Another successful claim

The team at Mis-sold Claims Assist deal with many types of consumer mis-selling claims. Whether it be a holiday product, a bank dispute or a financial service that was mis-sold, our team are experts in arguing cases to get a successful outcome for our clients. That is exactly what we did for our latest clients who were the victim of a fraudulent lifestyle and concierge scheme that dates back to 2016.

Our clients were invited to attend a presentation selling a lifestyle and concierge package. This package was described to them as being of some value and with it they could book discounted holidays at a substantially reduced price and exclusive deals that were not available to anyone else except members. They were also told they would have access to discounted flights, travel, and many other things. During this meeting, they were subjected to high pressure sales tactics and the presentation went on for nearly an entire day. They were told this package would cost £10,000 and explained how it was worth every penny and over time they would save this on holidays and discounts. Our clients explained they could not afford this huge price tag and the seller agreed to lower it to just under £7,000. After hours and hours of high-pressure presentations our clients agreed to pay the price reluctantly but also felt they had no alternative but to do so simply so they could leave the premises.

It was sometime later that our clients learnt that in fact this company had been placed in liquidation and ceased trading. The company itself did not inform them this had happened. When they tried to gain access to their online membership it became apparent the company had simply shut down and not even attempted to inform their customers of this. Thankfully, they were put in touch with the team at Mis-sold Claims Assist and we have been able to claim their money back for them. If this scenario sounds familiar to you or anyone you know, get in touch with us today for some free expert advice. Our team are experts in dealing with these types of claims and we may be able to help you reclaim all your money plus interest.

The mis-selling of holiday products is, unfortunately, common practice within the holiday industry and these types of crimes often goes unreported by the most vulnerable in our society and criminal convictions are few and far between.

If you have purchased a Lifestyle / Concierge Service, a timeshare or a ‘holiday points’-based product from a resort or company and feel unhappy with the service, or feel you have been mis-sold this product, please get in touch with us to discuss how we may be able to help you with a possible Money Back Claim.

Do not get caught out by Christmas cons!

As coronavirus restrictions are starting to lift in the UK and around the world, most of us will look for an opportunity to get back to enjoying some of the activities we were able to enjoy before the world was plunged into a pandemic. Concerts, and large gatherings were banned last year and as the country reopens officials are warning that ticket scams are on the rise again and scammers are out targeting people desperate to book up their favourite activities again.

According to reports from Action Fraud, 216 people fell victim to ticket fraud in February alone. There has been a sharp increase in people wanting to book up events and concerts and so far over £270,000 has been lost to fraudsters. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau are warning consumers to be extra vigilant when booking online. They say fraudsters create fake ticket sites and sell non-existent seats at real events. Incredibly these fake tickets, on some sites have been advertised at much higher prices than their original prices.

In February, this year 216 reports from consumers were made to Action Fraud, this figure represents an increase of 62% and accounts for over £270,000 with the average victim losing £1,260. Officials are warning that as further lockdowns restrictions ease, these figures are likely to increase substantially if people to not take the correct steps to protect themselves.

What is a ticket scam and how does it work?

Scammers set up fake online sites offering tickets to popular events. These tickets are normally at events that have sold out already and because of these victims are easier to scam as they are easily conned into booking and less likely to check the site for authenticity. The victim eagerly pays for the tickets online, but they never turn up. In some instances, scammers do send tickets and people turn up to events only to find out their tickets are fake.

Protect yourself from ticket fraud by only purchasing tickets from authorised and official venders and well-known reputable sites. Some fraudsters will even go as far to replicate genuine sites, so always check the IP address before handing over any card details.

You can also check with the event organiser for official ticket distribution lists. Avoid paying for tickets via a bank transfer, if it is a fraudster, you will never be able to get this money back so always pay via PayPal or using a credit card, this way you may be able to make a claim to get your money back.

Be extra wary of unsolicited emails, text and social media posts offering too good to be true deals, they often are and will lead to someone trying to steal your money.

Have you started planning your next holiday post lockdown?

Following the government’s announcement that Lockdown restrictions will be eased, Action Fraud is warning that scams will be more prevalent than ever and to remain vigilant when looking to book your next break away.

Action Fraud and ABTA, The Travel Association, are warning members of the public to be vigilant when thinking about booking our post COVID-19 vacations this year. For those of us that may be lucky enough to be able to book a holiday this year, officials are warning not to be too eager and remain vigilant as the holiday scams are still out there and as ever, holidaymakers are a prime target for scammers.

In the past criminals have targeted people looking to book airline tickets or religious pilgrimages. They have also created fake websites with cheap deals to lure victims into booking with them.

Holiday fraud can be particularly distressing as it targets people who have often saved money and are looking forward to a much needed annual break away in the sun. This year more than ever before people will be desperate for the chance to take a break as the majority of us have been confined to our homes. But authorities want us to remain vigilant so we don’t get caught by the scammers. Criminals will approach victims via the phone, text message, email or social media and offer tantalising deals that are often too good to refuse and lure people in.

Action Fraud recommend the following to avoid fraud:

Online safety:  Often overlooked as we rush to secure a great deal but act in haste, repent in leisure and it pays to check the web address is legitimate. A fake site will mimic a real one and will not be noticeable to an untrained eye, however by remembering to perform a simple web address check you can avoid fake sites.

Pay on a credit card:  Always use a credit card as this protects you under section 75 consumer protection laws and never pay directly into someone’s bank account, this money will be virtually impossible to get back through your bank.

Research the company: Don’t just rely on what a sales agent is saying to you, check multiple outlets for reviews. It’s harder for a scammer to create thousands of fake reviews so check a reputable review site for more information before making a booking.

Use your instincts: If a deal sounds far better than what you have seen anywhere else and is frankly to good to be true, then chances are it probably is. If you have a doubt, don’t hand over your money.

Director of Communications at ABTA, Graeme Buck told Action Fraud: “As travel restrictions begin to lift millions of us will be looking to book holidays both at home and overseas, which may place pressure on both availability and prices. Fraudsters will take advantage of the fact that customers will be looking for good deals and they use increasingly sophisticated methods to target destinations and times of year when demand is high and availability limited. Victims often find out just before they travel or even while on holiday that they have been defrauded, it can then be very difficult and expensive to obtain a legitimate replacement booking. City of London Police, Get Safe Online and ABTA have put together a list of tips to help customers recognise the warning signs of potential fraud which will help customers avoid both potentially significant financial loss and severe disappointment, at a time when getting away on holiday is more important than ever.”

Do not get caught out by Christmas cons!

Officials are warning that serious organised crime fraudsters are targeting people looking for work to launder money. Using social media, criminals are targeting younger people in social media scams and new figures show there were more than 17,000 suspected money mule cases in 2020.

UK Finance is warning that young people who may have lost their jobs due to the pandemic are being targeted and used as money mules. They say that criminals are advertising fake jobs and offer quick cash to victims, in return for using their bank accounts to launder money. They use social media, jobs websites and emails to recruit young people, offering cash to people who provide their bank details, the money is then transferred through the victim’s bank account to the criminal’s account. Most of the time victims are not aware their accounts are being used in this way and are lured in by the promise of easy money. The problem is, for victims of this scam, it makes them an accessory to money laundering and could lead to a criminal conviction.

Criminals often post on legitimate sites or create social media profiles and are highly sophisticated and use encrypted messaging which is hard to detect. UK finance is calling on government to make social media and online sites more accountable by including fraud and economic crime in the upcoming Online Safety Bill, which makes the online platform responsible for taking down fraudulent adverts, profiles, and posts.

How does a money mule scam work?
Someone may approach you online and offer you a job or say you have won something. Whatever it is, they soon offer to send you money and then ask you to send it to someone else by transfer or sometimes a gift card. The problem is that money was stolen from somewhere and is often used to fund serious organised crime. If you help or facilitate this transaction you make yourself liable to legal action and possible criminal conviction.

Here is how to stay safe online:
• Do not respond to an advert offering money which seems too good to be true, it probably is and more likely to be a scam.
• Check the language. Often these scams contain poor use of language or grammatical errors.
• Research anyone that is offering you anything online, and research any potential job offers or employer.
• Finally, never hand over your bank details to anyone. If you do contact your bank immediately and report it.

Financial Conduct Authority demands fair treatment of vulnerable people.

The FCA has recently published guidance aimed at financial firms and banks to ensure firms make improvements in the way they treat vulnerable and at-risk customers. They say this should help people from being victims of mis-selling and suffering financial hardship because of it.

The FCA recent study estimated there are around 27.7 million people in the UK with some form of characteristics of vulnerability and while every individual is responsible for their own choices and decisions, there are some factors that may limit vulnerable people’s ability to make sound financial decisions. These people are more likely to be victims of mis-selling and the FCA wants greater protection to stop this from happening.

The FCA’s finalised guidance says: “We want to see the fair treatment of vulnerable customers embedded as part of a healthy culture throughout firms, not just on the front line but also in areas such as product development. “Firms’ senior leaders should create and maintain a culture that enables and supports staff to take responsibility for reducing the potential for harm to vulnerable customers. They should ensure that firms embed the fair treatment of vulnerable customers in their policies and processes throughout the whole customer journey. We have seen some good examples where commitment comes from the top and where there is a culture of feedback and learning from the front line.”

The pandemic has highlighted how important it is to protect vulnerable people and one of the best ways to do this is for financial institutions and firms to follow strict guidance set out by the FCA. The FCA have now released new guidance on how firms and their staff should ensure vulnerable consumers are treated fairly and they want every company across all sectors to take steps to ensure they understand and respond to the needs of their most vulnerable customers.

Under this new guidance the FCA plans to hold firms accountable when dealing with vulnerable people and can be asked to explain and demonstrate how they deal with vulnerable people, what systems they have in place, what training is given to staff and what actions they take to ensure customers are treated fairly.

Firms are also reminded that in treating customers fairly, they should also be aware of their obligations under the Equality Act 2010. It is likely that a breach of the Equality Act, for example failure to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled people, will also be a breach of the FCA’s rules.

Joanna Elson, chief executive of charity the Money Advice Trust, said: “The FCA’s finalised vulnerability guidance published today is a powerful call to action for financial services firms to further improve their work on vulnerability – and comes at a time when millions of people are facing difficulty as a result of the pandemic. Financial services have and will continue to play an important role in supporting people through this crisis. This new guidance, however, provides a crucial steer for firms on what steps they need to take now to ensure their support reflects the complexities of people’s real lives. While we have seen much progress already from firms in recent years through our training work, it is crucial that firms further build on this. We look forward to working with firms to bring the FCA’s expectations into reality for their customers.”

Homeowners left worse off by ‘Green Deals’.

Ministers have been urged to help homeowners who signed up to Green Deals with dissolved company Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Limited also known as (HELMS) as they are still waiting for claims to be processed, years later.

The company was dissolved in 2016 after more than 3,000 Scottish households were left with long-term debts after signing up to new boiler, home insulation or solar panels. HELMS were approved installers for the governments green deal scheme to help homeowners improve energy efficiency, a scheme which was later withdrawn in 2013.

During the time the scheme was running thousands of people signed up, and many of those have been left in debt. Many people signed up to 25 year long deals which were funded using finance, which many people claim they were unaware of. In fact, many elderly people were signed up to the scheme, including Mary Hunter, 88 from Glasgow who was left with long term debts after she signed up to get a new boiler, solar panels, and insulation. She told the Scottish Herald: “I saw some neighbours getting cladding done and I thought it might be a good idea and would bring down the energy bills but when I asked about it, I was told about solar panels and a boiler and other things as well. I did not need those things, but I was told the government was paying for them as part of a scheme. I signed up and then I started getting these bills through. It said I had taken a loan out for 25 years. I was 82 when I signed up, I would need to be 107 to pay it off.”

There were many others in a similar position that were persuaded to signing up to this, or similar deals. Appeals for compensation are being dealt with different organisations including the Department for Business Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The BEIS has been urged to speed up these complaints’ years later, but they say due to the complexity, these claims are taking time to process.

Scottish ministers have got involved now, as these claims have been outstanding for an unacceptable amount of time and victims have been left with debts up to £11,000 and some even have been unable to sell their homes as the work carried out was done so without the correct warranties and certificates.

A BEIS spokesperson said: “There is a robust process, backed by legislation, for handling complaints about mis-selling of Green Deal plans by Helms. If they remain dissatisfied after approaching their Green Deal provider and the Ombudsman, consumers may appeal to the Secretary of State, who can cancel or reduce loans if the evidence supports this. These cases are being treated as a priority by BEIS.”

What was the Green Deal?

The ‘Green Deal’ was launched in 2013 and allowed homeowners to make energy saving improvements which would not cost the homeowner anything upfront, but it would be paid for through savings on energy bills. So, if your energy bills were £1,000 a year when you applied for the loan, your energy bill plus Green Deal repayments should not have been more than that. But this did not always work in practice, as some low users could have ended up paying more as they used less energy than average. Not only that, but as the loan was attached to the home, rather than the person applying, there were fears it could make a property difficult to sell. In July 2015, the UK government pulled the plug on the scheme, due to low uptake – only about 15,000 Green Deal loans were issued over the two-and-a-half years the scheme was open.

 

Financial Watchdog investigates 52 cryptocurrency firms.

The financial Conduct Authority has launched investigations into 52 companies after claims that mis-selling, fraud and pressure selling from people being mis-sold bad cryptocurrency investments.

The FCA has received a flurry of complaints to its consumer helpline. In October 343 calls were made from people who had been ripped off from bad investments. Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin has increased in value and is continuing to hit record highs, attracting investors but also scammers who are increasingly targeting people looking to make some money.

At the beginning of the year the FCA warned that consumers should know what they are doing when investing in cryptocurrency or be prepared to lose all their money if not. They urged consumers to understand what they were investing in and the financial risks involved and that if they invested in a company that goes bust, they would be unlikely to receive their money back. They went on to say that a large number of companies were overstating the returns people could make on investments, and to stay clear of companies and advertisements offering high returns on investments.

The Financial Conduct Authority required non-registered crypto businesses to register with the regulator by January 10 this year and businesses that failed to do so would come under FCA scrutiny. The cryptocurrency market is extremely volatile which makes them a high-risk category for investors. It is also a relatively new market which means low levels of regulation are in place to monitor it. Because of this it is too easy for fraudsters to set up bogus companies and even fake currencies.

Cryptocurrency scams the top four:

The promise of immediate high returns can make people eager to take a risk on a cryptocurrency investment. But what happens more often than not is innocent investors are lured in by making small but significant profits on smaller investments, and once they start investing more and more a scammer will leave them with nothing and pocket the lot.

  • Fake exchanges – investment opportunities of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies being marketed on social media and via email – these will send you to fake exchanges which can often disappear overnight. Make sure websites are HTTPS secured – although this is no guarantee the site is genuine – but the most important thing is to do your research and seek out reviews of sites.
  • Fake wallets – wallets are primarily about storing your cryptocurrency and not buying or selling it. Fake wallets are scams for malware to infect your computer to steal your passwords and other personal information. They are not easy to spot but sites like Bitcoin.com, for example, do recommend wallets for mobile and desktop users and provide a simple, secure way to send and receive bitcoin.
  • Phishing scams – phishing is when someone tries to trick you into thinking that a website or company is genuine. Scammers will often encourage you to make a transaction, but this will be fake, meaning you will lose your money as a result. Alternatively, it could be an opportunity for scammers to place malware on your device to steal your personal details.
  • Ponzi scams – Ponzi scams usually involve making strong or unrealistic claims about the returns you can make by investing in cryptocurrencies. They often have referral programmes to encourage investors to sign up their friends and families. In reality, most people will lose some of all their money in these types of schemes.

The best way to avoid these types of scams is to stay safe online, protect your data, do not open unsolicited emails and fully research anywhere or anyone you are thinking of investing your money with. And look out for anyone guaranteeing to make you money, promising big pay-outs, offering free crypto cash, if something sound too good to be true, chances are it is.

Scammers posing as Police Officers

Police are warning the public after a spate of distressing scams targeting vulnerable and elderly people. Scammers are pretending to be officials from banks and police services and coercing people into handing over cash and valuable items.

The scam starts with a victim being cold called by someone pretending to be from either their bank or the police. They then instruct victims to withdraw money after which they will be visited at their home address and this money will be collected from them. In a similar scam, victims are told to transfer money into a secure bank account and give fraudsters their bank cards or valuable items such as watches and jewellery. Fraudsters have even been so bold as to pose as police officers and visit victims home addresses and collect bank cards from them, telling victims that their accounts have been compromised and if they do not do what they are asked they could risk losing all the money held in their accounts. For those who fall victim to such scams the repercussions can be devastating as the money is hard to recover and they have come face to face with a criminal. To make matters worse criminals mainly single out and target elderly and vulnerable people who are trusting of the police and their banks as they are more likely to have had the same bank account for many years.

Police are warning that during the pandemic people are more likely to fall for these types of scams as they are more isolated at home during lockdown, and more willing to engage in conversation with people they do not know.

To protect themselves people are being asked to think before they engage with anyone initiating contact with you or claiming to be from your bank or the police. Neither a bank nor the police will call you and ask you to disclose your personal details or pin number over the phone. They will also never arrange to pick up your bank card via a courier and if you receive calls from people claiming to do this, you should hang up the phone immediately. Often a scammer will keep your phone line open so if you do try to call the bank back it could be the scammer still on the other end. So, to further protect yourself, make sure you have fully hung up the line by waiting five minutes before you make a call, or alternatively use a different number to make a call.

Action Fraud recommend the following to protect yourselves and loved ones from falling victim:

  • Your bank or the police will never call you to ask you to verify your personal details or PIN by phone or offer to pick up your bank card by courier. Hang up immediately if you receive a call like this.
  • If you need to contact your bank back to check the call was legitimate, wait five minutes; fraudsters may stay on the line after you hang up. Alternatively, use a different line altogether to contact your bank.
  • Your debit or credit card is yours: do not let a stranger take it from you. You should only ever have to hand it over at your bank. If it is cancelled or expired, you should destroy it yourself.

Spot the tell-tale signs:

  • Someone claiming to be from your bank or local police force calls you to tell you about fraudulent activity, but is asking you for personal information, or even your PIN, to verify who you are.
  • They are offering to call you back so you can be sure they are genuine, but when you try to return the call, there is no dial tone.
  • They say they are trying to offer you peace of mind by having somebody pick up the card for you, to save you the trouble of having to go to your bank or local police station.
BT could owe customers millions in compensation.

BT Group PLC is facing a lawsuit which could see the communications giant compensating millions of customers for overcharging them.

In 2017 British watchdog Ofcom found BT had been overcharging its landline customers since 2009. BT agreed to reduce landline customers’ bills by £7 each but failed to compensate customers who had been overcharged for the previous 8 years. The lawsuit is being brought to represent all of these customers by CALL the Collective Action on Land Lines, who say these affected customers were more likely to be elderly, vulnerable and low-income households. In response BT released a statement: “We take our responsibilities to older and more vulnerable customers very seriously and will defend ourselves against claims that suggest otherwise.”

Under current legislation it is not possible for the claim to go back as far as 2009, however CALL is seeking damages for affected customers from 2015 and this could mean BT faces a bill of just under £600 million to compensate the 2.3 million BT landline customers.

If you think you were affected by the BT overcharging you can read more about it here and see if you are eligible to make a claim: BT faces £600m lawsuit over ‘overcharging’ – BBC News

Solar panel scammers have been ordered to repay victims.

A group of six scammers, believed to have made more than £17 million in a solar panel scam have been ordered to pay back money they made from the thousands of vulnerable and elderly people they conned.

After a nearly four-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, in 2018 six men were sentenced to a total of 30 years and 4 months behind bars for their part in the scam. Two brothers, thought to be the ringleaders, concocted a sophisticated scam, using the legitimacy of the Government Feed in Tariff, the scheme involved selling and installing residential solar panels. The fraudsters would target vulnerable, retired, and elderly people, promising them incentives that they would make extra money from energy their solar panels produced, and they would be able to sell this extra energy back to the grid. They also conned victims into believing any extra money they made would cover the cost of loans they may need to take out to purchase the panels. Victims were told they would be reimbursed the cost of installation over a five-year period, essentially lying to victims that the solar panels would eventually cost nothing, and they would make money back from them in the future whilst saving money on their own energy bills. The reality was, these conmen used a sophisticated scam to con innocent people by using deceitful sales techniques, lies and fraudulent guarantees. Some victims lost hundreds, but most lost thousands in the scam, some lost as much as £35,000.

The ringleaders, Ludovic Black was sentenced to seven years six months and his brother David Diaz sentenced to four years six months. Stephen Wilson and Robert Ross were both sentenced to four years six months and directors of the company Kenneth Reid and Niall Hastie were both sentenced to three years and six months each. After proceedings, an investigation into the profits made during the con found that in total the company made £17 million, Wilson and Ross were ordered to payback £220,000 and £193,206 respectively. The money will be used to pay compensation to victims under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Lisa Osofsky, Director of the Serious Fraud Office said:

“These men built predatory schemes to steal thousands from the hard-earned savings of vulnerable people while pretending to offer them a chance to improve their own financial security.

“I’m extremely proud of the way our team worked hand-in-hand with law enforcement partners to untangle this complex and predatory fraud.”

What is a solar panel scam?

Solar panels have been mis-sold to thousands of consumers on the basis that installing them will help a household save money on their energy bills whilst reducing carbon footprint. The problem is that many companies, not all acting fraudulently, have made claims to help sell solar panels, that are not exactly truthful. We are approached regularly by clients who say they were promised their solar panels would create enough energy to reduce their bills and in fact they would be able to generate more energy than they need, so they could sell this additional energy back to the governments feed in tariff scheme. This has rarely been the case and more often than not people are left paying huge bills for finance agreements set up by the solar panel companies. In reality they fail to make enough energy to benefit from the government scheme and are left substantially out of pocket paying for high interest loans.

If you feel that you have paid for solar panels and not seen any of the benefits you were promised, then they may have been mis-sold to you. If you are not happy with the promises made by the Solar Panels Company or supplier, then you can start a claim for a refund of your money. If you have paid for all or even just a deposit by credit card, then the credit card company is as responsible to you as the Solar Panel company who sold them to you. If the company arranged a retail finance agreement with a bank or finance company, then the finance company are also liable to you in the event that you were mis-sold solar panels.

How do I start my Solar Panel Claim?

If you honestly feel that you were mis-sold the solar panels and qualify by paying for them by card (even part payment) or finance agreement, we will be able to assist you. Simply call us for help or use the form on this page to submit your details. You should upload whatever documentation you have in support of your claim and we will assess the likelihood of a successful claim, free of charge.

In order to fully assess the claim, please provide us with:

  • Full contact details of the Solar Panel Company.
  • Full details of any finance arranged to pay for the Solar Panels and a copy of the agreement if you have it.
  • The dates that the transaction to made / order date etc.