From mountain to sea – Aberdeenshire Council Trading Standards Bulletin

Bulletin No. 58
The articles in these bulletins are based on real life complaints made to
Aberdeenshire Council’s Trading Standards department unless otherwise stated
to make them as relevant as possible to readers. Names, exact addresses etc.
have been withheld to avoid identifying complainants and to comply with GDPR.
Doorstep Crime/ Cold Calling
Trading Standards recently received a report about an elderly male in the
Garioch area who was cold called by two men who claimed to be working nearby
and that they had some leftover tarmac which they could tar this resident’s drive
with. These people put considerable pressure on the resident, who eventually
relented and consented to the work.
The men then threw down a quantity of chippings on the driveway then covered
them with the tarmac. Once finished, the men demanded payment and the
resident paid nearly £2000 by cheque. Needless to say, the work could be
described as shoddy, at best. All the rules protecting the resident such as
providing a written quote, 14 day cooling off period etc. were completely ignored
by these men.
There have been a number of other reports about these men from outwith
Aberdeenshire and it appears that they deliberately target older residents,
possibly as they are seen as being easier to coerce.
Should you be approached by men such as these, please try to:
• Say no and stick to your guns
• Don’t be drawn into discussing money or prices under any circumstances
• Remain polite and remove yourself from their presence
• Feel free to tell white lies such as having a relative who is in the trade, or
having a boiling pot on the stove indoors
• Get back in the house and lock the doors
• If the men become forceful or abusive, call the Police immediately
• Note details of any vehicles they use, including makes, models,
registration numbers and works names on the side of the vehicles
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• Note any descriptions of the men, including the numbers of men present,
their approximate ages, height, build, accents and clothing. Try to write
this down timeously if you can. Keep this piece of paper
For further information about dealing with forceful cold callers, please see
Bulletin 56 here. Please also report any such incidents to Trading Standards or
Police Scotland as soon as you can.
Scams etc.
Text Scams
One resident of south Aberdeenshire (amongst other similar reports) recently
received a text message on their mobile phone, from another mobile number,
with the wording “Hi mum I’m texting you off a friends phone I’ve smashed mine
and their phones about to die, can you WhatsApp my new number (new phone
number was included here) please it’s urgent x”
Given that the resident was male and the ‘child’ should have noticed the
difference between mum and dad, the resident immediately became suspicious.
Also, given that the child claimed that their phone was broken, using WhatsApp
to message the child back would make no difference on a broken phone. Note
too, the reference to urgency and the emotive tone of the message, clearly
intended to make a recipient react quickly and without fully considering their own
actions or the authenticity of the text.
Thankfully, the resident did not respond, but forwarded it to the 7726 spam/scam
text service which allows telephone companies to investigate and block the
sender’s number. Further information about this service can be found here and
here. If this is not possible, simply delete the text. Please do not respond to it
under any circumstances as this simply tells the scammer that the number is live
and risks further scam texts.
In all likelihood the scam is a phishing scam designed to either harvest the
recipient’s personal details or to bombard them with spam/scam messages in
the future should they respond. It should also be noted that WhatsApp are not a
part of the scam but were likely chosen simply due to the popularity of the
platform, and that the same scam may also appear on other messaging
Courier Scam
A resident in the Buchan area recently reported that they had advertised an
article for sale on a well known online classifieds platform. Very quickly the
resident received a reply from someone who was keen to buy the item for the
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asking price. During these negotiations the resident gave out only his e-mail
address, mobile phone number and post code.
Soon afterwards the buyer sent an e-mail to the resident with a screen snip
purporting to show that payment for the item had been made via a well known
online payment system. The buyer also advised the resident that they would
have someone collect the item from his home address but that he would have to
pay the courier £150 in gift vouchers. It was at this point that the resident
realised that it was a scam. A check of his own online account showed no inward
payments made. When the resident stopped all further responses the buyer
began to get quite abusive by e-mail, but eventually stopped.
In truth, this is a variation of a well-known scam called the Courier Scam. The
item for sale is a red herring; the real prize is the £150 in vouchers. Had the
resident gone ahead with the transaction not only would they have been out of
pocket by £150 for the vouchers they would have lost the sale item and payment
for it too.
Points to consider:
• Buyers who seem overly keen to buy your item or get the transaction
completed speedily
• Buyers who claim that they cannot uplift the item themselves
• Requests to pay a courier a fee of any sort and by any means, whether
cash, or gift voucher. If the buyer wants to send a courier, then they
should pay for it
• Follow the rules of the online payment platforms to the letter
• Do not divulge any personal or payment information unnecessarily and
even them only divulge the bare minimum to allow you to sell your item
If you suspect that your advert has been replied to by a scammer, cease all
contact with them immediately, stop the transaction from proceeding any further
and report the matter to Trading Standards or Police Scotland.
As you will probably be aware, given the amount of publicity it gets, this Friday,
25 November is Black Friday for 2022. The Citizens Advice service has
produced some information for consumers, to help them avoid falling foul of
misdescribed, counterfeit or unsafe goods. That information can be found on the
Journal of Trading Standards website by clicking here.
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Please note that the advice given in these bulletins has been deliberately kept
simple, so that if you are faced with a scenario such as the ones discussed here
where fear, panic and alarm are often tools used deliberately by scammers, you
will know what to do at that time. Remember, after the initial panic is over, you
may have rights which Trading Standards can help you with. We can also help
you with advice about any article mentioned in these bulletins.
If you have been the victim of a Doorstep Crime or an attempted crime, whether
Bogus Caller or Rogue Trader, please report the matter to Consumer Advice
Scotland so that Trading Standards can build a detailed, ongoing picture of the
activities of these scammers throughout the Shire. This would be a great help to
us to tackle this sort of crime.
If you have any information to share about the unlawful sale of tobacco or
disposable vapes, please use the Contact Info below to pass that information to
Trading Standards. If you would prefer, you can report the information
anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Contact Info
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For non-urgent Trading Standards enquiries in Aberdeenshire, please contact
Consumer Advice Scotland at https://www.consumeradvice.scot/ or on 0808 164
6000. For urgent Trading Standards matters, contact Aberdeenshire Council’s
Trading Standards at 01467 537222.
Aberdeen City Council’s Trading Standards department can be contacted by
calling 0300 0200 292 or e-mailing tradingstandards@aberdeencity.gov.uk
Contact Police Scotland on 999 if you need urgent Police assistance or 101 for
non-urgent matters.
For more information about scams please visit Friends Against Scams at
https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/ or Take Five at https://takefivestopfraud.org.uk/
Please direct any media queries to news@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or 01467
538222 during office hours.
All previous Trading Standards bulletins can be found at: