Council warns of scammers pocketing £51,000 from jobseekers

Cllr Mike Bell.

Cllr Mike Bell has backed NHS calls for supporting coronavirus services. - Credit: Archant

North Somerset Council has issued a warning regarding scammers targetting people who have lost their job during the pandemic.

Fraudsters have pocketed £51,000 from people who may have lost their job during lockdown.

Fraudsters have pocketed £51,000 from people who may have lost their job during lockdown. - Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

The authority claims that dozens of victims have already fallen prey to the scams, amassing losses more than £51,000.

All victims so far have been located in London but the council’s deputy leader, Mike Bell believes North Somerset residents may still be targetted.

Cllr Bell, who’s portfolio covers consumer safety, also warns of scammers willing to use the coronavirus pandemic to their advantage,

He said: “The council has said it before and it is worth reiterating – scammers and fraudsters are adept at trying to take advantage of changing circumstances.


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“The latest scam we have been alerted to is preying on people’s desperation to generate some income if they have been unlucky enough to have lost their jobs during the pandemic.”

The culprits are able to carry out the scams by using job recruitment sites and apps to identify their victims.

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After securing contact details, the fraudsters call and pretend to be a phone network employee asking the victims to take part in a ‘mystery shopper’ to pass a recruitment process.

The unsuspecting victim is then asked to visit a high street branch of the chosen mobile network to purchase a phone contract with their own personal and financial details.

Once this stage is done, the victim is instructed to visit a drop-off point to deliver the phone and SIM card to a so-called colleague of the scammer, being assured that the contract will soon be terminated.

Mike Bell added: “In reality, the victims will never hear from the suspects again, and are left liable for the mobile phone contract they were convinced to purchase.

“Some victims are also asked to move the ‘employer’s’ money through their own bank accounts, putting them at risk of committing money laundering offences.

“Others find out that their personal details have been used to take out loans, for which they are also now liable.

“Be on your guard and do all you can not to fall for these con artists.”

For more information on how to prevent being involved in online scams visit www.cyberaware.gov.uk

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