The Government’s 2005 Consumer Strategy 'A Fair Deal for All', set out a commitment to Regional Trading Standards Scambuster teams.
The Scambuster Wales Team, established by Wales Heads of Trading Standards, was launched in April 2009 and is managed from City of Newport Trading Standards with teams of officers based in the North and South of Wales. The team is under the governance of the 22 individual Trading Standards Services in Wales.
What does Scambusters do?
The team is comprised of dedicated Trading Standards Officers and experienced ex Police Officers, who work alongside officers from the Police, HM Revenue & Customs and other enforcement agencies. They work across local authority boundaries focusing on the hardest to tackle scams and rogue traders that set out to rip people off.
The team has demonstrated new ways of working through targeted, proactive, intelligence led enforcement. There is now much closer co-operation and data sharing between trading standards and other agencies, partly due to the level of criminality the team has investigated.
Examples of the types of issues the team has targeted:
- Doorstep crime
- Bogus charity collectors
- Deceptive selling techniques
- Home working and other ‘get rich quick’ schemes
- 'Cowboy' builders doing shoddy and unnecessary work
- Large scale organised counterfeiting operations
The team also has a proactive role in educating consumers and businesses by raising awareness of rogue traders and counterfeiters, and making consumers better able to distinguish the rogues from the reputable businesses and increasing consumer confidence.
What does the team do that trading standards services can’t?
Dishonest activity is not confined by local authority boundaries. The Scambuster team has the ability to work across a region to tackle the more serious cases. Level 2 criminality describes crime which crosses local authority boundaries. The team aims to tackle such criminality by working on behalf of individual local authority Trading Standards Services. In some cases the team acts as an additional resource or it can be tasked by individual services to carry out investigations on their behalf.
How can I get in touch with the Team?
If anyone has information about a scam or thinks they are the victim of a scam then they should contact Consumer Direct Wales on 08454 040506. Consumer Direct Wales provides clear, practical and impartial advice to consumers. The team will use the information provided by Consumer Direct Wales to target their work.
Regional Intelligence Unit
Trading Standards in Wales has also developed an intelligence analysis capability. The Wales Heads of Trading Standards employ a Regional Intelligence Officer (RIO) whose role is to develop the intelligence capability of all 22 services as well as assist the Scambuster Team. The RIO works with a National Intelligence Database that allows the sharing of information nationally among trading standards across the UK and with other enforcement agencies. This capability allows trading standards to have access to intelligence charts and analytical reports to support more complex investigative work.
The RIO has developed close links with the 4 Welsh Police Forces and organisations such as eBay.