/ Scams

What’s the emotional impact of an online scam?

The financial impact of online scams is easy to see, but we don’t talk enough about how else this type of fraud affects us. How do scams impact your behaviour online?

20/11/20: Almost one in 10 scammed by fake sellers

We really appreciate everyone who has taken the time to share their experiences with scams so far, as we know this isn’t always easy.

Since the last update, we’ve been continuing to investigate the scale of online scams and have today published the findings of our latest research into scam adverts on social media sites and search engines.

Alarmingly, we found that almost one in 10 people (9%) have fallen victim to a purchase scam – when someone is misled into paying for a product that never turns up or is not at all as described – via an advert on a social media site.

The same proportion of people (9%) had fallen victim to a scam advert via a search engine.

And our worrying survey findings were backed up by first-hand reports from people. When we asked for victims of social media purchase scams to get in touch with us, we heard from more than 200 people in just 48 hours. 

This includes people like Christine, who ordered a CBD oil product advertised on Facebook with false endorsements from Fern Britton and David Attenborough.

She was promised a sample for £2.50, but £170 was later taken from her bank account – more than her weekly pension. Although she did receive the sample she doesn’t think it is genuine CBD oil.

If you’ve fallen victim to a scam advert on social media or another online platform, we’d be keen to hear your experience in the comments below.

14/10/20: Government must take action to protect people

Today we’ve published research into consumer attitudes, knowledge and behaviour relating to scams on social media platforms.

We found that people are seriously underestimating their chances of falling victim to fraud on the sites and suffering the devastating emotional and financial consequences that this can result in.

Our research, comprised of an in-depth online community of Facebook users and a nationally representative online survey of 1,700 users of the site, found that users’ knowledge of what Facebook does to protect people from becoming a victim of a scam was low.

However, when details of Facebook’s actual systems and processes were explained, users were sceptical about their effectiveness and questioned whether they are sufficient.

While our research was conducted with a focus on Facebook due to its size and influence in the social media landscape, we believe that the findings and implications can be reasonably extended to apply to other similar social networking sites and online platforms.

We also heard from courageous scam victims who told Which? about how their experiences affected their confidence in themselves, their ability to trust others and even their mental and / or physical health.

Which? is now calling for online platforms, including social media sites, to be given greater responsibility to prevent scam content appearing on their platforms.

The government has a perfect opportunity to deliver this in the upcoming online harms bill and, if not, ministers must set out their proposals for further legislative action to effectively protect consumers.

05/10/20: Emotional impact

How many online scams are out there? How long’s a piece of string….

We’ve covered hundreds here on Which? Conversation in order to warn people of the dangers they pose by showing examples.

Thanks to the comments here in the community, we’re able to respond rapidly to new ones, and recognise the ones that are causing the most concern.

You can opt to receive these alerts directly via our scam alert service here:


 
 

Emotional harm

We’ve often spoken about what happens during a scam, and how new scams look online. This has included everything from ordering something online, only to receive a fake version, or even something entirely different: 

To ‘friends’ contacting you with a fake email, asking for cash, or even asking to take over your computer via remote access.

The financial impact of scams is evident, but we’ve spoken less about how scams might impact us in how we behave and how we feel when going about our business online.

How hard might it be to recover trust in a friend to whom you sent money in good faith, only to find that friend had been hacked? What about regaining your confidence online when you believe you are able to spot a scam, only to become the victim of one yourself?  

Tell us your story

We believe that the emotional impact of scams on consumers needs more attention, so we’d like to hear your experiences.  

If you were the victim of an online scam of any type, what happened, and how did you feel? Were you able to find a resolution?

What changed for you afterwards? Has there been an emotional impact on you personally, such as a loss of trust or confidence, or avoiding certain activities?  

If you haven’t been the victim of an online scam, does having knowledge of the many scams online have an impact on you?

Do you feel that certain online spaces are safer than others? Would a social media site, for example, be safer than an online marketplace?

If you see a scam on a particular site, do you know how to report it? If so, how often do you do so? 

If you were the victim of a scam, would you feel comfortable talking about it?
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Be kind

Please treat this discussion as a safe space. For some, these might be difficult stories to retell.

We want to understand this difficulty and make sure we all consider the impact this has directly from people who have been affected. 

This is not an opportunity to apportion blame or judge others for their choices, as this isn’t constructive to the discussion, nor does it invite others to be open with their experiences.

For this particular conversation we may remove comments to this effect. 

You may wish to comment under a pseudonym, or email us directly on conversation.comments@which.co.uk if you’d rather not discuss your experience in public.

How to comment under a pseudonym:

First, make sure you’re entirely logged out of Which? Conversation.

In the upper right corner, click on your username, and then click “Sign Out”. You can also use Private or Incognito browsing in your browser.

Navigate to the comment box at the bottom the page.

What you type in the comment box and in the name box will appear publicly on the site. The email address you provide will be visible only to moderators and site administrators, and will not be shared further without your consent.

If you would like to follow this conversation by email, or if you would be happy for a writer or researcher from Which? to follow up with you, we would recommend you using an email address on which you can be contacted.

If you would like, you can also get in touch with your story via email

Support is available

Which?’s has extensive Consumer Rights guidance on Scams, including how to identify and report scams, and how to get your money back if you have been a victim.

Additionally, Which? Legal can offer you tailored legal advice on a variety of consumer problems.

Being scammed can take a huge toll on you emotionally and mentally. It helps to speak to someone about what you’re going through.

Mind – confidential information and support

Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am – 6pm, Monday – Friday).

The charity also runs the supportive online community Elefriends where you can talk about and share your experiences of mental health.

Victim Support – 24/7 helpline

Victim Support has a free, 24/7 helpline where you can speak to someone confidentially. This can be a one-off call or they can refer you to local services for on-going support.

This service is free and run by Victim Support which is an independent charity.

You can contact Victim Support by:

 

Comments

I have two things I regret – where I might have been able to prevent a scam:
1. A middle aged Indian lady, not very computer savvy, approached me in a coffee shop for help with the Internet and sending money to a bitcoin address. I gave some help – but only with hindsight did it occur to me she might have been being scammed.
2. I was in the queue at a bank and an old lady asked to withdraw £3,000 cash. The teller was likely suspicious and asked her what the money is for – she replied “a holiday”. I was tempted to try and intervene… but if she was being scammed she was probably in a paranoid mode and would see an intervention as being from the ‘criminals’ that she had probably been warned about, so I did nothing. As I think about it now I wonder whether it would have been better to call the Police and discretely follow her in the hope that a fraudster could be apprehended taking the money off her.

Hi Roboli, thanks for sharing. Sometimes it pays to be a bit cheeky and stick ones nose in. Two weeks ago I found a lost iPhone and managed to return it to its owner. But I was tempted to just leave it where it was, in case its owner came back for it while I was unable to find her.

I work in the community and the amount of times I had to intervene to stop people giving personal and bank details over the phone is staggering. Clients are elderly and often confused and tend to fall for a friendly voice expressing concern about the state of their bank balance etc.
I have stuck notes by the telephone to remind people not to give out personal and banking details and hang up.The bank scams continue and, despite warnings, people still fall victim to them.
What I would like to know is how the scammers are getting hold off telephone numbers that are ex-directory and therefore should not be listed /available?

Hi Kay, there are several easy ways that scammers can use to dial ex-directory numbers, for example:

1. Get their computers to work through a given sequence of numbers and, if any are answered, the calls are handed over to the scammers. It won’t matter whether or not the numbers dialled are ex-directory.
2. Purchase names and phone numbers stolen by hackers in data breaches. (For example, see:-https://hostreviews.co.uk/biggest-uk-data-breaches/ )
3. Use phishing emails or websites to gather data. For example, put up a website that offers a free service to those who register their details.

They use what are called auto callers, these just go down the list of telephone numbers one after the other until they get an answer at which time it gets passed to a caller handler (scammer) to start the scam. These guys are very clever at being plausible, even at my advanced age I take great delight at leading them on, they do get abusive but a 130Db air horn usually deafens them enough to shut up and vaguely hear my suggestion about enjoying themselves and travel, I then say don’t do it again and hang up. It doesn’t stop the robot calling machines but when I answer they see my number and put the phone down 🙂 🙂 They value their hearing to keep doing it.
I just wish the UK government would stop it altogether, we know primarily that they are using the internet from Nigeria and India, cut the service, by blocking their IP address range and let their governments deal with their problems before it is enabled again. It will concentrate those governments minds to stop it, shame we cannot do this as part of an EU effort.

During lockdown being severely disabled , no family and living on my own I purchased many items all from Facebook advertisements. All of them looked professional with animation music and voice overs. I thought I was utilising my time fruitfully as I was in the middle of a large refurbishment inside and out .
The items I purchased were large and heavy furniture .
I have some Chinese friends who send me items and when I received plastic so I never dreamt that these items weee the items that I had ordered .
I left it a little while as I was aware logistics were severely compromised by Covid-19. Then I started to contact these sellers , only to be told the item had been delivered , here was the tracking number . These sellers told me to contact the post office which I duly did . The woman on the other end of the telephone said oh no not another person and explained anything large or over 2kgs Royal Mail do not deliver and therefore anything out of this remit it was a scam ! So here I am all alone with the stark reality that everything that I had ordered was a scam , and I had ordered many items from different sellers and websites ! I felt really distressed and my hopes and aspirations of having these items to enrich my life aesthetically and practically.
However I had purchased the majority of items through PayPal because that’s was the preferred payment or only payment method for these fraudulent sellers , a few items I purchased through Barclaycard , so I thought at least I would get my money back because both offered buyers protection.
Barclaycard were absolutely brilliant and I received all of my money back , although I had to have several new cards because my account was being phished ! Unfortunately PayPal have been a absolute nightmare! They have declined many of my claims so now my money deficit is mounting now . It is bad enough to be scammed by every website that I used on Facebook which were numerous, but now to be engaged in fighting PayPal who are not honouring what they advertise buyers protection! Despite showing PayPal the package with tracking number and the plastic item that I received , so demonstrating it was a deliberate scam , they are refusing to recognise this ! They have made it so awkward asking for the same information time and time again ! They say talk to the seller and a friend of mine did this but as she was giving her card details over to get her refund her husband ran in and said stop someone is trying to take £3,000.00 out of our account! So PayPal are putting people at more risk ! Or their classic is send the item back to the seller with prof that you have sent the item back . That’s a impossible request for someone who is disabled and has to use taxis and eve before lockdown because of my disability I do not go out for six weeks at a time ! Now I stay home because my immune system is compromised and could easily catch the virus but because of my health conditions could die , but PayPal will not take this into consideration. Plus I am supposed to send this plastic rubbish back at my expense with taxi fares of £9 on top !
This has made me very depressed and angry , here am I all alone and having to deal and cope with all of this . In fact the other week I felt very unwell and called111who immediately sent a ambulance and I was taken to hospital with a suspected heart attack! It turned out it was a mixture of my ME fibromyalgia and severe stress! All of which I have conveyed to PayPal in a formal complaint . PayPal say it is not fair if I get a refund and keep the item sent ! I now have a case with the financial ombudsman against PayPal who are colluding and being complicit with these fraudulent sellers! PayPal allowed these fraudulent sellers to use their facility so they should be culpable. I now find that I can not get to talk to anyone at PayPal and they asked for documentation and stopped me from uploading the evidence . PayPals formal complaint address is not on their website , for you to lodge a formal complaint ! It was the financial ombudsman who found it for me . Once you have lodged you complaint they have eight weeks to respond . I have received this response they will not refund my money and adding insult to injury they question and will be looking into my account why I used it so much! PayPal know I do not go out and have to purchase everything off of the internet . Paypal are being discriminating towards disabled people their website for writing complaints also is not easy to use if you have certain disabilities. To me their remarks are slanderous and a deformation of my character, added to the fact they are not honouring their buyers protection that they so readily advertise is a breach of their contract .
However their conditions for using PayPal are changing on December , obviously everything will be weighted in their favour. PayPal are a EU registered company and I believe their attitude is linked to us withdrawing from the EU. So I feel I have been scammed twice once from the fraudulent seller and secondly by PayPal who side with these sellers despite me supplying them with information there are 3 main distribution hubs , which send out the same plastic item , so it is not a mistake . A couple of times I have purchased from the same seller and they have sent the same item to me . The sent return addresses are in English but the return addresses are in Chinese don’t and a flick on the wrong place means something completely different . Incidentally although sent addresses are the same return addresses differ ! I have someone else I know who sent the item back , but they are denying they received it so they are £20 down sending it back as well , something that I pointed out to PayPal these sellers are fraudulent do they really think they are going to say thank you very much we have received the item and here’s your refund , I don’t think so .,
I have also come into contact with other people who have not pursued claiming . This means the fraudulent seller and PayPal are on a win situation . It is morally wrong that PayPal are benefitting financially by these unscrupulous sellers ! PayPal are in a privileged position to see exactly what is going on and shut these fraudulent sellers down , but this is not in their best interested.
This situation is absolutely huge and I believe run by cartels , because of the same address being used, with the identical item being sent !
How can PayPal deny lairs when they can see exactly what is going on ?
The shops and email addresses are disabled by the seller making contact impossible . Facebook also need to be held accountable in some way because they are showcasing these advertisements.

Stephen Dadd says:
15 October 2020

I have been scammed in exactly the same way. Facebook always like to take the moral high ground, yet they repeatedly take revenue from fraudsters. Don’t buy anything from Facebook ads unless you know the company very well. Paypal systems are engineered to allow the fraudsters to run their routine scam. You buy something, you get something sent to you that is hugely inferior. Chinese post is cheap and UK post is expensive. No way are we going to return worthless goods to China. The criminals are twisting Paypal systems round their little fingers. They know exactly how it all works, and they know exactly how to exploit and rob their victims. I spent £80 on shoes and received a £2 pair of sunglasses. Then I ordered a large heavy duty corn grinder, and received a tiny £13 coffee grinder for my $50 purchase price. Paypal systems just play into the fraudsters’ hands. Paypal will routinely give your money to the criminals. I had to fight tooth & nail to reverse Paypal’s decision to give my money to the criminals. I did get my money back, but it was a massive fight to do so. I have no doubt that even after I have explained how this fraud works to Paypal, they still won’t change anything. It is an appalling state of affairs. For me, I only made my second purchase because I was falsely reassured by the Paypal logo. I thought that if Paypal was hosting their payments, that this was some kind of endorsement. Not so. Paypal will still be found on the websites of criminals. Paypal needs to disassociate themselves from crime – rather than supporting it. Paypal needs to wake up and sort themselves out.

Hi Maria, really sorry to hear all this. I do hope that you get your money back.

Sorry to hear this has happened to you Maria. I stopped using Paypal years ago after I had to fight to get money refunded.

If I buy from an unknown seller, I thoroughly research them before ordering and have put together this shopping checklist you might find useful:
https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/citizens-advice-scams-awareness-fortnight/#comment-1599709

Georgina says:
15 October 2020

This is disgusting, one suggestion, have you considered contacting Ripoff Britain, a BBC programme, there is webpage – bbc.cu.uk/ ripoffbritain ( I think this correct) and maybe even writing to the Daily Mail or other newspapers. Someone may listen and perhaps help. It’s worth a try. You have confirmed my thoughts about PayPal, I will not use them, as I have not trusted this method. Good luck.

A few weeks ago I had a very plausible sounding gentlemen called me and said he was from Barclaycard. He said one of my cards had unusual spending on it. I was immediately suspicious as i know that neither Barclaycard nor Amex handle such a case like this. I asked him which card, expecting him to say it was the gold one, silver one or the one branded xxx. He said it was the one with number starting with 4929 . Of course all Barclaycards start 4929. So I acted very concerned, and agreed so did mine, and I asked him for the last 4 digits. He said he could not tell me that because of security, but I needed to tell HIM. I again acted concerned and said I needed in that case to take him through security . . . . that I had set-up with Barclaycard. I requested the first and third digit of the agreed pin code . . .at this point he told me to f-off and hung up the phone.
I am 68 years but I know that banks do not call you and ask you to move money into a new “safe account”. The police do not ask you to take part in sting operations involving handing large sums of cash to a courier who comes to your door. I know that HMRC never phone you randomly. I never click links to accounts in emails. I would NEVER buy something advertised on Facebook. If shopping online (which i do extensively) I will NEVER pay by bank transfer because someone claims either the site check-out is not working, or their card machine does not work – they are not legitimate.
Paypal once refused to refund me for a sale, even though they “found in my favour”, but they said the seller no longer had any funds in their paypal account to be recovered. I contacted Barclayard – via whom I had made the Paypal transaction, and they refunded my £350 and pursued paypal.

Just to be absolutely clear- I had no “security” set up with Barclaycard for them to give me password digits, such a thing does not exist. I just wanted to wind him up and clearly I succeeded.

Well done Peacheater, that made me laugh.🙂

Samari says:
16 October 2020

I enjoyed the information you have shared- The info on Paypal is useful — I have been watching RIP Off Britain recently and so much info and Fraud is reported there as well as other things to do wiht Car Leasing etc.

Like you I use 2 level security, my credit card is used for paypal, in the end paypal will be charged back and to make it worse for paypal the chargeback deposit held by the credit card company will increase.
PS. They would get the air horn treatment (130Db) from me before they ring off, they won’t be able to hear anybody else clearly for 15 minutes.
I am waiting for the day when the collection courier turns up and I lock him in my house waiting for the police to arrive. I know it is not the couriers fault but he is the first link in the chain back to the fraudsters.

Yes, that is my bone of contention, they call ME I want them to pass my security in the same way when I call them and have to pass security. All of the financial institutions are at fault and fail abysmally to maintain the level of security, which I maintain on MY computer systems, that THEY expect from US. Unless I recognise the voice as someone I know then they will always fail security, their problem, they can always use snail mail until they solve their poor security, like the pin number being held on our cards to start with.

Our fencing, on a recently bought property, needed doing, replacing, but was not priority, until recent high winds, started looking for companies to do this, looking on websites such as Check a trade, my builder, rated people. Someone came out gave a quote, received invoice prior to work, said we could pay on credit, debit card, bank transfer, cash, all work guaranteed, we got them from Check a Trade, which showed their insurance details. On day work completed went to pay on credit card, said would be extra charge, I refused, would not allow me to pay on debit, same reason, rambled on about how much it cost him, had he known I was paying on card would have quoted price with charge on, paid using bank transfer. Week passed and the wood on the fencing started to split, garden gates at back not fitted properly actually blew open onto path, dangerous, front gate won’t shut properly, managed to get owner back out, when wood dries out, this is when the problems occur, split in wood very noticeable. Won’t do the work when it is raining, says will be out when stops, despite several dry, hot days, has still not been back out, supposed to be coming out today 15, raining so bet he won’t, will not rectify the issue with the back garden gate, we have moved the bolt and put another one, only because we did not want anyone getting injured if blew open again, said would charge us. Contacted check a trade, no longer showing on website, said temporarily removed, still a member, now check a trade say they are no longer members, asked check a trade to give me the companies insurance details would not, pointed out if they were still members it would be on check a trade website. I suffer with anxiety and find it difficult dealing with people, get intimidated easily, my partner is disabled. The company is Coastal Fencing and Landscaping . One other thing they are adamant we are not to paint the fence, cannot see reason why we could not. I did the checks, but feel I have been scammed. When work carried out it was over 2 days, damp weather and raining, not heavy rain drizzle, wood was wet, sure they knew exactly what they were doing that wood was split and masked due to being wet. Few other minor issues, posts not exactly straight, took watering can, posts out of alignment, all adds up. Scammed yes I believe so. Would be interesting to know why they are no longer members of Check a Trade.

Hi T. Sorry to hear all this. It does indeed sound like you have been ripped off. In a difficult case like this, you might find that Which? Legal can help you.

Also see if you have Legal add on on your house insurance.

Update, it stopped raining around 9.00, never turned up, I texted them, no response, thanks for replies, the cheek of it, is they posted the fencing and gates on their facebook page and said something about being another satisfied customer, I did not know they were taking photos or putting it on their facebook page. I forgot to mention they knew I needed other work doing, so they kindly gave my number to a friend who came out, white van, no business card, could not find his business anywhere on any sites, supposed to be a builder, so had no intention of booking him for any work, even if they had come out and fixed all the issues.

I’m just asking if anyone has had problems with Amazon? I received items from China, thought they were gifts from friends, so did nothing. But suspicious, as I’d had an email from Which mentioning this scam. I hadn’t worried as no problems for years. Yet I changed, my credit card, on Amazon, then later on received another parcel, thought it was strange. So went to Barclays, ATM card denied. An hour in the bank. Another new card sent, I changed it on Amazon. The next time I used the new card at the ATM. Blocked. That night Barclays called, they asked did I just spend £750? On Amazon.
The bank referred it to their Fraud Dept. So now I have a new card, new pin, and
I will no longer buy from Amazon. I had 8 conversations with them, they did nothing.
The next problem, I have my album. Suddenly it popped up on Amazon to stream.
More calls to Amazon, where does the money go? Who posted it on there? More calls, more transfers to other Amazon staff, no one could tell me anything……..
I just wanted to warn people that this is happening and Amazon did nothing.
All the best to you everyone. What a world we are living in.
Francesca
Soundcloud. Francesca’s playlist …just so you know I’m real.

Francesca, just few bits of advice from me. Never use a debit card for online shopping, a credit card (preferably visa or amex) offers far better protection, and their fraud-departments are MUCH more used to dealing with fraudulent use or fraudulent transactions than a bank. While they investigate a fraud, you do not lose the money from your account or credit balance, it is held pending, but with a debit card it is removed from your account balance. Do not use your real or full name as username online. If your username is true, and you mention personal things eg your album, it can allow people to track you on Linkedin, Facebook and others including Soundcloud!
Incidentally, I have shopped extensively on Amazon since 2000, and never had a security issue, but I am careful what information I put online generally, and I make good use of internet security and anti-spyware/malware software – just the normal commercially available kind. Good luck.

To a large extent financial scams are supported by the Financial Ombudsman Service. This is why little or nothing gets done with scams perpetrated by Financial Institutions. The FOS is paid for by the industry and beholden to it. It acts as a buffer to prevent the Financial Conduct Authority ever getting any details of the abuse and dishonesty of the business it is supposed to be regulating. My own story is of a rogue insurance company that has cost me my health,three years of my life and thousands of pounds. Yet the FOS is still allowed to support the unlawful operations of its “members” without any proper checks on its activities. You only need to look at the Trustpilot reviews to see that I am not alone. Tackling head-on the governance of the FOS is the only way properly to address this problem and if “Which” won’t take this on – then who will?

Hi Hal,
Like this Norwich Union (later Aviva) financial scam that trapped you into a long term savings plan with promises they didn’t keep? FOS took the side of Aviva.
https://conversation.which.co.uk/money/pension-charges-overhaul-angela-eagle/#comment-1565384

Basically, their promises scammed me out of £38,000, I thought I was building up for my retirement years – sickening.

Sophia says:
15 October 2020

I bought a garment off Facebook which turned out to be coming from China and was nothing like the advert so I paid £40 for a piece of tat. Paypal was not interested so I closed my account with them. Then more recently I got taken in by a scam on Twitter and lost £100. I did the checks, but the guy uses a fake identity and supplies documents for the fake name which are convincing. The local mayor also had supported his sob story so that gave it more authenticity. What is most frustrating is that this scammer and his wife have been scamming people for months on Twitter opening a new account with each new scam and neither ActionFraud nor the local police seem to be doing anything. The guy’s real name and date of birth are known and his partner’s name and bank account also as I paid the money into her account. A pretty despicable scam. He pretended his wife had died of covid and left him with a 4 week old baby and a 4 year old daughter and until Universal Credit kicked in he was penniless having had to give up his job to care for them. Consumed with grief and with no money and caring for both children, he touched heartstrings. Compassionate people fell for it including me. I am not a stupid person but still got caught. One of the tricks conmen use to convince you they are genuine is to either warn you to be aware of scammers or as in my case, say “don’t worry if you can’t afford it”. That psychological tactic is very effective. As soon as I realised my error, I told him and he continued the deception even sending me photos of himself and his (supposedly dead) partner and baby and these are definitely genuine photos. He accused me of being nasty to accuse him!!! What a nerve! One of the people who was scammed is a retired bank manager who knows the couple and is trying to bring this case to justice but why is it so hard? It almost seems like the government/police wants to turn a blind eye to this type of crime.How Facebook is allowed to continue to allow their platform to be used for so many scams is baffling. Is money (the love of it) really the root of all evil? Seems so.

Personally, I will NEVER buy something advertised on Twitter, Facebook or other social media. You do not have consumer protection or legal recourse.

I bought a garden kneeler advertised on Facebook. I checked the company’s name online and it was shown as being British. The kneeler never arrived, and my e-mails went unanswered. When I checked online again, the British website had disappeared, and there were other customers complaining about being scammed. Fortunately I always pay by credit card when I buy online so I can claim under Section 75 if the amount exceeds £100. This did not, but using the Which proforma letter I wrote to my card provider, who claimed by cash back and I was refunded the cost.

Maureen says:
15 October 2020

I stopped using PayPal years ago when I was charged £1000 for perfume bought in America. I have never been to America but eventually got my money returned.
I often get phone calls saying my computer has been hacked. My response is when they say put your computer on and we will sort it out for you. I say ok then just lay my phone on the table. Sometimes they are still on the line 15 mins later. It is costing them to make the call.
Obviously I don’t switch my computer on.

To be honest Maureen, it might cost them nothing to make the call if it is via internet and not a major phone carrier.

Anne says:
15 October 2020

I got really fed up with phone calls to house phone from Microsoft asking me if I had windows and to open my computer so one day I kept a guy with what sounded like an African accent on the phone for 30 mins he asked me open my windows and I did
and when asked what I could see I told him —trees -and then a lady going past and then I He said
-do you have windows? Yes I said & he told me open windows I said I have and he asked again what do you see and I said again trees and various other silly answers and I could feel he was trying to be patient as he obviously that I was nuts and he could eventually achieve his goal
he asked what I could see and again I said tres and some. nice shrubs I could feel he was getting fed up -but I just kept playing along he finally hung up when I said I have now opened my windows 10times and I only have ten of them and I’m freezing at tha point he finally gave in and hung up on me but I laughed for ages

Morning Which Magazine During the last couple of months my wife and I have received up to six phone calls per day (all scams) the list is as follows your 1 amazon accounts is being shut down 2 our internet supplier is about to cut us off 3 The bank is going to close our account due to lack of constant use due to the fact we are not using our internet banking account (we do not have an internet banking account) all these phone scams come from Asia due to the caller’s accent and are withheld numbers. I lay the blame for these scams on BT who transferred all telephone services abroad to Asia some years ago. Which magazine should campaign for all withheld numbers to be blocked from making contact with any other phone. I have a telephone which I can block the caller from phoning me again if they are not using a withheld number. This nuisance calls also come from service providers with in the UK who hire people to pester householders into getting a smart meter and some other service fitted, these people are paid by the number of people they talk into agreeing to a smart meter or some other service using withheld numbers so they cannot be blocked

Sandgrounder: one problem with your idea is that many legitimate caller have withheld numbers (for quite legitimate reasons) – my local GP practice for example, my local hospital, the local covid-19 unit, company staff now working from home and needing to contact clients or customers, and so on . . .

Linda McCann says:
15 October 2020

I have recently been scammed on my Halifax account, four times in September the last time they emptied my account. After a really gruelling interview with a Halifax manager who tried to pin it on me or my daughter, I finally got my money back because while we were talking to the fraud team the scammers tried to obtain a loan for £2500 which proved it wasnt me as the voice of the person wasn’t mine. By this time I was in tears and at 72 was not what I needed. The halifax people even tried to infer that I was a confused old person. And I was made to feel like a criminal. The whole experience with the scammers and Halifax has left me feeling ill and distressed and afraid now of ordering on-line or just using my card(which I have just been able to use as my account has been on hold until now ( I have had my cards stopped since 18th September)

Sorry to hear this Linda.

When ordering online, try to buy from well-known and reputable sellers or stores and avoid online marketplaces like Fakebook. Check eBay sellers carefully and avoid anyone new or with a low score. Always check sellers details and feedback taking notice of the negative comments. On Amazon check the sellers details and try to choose products that are sold and dispatched by Amazon.

You might find this Online Shopping Checklist will help keep you safe when ordering online.

I hope you get your confidence back to shop online again safely.

Even the well-known sellers are selling utter junk these days, and their technical help departments don’t seem to know much. One of my favourite suppliers has now got so many mistakes in their catalogue that you’d think they were based in china. UV light to erase EEPROMs? Who checks these things? Where’s the quality control?

I was moved and angry on behalf of the scammed people. The FCA are a protected, toothless organisation. There should be harsher penalties fòr any type of fraud. Be alert, always.

Joanne, FCA are not involved with retail fraud online. They may well be toothless, I have not had reason to use them, but fake adverts on Facebook etc and people ordering items that never arrive are not within the remit of FCA.

A few days ago received an e-mail which seemed to be from someone I know (but not a ‘friend’) – lets call him Sam -asking if I was busy. Intruiged I replied to say not too busy to talk. Then received another e-mail from ‘Sam’ saying he was tied up in a meeting but needed an Apple giftcard, would I be able to pick one up for him. This seemed unlikely but I said ‘yes’ and then received a request to buy a £300 Apple gift card and send him the details. This had gone too far so I dug into the e-mail, discovered a strange e-mail address, contacted the real Sam and he told me it was fake and there had been previous incidents. So I replied to the fake Sam asking if £300 was enough, wouldn’t £500 be better? He replied saying it would be great and he would pay me back immediately. At which point e-mailed again offering to give him a kick up the backside and he wouldn’t have to pay me back. Haven’t heard from him since.

Me too. Twice by China. Ordered a garden lounger in June. Still waiting. Ordered a lovely coat about 10 weeks ago. Still waiting so sighing in the garden on the step with no coat on! Lost about £70 in all. Contact emails disappeared. Bought a new laptop years ago and within days “Microsoft “ called. I fell for it and they took over my laptop. I phoned my son and he said to unplug EVERYTHING IMMEDIATELY which I did and just in time. Did several scans. Lessons learnt.

DON T BREAKIT says:
16 October 2020

I TRUSTED PAYPAL, ALWAYS LOOKING TO BUY FROM SELLERS WHO ACCEPTED PAYMENT BY THEM, UP TO NOW THEY HAVE BEEN VERY GOOD. HAVING READ THE LACK OF HELP THAT THEY HAVE GIVEN TO THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN SCAMMED, I NOW HAVE SECOND THOUGHTS. WHO THE HECK DO YOU TRUST?

Chris says:
16 October 2020

I ordered a phone online and paid with PayPal. I was sent a different phone, when I contacted the sender and told them it was not the one I ordered, they then told me it was the right phone but it had been rebranded. I then found out that it came from Latvia and found out it was a scam although it was said to come from China. then I contacted pay pal who eventually got me my money back. I always pay for items with PayPal unless it came from Amazon,or e-bay who you know you can trust.

Phil Cautious says:
16 October 2020

I often get scam phone calls, usually I get “Blitzed” with them for a few days each month. They are often automated calls and usually claim to be from Amazon, Microsoft, Energy Saving Insulation Green Deals or Oven Cleaning Specialists. In these cases I look up the number recorded on my landline and ring it back from my old PAYG phone which usually reveals “number not in use”. I place all of these calls on the “Who Called Me” database. One of these calls appeared to be from my area but it also revealed “number not in use”.
Another number which I called back was answered by an elderly lady from somewhere on the south coast who said both she and her friend in a village nearby had been having problems with their phones and BT were at a loss as to what was happening. I warned her that scammers are able to computer generate numbers from which to make their calls.
The more fun calls are those when a real person is on the phone, Yes, I’m Perverse, I try hard to keep them engaged for as long as possible. I sometimes remind them they are in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 and could face fines up to £500,000.
Other times I say “my daughter deals with these matters, I’ll get her” then leave the phone off the hook for 10 minutes. The best ones are the spoof “Microsoft” calls, attempting to take over your computer. I play them along for a while until they try to be forceful, then tell them I’m suspicious of scam calls and ask if they would mind me checking the call with my “scam software”. Then I put the phone up against my Smoke Alarm and press the Test Button. They always ring off so it must be a scam! Yes, I said I was perverse

I have been a victim of Norton who I stopped 4 years ago. But they keep taking every year and the bank system can not stop them.

David, how are Norton taking your money?

If you gave them a recurring authority to charge to your bank debit or credit card, can you stop them by cancelling the card?

Isbjorn says:
19 October 2020

I’ve been scammed out of £26,000 by a major UK car manufacturer who produces cars with a built-in disabling booby trap which requires the disabled car to be broken into by force to reinstate its usability. And an important engineering feature of the car was misrepresented to me by the salesman. Then the copperwork of electrics inside the car began to fail through corrosion. All told, I’ve had to raise four section 75 claims about the car – my credit card provider scammed me further by denying liabilty through providing false evidence, misinterpreting UK Law, speculating, and sabotaging the fair conduct of investigation and then the Financial Ombudsman Service compounded all of this scamming by delivering decisions which were not valid (materially false statements, omitted material evidence, wrong basis of claim, wrong genuine configuration of goods, not even carrying out an investigation, conflicts between decisions). Even Trading Standards gave me advice which was wrong. Consumer rights? – what consumer rights? – just you try and enforce them – it’s far from as rosy as the various forms of media make a living out of promoting. I’ve had 8 years of stress with no results whatsoever – I consider that I’ve been well and truly scammed. I’m very happy to talk about the extremely serious generic deficiencies in consumer rights advice, content and enforcement which my experience has exposed but no-one seems interested in listening.

Many Solicitors all over the UK will give free legal advice up to 30 minutes on an issue. It can be enough to understand your options and legal merits of your case, and being able to prove your allegations, and how to move forward.

I was wondering whether to suggest that Isbjorn might subscribe to Which? Legal for advice but I do not know if they get involved in cases that have already been investigated by other bodies. It might be worth getting a free legal opinion.

Thanks for your recent contributions Peacheater, and welcome to Which? Conversation.

I’d be interested in the details of this problem
I recall a case a year or two ago where a Land Rover owner could not get into their car, in their garage, when the battery was flat because the only key-operated lock was on the side of the car against a wall.

My friend had a similar problem with a Porsche, when the latter was not in daily use. The battery went flat, so the solenoid latch to the bonnet would not release the latter, thus preventing the charging of the battery. A visit from his dealer fixed the problem, using dealer trick to gain access.

I well remember the case mentioned by Malcolm. Part of the problem is that electronics that remain active when cars are parked (not just alarms) gradually drain the vehicle battery and it is more of a problem with some models than others. Many cars do not have a manual door lock on the passenger side.

I haven’t availed myself of any free legal advice. I have a suspicion that it runs along the lines of “this is a complicated issue with no certain outcome so I would advise you to consult a solicitor”.

In a case like Isbjorn’s, I think only a formal letter from a solicitor would make any impact on the seller and the other parties who would have to be picked off one at a time. Using Which? Legal would probably be the best move.

I knew a solicitor some years ago whose stock answer to anyone asking him in a social context to suggest a way forward with a legal problem was to say “As ever, my advice is worth what you pay for it”.

If I were a solicitor (or doctor, dentist, mechanic, tradesman) being asked for advice while in a social setting, my reply would be a lot more curt than your friend’s. I dislike when people who ask for professional advice in a social setting, other than perhaps “are you in the office next week?” Over the past few years I have had 4 occasions to consult solicitors and each one gave excellent advice for free in the initial 30 minutes consultation with advice on the best way forward IF (and only if) I wished to proceed. One gave sufficient advice that did not require me to consult them again, and the others all got further work and resolved my problems to my satisfaction.

I had a problem with PayPal and cancelled my account because of it. I purchased a shower stool online they gave the seat width Height etc I checked and it fit in my shower cubicle. when it arrived it was too big. The company claimed the measurement was for the part you sat on and not the overall width. I raised a dispute through PayPal claiming I was mis sold Paypal found in the sellers favour. The sellers generate a lot more income for PayPal than individual buyers. It’s not rocket science