Fire safety scammers are targeting London: don’t get caught out!
Criminals are targeting vulnerable tower block residents in the wake of the Grenfell Tower and Shepherds Bush fires. The scammers are entering residential tower blocks posing as fire safety officers and convincing tenants to allow entry into individual flats to carry out bogus safety checks.
The scammers are in fact looking for valuables within the flat. These individuals have been accused of taking advantage of the devastating Grenfell Tower fire in Kensington in which 80 people lost their lives, and are therefore wanted for questioning by the police. How to spot a fake council letter
In many cases, residents have reported opening an official-looking letter in the days before scammers have visited the area. With fears running high, it’s all too easy to be tricked into trusting a fake. Here are some tips to spotting a fake letter which may claim to be from the Fire and Rescue Service, housing associations or the council.
- Low quality paper; if the paper is very thin and transparent be wary, as official letters are printed on medium quality stock.
- A short letter; a single paragraph that’s vague in detail is a warning sign that the letter is disingenuous; be suspicious of poor grammar.
- Hand folded paper; official letters are printed en masse and the majority are therefore folded by machines; unlike hoax letters, genuine letters have precise folds.
- Poorly printed logos and signatures; whether it’s the Fire and Rescue Service or the council, they want to represent themselves in a professional manner, so poor quality printing, misaligned logos and a lack of signature are a giveaway.
How to spot a fake fire safety officer
If you receive a letter that you deem suspicious, you should contact your housing association, letting agency or landlord who will be able to tell you if the letter is genuine. If you do not receive a letter and receive a cold call at the door instead, here’s how to spot a fake fire safety officer.
- Firstly, if you feel in anyway threatened by their presence, you are within the law to forbid entry; make a common sense judgement and stick to it.
- If you do answer the door, a genuine fire safety officer will present some form of identification or will be wearing a lanyard; if ID is not presented you should ask to see some form of identification.
- A lack of uniform, poorly fitting uniform or a dirty uniform is a sign that their clothing has been bought as surplus online or has been made to look official and is not genuine.
- If you witness the individual park their vehicle outside your premises, look for a marked van or car that identifies their company logo; scammers will rarely alter their vehicle for the purposes of fooling you.
If you believe your area is being targeted by scammers, do not hesitate to call the non-emergency police helpline: 101. Talk to the operative and provide as much information as possible and be prepared to provide your details, so that they can respond effectively to your call.
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