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Don’t fall foul of scammers this Christmas

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S Trading Standards Team are urging shoppers to stay safe when shopping online and looking for bargains this Christmas.

It is important that people buy safely and securely in order to try to prevent themselves falling victim to a scam.

Top tips:

  • Carry out some research into those they are buying from – is it a known company? If not, carry out your own research by looking for online reviews of the seller before deciding to buy and check where they are based. If they are outside the UK/Europe your rights will be limited. Don’t assume the company you are buying from is in the UK even if their contact page says they are. Some overseas based companies put UK or London as their location.
  • Check returns policies – some retailers are offering extended returns periods this year.
  • Use a payment that offers some extra protection to you including credit cards for purchases over £100. Ensure the online link is secure, look for the padlock symbol in the browser and that the address begins https://. The s stands for secure.
  • Regularly check your bank and credit card statements.
  • Contact your bank immediately if you think you may have been a victim of fraud.
  • Use strong separate passwords and keep antivirus software updated and a firewall installed.
  • Watch out for phishing emails or texts – unfortunately if a deal sounds too good to be true then it probably is and could contain links to fake copycat websites. Do not open or reply to suspicious emails or open any attachments and be wary if asked to provide personal information. Forward these to the National Cyber Security Centre at report@phishing.gov.uk who will remove if it is a scam.

Scammers continue to look to take advantage of this time of year with more people shopping online than ever. Scams reported locally include:

  • Fake Royal Mail emails claiming an extra payment is needed for an unsuccessful delivery attempt. Please check out the website at www.royalmail.com for details of current scams relating to deliveries.
  • Bogus emails purporting to be from companies such as Amazon or Paypal trying to trick customers with messages about account issues relating to ordered goods. In these cases customers are led to malicious websites by clicking links contained in the email. If in doubt customers should check their account using their own login details.

Consumers should also be aware of the dangers of unsafe products being sold online. This is a particular issue for third party sellers on online marketplaces such as Amazon and Ebay.

The British Toy and Hobby Association conducted a survey over the past two years, purchasing toys from sellers on online platforms and then having them safety tested. Over the past year, they found 86% of the toys purchased were illegal to sell in the UK as they failed to comply with UK toy safety requirements and 60% were unsafe for a child to play with.

No one wants to take risks with toy safety so please consider the following guidelines:-

  • Look for the ‘CE’ symbol: this means the toy has passed safety Tests.
  • Button battery safety: Check they are screwed in safely before giving to a child.
  • Check age restrictions: toys must be clearly marked with age restrictions. Always follow the age recommendations.
  • Check the price: if it’s much cheaper than you’d expect, it may be counterfeit.
  • Buy toys from a reputable seller: check reviews and ratings carefully.

It’s not only toys. Last year, Which? found that almost half of Christmas tree lights sold through online marketplaces were unsafe. The study also found that 66% of electrical products purchased on online marketplaces failed crucial safety tests.

There has also been a recent increase of counterfeit Dyson hair dryers being imported for sale in the UK. These are being sold at a much cheaper price than the recommended retail price. These are inferior, potentially dangerous, copies.

If someone needs consumer advice or wishes to report a scam they can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 for a Welsh Speaker these details will be shared with Trading Standards who may also make contact by phone to offer support and advice.

Trading Standards have produced an Avoiding Scams Advice Booklet which contains the latest guidance on different types of scams and practical advice on how consumers can protect themselves.

This is available on the Pembrokeshire County Council website at https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/consumer-advice/avoiding-scams-advice-booklet or alternatively a printed copy can be provided.

Please email TSConsumer@pembrokeshire.gov.uk for a copy.

 

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New Information Centre opens at Withybush Hospital for those affected by Cancer

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A NEW Macmillan Information and Support Centre has opened at the entrance to Hywel Dda University Health Board’s Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest to help those looking for advice and support about cancer.

The Centre has been officially opened by 10-year-old Ethan Llewelyn-Dimon, from Whitland. He recently raised a staggering £3,600 for Macmillan Cancer Support Wales by growing his hair to make a wig for the Little Princess Trust. Ethan’s family has been affected by cancer twice. His aunty Jo and mamgu had cancer. Sadly he never got to meet his aunty, as she passed away before he was born. Thankfully his Mamgu survived although she had three operations and lost her hair during the treatment. Ethan decided to grow his hair long enough to be made into a wig for children going through cancer and wanted to raise money as well to give something back to those who helped his family.

The new Information and Support Centre is open 9am – 5pm, from Monday to Friday. Helen Wood and Rachel Kersey, Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Coordinators, will be in the Centre to offer information and support.

Helen Wood said, “Being told that you have cancer is one of the hardest things that you hear, and it can be a scary time where sometimes you just need someone who you can ask for support and information about what is out there that might help. This is why we developed the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service and have been supporting people in Pembrokeshire for the past six years. We are there for anyone affected by cancer in many different ways from emotional support and someone to talk to, help to access psychological support from specialist Cancer Counsellors or a referral to the Macmillan Benefits Advice Team. We can provide both electronic and hard copies of the various Macmillan resources or signpost to other local and national organisations or support networks.” 

The pandemic meant support was only available over the phone but the opening of the Centre means face to face meetings are once again possible, but for the time being it must be a booked appointment to help keep everyone as safe as possible. 

Official opening of new cancer information and support centre in Withybush hospital

Rachel Kersey said, “It is always a privilege to be able to help, no question is too small and if you are unsure of what you need, just give us a call on 01437 773859.”

Anna Tee, Partnership Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said, “Macmillan is delighted to have designed and funded this fantastic new space for people who need cancer information in collaboration with Hywel Dda.”  

Gina Beard, Lead Cancer Nurse for Hywel Dda University Health Board said, “This is a service that is provided throughout Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire and when circumstances allow, we will reach out to local businesses and attend events. The support service is here for people with concerns around a cancer diagnosis whether that’s the individual, friends or family. We are urging patients to come forward for diagnostic tests as we are concerned that many are still not seeking the care they need due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We want people who suspect they have cancer to know we are very much open for business.”

The way the public access NHS services has changed and the Welsh Government is encouraging people to get to know the breadth of NHS services and options available to them as part of its Help Us, Help You campaign. The Macmillan support service can help with support and advice. The Health Board are also urging people to phone their local GP surgery if they think they might have symptoms of cancer, such as a new lump, pain, bleeding or sudden weight loss.

The Macmillan Information and Support Centre can be contacted by telephoning: 01437 773 859 or email: MacmillanCISSPembrokeshire.HDD@wales.nhs.uk

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Four charged with conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine in west Wales

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FOUR people have been arrested and charged as part of an investigation into an organised crime gang supplying class A drugs from London to various locations in west Wales.

Dyfed-Powys Police, with support from The Met Police, carried out warrants at four addresses on July 21, resulting in four arrests.

Mohammed Osman, aged 23, Yonis Mohammed, aged 20, Salman Mohamoud, aged 23 – all from Islington – and Amy Simmons, aged 21, from Dulwich were charged with a total of 12 offences:

  • Mohammed Osman: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine,
  • Yonis Mohammed: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.
  • Salman Mohamoud: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine
  • Amy Simmons: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.

All four appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 23, where they were remanded in custody.

They are due to appear at Swansea Crown Court for their next hearing on August 20.

The investigation is being carried out by the Ceredigion Serious and Organised Crime Team, Aberystwyth CID and the Operation Orochi command of the Met Police.

Detective Sergeant Steve Jones said: “These four arrests and charges are the result of a coordinated approach to target an organised crime gang we believe is running a county lines operation into the Dyfed-Powys Police force area.

“We will continue to work diligently to disrupt gangs of this kind, to prevent the supply of illegal substances into our community.

“I would like to thank all officers involved, as well as the Met Police for their part in the operation.”

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Fishguard RNLI rescues drifting pleasure boat and crew

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ON SATURDAY evening  (Jul 24) a member of the public walking the coastal path near Carregwastad Point saw, in the fading light, a pleasure boat with people aboard apparently in difficulty. The member of the public then called 999.

This resulted in Fishguard RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat launching at 8.50pm with a full volunteer crew and speeding to the scene in calm sea conditions. Upon arrival at the location the lifeboat found a 7 foot pleasure boat drifting with four young men onboard.

Location of incident at Carregwastad Point, North Pembrokeshire (Image ONS)

The boat’s outboard engine had broken down and they had no auxiliary engine or any safety equipment, no lights, and no form of communication.

A tow line was attached to the boat and the men were transferred to the lifeboat.

One of the lifeboat crew went aboard the pleasure boat for the return journey to Goodwick public slipway where UK Coastguard personnel were waiting to speak with the four men.

The lifeboat returned to its station, arriving at 9.50pm.

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