/ Money

Scam watch: fake bailiff ruse

bailiff letter

A member fell victim to someone posing as a bailiff who pressured her into ‘settling out of court’ over non-payment of a bill that she had already refuted. Has it happened to you?

Member Laura Ivermee told us:

‘Last year, I ran an advert for my graphic design company in a publication. We verbally agreed it would be a one-off advert.

‘Six months later, the publication contacted me, arguing that I had agreed to run two adverts six months apart.

‘It told me it would send the recording of me agreeing to this, but nothing arrived so I forgot about it.

‘Some time after, a court bailiff contacted me and said the company was suing me for non-payment, supposedly for an advert in 12 issues that I had agreed to – at £299 per month.

‘He told me that he was on his way to serve the papers, I’d have to pay another £1,100 if he did so, and he had the authority to seize goods if I failed to pay.

‘I was pressured into settling out of court for £3,200, as this would allow me to make a counterclaim.

‘When the court documents to support this counterclaim didn’t show up, I contacted the courts, which had no details of this case. It was all a very well-run scam.’

Our say on fake bailiffs

Bailiffs must usually give you at least seven days’ notice of their first visit.

This gives you time to check their identity, either by contacting the court that sent them or checking against an official register.

Always ask for ID – anyone who falsely claims to be a bailiff is committing fraud, so you were right to report this to Action Fraud and the police.

Unfortunately, because you paid by bank transfer, there is little chance of recovering your money.


Comments

I read this in the magazine yesterday. As has been the case in the past, the facts/details are incomplete and these pose more questions than they answer. However, if this was a malevolent then I’m sorry for Laura and, once again it shows how scams are on the increase and are increasingly successful. Time for a catch up and a few more convictions.

As Vynor says, we need more information to understand the case but at least it provides a useful warning of the need to confirm arrangements in writing before agreeing to them. It occurs to me that Laura’s case presumably refers to a business rather than a personal transaction and different rules can apply.

Papers are always sent by courts /bailiffs in the event of court action being taken against an alleged debtor , they must be officially notified a phone call does not , in cases like this constitute proof of notice given . As Wavechange mentions non-business and commercial legal actions differ especially if it is a County court judgment which can be delayed due to differences in the approaches in the legal sense when applied to ordinary home owners it has to take a recognised course of action spanning out months .But in the case of a High court writ that can be immediate and backed up by police help . Its down to legal detail that can be complicated in country Court versions . NEVER pay out via phone call no matter if its the Attorney General Himself speaking . The old -sever error comes up again its down to when I ask for email notification on a new Convo.

The part of this story that I don’t understand is – how on earth did the victim believe that a bailiff was being sent without the case having been to court? Under whose authority did she believe that the bailiff was acting? It’s immediately implausible.

Not necessarily. If you have never been involved with bailiffs, you might not know how the system operates. I didn’t know until reading your post.

I would have thought it was fairly obvious that, if someone says they are owed money, then they can’t simply send a bailiff without first proving to a proper authority that the money is owed. If anyone could send a bailiff without a proper authority confirming the debt, then there would be total chaos. It’s not about knowing how the system operates, but common sense.

Inder says:
28 April 2017

The exact same thing happened to me, The person on the phone said they were representing the court, He explained in detail what it was regarding. I had no reason to disbelieve him I too was told if i paid upfront I would be saving £1500. It was regarding my business but I did not have the bank details to hand and paid from my personal account. The recipients name on the bank account was M.Doyle Parsons

Peter says:
24 November 2017

I have just been contacted by someone claiming to be an Enforcement Agent appointed by the court. The scenario was the same as those outlined above. The story was the same that I could save £1500 in fees if I paid the debt of £3,500. I have to say that the guy on the phone was very plausable. He gave me the bank account details of company making claim (M E Dolan Advertising). He was very sympathetic when I said that I had never done business with this company but he said as a CCJ had been made against me I would have to pay and then issue a counter claim against them. He used the same tactic sying that if I made a bank transfer he could stop the agent who was 20 mins away from coming to serve documents.
I have never been involved with CCJs so I am not familiar with the process. Coming completely out of the blue it is very unsettling. I told him that there was no way I was going to make any payment without first checking the paperwork and finding our which court the claim had been lodged.
A few mins later I got a call from a Mr Taylor who said he would be at my premises in 10 mins to serve the papers. I told him that I would be waiting for him with the police who would check that he was a valid officer of the court. I waited for 2 hours but he failed to show up.
I went home still not sure if the calls had been genuine and it wasn’t until I started checking on-line to see that others have been targetted by these scammers.

They rang me yesterday. Exactly same. I have a roofing business based in Hull. Still waiting for him now. Is this the mobile number he rang off or similar?? 07895 225419

Chris says:
7 March 2018

We’ve just had the same thing to our business line in Liverpool a Michael Davies rang rather quite rude / pushy saying we had a CCJ etc and that we had signed up to a subscription. After we asked for more information as none of it rang any bells at all, they said they would be around in 20 minutes. The number used was 07555454159 if he turns up we will also be calling the police.

Phil says:
16 May 2018

You checked the number of course?

https://who-called.co.uk/Number/07555454159

Geoff Furnival says:
10 May 2018

This also happened to me yesterday an individual calling himself Michael Davies stated he was a baliff and would be round in 20 minutes to collect a debt of £3,724.60. This was for to sponsor a book for our local Secondary school (Kingdown in Warminster Wiltshire) He knew I had paid £109 but advised this was to be paid every month this money was the outstanding balance the supplier (Mr Parkes) had obtained a County Court Judgement in Liverpool. When he stated he would be there in 20 mins I advised the security gates in the court we live would be locked. He stated they would force entry. I contacted the Police and they asked me to call back when he turned up. He the advised he would speak to Mr Parkes to see of he would accept less for a payment now. He then advised after 15 mins Mr Parkes would accept £2,500 AND He would collect this plus his Bayliffs fee of £800.
My Wife is a solicitor as asked him for the Court and Case ref – he refused to supply this and then said we had been warned and he would be round soon. His telephone number was [removed].
H never turned up and was very plausible – I suspect he has taken a lot of money off unsuspecting individuals.
I contacted the Police again and the put me on to Action Fraud and they have all the above details.
I think the Television programmes about bailiffs should warn viewers what right of access County Court and High Court Baliffs have and don’t have.

[Sorry, your comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

Terry says:
16 May 2018

I have this morning had a call from high court enforcement officer, didn’t get name as was so shocked when he asked for £3724.60 for sponsor a book for our local school. as above he advised it was supposed to have been £189 per month and other than first payment nothing had been paid and they would be round in 20 mins to collect.
I advised i have no documents correspondence and that while talking with him my credit check did not show any CCJ he advised that because he was holding until they call out and would not show until then

He did say he could not take payment over phone but i would have to pay and then counterclaim to get returned

I have spent since 10.00 am waiting for them to call but nothing and i cant get a reply on his mobile number starts 0744 and ends 196

did Geoff hear anything further?
i have checked with Hugh court no CCJ or action for my name post code, but that doesn’t stop the worry

Phil says:
16 May 2018

This might be of some comfort:-

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/news/cold-calls-from-bogus-bailiffs-nov17

Have you reported it?

Thanks for this. Yes have reported on action Fraud website as 101 was not interested

Pamela Hill says:
22 June 2018

I have had a similar call today. Someone claiming to be acting in my interest by preventing the bailiffs from coming round by negotiating a settlement with the company I am supposed to owe money to. Again the amount was in relation to a book sponsorship for a local school. Yes, I had sponsored on a one off basis two years ago and have a letter confirming that it was a one off sponsorship. He said I had entered into a subscription and had only made one payment so owed £3588. He went off line to speak to the company whose name was not the same as the one I had the letter from – he spoke very fast in a strong Liverpool accent. The name he gave was Michael Shoesmith and when I asked for his number he said I would get it from 1471. It was a mobile number. Fortunately my husband was here and I had him listening in and he raised the prospect of this being a scam the caller had me so concerned and worried about getting a CCJ against my records I may well have made a payment. I was when he requested the payment be made by BACS we got suspicious. The bailiffs have not arrived yet – they were 40 minutes away some 4 hours ago. We have taken advice and told we did the right thing but I can’t help feeling very unsettled and and this has ruined today – my husband’s birthday!
I have reported it to Action Fraud.

Tamus says:
26 June 2018

Michael Shoesmith (or at least someone claiming to be Michael Shoesmith) telephoned my factory yesterday. He said the company I work for had an outstanding debt, that we had incurred a CCJ and that he had enforcement officers 1 hour away ready to enter our premises and take goods to the value. Odd that he couldn’t tell me what the value of the debt was or indeed who the the debt was with. I thought it was a prank call. He gave me his number (that he hasn’t answered since). 101 asked me how I knew that he wasn’t a bailiff and advised asking for I.D. etc if he actually turned up. Northern English, perhaps Manchester accent, very pushy.

They are copying the USA -IRS scam call issue which has been on the go there for years Tamus unlike this country, the US Federal Authorities clamp down hard on it , trace them back -jail them –and you know what American jails are like .

Some people might not take me seriously when I say the US takes scams seriously so just for a start read https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/tax-scams-how-to-report-them and I still haven’t got to the info on the US security services tracking and jailing them.

Lucy says:
28 March 2019

This scam is currently creeping its way back onto the scene, I’d advice everyone to get a name and number and post it straight onto here, get the accent and even the bank details they try to get you to put the money into (they will always make it a BACS transfer because that way you can’t get your money back) it’s clear the police aren’t interested in preventing hundreds of people getting scammed!

Ellie May says:
8 June 2019

A man tried this on with our business today, fortunately after checking our accounting records we challenged the non payment he was accusing us of. We said we would ask the police to attend when he arrived. He never turned up. [This comment has been edited to remove personal information. Please see our community guidelines https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/ ]

denise foskett says:
25 June 2019

like many others on this page ,I have just had a phone call about an advert I took out in my grandsons school for drug and drink abuse one off or as I thought they rang me a couple of times thought the next two years demanding money by bacs I refused telling them it was a one off never had any paperwork to support the leaflet although my grandson said they got one leaflet at the end of the term ,I told him about the demands and he told me not to pay as it was a scam,anyway they have tonight rang to tell me baliffs were 20 mins way and best I paid or I would have a ccj against my business and have to pay the courts fees ect, I refused saying I have heard this is a scam 1 and 1/2 hours still awaiting there arrival. I did ring him on his number but he never said the company name he worked for and seemed surpized I rang him I told him I have had not one piece off paper work from either the company that did the leaflets or courts Dont pay these people they may make you worried but if you have had on paper work from the courts dont worry they must give you 7 days from any judgement and proof they have sent it!

[This comment has been edited to remove personal details and replace capital letters. Please see community guidelines. https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/ ]

Samantha Goodman says:
1 October 2019

We have had this today. Back in early 2016 i had a scam advertising invoice sent to us. I phoned the company and said i would be reporting them to Action Fraud and trading standards and there was no way i was paying the invoice. The gentleman hung up on me which only confirmed what i thought. Forward to today and we have had a Bailiff on the phone saying we owe this advertising company £3500.00. They were on their way to collect the debt. When i said we were closing in half an hour so not to bother he told me that they would charge extra because they would have a locksmith out to gain entry to our office etc. He said they had sent letters and it was confirmed they had been received but could not tell me who had signed for it. we got cut of but I phoned him back and told him that i would wait for them to get here and that i had phoned the police who would also be here as i would be by my self and they were worried for my welfare. So a few hours later and no one turned up. Not a big surprise. I can see why people pay these scammer as he was very intimidating and knew the company i had had problems with in the past.