There is little doubt that the Internet has revolutionised our lives, literally giving us the world at our fingertips. Time saving, informative and fun, most of us wouldn't be able to function day-to-day without it, but there does lurk a danger. The Internet is a playground for fraudsters and criminals worldwide, all intent on scamming unsuspecting consumers out of their hard earned cash.
Only this week, Croydon businesses have been warned by Croydon Council's Trading Standards team about a sham company called Slom Solution Ltd. At first glance, they seem to be operating from a rented office mailbox space, in the Lansdowne Building, Lansdowne Road, close to East Croydon station; however this address is nothing more than a mailbox.
Over a period of only three days, 72 complaints from all over the UK were received in respect of Slom Solution Ltd, whose practice is to send out purposely misleading invoices demanding payment of £298.69 for advertising on a web based directory – www.britishintheweb.co.uk.
Croydon Trading Standards have previously warned businesses about an almost identical scam involving a company called MAVA Concepts Ltd. As the Slom Solution invoices are being issued with a return address back to MAVA Concepts, it appears that the two are linked.
Councillor Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety, commented:
"There are multiple versions of this scam known to be operating at the moment, many appearing to be based in Latvia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.
"Often, the scammers set up a limited company to give it an air of authenticity, and then rent a virtual office mailbox in a well-known or prestigious-sounding address. They don't submit returns to Companies House, and rarely pay for the rented office facilities.
"A quick check on the internet will often highlight these scams - and prevent businesses being tricked."
Businesses should be vigilant when checking and paying invoices, ensuring they are genuine. Unfortunately, many of these scams are successful, due to the whirlwind pace many companies now find themselves working under, resulting in invoices being paid automatically, with insufficient attention being paid to their validity.
Trading Standards did make the recommendation that businesses should avoid advertising on web based directory sites. Here at thebestof Croydon, we feel that we are living proof of how a professional, award-winning web based directory site can be invaluable to small businesses, so would perhaps take issue with this rather sweeping generalisation. However, there is no doubt that we have to be vigilant in our Internet dealings and be alert to some of the most common scams.
Virus scams: You receive an email telling you to go through a certain process on your computer to avoid a virus that is going around. The reality is, it is going through that process which would infect your computer with the virus. If you receive any emails like this, do your research and check on the Internet as you will often be able to find out about these scams from various forums or on social networking sites.
Phishing scams: This sort of scam is very common and has become increasingly used by fraudsters over recent years. Fortunately as they have become more prevalent, consumers have become more aware. Emails claiming to be from your bank, credit card provider, or other account provider such as Paypal will arrive in your inbox. They will ask you to access your account via a link provided in order to rectify some problem or another. However, the link takes you to a fake website and when you enter your account details, the fraudsters are able to obtain your information quickly and easily. You should never link to any sites or accounts via emails such as this no matter how convincing they look – always access these sites by putting the website address into your browser.
Prize winning emails: How exciting to receive an email announcing you have won the African lottery. All you have to do is send your Bank details so they can send you the money. Now this does seem so blatant only a fool would respond, but unfortunately people HAVE been fooled by these kind of scams, often the vulnerable or less computer literate, or simply people who are afraid they may be losing out on a fantastic windfall. Remember – to win a foreign lottery you have to ENTER a foreign lottery. Passing anyone your bank details to anyone via email is an absolute no-no.
Hacked emails: You get an email from one of your mailbox contacts, which at first glance looks quite innocuous. However, when you open it you are either opening the floodgates to a virus, or being asked by your contact for personal details, passwords or other sensitive information, possibly under the guise of them checking that THEY haven't been scammed or hacked. Always check via phone or text with the sender that this has definitely come from them. Often the signs are there that something is not quite right, a sensationalised heading or unusual font, but as we sweep down our emails with half an eye these can often be missed until it’s too late. An email which appears to come from a friend or family member could easily have been hacked, so never take the risk.
The Internet no longer carries the novelty value it used to, and as a result we take it far more for granted and over time can become more complacent about security issues. The fraudsters rely on this; don't be a victim.
Member since: 10th July 2012
Hi - me and my gang champion and promote the best businesses in the Croydon and Bromley Boroughs. If you are a local business owner, then we'd love to help you grow your profile, profits and get more business.