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Thanks for the responses, which included some useful ideas. Sorry about the text size in my first post, but I had to be certain readers got the message!!


Rhumsaa, what’s scary about police patrolling forums? Everyone can do it, and certain fraudsters earn their living doing it! The Proceeds of Crime Act gives us 7 working days to consider consent. It doesn’t take us that long though.


Theo, I’m just repeating what victims were told when they queried how their details had been obtained. I don’t doubt information is acquired in the way you say. There are reported UK cases where fraudsters have blackmailed bank staff into divulging customer information. Debt relief agencies etc which target those in the court process may well be viewed with cynicism. Although unpalatable to many, they’re arguably effectively targeting their most likely customer base.


Now there’s an idea. An anti-fraud insert with your gas or electricity bill, guaranteed to reach virtually every local household. I’m sure the irony of that will not be overlooked by many!


Albert, we’ve considered doing something similar to what you suggest. I wonder what percentage of computers and peripherals on the island were purchased locally? I don’t know the answer, but I suspect it is not as high as people may think if my own observations are anything to go by. The victim in the most recent local £1m fraud doesn’t have a computer. The elderly, who are generally the most vulnerable to fraud often don’t have them. We are mulling over a couple of ideas to reach as many people as possible, but we’re still at the planning stages.


I’m convinced there are many excellent (legal!) crime prevention initiatives out there which just need airing. In my opinion, the police are not necessarily always the bastion of anti-crime initiatives. Our focus tends to be quite rightly customer led because of what the victim experiences. I wish I could make people think like a victim before they actually become one. We’re all a darn sight wiser after the event.

















Talk to some of the workers on the Power Station* and the gas line. You could learn a lot about scams.


But they weren't really scams because no one was losing out were they.


Oh, except the tax payer or Joe Public.


But the taxpayer wasn't really losing out because it wasn't their money in the first place was it.


Well not the Manx taxpayer's anyway.


There are a lot of people on this Island got mega rich over the past dozen or so years.






*this post is not limited to The Power Station

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its a good thing that you are keeping an eye on the forums Mike, keeping yourselves up to date with potential new scams and using the forums as a way to get your news out, but you are going to need thick skin, as "the internet police" has been a running joke for years, and few will be able to resist the opportunity to get a few digs in.


But that doesn't mean that your posts aren't being read or that the info you are passing out isn't being absorbed, its just the way it is.


i would suggest perhaps that you reduce your post sizes and word them in a way that encourages discussion, large walls of text and statements that require no comeback tend not to be as well recieved.


Good luck.

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Thanks for the reply Mike.


Perhaps you had intended to quote the following post in your reply:


I am aware local residents have been contacted by UK debt collection agencies, who have obtained their contact details etc from published civil court lists.

Mike, I would suggest you are possibly a touch naive here.


It seems that the 'loan sharks' are being fed certain information 'from the inside'.


If someone has an interest in a person being hung up to dry by the Courts then it takes on a rather sinister perspective. Doesn't it.


The phrase should have been 'certain additional information' (ie other than that publicly available).

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I've had several silent calls from these pricks, both on my mobile and landline at work. It's not a premium rate number, just a normal UK geographic one. I called it back to abuse the call centre monkey and found it was a recorded service and requests you confirm your telephone number so they can give you the message they tried to deliver. The operators are trained to hang up the second you ask anything about how they got your number.


Ran a report off on the phone system and found they'd made about 25 silent calls to various extensions. Reported to Ofcom.


Anyone who gets a silent call or a hangup that turns out to be a marketing call should report it to Ofcom - these methods are not allowed, silent calls are considered abusive calls.

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I rather like the idea of the police involving themselves with some goodwill on here, or anywhere really. So 'Welcome' to Mike Venables.


We used to have a load of nuisance and scam calls. So we went unlisted and it stopped an incredible amount.


When I thought about it, it did seem weird to have our private phone numbers and address listed for all the world to access - even if previously I did think it a bit of a 'precious' thing to do. :unsure:

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I've had several silent calls from these pricks, both on my mobile and landline at work. It's not a premium rate number, just a normal UK geographic one. I called it back to abuse the call centre monkey and found it was a recorded service and requests you confirm your telephone number so they can give you the message they tried to deliver. The operators are trained to hang up the second you ask anything about how they got your number.


Ah, we generally get 2-3 of these every day at work. Our antiquated phone system seems to strip off any 1471 info so I've never done anything other than shrug when it happens. Can't report it as I don't know who it is.

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Scams are world wide, anybody that gives you a heads up should be thanked and not vilified.


If it's a warning about a genuine scam then fair enough. Nearly all scam warning I've had emailed to me or my family are from well meaning newbies passing on tired old hoaxes to everyone in their mailbox without even bothering to check first.

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  • 4 months later...

Apologies for this lengthy Forum posting, but experience tells me unless I provide full details at the outset I will be forever convincing people this is actually a scam, and not the genuine opportunity they want to believe it is.


In recent weeks a Mystery Shopper advertisement has appeared in the local press, inviting people to earn easy money from home. Interested parties are asked to contact Marcus.caine23@gmail.com


Many local people answered the advertisement, and duly received the following email:-


Dear Secret Shopper,


You have been invited to be our Mystery shopper/Survey Agent.


Shopper's Guide wants you to run a survey on two prominent companies in your area.


The 1st is a Western Union Location

The 2nd is a Restaurant


Your first assignment will be the Evaluation of Western Union outlet while the 2nd assignment will be on Restaurant dining.


Both locations addresses will be assigned to you in due time.


There has been reports about lapses in the service of their Management and some of their staffs, the complaints were based on reports which their customers forwarded anonymously and phone calls which were also made to the head office. The Western union and Restaurant locations were reported for evaluation, Negligence for the following reasons:


I) Customers have reported their money missing

II) Slow services

III) Unbalanced transfer charges


The 2nd company was reported to be rendering


(I) Poor services

(II) Rudeness to customers

(III) Excess charge

(IV) Late opening time and Closing before time.


Your Secret Evaluation would be (In a STEP-BY-STEP manner):


1) You will be sent an assignment fund which will cover your commission of £300 per assignment and also for the duty.


2) After receiving the assignment funds, the Name and address of whom the Mystery shopper's transfer will be made to will be forwarded to you.


3) To make a transfer of funds from western union outlet to our Mystery Shopper, and the funds will be picked up by the Mystery Shopper from the other location.


4) You will have to record the time on which it took you to process the service.


5) You will also have to provide me with the name of the cashier that attended to you.


6) You will be receiving 2-3 assignments per week depending on how fast you are in handling/processing and completing your assignment.


7) You will be paid £300 per duty and it will be increased depending on how fast you are in completing your assignments.


8)You will have to keep a comprehensive report on every activity you carry out during your assignment.




To get started, kindly fill in the form below with your details and we will get back to you shortly with an assignment:


First name:

Last name:

Full Home Address:


Post code :

Cell Phone:

Home Phone:

Current Occupation:


After you have emailed your information to us ,you should make sure you check your email at least 2-3 times a day to read updates from us.


Thank you and i look forward to working with you.


Hiring Manager, Secret Shopper®

Marcus Caine


The above bears all the hallmarks of a well known scam. For starters, they’re asking for enough personal information to steal your identity. For the unwary, worse lays ahead – the following email:-


From: Marcus Caine <marcus.caine23@gmail.com>


Sent: Thu, 1 July, 2010



Dear Secret Shopper,


How are you doing today?


You will receive your first secret shopper assignment payment of £2,542 either today or tomorrow depending on mail delivery.


Therefore, once you receive the payment of £2,542 , take it to your bank and have it cashed and deposited into your account which will be cleared within 24-72 hours.


Once the assignment payment cheque has been cleared up,deduct £300 as your compensation/commission for this first assignment and have the remaining balance £2,242 sent via MoneyGram transfer to the below mystery shopper information.


MoneyGram Transfer information



Address: 8922 W Cambridge ave

City: Acworth

State: Georgia

Country: USA


Deduct the MoneyGram Transfer charges/sending fees from the balance and not from your commission(£300)


Below are details you need to email me once the funds have been sent to the Agent's Name and Address which is above:


-MoneyGram Sender's name

- MoneyGram Transfer Reference Number.

- Actual Amount sent.

- MoneyGram Transfer charges.


Please remember what we are really after are the lines of questions stated below, these are guidelines that you will look out for during your visit to any MoneyGram location of your choice.




-How long it took you to get services.

-Ambiance/Outlook of the Shop/Outlet

-Smartness of the attendant

-Customer service professionalism

-Reactions when under pressure

-Information that you think would be helpful

-Your comments and impressions.

-Security system (If any)

-Your personal opinion


I am counting on you and expect a detailed report.


Please do not hesitate to get back to me if you need more explanation about your Evaluation.


Thank you.


-Marcus Caine

Esso Customer Satisfaction Survey


PS, Your Second assignment will be Restaurant dining.



Potential victims are starting to receive their cheques this week.


Fortunately, they are pretty poor photocopy counterfeits so far and most victims seem to realise this. If you get such a cheque, please don’t bank it. It will be credited to your account almost immediately, but not cleared – in banking terms there is a significant difference between credited and cleared items. A few days after banking the cheque, you may even feel comfortable sending off £2542 cash – DON’T DO THIS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.


When your bank realise the “cheque” is fraudulent, they will claw back the £2542 initially credited to your account, plus you will have also lost the £2242 sent off via Moneygram. Of course, the £300 commission is also part of the claw back, so bad news all round. The fraudster has even forgotten that although your assignment was supposedly to evaluate Western Union, you are being asked to send your cash via Moneygram – the devil is always in the detail.


This is definitely a scam, make no mistake about it.


Once you send cash, it is gone forever. In this case, it won’t go anywhere near Georgia, USA, as it can be withdrawn anywhere globally. So far, Abuja in Nigeria is the number one withdrawal destination.


I must stress Western Union, Moneygram and Mystery Shopper are legitimate entities, which just happen to be abused regularly by fraudsters.


If you are a victim of fraud please contact your local police.






01624 686000


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I am a detective sergeant in the local Financial Crime Unit.


Since registering with MF, I realised I couldn’t start a thread until I’d posted something, so was just waiting for an ideal opportunity to pounce!


The Unit hasn’t received any reports of this scam, which is not to say it isn’t true. I might be kidding myself, but the public seems to be more aware of these things nowadays. However, some are not.


I am aware local residents have been contacted by UK debt collection agencies, who have obtained their contact details etc from published civil court lists. It’s entirely up to the individual if they wish to engage the services being offered. As in all walks of life, there will be good, bad and criminal enterprises touting for your business, so the buyer should always be aware. If in doubt, ask for some literature – reputable firms will always send it and I’ve often found that to be a handy gauge.


I joined MF intending to periodically post warnings about frauds affecting local residents. Having browsed the MF site for some time now, I realise you may not be my intended target audience – but I bet you will know someone who is. And that’s what it’s all about – education, education, education.


What follows is an Advisory Notice the Unit supplied to the entire financial sector earlier this year. Unfortunately, boiler room scams (investments scams) are reaching epidemic proportions and losses incurred by local residents are nothing short of horrendous.




Boiler room scams continue unabated, and Iocal residents continue to be victimised. The Isle of Man Constabulary has just recorded the second £1million loss suffered by a victim of this crime.


The following is a generic typology of the modus operandii employed by boiler room fraudsters, which may assist the finance industry in recognising potential victims.

A 'boiler room' is a bogus stockbroking company, usually based overseas, which cold-calls investors and pressures them into buying worthless or bogus shares. Historically, older people with previous experience of investments or share dealing are targeted. Typical local losses average around £40,000, and are increasing rapidly.

In the current economic climate, boiler rooms are starting to target high net worth victims or those who are not experienced investors, the latter initially being asked for smaller sums of money to invest. Many victims participate seeking to supplement their pensions.

Those operating the boiler rooms have developed new strategies to target investors, such as a promise to recover monies lost to the original boiler room, or to purchase these worthless or bogus shares, once an up-front fee has been paid. In addition, investors are being encouraged to sell previously highly regarded 'blue chip' company shares, such as banks and financial institutions and to invest in green or new technology shares marketed by the boiler rooms, or even to take out loans to fund new investments.

The fraudsters are usually well spoken and knowledgeable. They are also very persistent and may groom their victims for several years beforehand. They might call their victim several times with offers of research, discounts on stocks in small overseas companies, or shares in a firm that is about to float. Boiler rooms make their money in one of two ways: by simply taking money and walking away, or selling “shares” at vastly inflated prices and with exorbitant dealing charges.

Most victims purchase their “shares” by telegraphic transfer, with smaller amounts being paid by same day money transfer (Western Union, Moneygram etc). Where banks are utilised, it is evident in most cases that the victim has not sent money by this method before. Fraudsters also coach the victim in what to say to bank staff if challenged over transferring large sums of money. Generally, most payments are made to accounts in Spain and the USA but other jurisdictions, particularly in the Far East, also feature prominently. There are no known cases where the victim has sent money to the same country that the “broker” or “shares” purport to be in.

If the investor has access to the Internet, they may be directed to websites to monitor the share’s impressive performance, not realising the entire site is controlled by fraudsters. Soaring share prices often induce the investor to increase their holding. Often, when the investor attempts to sell their holding, the fraudster encourages them to reinvest their “profits” in another red hot share, and then introduces a minimum investment sum which is greater than the profit figure, so if the investor wishes to participate they are required to send more money.

If the investor insists on selling, they will then realise their shares are “restricted” - it sometimes states this on the share certificate, if the investor has one. The fraudster will demand fees upfront to de-restrict the shares and once the investor has paid these fees the fraudster disappears. It is during the selling process that victims usually realise they have been scammed. Intelligence suggests most boiler rooms operate from virtual office accommodation using virtual telephone numbers etc which are untraceable.

This Unit kindly requests that any person identified as a boiler room scam victim or potential victim, be furnished with a copy of this Advisory Notice and advised to seek independent financial advice. In blatant cases of deception, victims should be encouraged to consider reporting the matter to police.

Victims of boiler room scams are not likely to see their money again, mainly due to the length of time which elapses between them investing and realising they have been defrauded.

Stocks and shares should only ever be purchased from licensed stockbrokers, and not from strangers who cold-call them at home.


Thanks for taking the time to read the above – sorry it’s a bit lengthy. Your knowledge may now prevent a loved one etc from being victimised by these insidious criminals. Victims and potential victims of this type of crime should be encouraged to report the matter to their local police.




Hi Mike,

Good to see your input and some interesting stuff there but you are preaching to the converted here, as you have probably guessed. I wouldn't suggest a warning package with every new PC because people wouldn't read it but new users need to be made aware. I take it you are targeting schools/youth clubs etc where the audience may not be quite so au fait with some of the scams?

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As far as my experience goes mystery shopper assignments regarding banks are never more than a £5 transaction and pay around £10 as the fee, so that one imediately can be seen as a scam, well done for picking it up, I would be very tempted to let them send a cheque, stick it in the drawer then refuse to do anything else to see what happens.

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