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Trading standards heads off website scam

Press release   •   Nov 23, 2016 15:05 GMT

Moray Council’s trading standards officers have taken quick and decisive action to shut down a scam website which they believe was in danger of ripping off consumers of hundreds of pounds just before Christmas.

As Black Friday and Christmas are fast approaching, consumers will be looking to find cheap deals for new mobile phones and gaming equipment such as Nintendo and Xbox.

But they are being warned to be on their guard after trading standards took down a website which it is believed was designed to take money with no intention of delivering the goods.

The website in question is understood to be the most recent in a series of websites created with a very similar purpose. Each site appears genuine, with the business registered at Companies House. They advertise consumer electronic goods at cheaper than normal prices. However the catch comes when it comes to paying as the buyer is told that card payments are not accepted and that they need to make payment by bank transfer or similar method.

Buyers who manage to contact the business are reassured that everything is in order - but later find that the goods they ordered would never arrive.

In this most recent example, a fake business is believed to have been set up using an empty business property in Elgin. After local trading standards officers made an attempt to visit the business and found that the site owners had never heard of the fake business, alarm bells sounded and immediate steps were taken to contact the host for the website and, with their co-operation, the website was taken down.

Moray trading standards manager Peter Adamson said: “This appears to be a new scam where consumers are enticed with an apparently great deal to buy the newest mobile phone model or games console at an amazing price.

“But in truth, the rogue trader is only active for a few days, takes your money and then disappears.We believe that due to the rapid action taken by our officers, harm to consumers throughout the UK has been minimised, although our inquiries are continuing”.

Mr Adamson added: “Potential consumers should take steps to research a company before placing an order.If they cannot see appropriate independent reviews of a business, they should be very suspicious. Equally, we would strongly advise purchasers not to pay by bank transfer as this is an instant process and there will be no possibility of a refund from your bank.If a deal looks too good to be true, then there is a good chance that it’s a scam”.

Anyone who feels they have been affected by this issue or need consumer advice should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.

Moray Council area stretches from Tomintoul in the south to the shores of the Moray Firth, from Keith in the east to Forres in the west. The council and its 4,500 employees respond to the needs of 95,510 residents in this beautiful part of Scotland, which nestles between Aberdeenshire and the Highlands.

Famous for its colony of dolphins, fabulous beaches and more malt whisky distilleries than any where else in Scotland, Moray is a thriving area and a great place to live.

Headquartered in  Elgin, the administrative capital of Moray.