St Albans bike shop owner warns others about fake bailiffs after nearly losing £2,400

PUBLISHED: 15:58 23 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:59 23 October 2018

Rock and Road Bikes owner Paul Williams is warning others about a bailiff fraud scam which preys on small businesses. Picture: NICK JOHNS

Rock and Road Bikes owner Paul Williams is warning others about a bailiff fraud scam which preys on small businesses. Picture: NICK JOHNS

©2018 Archant

A bike shop owner in St Albans has warned people of a scam involving fake bailiffs which nearly cost him £2,400.

Rock and Road Bikes owner Paul Williams is warning others about a bailiff fraud scam which preys on small businesses. Picture: NICK JOHNSRock and Road Bikes owner Paul Williams is warning others about a bailiff fraud scam which preys on small businesses. Picture: NICK JOHNS

The owner of Victoria Street business Rock & Ride, Paul Williams, has been called three times by someone telling him to pay up or a bailiff will turn up with a CCJ.

He said: “They phone up and say may I speak to Mr Paul Williams, then they say ‘my name is’ so-and-so, ‘I’m from the High County Sheriff’s office to inform you the bailiffs will be round in about an hour to collect outstanding debt’.”

The person on the phone told Mr Williams he had taken out on advert five years ago, but because he cancelled it over the phone, rather through the correct procedure of cancelling it in writing, it had run anyway and he had cancelled the direct debit to pay for it.

Mr Williams said: “I did take out one or two so you start to doubt yourself.

“They then say there has been a mistake and if you pay £2,400 now over BACS, it will stop the bailiffs so you do not get a CCJ and you will get the money back.”

Mr Williams almost fell for it the first time in June, but was saved by the fact he could not make any BACS payments from his shop.

When he offered to pay with his credit card instead, the person on the phone refused.

Meanwhile, a customer was trying to get his attention by waving at him. She then wrote on a piece of paper the words ‘scam’ and ‘don’t pay’.

When he told the person on the phone he was not going to pay, they said: “Well if you are going to be like that, wait until the bailiffs turn up.”

It next happened three weeks ago when Mr Williams’ employee Nick Coe picked up the phone to the fraudsters.

The staff had been warned about the scam after the first incident, so Mr Coe told the person to stop wasting his time.

And then last week, they called again and Mr Williams told them they needed a ‘new scam’.The bailiffs never turned up. “They are just playing on people’s ignorance,” Mr Williams said.

Action Fraud has published advice on handling these bogus bailiff calls: if you are an employee, never pay the debt yourself even if the caller says your employer will reimburse you; request details of the debt in writing to confirm its legitimacy; and try not to feel rushed or intimidated into making a decision.

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