Consumeradvice provides consumer advice to Scottish citizens in partnership with the Scottish Government.

Scams impact people in Scotland every day, sometimes costing them thousands of pounds. Reporting a scam to us helps us with our work to protect people across the country.

The case studies below highlight some of the common issues that consumers reach out to advisers about. Scottish citizens can report suspected scams and suspicious activity by using the Quick Reporting Tool, available at

Case Study - Online Scams - Bitcoin Scam

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What Happened?

Mr Adams was the target of an online Bitcoin scam. The website in question promised large dividends to the customer if they held on to his investment.

He invested more and more money over time, believing that the investment would pay off. He eventually spent over £400,000, which has seen no return whatsoever.

The customer did not believe that he had been scammed as he continued to believe that the investment would pay off, spending a further £32,000 on NFTs.

What was the outcome?

The customer was persuaded to stop giving the scammer more money. He was also referred to specialist organisations for financial and mental health advice and the case was referred to Trading Standards.

Preventative Measures

Precautionary measures are very important when investing in cryptocurrency.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) do not regulate crypto assets, and as such, investment opportunities like this can pose large financial risks for people.

The following steps should be followed to reduce the risk of scams involving cryptocurrency –

  • Be wary of adverts online and on social media promising high returns on investments in crypto asset or crypto asset-related products.
  • Check if the firm is on the Financial Services Register or list of firms with temporary registration. These firms are more likely to be reliable for investment.
  • Additionally, any firms on the unregistered cryptoasset businesses register should be avoided.
  • If a firm is not on the Financial Services Register, ask them if they are allowed to carry on business without being registered. If they are not allowed to carry on business, withdrawing crypto assets and/or money may be advisable, as the firm is now operating illegally.

Case Study - Mail Scams - HMRC Letter

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What happened?

Ms McLeod was sent a letter by someone claiming to be HMRC. It stated that she was due a rebate for Tax Credits and that she had to call the number provided to access it.

The customer was not sure if the letter was genuine, as her husband had also received a letter in the same week.

What was the outcome?

The customer was advised to contact HMRC using their official contact information (found on the HMRC website) and check if the letter was genuine.

HMRC confirmed that the letter was not genuine, and the customer should not engage with the number provided.

The scam was reported to keep relevant organisations and the public aware of it.

Preventative measures

Ms McLeod was told to look out for mistakes in grammar, spelling and presentation when receiving letters. Any legitimate organisation would not require sensitive information such as bank details on their first contact.

As the customer demonstrated, it is wise to contact the organisation through reliable contact information to check if letters,, SMS, or phone calls are legitimate.

Case Study - Telephone Scams - Scam Call Blocker Offer

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What Happened?

Mr Jenkins reached out to on behalf of an elderly relative. This relative was having a lot of trouble with nuisance calls and was regularly contacted by scammers.

She received a seemingly different call recently from someone claiming to be from a call blocker provider. They asked for information from her bank statement to pay for a call blocker, but the relative got nervous and hung up the call.

The customer confirmed that the number was not connected to a legitimate call blocker provider.

What was the outcome?

The customer was advised to contact their relative’s phone provider, who should provide a call blocking service.

The exact services offered will vary depending on the provider, but should screen the calls that the relative receives. This will reduce or hopefully eliminate scam calls coming through.

Preventative Measures

In addition to the previous advice, the following precautions should be taken when speaking with unsolicited callers over the phone –

  • Do not give any information, regardless of what they tell you.
  • Try not to panic. Scammers can use panic to their advantage – you are not thinking as clearly when you panic.
  • If they claim to be calling from your bank, visit the branch in person rather than doing anything on the phone.
  • If you are in any doubt, hang up. It is always best to be cautious.
  • Under no circumstances give out any personal or financial information (e.g. bank details).

Case Study - Doorstep Scams - Rogue Trader

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What Happened?

Mr Joaquin’s elderly parents were cold called at the door by someone claiming to be a roofing company, saying that they needed work completed on their roof.

They agreed to this and were charged £495 for less than an hour of work. No quote or estimate was supplied before the work was carried out, however the trader claimed to have repointed ridge tiles.

Upon inspection, no work had been completed. The trader did not leave contact information and disappeared afterwards.

What was the outcome?

Unfortunately, Mr Joaquin’s parents paid by cash, and this made tracing the transaction and seeking recourse very difficult. The scam was reported to Trading Standards and relevant organisations were also warned about the trader and their tactics to help prevent this from happening again.

Preventative Measures

The customer was advised to display signs on the door and gates that state, “No cold calling”. This will help to discourage potential scammers from approaching the property.

Most importantly, they were advised to avoid paying upfront or in cash under any circumstances. By paying in this way, it makes it more difficult to seek recourse in the event of a scam, or in situations where work is not completed properly.

It is important to ensure that no payment is made until there is complete satisfaction with the work and even then, it is always best to ensure that any guarantees are backed up by insurance.

The customer was also advised of ways to pay and protections offered by these payment methods.