Updated: Oct 4
We all know that the scammers are out there, trying to get us all to part with our hard-earned money. On Sunday evening last week we were the target of one of the more proactive schemes. We're sharing this because we hope it will help others spot a similar ruse.
Early Sunday evening, just as we were relaxing with some of our lovely regulars (and it being the end of our working week, so therefore even more relaxed than usual, not likely to be a coincidence), the phone rings.
An abrupt but professional-sounding chap who claimed to be a Mr Derek Taylor informed us that he was a Certified Enforcement Agent and was on his way with a High Court Writ to seize goods to the value of £2,197 due to an outstanding debt. When we asked what the debt was regarding he claimed it was owed to HMRC. We said we would not pay anyone anything over the phone, as we'd had no previous correspondence relating to a debt with HMRC. He of course said that's what everyone told him gave us two dates when letters were apparently sent.
He then continued to let us know that if he does attend the premises, we would have to pay an additional £869 for a locksmith who would attend with him. This is where they hope they will scare you into paying, so you don't incur the additional costs.
He then put us through to his office, whilst reiterating in rapid-fire speak how he was on his way, so we would need to call them straight away.
When we spoke to the office, it became clear relatively quickly this was definitely a scam. The woman wasn't professional, there was no GDPR or other disclaimer at the start of the call. We asked her to stay on the line whilst we checked our online HMRC account, which surprise-surprise showed no outstanding payments. The final nail in their coffin was her suggestion that we should pay the amount into a bank account and she would send over the details, otherwise Derek was turning up, with a police escort now.
At this point we said great, send him over with the police, as we can't wait to meet him!
As suspected, there was no sign of Derek, or his police escort. When we tried to call his number back or the "office" number, they both went straight to voicemail. Whilst we know its probably a burner phone, we did send Derek a text message letting him know how sad we were not to have met him and also mentioning that he might want to get a proper job, rather than be a criminal.
As said, we're glad we were vigilant enough to not fall for their scam, but it also left us quite shaken and ruined a perfectly pleasant Sunday evening otherwise. No doubt they do manage to get money out of people. We have since read up on the legitimate processes any debt collection agencies use, so we know they wouldn't take payment via bank transfer, or give you a heads-up they were on their way. The locksmith fee is real though, so that was an eye-opener!
Stay safe out there all - and stay away from our pal Derek!