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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.

Profile photo of VynorHill

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.

Profile photo of wavechange

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.

Profile photo of duncan lucas

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.

Profile photo of NFH

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.

Profile photo of alfa

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.

Profile photo of NFH

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