Trading standards officers at East Riding of Yorkshire Council are marking scams awareness month by listing the fake lotteries, prize draws, bogus health cures and pyramid selling schemes that are robbing in this area.

Four million people a year are scammed in the UK. To raise awareness, May has become scams awareness month with trading standards officers say warning that scammers are always one step ahead, changing their operations all the time.

Councillor Jackie Cracknell, portfolio holder for community involvement and performance, said: “It has been said many times, but if a plan or scheme sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

“By raising awareness of some of the scams doing the rounds in this area we hope local people recognise them and are put on their guard.

“Many scams go unreported, often because victims feel ashamed that they were taken in and are reluctant to report it. If you think you are being targeted, or a member of your family or a friend is about to fall into the clutches of scammers, then call and report it.”

Fraud offences in England and Wales rose by 25 per cent in 2013, compared to the previous year, with 207,252 cases reported to Action Fraud. Nationally, Citizens Advice has calculated up to four million people could be scammed each year as many scams go unreported.

Scams currently going the rounds in the East Riding include:

· An offer of a prize of over two million dollars by email via a bogus South African lottery draw

·a resident looking for consumer credit on line was contacted unexpectedly by e mail and phone and told that credit could be organised in return for a £300 fee – the credit was never organised

·a resident was phoned and asked if they would like to stop receiving unwanted calls from abroad by paying £1.90 and giving the caller their bank details.

·another resident answered the door to a salesman who advised they that the Government would put up their council tax if they did not have double glazing units installed.

·a resident received a letter from an organisation which appeared to offer her a first prize of over £100,000 by placing an order with them. The small print in the terms and conditions said this prize may not be given.

·a resident received an email from someone saying they were on a trip abroad and had lost their luggage, money and passport, and that the bank would take five working days to get money to them, she promised to pay it back on her return.

People are just as likely to be conned over the phone and via text messages as they are through emails and websites. New analysis reveals that 34 per cent of scams were over the phone. Almost a quarter of scams were through visits to a web site, 16 per cent were letter or fax scams and 10 per cent were by email.

The officers also offer the following tips to avoid being scammed:

  1. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
  2. Never give out your bank details or send money unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you.
  3. Contacted out of the blue? Be suspicious.
  4. Your bank and the police will never collect your bank card, ask for your PIN or come to your home.
  5. Make sure the website’s secure, if you are buying online – check for the padlock or “https” next to the web address
  6. It you haven’t bought a ticket you can’t win it.
  7. You shouldn’t have to pay anything to get a prize.
  8. Pressure to make a decision straight away? Take your time and just say: “No thank you”.
  9. Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance.
  10. Computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer.
  11. Don’t suffer in silence – tell others about scams.

For general advice on scams please contact Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040.  For advice on other consumer matters, contact Citizens Advice consumer service on www.adviceguide.org.uk or call 08454 040506.

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