Home Study Scam You've Been Scammed

Matt Allwright uncovers the secrets of sophisticated scams. Matt meets Caroline, who spent 15 years studying and then faced the news that her course had been a con.

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Every year con men and scam artists net an estimated �3.5 billion from


you and I, the British public. They don't care how they do it and or


how much damage they cause. They only really care about one thing -


Coming up, a further education college whose bogus qualifications


can teach you a very harsh lesson. I have got a piece of paper


upstairs, certificates that mean nothing. Would you pay �1,000 for


certificate that is mean nothing? The property investment that left


innocent people high and dry. It makes me really angry that these


people are so arrogant. They feel that they can get away with this.


If they can spend people's money who have been saving all their


lives. I'm here to tell you what the con


men doesn't want you to know and how to stay ahead of the game and


The cost of a full-time university education can be crippling and if


you add to that, the time you will need for lectures and seminars, for


those of us with jobs and children, it can be a no, no. That's why home


study makes such sense. Learning from home is big business


and thanks to the internet you can now do anything from a diploma to a


degree without leaving your front room. Sadly the con men have been


doing their homework too and they have worked out how to scam people


out of cash that they thought was buying them knowledge.


There is a number of fraudulent operations that we've come across.


One in particular was an overseas university which was offering bogus


qualifications in effect. Scammers will either make up


official sounding courses to fool people or offer rock niced


qualifications that -- recognised qualifications that count for


nothing. It can be a minefield, but one some of us have to enter as


home study is offered to help those who can't afford the time or the


money for a more traditional course. Caroline is trying to move on with


her life after studying for over 15 years for what she believed to be a


set of diplomas that would change her future..


. What I was looking for was a way that I could study whilst being a


full-time mum and whilst working full-time that I could get the


qualifications that I wanted to basically build my self-confidence.


Caroline had been having a tough time and was a working single


mother taking temporary secretarial jobs to make ends meet. She was the


type of person that the home study scammers hoped to lure in.


There are a number of reasons why scammers can exploit our industry.


There are vulnerable people within that. Those people that are looking


to change jobs or are in a job that they are not enjoying. It is easy


for that person to fall foul of the scammer.


Caroline wanted to study psychology and she found a company that seemed


to fit the bill. I decided I would give them a call


to find more about it. I spoke to a very nice young lady who told me


what to expect and I thought, "This sounds great." Just because you


have had phone contact with one or many people at one of these


fraudulent operations, it is really important not to let your guard


down. These fraudulent people would have many people answering the


phone when you call to make themselves look as genuine as


possible. Once on the phone, the scammers


have you where they want you. They will tell you what you want to hear


as they attempt to hook you on to one of their courses.


Some companies will make up qualifications which sound


important by giving you letters that you can put after your name. A


check with that industry, you will find those letters don't exist.


What about the kind of qualifications that they were


offering? Did they say what it was that you would be walking away at


the end of it? I was looking at doing a diploma and psychology and


psychotherapy and they told me it would be equivalent to a diploma.


It wasn't affiliated to? No. They did mention at the time ibg an Open


University if you did a diploma through them, it would be the same


qualification as that and they were recognised by companies.


Ah, equivalent to. Surely one of the scammers favourite phrases, but


Caroline was persuaded. Handing over �200 she started working hard


on what she thought was a genuine diploma.


The study programmes look legitimate, but they have taken the


course information from somewhere else because they are not


registered with a professional body, these courses are worthless.


Caroline, how did it work in practise? You get a series of photo


copied pages put together in a binder. Each section, they ask you


a question or you get a series of questions which you have to answer


based on what you've you've read. I was looking to get highest mark


possible. Another sign of the scam course is


high grades. Happy pupils ask pure questions.


I always got an A. It is not like you can converse with other


students or speak to anybody else to find out how they are dsmght you


are on -- doing. You are on your own.


Caroline had been given the name of her tutor, but when she did need to


ask him something, he seemed hard to get hold of.


A few times, you know, when I asked to speak to my tutor, they were


either not available or I would get told they would send me an e-mail


later. Almost as if he had to read up on


something. On several occasions I would get e-


mails back, but they didn't quite answer the question that I was


asking so whether they didn't understand what I was saying, I


don't know. Caroline finished her so-called


diploma course, passing with flying colours. Receiving a shiny


certificate in the post, she happily went on with life with a


great sense of achievement after her success, but scammers are never


one to let profitable targets vanish.


There is an encouragement particularly with the fraudulent


companies to get to you do more and more courses. To keep you hooked in


their organisation. To get more and more money out of you.


Time passed, but the con men e- mailed Caroline again. As she


hadn't rumbled their scam first time around, they decided to come


back for more. They were operating under a different name, but the


tutor was the same and Caroline was interested in what they had to


offer. Did they say that it might lead to


professional status of any sort? Yes, they did.


So they gave you assurances that you would be walking out with


something that would be professionally valid and would


allow to you practise what you wanted to do? Yes.


Sucked in by the sales pitch, Caroline, at a cost of a further


�800, signed up for four more courses in psychology.


She knew these could take a long time to complete, but hoped at the


end of it all, she she would be qualified enough to have a job in


the subject. I I have had this feeling that's


the job I should be in because I had the interest.


How would you use it? Setting up my own business and helping other


people that have problems. Are you a motivated person? Yes.


When you set your mind to something, generally you get it done.


Car Caroline was patient and didn't want a radical career change until


her son was grown-up. She studied whenever she could grab a moment,


progressing through the courses she believed would transform her later


life. When was the moment when you really


started to think, "I'm really not sure about what I have been


spending all this time and money on." Was there one moment of


realisation? Yes. 2009 when I started doing my last course which


was for a marking tutor which they sent to me and asked me to do.


There was a job offer. So you have ascended to the level


where you can be judging other people as well? Yes.


But the dangling carrot was about to be snatched away and Caroline


was set to learn a very harsh lesson.


I finished the first section. Set it back. -- sent it back. Sent the


various e-mails because I hadn't received anything back. The next


thing I know is I get an e-mail to say they are moving offices. The


phone number has changed and alarm bells start to ring and then when


after a few weeks I still hadn't got anything back and I'm sending


snotty e-mails and saying, "Look what is going on here?" Because I


had paid for the course in full. Then the company's website website


shut down and a message appeared saying they had gone into


receivership, Caroline checked other review sites and found other


people were having the same problems.


As soon as I read things like, "Scam. This is a joke." It started


to sink in. What exactly, what were you working


out at that stage? Well, it was the fact that I had spent so much time,


money and effort trying to build a better life for myself and I just


felt cheated. Take your time. It's fine.


The unbearable truth was the courses that Caroline had been


studying for since 1994 were worthless, a waste of her time and


money. You know I paid for something that I haven't got. You


know, I have got a piece of paper upstairs, certificates, that mean


nothing. Would you pay for �1,000 for


certificate that is mean nothing? I don't think anybody would.


Sadly, many others have. Caught out by crooks selling bogus home study


courses online. I feel that the organisations that operate these


scams are really tainting the home learning and distance learning


industry. It is a very good industry and people do get an awful


lot from it, but there is a small minority which are operating in


this scam. What's Worse four, the money you


left or the 15 years? The 15 years. You know, I mean, my life is


brilliant at the minute, you know and I have sorted myself out and


I've sort of worked around t around my feelings about the whole thing


to a certain extent and I'm determined I'm not going to let it


ruin my life, but the 15 years that I was doing all that work, you know,


for me to come away with nothing, you know, I don't know how anybody


is supposed to feel about that. But it is the fact that it is 15


years of what? You know, I couldn't even explain


to my husband how it made me feel. And it has happened to thousands of


other people, you know that? Yes. It is cold comfort, but I think to


take advantage of people's desire to better themselves, you know, I


think that's pretty despicable. Yeah.


Caroline will never get back the years she spent studying, but she


is still fight to go try and retrieve some of her money. The


authorities are working hard to catch these con men and in 2004


Caroline's tutor was prosecuted and fined under the Education Reform


Act for awarding a fake doctor doctor ate in psychology to another


woman. He was qualified in animal welfare,


Egypt tolling, you name it, he is qualified in it.


Are you saying he couldn't have had these qualifications so he had


none? Who has? Home study provides a valuable and


cost effective service for many. How can you spot the scam artists


and tell apart the descent degrees from the dodgy diplomas? They are


registered with Companies House and as a basic check. It is wise to


check how long the company has been trading for. The longer it has been


established, the less chance of it being a scam.


Other thing that people can do is look online and Google and use


search engines. There is a lot of of forums out there where people


discuss scams. The other thing that is very important, is if they


contact us, the British Institute for Learning and Development, we


can see if they are registered with us and any exams they offer are


registered with an exam board. companies that offer training


should be registered with a professional body. If you have


already completed a course and received a certificate, check


whether it is official. I expect to see an examination


board logo on there as well and I think that's the most important


thing that people can look for and they can go and check with the exam


board or with people like ourselves and find out if that course is a


genuine course. The reason why I wanted to tell my


story was basically so that other people are aware of what's going on


and nobody else gets caught out in the same way that I did and if I


can at least stop one person from getting caught out with this


horrible scam then at least I feel If you have got a bit of spare


money to invest, there are a few different options you can consider.


You could stick it into a bank account, but you might not make


very much. You could put it into stocks and shares, but they can go


down as well as up. Then there is property. A tempting proposition


especially buy-to-let. But a decade ago, in the north-east,


one group of con men turned a buy- to-let investment scheme into one


of the largest property scams ever seen in Britain. They were the


subject of a mammoth investigation by the Northumbrian Police and the


Serious Fraud Office. Targeting hundreds of of investors, the


fraudulent company, Practical Property Portfolios Limited left


many people's dreams and lives in ruins.


It makes me really angry that these people are so arrogant, they feel


they can get away with this. If they could spend people's money


that they have been saving all their lives.


The seeds of the scam were sown in 2000 when the UK was gripped by


property fever. The one at that time was following


what effectively was a global property boom. There was a lot of


money around, banks were happy to lend. People were happy to invest


generally in property because it was perceived as an investment that


couldn't go wrong. If you bought a property, it it didn't matter where


it was, it was always going to go up. The impression was if you were


a landlord, you were going to make money.


With prices rising across the UK, Newcastle and the north-east of


England were emerging as the perfect place for buy-to-let


investment. Just the potential, you could sense


that something was happening in the area. A lot of young professionals


coming in. A lot of new students. There was a lot of new businesses


with fresh ideas coming to the area and a shortage of houses that were


geared for them. One of the companies to try and


capitalise on the north-east boom was Practical Property Portfolios


Limited or PPP who sold buy-to-let properties for �25,000. Many of the


properties they sold have now been renovated or demolished, but these


houses in the same area provide an area of what PPP were offering.


Investors were sold run-down houses and PPP promised to renovate them.


Kay Rogers from the Serious Fraud Office saw how people were drawn in.


For an investor, having received the entire amount of the investment


upfront, the investor was promised the purchase of the property, the


refurbishment of the property to a tenantable standard. That tenants


would be found and would be managed, the rent collected, the property


would be insured and crucially in this particular one, that void


period insurance would be purchased. When there was no tenant occupying


the property and paying rent that the insurance would cover the rent.


So this one gave investors the impression that they couldn't lose.


But you could and in the end nearly 2,000 people did as victims of such


a cruel scam, many of them are ashamed of their involvement and


unwilling to talk. The people PPPP succeeded in roping into their


scheme were mainly quiet, first time investors like Nancy Lewis.


Nancy first got in touch with PPP in 2003 and her son Ed recalls how


excited she was by what they were offering.


She was very fond of the north-east. She had been a student at the


University of Durham and she had a good time up there. And soy think


she was looking at an investment which she felt could put something


back into an area that she was fond As PPP promised to buy houses in


slightly run-down places and refurbish, Nancy felt not only that


it would be a wise investment, but she would be helping with the


regeneration of whole areas. She was of retirement age and she


had money which she saved up over the years and she was looking to do


something with that. I think my mother wanted to invest her money


wisely. Obviously to build that money up to pass on to myself and


my sisters in time. I believe she became aware of PPP


through either a friend telling her about the investment opportunity,


but also they had, I believe, advertised through the national


press. She believed it was a legitimate business and she thought


it was a really good and clever idea.


So much so, that she handed over �50,000 to PPP so they could buy


her two properties. And many other people ploughed in greater amounts.


During in boom time, Practical Property Portfolios Limited were


taking full advantage of the interest shown in the north-east by


outside investors. 90% came from outside the area.


have been sophisticated in the way they they seduced the investor. If


you replied to one of their adverts in a national newspaper, you would


be sent a glossy pro pro sure and an invitation to see the scheme


first hand as Detective Mark Woods was to find out, it was a slick


operation. You made your initial inquiry to


PPP, you would be collected at the station or the airport by a


salesman who would pick you up in one of the company Jaguars, you


were taken to an area which was usually Hartlepool and you were


three properties, all similar properties. There There would be a


property as PP said they bought it. There was one as they bought it and


one refurbishment and one at the end. These were the properties that


people who invested in PPP thought they would end up.


This is what people thought they would get once the renovations were


completed and a tenant was in place. Rental incomes varied, but in


effect, they were expecting to to receive somewhere in the region of


about �100 a week. So you paid a cheap price for a


property that would be renovated and quickly grow in value, while at


the same time providing affordable housing for people who needed it


and they would pay you rent. It seemed like a win, win win


situation and PPP enticed up to 2,000 investors in total. In


reality, all was not what it seemed. After three years the whole thing


was about to come crashing down. The Northumbrian Police first got


wind that something was not right when Mark received a call from a


disgruntled investor. They were an overseas investor and


they had relatives in the the Gateshead area. They came home and


saw what they bought and weren't happy. Basically what they thought


they hadn't got. They thought they bought a property that was being to


be refurbished and tenanted, but they purchased a boarded up


property in a down run area. Mark contacted Trading Standards


and local housing associations to find they started receiving


complaints from worried investors who were beginning to realise that


their their vemplts weren't as -- investments weren't as sound as


they believed. Nahns Nancy Lewis was among them.


As soon as she made the investment, it was difficult to get hold of


anyone specific. She tried to phone them and was passed from certain


departments to other departments. When no reasonal money came in --


rental money came and no answers from the company, she went to see


the houses for herself and what greeted her were empty boarded up


properties like this one in the same area.


She was, of course, shocked at the state of them. This is money that


had been saved up by my mother over her lifetime, taken a long time to


save and then once it was gone, it was upset. When I found out it was


a scam, it was very frustrating. I felt quite angry about it. I think


she felt rather foolish, frustrated, upset, stressed about the whole


whole situation. And outside investors who had not


seen their properties were finding out what they had spent their money


I contacted a guy that lived in the Bristol area. He some property in


South Yorkshire which on speaking to him, he thought he had a


terraced property, which was tenanted and double glazed. Imagine


his surprise when I told him that there was no roof, it had a car


half in and half out of the back kitchen and the house was in a


state of devastation. During the period when the investor


owned it there was an incident reported and when the investor went


to see it, they found that it was completely burnt out.


PPP had been buying streets of run- down properties like this one for


investors and doing nothing with them. This affected whole


communities nearby who weren't involved with their scheme.


It is bad bad enough areas where there is nobody living there, when


you have got people who lived in these areas for years, they end up


living in a bomb site. If PPP weren't spending investors


money on renovating properties, where had the money gone. As this


was a criminal matter, Mark was determined to find out.


He seemed to enjoy being the centre of attention. He described him as


not the richest man in the north- east.


He pays his staff very well, but for want of a better word expects


his pound of flesh and is There are scams out there for every


one of us. It doesn't matter how old you are, what you do, where you


live. There is one that's tailor- made for you. The point is this -


how do you recognise a scam and how do you avoid falling into their


traps? We have spoken to some of the UK's


leading authorities on fraud to build up a picture of what type of


person falls for what type of scam and we have created fictional


Today's character is a young lad looking for work and like many


people in the UK, he is using the internet to help.


When people are applying to jobs online they can be vulnerable


depending on how urgently they need to find employment.


That makes our job hunting youth the prime target for the dream job


scam. Here is how it works and why.


Our young chap puts his CV on a number of online job websites,


advertising his background and credentials as a future employee,


but little does he know, he is handing valuable information to


scammers as well. He made himself vulnerable by doing


something perfectly sensible and legitimate by putting his CV on a


website. The scammer can get hold him and field him a line because of


his skills and because of where he is in his life. He has dealt them


the cards in some sense. He may also have included crucial


personal information such as his date of birth, national insurance


number and address in a bid to land a job fast. So our young lad is


making it easy for the scammers to assess his suitability.


So one day, he gets a telephone call. It is really like a phone


interview and the job sounds attractive, it involves a lot of


travelling. It involves the sorts of skills that he has got, you know,


really by the end of this conversation which came out of the


blue he is feeling that this is a job he had he would really like and


he is feeling good about himself because they took the trouble to


contact. Our chap is desperate. Wooed by the


sudden and exciting offer, he has been caught off guard. He hasn't


stopped to think about the fact that attractive jobs rarely come


out of the blue and he hasn't questioned the fact that he was


cold called. Having missed all the marks of the


scam, our lad is unwitting put himself in a seriously vunnable


vulnerable situation. The next day, or a few days later


our victim gets another call and what she says is, "Congratulations,


you have got the job." She goes into more detail about what we have


got to do and the first thing is to have a placement in some exotic


foreign country, one he has never been to before and unfortunately,


the firm can't get him his visa, but they can manage all the


processing for him if he can just send them the �200 or �500 or


whatever it is, the sort of scale that someone in his position would


be able to put their hands on, though not easily and he is never


going to see it again. So our chap has has innocently


handed over whatever cash he has in a bid to get on with his life and


the fraudsters have probably sold his details on to other scamming


websites. So keen was he to gain independence, he has done what many


young people risk doing. He has put too many personal details on job


websites. He has been fooled with the promise of an exciting career.


He has paid upfront fees on the back of a cold call. So if you or


anyone close to you is in a similar situation, this is what you need to


know: Reputable companies have advice on


their website about security and. If you are in doubt about an advert


that you wish to apply for, you can contact the service provider that's


advertising the job. Think about your preferences and settings on


your profile that you have online. You can choose to keep your e-mail


and phone numbers confidential from recruiters.


Remember, scams are designed to target people of all ages and


backgrounds so stay on your guard and hopefully you won't be their


The early noughties and UK property is booming with little sign of bust.


It was in this economy that that prk that PC PC that a company


company pulled off a scam. PPP had been promising investors for


�25,000, they would buy them a run- down property, do it up and rent it


out on their behalf. After a tip- off, Detective Mark Woods


investigated and found they weren't honouring their promises. This


house here is probably typically of a house that PPP would buy for an


investor. As soon as they bought the house this is what they ended


up, a house that was boarded up and derelict. The vandals have gone in.


It would remain like this because they didn't have the money to do


the refurbishments. You get two or three houses like this, and the


area comes into decline and you are left with a shell.


Where was investors money going? With the help of the Department of


Trade and Industry, the police forced PPP to stop trading and


conducted a series of raids on the offices and homes of senior staff.


From our point of view, it is important that we seize everything


as soon as practicable. We didn't want to lose anything.


Searching through the company records and seeing how many people


had been taken in, Mark realised he needed help.


As a force, it was the largest fraud inquiry that the force has


taken on. We didn't have the resources, we referred it down to


the Serious Fraud Office and they came on board and basically ran the


operation in conjunction with ourselves.


Put in charge of the case, Kay Rogers at the SFO was taken aback


by the size of the fraud. I have not come across another case


where we had so many individuals who were actually victims to such a


large degree. There was In secretaries in excess of 1700


victims and they paid to the company what appeared to be a total


of �80 million. As the police drove around the


country, interviewing victims, they found this was not a case of the


rich robbing the rich, many of those caught out were ordinary


people. It wasn't just a case of investors


losing money and they are losing money by investors can be a


calculated risk by them, this was people's livelihoods and life


savings and it was tragic to see what happened to them and the


effect it has on them. That's probably the thing that will stick


with me most. Many of the victims of this scam


were left too crushed and embarrassed to talk about their


involvement. Nancy Lewis was tricked into paying PPP �50,000 for


two properties that turned out to be worth far less when she saw the


state they were in. It sounded like a really good


scheme because it was look to go put something back into the area


through regeneration. She had saved that money over a long period of


time. It was precious to her. It was pretty much all the savings


that she had. She put that wholeheartedly into something she


believed in. There was a puzzle to solve. PPP


had been running this scam for three years, yet it was only now it


had been discovered. Although most of their investors lived away from


the area, how had they got away with it for so long? Police


interviews can company employees and an examination of the accounts


would provide the answer. To start with, the scheme was


perfectly viable, however it became far more difficult to identify


properties that were of a sufficient quality that could be


refurbished and tenanted as envisaged by the scheme. That


didn't deter the company. They continued to sell because they were


so enthralled by the amount of money coming in and it was the fact


that the properties would cost a lot more money to refurbish that


really undermined the whole scheme. They weren't prepared to spend the


money. P PPP tried to cover their tracks


in a pyramid scheme. Money from new investors was used to pay the rents


to existing ones. And that's what keeps pulling in the new investors


because the earlier investors see it as a successful investment.


rental income was put in their bank account from the PPP account. Those


people didn't know what they had until the company went under so


they came back to these houses thinking, "OK, I have got to look


after the house myself. I have a tenant that I'm receiving an income


and found this.". When they were closed down, PPP had around 100


employees, most of whom had no idea the company was rotten to the core.


Rooting out who the real bad guys were and bringing them to justice


was a major challenge for the Serious Fraud Office.


We interviewed over 300 victims so we talked to them about the


investment that they made, their contact with the defendants and we


looked at the documents that they retained so that was able to show


us was who they had spoken to and how they were misled and the


information that they were given that persuaded them to invest in


this scheme. From the company itself, PPP, the liquid dator gave


us the records and that amounted to 600 archive boxes which is a huge


volume of material to have to read through, to analyse and to assess


its relevance. With so many victims and pieces of


evidence to wade through, it was a complicated case, but four years


later in 2007, the SFO were finally ready to prosecute.


We charged five people. Those five people were app all


directors of the company and crucially they all attended board


meetings where they discussed the situation. They all knew there was


less than 40% of the properties tenanted. They knew there was not


enough money spent on refurbishments and they were


generously paid, far more so that could be justified by the income


that the company generated. While they left nearly 2,000 people


to pick up the pieces, the directors had been living it up, in


particular company boss, John Potts who had. A nice big housepm Luxury


items. Fine art. He He liked expensive


suits. He seemed to enjoy being the centre of air tension and he --


attention. He Jaguar which he was renovated. He ruled his


organisation with an iron fist. There is two sides to Mr Potts,


there is the side that you can meet and he is affable and there is a


side when necessary charge of staff which is -- when he is in charge of


staff. We found him quite bullying and inTim daght and pays --


intimidating and pays his staff well, but expects his pound of


flesh, but is an intimidating man. But his chickens were about to come


home to roost. On the eve of their trial in early 2009, the fraudulent


five decided to plead guilty. It didn't need anybody standing up


in court and trying to explain that to a jury, it really meant that


anybody looking at the results of all that work that we had done, it


was clear they were guilty. All the directors received prison


sentences and John Potts was jailed for five years.


The SFO haven't stopped there. To claw back money for investors, they


have begun a process of digging out any loop the crooks may have buried.


We need to look at the assets they have acquired. Sometimes trace them


through shell companies and other nominee owners, particularly where


it comes to property and shares and sometimes things are hidden really


effectively so we have to do a major tracing exercise.


One thing is for sure, John Potts is no longer the richest man in the


north-east and that's some comfort to the hundreds of people conned in


this massive scam, including Ed, whose mother Nancy handed over


�50,000 to PPP. It makes me really angry that that these people were


so arrogant, they feel they can get away with this. If they can spend


people's money that they have been saving all their lives, that no one


would do anything about it. I'm delighted that they have been put


behind bars. They deserve it. They are scumbags, these people. They


have got no conscience. Nancy died in 2008, but before she


did, she was able to recoup her losses and help the area by doing


up her PPP houses. She came out of this with her her


head held high. She She managed to achieve something and I'm really


proud of her for that. Before I go today, I want to know


some of the latest scams out there now, I will be speaking to an


expert from the National Fraud Authority on what to watch out for.


Utilities, they are straightforward, they give you what you need to live


and you pay the the bills. Surely you can't get scammed.


Unfortunately as technology moves on, for instance with the


electricity companies, we have prepayment meters with a card that


you insert that gives you the credit. Unfortunately the


fraudsters have got hold of this and they are scamming the poorest


in our society again. How does that work? They are


calling door to door and selling you a card to get free electricity.


The card is either bogus or the money that has been used to top it


up has been topped up using a stolen or cloned credit card. When


the payment for that card bounces, the card doesn't work.


You are charged by the utility company for the electricity that


you have used that hasn't been paid for. So you end up paying twice?


You pay pay twice. An electricity company will never


sell you any payment card on the door, even if the amount on the


card looks tempting, remember it is stolen money and you will end up


paying twice. OK, so if I get a message from my


utility, utility company company saying there is money waiting for


you, what's the reality behind that? You will contact them. You


will phone them. There could be a premium rate phone number involved


in which case it it costs you a lot of money to get nowhere in an


information stream. When you phone up, you will be put on hold and


after two or three minutes, having spoken to no one, when you hang up,


you will find that that phone call has cost you a lot of money. That


is one scenario. The other sin scenario is they will ask you for a


fee to facilitate the France fer of the funds that -- transfers of


funds that never arrive. Refunds do happen, but a utility


company will never ask for a fee to process one. Any refund will be


taken off a future bill. Someone telling you different? Well, don't


believe them. Con men will keep coming up with


Matt meets Caroline, who spent 15 years and thousands of pounds studying psychology and then faced the devastating news that her course had been a con and her qualifications were worthless.

Plus, how the authorities banged up a buy-to-let conman who duped investors out of £80 million, and the scam that targets people looking for their dream job.

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