When Dylan turns out not to be Bob after all. Advance Fee Fraud and how to avoid it.

A friend of mine recently called me and said he had managed to buy tickets to see Bob Dylan on a ticket re-sale website.  We’re both loyal Dylan fans, so I felt more than a pang of envy when he told me, especially with the chance of seeing this icon of our youth ebbing away with the passing years.  Even Bob can’t tour forever, although it has to be said, he’s making a good stab at it.

Anyway, with some embarrassment, as befalls all of us of a certain vintage when we make a cock up with an online purchase, my friend then went on to tell me that when he went to the concert venue,  the Dylan he had paid £200 to see was not the Dylan of Forever Young and Blowin’ in the wind, but a rather more recent incumbent of the hit parade, popular with Gen Z.  Oh dear. A ticket for that concert, not surprisingly, cost £15 and was not oversubscribed.

Annoyingly, the warning signs of a fraud are always more obvious with hindsight, but the tickets had been carefully described and priced so as to mislead the unsuspecting fan of a certain age and unfortunately, in his excitement of getting his hands on tickets to see the legend that is Bob Dylan, my pal fell victim to a form of what we lawyers describe as ‘Advance Fee Fraud’.

Facebook Marketplace fraud
Another example which seems to be doing the rounds is one affecting Facebook Marketplace. It targets sellers who, on posting an item for sale, receive an offer for the asking price but the buyer says that they want the item but are too busy to collect it. They then make a peculiar request to send an envelope of cash with a courier such as DPD or UPS. Once the seller sends their address and email, the prospective buyer then says that they have paid the shipping fee to the courier, but require you to cover the insurance and will add money to cover that to the cash in the envelope. The seller then receives an email, supposedly from the courier, with a link to pay the insurance. This of course is nothing to do with any legitimate courier, but which goes straight into the scammer’s bank account, and will probably steal your card details in the process.

So, how does advance fee fraud work?
It generally happens when fraudsters ask victims to make advance or upfront payments for goods, services and/or financial gains that do not materialise.  Fraudsters contact victims through mail, phone, e mail and social media.

Other examples of advance fee fraud

  • Cash / lottery wins where you must send a payment as a ‘release fee’ to receive your prize
  • You are looking to rent a property which you spot online and are asked to pay an upfront fee on a property which then turns out not to exist.
  • You are contacted by someone who says they are from the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and you are owed a tax rebate, but you have to pay a fee in order to receive it.
  • You are told that someone very rich has died and you are in line to receive a large inheritance, but you must pay taxes, legal fees or banking charges to release the inheritance.
  • Your help is required in getting money out of a country which will normally involve making a series of payments.

5 tips to protect yourself

  • Check out the person or company you are dealing with, where they are located and their online reviews, don’t just email them back, search for them online separately
  • Be cautious of a business that uses a post office box or has no direct phone number
  • Never send money via direct bank or money transfer to someone that you have never met without further detailed checks
  • If the promise seems too good to be true – unfortunately, it probably is
  • Watch out for sellers using broken English, since many scams originate from non-English speaking countries
  • Read about advance fee fraud on the Police action fraud website http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud-azadvance-fee-fraud

Getting your money back
it goes without saying that getting your hard-earned money back is not always possible and that sometimes you have to chalk it up to experience and try and make sure that you don’t fall into the same trap again.  However, the consumer champion Which? outlines some avenues worth exploring in this article on their website   https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-to-get-your-money-back-after-a-scam-amyJW6f0D2TJ

Get in touch
If you want to pursue a legal case our friendly Disputes team would be delighted to hear from you.  You can contact us on 01872 241408 or email litigation@penderlaw.co.uk