ventures and are then unable to get their money back.
2. Fake services - people are offered a service for a fee, only to find the service isn’t real or doesn’t exist at all. Examples include, offers to fix computers remotely and fake invoices for advertising.
3. Vishing - con-artists cold-call people pretending to be a legitimate company, asking for credit or debit card details - for example on the pretence that they need to refund overpaid bills.
4. Doorstep selling - victims are offered goods door-to-door or from the back of a van, which are likely to be counterfeit. Fraudsters selling mattresses, “fresh” fish and cleaning products were all reported to Citizens Advice.
5. Upfront payment or fee - fraudsters ask for a payment in advance for a service or product that never materialises, such as asking for a fee to get a loan, or to pay for a training course to secure a job.
6. Premium rate texts - victims inadvertently agree to receive premium rate texts about games or competitions, usually costing around £4 each.
7. Counterfeit goods - people buy goods at marketplaces or online that turn out to be counterfeit or even stolen. Common products include cigarettes, shoes and clothing, and tickets for events.
8. Goods not received - people place orders for goods which don’t arrive. Scams are often carried out through social media and online auction sites.