Ministry of Justice
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Warning on scam telephone calls
We have been made aware of a scam involving consumers being telephoned by people who claim they are from the ministry.
The Ministry of Justice has been made aware of a scam where consumers are telephoned by people claiming to be from the government, Office of Fair Trading, a high street bank or a legitimate claims management company, suggesting that the consumer could receive payments, for example repayment of bank charges or other debts.
They are asked to provide personal information such as bank account details and make an upfront payment first, often by money transfer.
These callers have no connection with Ministry of Justice, OFT or other bona fide organisations and have tricked and harassed victims into handing over hundreds of pounds, only to find that the call was a scam and they’re now even further in debt.
The Ministry of Justice and the OFT would never contact consumers asking them for personal bank or similar details. We are therefore warning consumers not to pass on personal or financial details to such callers, or to transfer money unless you are confident the company is legitimate. If you have already done so, contact your bank as soon as possible to stop or check any unauthorised transactions and report the incident to the police.
Justice Minister, Bridget Prentice, said:
‘There is something particularly despicable about heartless fraudsters who prey on people already struggling with debt.
‘People should make sure they are totally confident a company is legitimate before making any payments. If you’re uncertain or worried contact Consumer Direct on 0845 040 506 or check the Claims Regulation website. As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’
City of London Police, which is the National Lead Force for Fraud, urged anyone receiving cold calls to think very carefully before handing over personal details.
Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Head:
‘Fraudsters do not care who you are or what you do. All they want is your money and will tell you anything to get it.
‘But by staying vigilant and quickly reporting suspicious approaches the public can play a big part in bringing these criminals to justice.’
For further advice call Consumer Direct on 0845 040 506 or check the scams area of the Consumer Direct website.
A list of registered claims management companies can be found at the claims management regulation website.
To report a suspected scam call, you should contact the claims management helpline on 0333 200 0110.
A woman received a call from someone stating that she had successfully claimed back her bank charges and obtained a settlement of £2,600 which they would be sending on to her. She then received another call from someone claiming to be the manager, explaining that to release the settlement she would need to pay £199 by Western Union money transfer. She did this and provided the eight digit number required to release the funds. She was advised that someone would be calling back with the eight digit number she would then need to release her settlement with Western Union. However, when they called back they said that the solicitors and notary would not sign to release the settlement unless she paid a further £379 which she did. But they only gave her six of the eight digits. They called again to advise that she would need to pay a further £379 to release the final two digits, which she did. They gave her an eight digit number and reassured that her settlement has now increased to include the extra payments she had made.
When she visited the Post Office the number she had been given did not work. She then received another call during which they advised they were ready to release the money but just needed to give her an unlock code to do so – this would cost £200, which she refused to pay. She later received a call from someone claiming to be the previous caller’s boss saying that they had misled her; she would actually need to pay £479.
Each call carried a certain amount of urgency, with the firm claiming that she had to act immediately or would lose the whole of her settlement. The victim has since avoided talking to the callers, although they continue to call.
Notes to editors
- For more information, including for an interview with the case study, please contact the Ministry of Justice Press Office on 020 3334 3536.
- The Ministry of Justice is the claims management regulator in England and Wales. The designated claims management regulation website provides guidance and comprehensive information on the authorisation process and other aspects of the regulation.