Chisenga Mafuta was jailed for 24 weeks after pleading guilty to two charges of fraud in which he took Tristan Kirby’s bank details over the phone, whilst at work, and used them to pay for his own gas and electricity, worth about £500. Mr Mafuta also tried unsuccessfully to use Mr Kirby’s details at a coffee shop and shoe shop.
British Gas is looking into how such blatant fraud could occur in its workplace but was there anything that the company could so in such a case? Surely they have to put their trust in the workers they employ to do the right thing. As the chairman of the bench said in sentencing Mafuta, financial transactions depend on the trust vested in trading companies and its employees. What more could British Gas have done to ensure that he could not commit his crime?
Booking hotels or holiday apartments is a fraught business at the best of times but recent holiday rental fraud has shown that there is an additional concern to bear in mind.
Those booking for a fortnight in the sun should especially beware of bargains and last minute deals, but even the most established holiday rental websites are no protection against fraud, so those booking in this way should always take extra care.
There is however action that the consumer can take to try and avoid it happening to them. So, those visiting rental sites should be able to see how long a property has been advertised on a particular site and the longer it has been on, the less chance there is of it being a scam.
Though these bookings are often made online, without any human interaction being necessary, efforts at making human contact with the rental owner should be made. This can give some reassurance that it is genuine as well as giving information about the accommodation and the resort as a whole.
It is sensible in any case to have details of the owner and consumers should certainly get these at the booking stage as at that stage it can be determined that they are serious about staying in the property. When paying, a credit card gives the best protection against fraud or misrepresentation, so try and use one when booking.
These actions won’t completely protect you from the possibility of fraud but they are simple actions that can be taken to reduce the chance of it occurring and, they are also generally common sense procedures that should be taken by every potential holidaymaker.
Revenue and Customs officials have been urged, by MPs, to have new technology in place to tackle those people who are selling rebated fuel at inflated prices. More details here.
The Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee has said that it is concerned that not enough is being done to sort out the problem of over £70m in tax revenue having been lost through gangs and paramilitaries in the province selling reduced agricultural diesel to ordinary drivers. The committee has called on Revenue and Customs to implement new rebated fuel marker technology as soon as possible.
With people throughout the UK panicking about a possible fuel shortage due to an impending tanker drivers strike, it may not be the last we hear about groups trying to make a fast buck out of fuel.
A court heard how a Leeds solicitor, who was jailed for two years and two months after stealing more than £50,000 from an 82-year-old client who was suffering from dementia, had known the woman well. She had been a close friend of Michael Rigg’s mother and had thought of the solicitor as a son.
He looked after her affairs when she had to go into a care home and, over a three-year period, stole £50,000 from her post office and bank accounts. He had used the money to pay for his own mother’s care fees and it also paid for a holiday to Switzerland.
Rigg, who admitted three offences of fraud by abuse of position of trust, was arrested after staff at a building society became suspicious and monitored the cash withdrawals. As the judge, at Leeds Crown Court said, he was in a position of great trust and responsibility and the client, as well as being a friend of the family, was extremely vulnerable and in need of protection.
It’s one thing to defraud client’s you barely know; that is bad enough, but to take from someone who had been so close to you and your family appears much worse, even if, as his barrister claimed, he did not use the money to make extravagant purchases.
A Channel 4 investigation has found that a new contactless payment card from Barclays is especially vulnerable to fraud.
The new cards work in a similar way to Oyster cards on London Transport, in that they can be swiped at a terminal although only low level transactions can be made in this way. Barclays is not the only organisation to have introduced these cards which are appealing as they can potentially speed up transactions in-store. However the fraud risk will be a concern.
The investigation found that simply holding a smartphone with the right software near to the card would be enough to get private account details from it; it could take all the information listed on the front of Visa cards though would not be able to take details such as the PIN or CVV code not embedded in the card’s chip.
Barclays said that it was now talking to retailers to see that they were carrying out “adequate and robust” checks. Though I can see the benefit of these cards in that they would definitely speed up transactions and could signal the end of queuing at the checkout, the risks appear obvious and the investigation has done everyone a favour by clearly identifying them. What do you think?