FRAUD

Year after year the number of scam victims increases. A multitude of frauds and scams exist and it is not always easy to avoid such traps.

Communication technology has contributed to the development of global scams, but the crooks also continue to make contact by mail or by traditional phone calls. In most cases, fraudsters hide their identity to avoid being found by national authorities fighting against fraud.

Our advice:

  • Be careful when you are contacted anonymously and take care with virtual meetings.
  • Beware of easy money and free services.
  • Always take the time to think before signing a contract, before using a service and before sending any money.

 

INTERNET SERVICES

ONLINE DOWNLOADS

In recent years, we have seen a rise in complaints for invoices from online companies concerning downloads. These downloads seem to be free but when registering for them, you purchase a subscription. If you don’t pay, reminders are sent through lawyers and even debt collectors. In most cases, adolescents are concerned.

When registering, you were not aware that you subscribed to a paid service because the price information was hidden in small print and/or in the General Terms and Conditions on the web page. To register, you usually fill out your name, address, date of birth and accept the General Terms and Conditions (by clicking on a ‘tick box’) without reading them thoroughly.

Sometime later you receive letters from the company, from lawyers or collection agencies. In order to respond, send a letter by e-mail to the other party, denying the conclusion of the contract. Send this letter to the company, lawyer or collection agency by e-mail without giving your postal address.

Our advice: Do not pay in any case.

Feel free to contact us if you need more information about this topic.

 

‘SPANISH LOTTERY’

We regularly receive complaints from people who have been contacted by companies announcing to them a splendid sum of money that they apparently won in a lottery. The names of those companies (El Gordo, La Primitiva, Lottery Bill Gates etc.) as well as the countries in which they are registered (Spain, The Netherlands, United Kingdom) change regularly.

The so-called winners, however, have never participated in a lottery of that name. To obtain the prize, the company asks them for an advance payment (usually by “Western Union”) to cover legal fees. Even if you pay the sum, the prize will never reach your account.

Our advice: Do not respond to these messages. Remember that you have to participate in a lottery to be able to win.

Feel free to contact us if you need more information about this topic.

 

‘NIGERIA CONNECTION’

You are often contacted by strangers posing as a rich heir in their e-mail message. Unfortunately, their inheritance is blocked on foreign accounts. To get this money, they need your bank details to transfer the money to your account. If you agree, you are promised a big commission.

The only obstacle: You must advance money for the unlocking of the current account of the inheritance. These fees can amount to several thousand euros.

There exist many stories: an American soldier has found the treasure of a dictator and now wants to leave the country. The son of a murdered politician wants to shift the savings of his father abroad, a person with cancer asks for help, etc.

This type of fraud is widespread and reaches you via e-mail and post. If you send money to these scammers, it will be the last time that you hear of a commission.

Our tip: never react to these e-mails and never send money to strangers.

Feel free to contact us if you need more information about this topic.

 

PURCHASE / SALE OF VEHICLES

ECC Luxembourg is contacted daily by consumers who have put their car up for sale on a website or wish to buy a used car over the internet.

Buying a used car:

The vehicle of your dreams for a bargain! You contact the seller who proposes to send the car to you so you can test it for a period of time. If you are not satisfied, you can return the car without problems. Transport will be provided through a forwarding agent and you will have codes allowing you to track transportation. However, you must pay half of the purchase price through “Western Union” before the car can be transported. After the payment, you realize that you bought a non-existent car on a fake website.

Sale:

You put your vehicle up for sale on a website. A buyer contacts you and wants to purchase the car without even seeing it. The cheques you receive exceed the agreed price and the buyer asks you to pay the remainder back or transport fees through “Western Union”. After doing this, you realize that the cheques were fake but the money you reimbursed has disappeared from your account.

Our advice:

Be very careful whenever you are asked to pay through “Western Union”. This company itself insists on the fact that sending cash is not secure and that the sender must only forward money to trustworthy people.

 

SPAM

If you have an e-mail address, you certainly know them: spam-mails. Spams are e-mails that are automatically and massively sent to e-mail addresses. The bulk of spams are unsolicited advertisements.

Do not waste time in contacting the sender. Most of the time, the address is wrong. The only means of protecting yourself is not to make your e-mail address public in the first place, e.g. through a forum.

PHISHING

“Phishing” is a method used by crooks to obtain your personal data. In general, you are contacted by an e-mail that makes you believe that you are communicating with your bank. In this mail you will find a link to the website of your bank.

If you follow this link, you will be asked to fill out a form with your contact details, your password, account number, credit card number, etc. The site is a fake and you just gave all your sensitive information to crooks.

How to tell the difference?

No bank or other company will ask you to confirm or correct your personal data via e-mail. You will always be asked by mail in a traditional letter.

Call your bank when you receive an e-mail asking for personal data. Your bank does not call you “Dear Customer” but by your name.

Feel free to contact us if you need more information about this topic.

 

BUSINESS DIRECTORIES

Retailers, craftsmen, restaurant owners, active members of charities or just private individuals are constantly being contacted or even harassed by fraudulent companies offering to carry advertisements. These companies come mainly from France, Spain, Switzerland and Germany.

How can you tell if a business directory company is legitimate?

CEC Luxembourg has some advice to enable anyone to identify the fraudulent companies that they should avoid.

The operating method is usually identical. It usually involves an initial cold call by phone concerning the sale of advertising space in guides or directories, which are being published on paper or in computerized form (Internet site). Some of these companies go so far as to offer advertising space in guides that prove to be totally non-existent.

The cold call is followed by a fax confirmation in the form of an order for advertising space, partly completed by the sales representative. This initial contact is followed by aggressive warm-up calls and a second invoice for a much higher amount than the first invoice which is justified by a misunderstanding about the volume of the commitment made or the definition of the location of the advert. Some of these companies will offer a substantial reduction of the price for immediate payment in full.

What should you do before signing?

In terms of prevention, the persons contacted are advised to read the general terms and conditions of sale carefully, not to give in to pressure over the phone and not follow up any offers that may appear dubious.

In general, a legitimate company will allow you to take the time you need to think, and will generate order forms showing clearly the price per location, the number of spaces chosen, the total price excluding VAT, the amount of VAT, the price including VAT, the address details of the company (including the company registration number, etc.), the date and place of signature, legible general terms and conditions, etc. It is up to everyone to find out as much information as possible before signing and paying anything at all.

If, unfortunately, you have already signed a document and/or paid money, it is not too late to react. If it is certain that you have entered into a contractual relationship with a dishonest company, stop paying. It is not really in the interest of this type of company to pursue bad debtors through the courts because they would run the risk of the courts taking an interest in their own activities.

However, we should point out that there are legitimate businesses in the field of advertising sales, but the current proliferation of dishonest companies means that any person contacted should exercise extreme caution.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

Le “Service de Trésor revenue intérieure et Titre”

A consumer informs us that a company in France with the name of ” Service de Trésor revenue intérieure et Titre “send a form by fax to update his data and certify the status of a non-resident foreigner in France to maintain an alleged tax exemption on French territory. This document is not an official text and we therefore recommend not returning the form.

 

pdfFraud in cross-border E-Commerce

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