Check out the latest Scam Alert!

Check out the latest Scam Alert!

by Danielle Thompson (May 2020)

Hello everyone, I am still home-working, as are many of our Sefton Citizens Advice advisors who are providing advice by telephone. We have recently updated our local website which gives lots of information about our (free) services. You should follow the link to find out more.

Last week, I mentioned Pyramid selling, so I thought you would be interested in some useful information about this mis-selling scam. Pyramid schemes require you to join for a fee – and then persuade other people to join and then you take their fees. Scheme members are asked to sell goods or services through other members rather than direct to clients. People at the top of the pyramid make money from the fees of people lower down, rather than selling a legitimate product. The Pyramid scam business model is unsustainable and those at the bottom of the pyramid lose their fees with no prospect of recovering their money. Our advice is that if something looks too good to be true, it may well be a scam. If you suspect something is a scam avoid it.

Now, as the saying almost goes: “A dog is for life, not just for coronavirus”. But this is not a time for impulse buying animals without considering their future. Animal charities including Battersea Dogs Home and the RSPCA have said they don't want people to rush into getting new pets right now. It costs between £370-£425 to raise a puppy, taking into account vaccinations, food and toys.

Action Fraud is talking about online adverts showing pictures of pets for sale and asking for a deposit. This is followed by a demand for payment for other services such as delivery, but the sales are fake. Victims of this scam have lost more than £280,000 in two months..

As many as 669 people have reported losing money after putting down deposits for pets advertised on social media, as well as through general online selling websites and specific pet-selling platforms.

The coronavirus social distancing restrictions mean that potential buyers are unable to see the animal in advance, or to pick it up, so the “sellers” play on this anonymity and demand a deposit, followed by requests for more payments allegedly to cover insurance, vaccinations and delivery of the pet. However, the con artists simply do not have these animals to sell.

Action Fraud have urged pet buyers to do their research and, if they find a trusted seller, to use a secure payment method and get a written “sales contract”. Genuine breeders will comply with your request for this.

The RSPCA charity urge people to consider adopting a pet from one of their centres, rather than buying on-line, sight unseen. In the case of cats, this is possible now, although dog adoptions must wait until lockdown restrictions permit.

Citizens Advice information on scams is available at

Citizens Advice Sefton telephone service is now available.

The Help To Claim advice line number for help claiming Universal credit is 0800 144 8444. 8am to 6pm Mon to Fri.

General advice is 0344 493 0012. 9.30 to 4.30 Mon to Fri

The debt number is 0151 318 6407. 9.30 to 4.30 Mon to Fri.

Citizens Advice Lancashire telephone is available between 9.00am and 1.00pm on Adviceline 0344 245 1 294 and Help to Claim line 0800144 8 444. Their website address is – and now also includes a new email referral service, Refernet, which allows them to direct you to the best support agency for your enquiry.

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