Council offers advice after conman targets small business

January 25, 2018 by Southend Borough Council

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is urging small businesses in Southend to be vigilant, after a conman claiming to be from the Council’s licensing team conned a business owner out of £430.

The nail bar, which does not wish to be identified, received a visit on Thursday 18 January from a man, who claimed to be from the Council’s licensing team, stating the business was behind on their licence payments. The owner was then presented with a falsified court letter and demanded the owner pay £430, else his business would be closed.

The distressed owner paid the sum in cash on the spot. It was only once he called the Council’s licensing team to confirm the receipt of the payment that the licensing team informed the owner that the Council does not license nail bars.

The conman is described by the owner as being a white male, roughly 6ft tall, around 35-38 years old with short blond/grey hair and wearing a suit and tie. The man entered the shop and showed some photographic ID which the owner did not look at thoroughly.

Cllr Tony Cox, Executive Councillor for Transport, Waste and Regulatory Services, said: “This is an outrageous and highly distressing crime which was clearly carried out with detailed planning and employing high-pressure tactics. Unfortunately, as the amount was paid in full in cash we have no trace of where the money actually went. I want to remind businesses within the town that if you receive a visit from someone claiming to work for the Council, please ensure you check their ID for the Southend-on-Sea Borough Council Logo and make sure it has a line on the front which says ‘to check card details Tel 01702 215000’.

“If you have any doubts surrounding the validity of the team member or their ID, please do not hesitate to call this phone number.

“Our officers would never turn up at a business unannounced and ask for money in cash. If you were behind on a licensing payment, you would receive a letter. We accept cheque payments made payable to Southend-on-Sea Borough Council; however we would normally encourage any payment to be made by debit card over the phone.

“It is very upsetting that a local business has now lost such a large sum to a scammer, and I hope other businesses will take note and be vigilant for scams.”

If you have any queries regarding licensing within the Borough, please call 01702 215000.