The phone, and a charger to go with it, came by special delivery. I was suspicious from the start and phoned my sister. She immediately got in touch with the telephone company that sent the phone, and the police and their fraud line at New Scotland Yard. In the meantime I received a phone call from a person saying it was delivered by mistake and a courier would collect it from me. I told the caller I wanted an apology and asked why it had been sent to my deceased husband’s name. At 5pm the same day a courier called for the Blackberry. I told him the phone had already been sent back to where it came from so he had to go away empty handed.
I cannot tell you the distress and upset this has caused me, asking me to set up direct debits in my deceased husband’s name. As a nearly 79 year old lady I feel this is something I can do without. I only hope no one else gets caught out in the same way.
When the person I was working for on Friday mentioned that he had been sent two state-of-the-art mobile phones in error and that someone had later phoned, and then picked them up, I was very suspicious, but he seemed to think it was a genuine error.
Imagine my surprise when I read your article in Your Money the next day and saw the fraud that two of your readers were the victims of. It was the very same scam.
I emailed him a copy and he’s replied this morning that he’s been in contact with the phone company who have put the matter in the hands of their fraud department. He will be visiting his bank tomorrow morning to make sure no direct debit is authorised.
On his behalf, many thanks.
The scam works like this. A phone or, increasingly of late, phones, are mysteriously delivered to the victim’s home. They haven’t placed the order and so are not surprised when they receive a call saying there has been a mistake and the goods will be collected at a given time. However, rather than an innocent courier coming for them, it is the fraudster or a sidekick. Meanwhile the bill is in the victim’s name.
Despite being 79 years old, GC foiled the crooks by calling the company the phone had come from and arranging to have the phone sent back to it. The fraudster, or his representative, was sent packing with nothing to show for his trickery. It is a pity though that the police were not there to apprehend him when he came.
The fact that someone comes to the door makes this scam particularly personal and unpleasant. The resulting upset can border on feelings of paranoia.
One reader, whose signature is illegible, possibly because she was embarrassed, wrote “I could only assume that a rather unpleasant young man that I had a contretemps with (car to car) at the local tip had set it up for spite.” This infers that this reader may have been taking personal information to the skip which could have been retrieved and then used for nefarious purposes. It is of course important to safeguard such information and shred or burn it rather than dump it. Or had she given details following the car incident? These sort of speculations can keep people awake at night.
Perhaps it also needs to be said that sometimes information may be gleaned from death notices in local papers. Keep precise details to a minimum as much as possible.
Apart from letting the telephone company concerned know as well as the local police, see that Action Fraud - the central crime reporting channel on actionfraud.police.uk - is also informed. Action Fraud didn’t have a precise breakdown of the figures immediately to hand about this type of telephone fraud. However it does say that anyone having an unexpected delivery like this should ask for identification from the courier. It adds that people should not sign for things that they have not ordered.
Consider also speaking to Citizens Advice on 08454 040506 or via their website adviceguide.org.uk .
Thank you to those who wrote in to share these experiences.