The way that we live our lives has changed considerably over the past few decades and things that we took for granted thirty years ago are now extremely different and unthinkable for people who didn’t live through those times. This means that businesses have had to adapt and it also means that there are different crimes to consider.
This means that Trading Standards now operate in a very different manner from the way that they did thirty years ago, and of course, this also means that solicitors are facing different types of theft, fraud and other criminal activities in the clients that they represent. This evolution has sometimes been driven by criminals finding new ways to commit crimes but there has also been a lot of evolution with respect to the way that people shop and live their lives. Whenever there is change in life, there is opportunity, and wherever you find opportunity, there is a very good chance that you will find criminals looking to make a living.
Trading Standards teams are dealing with crime that is considerably more sophisticated than it was thirty years ago. Back then, a rogue trader would only be able to impact on a limited area in a limited time but nowadays, it is possible for even small traders to impact on a global scale. This makes it very difficult to police and govern, but it isn’t impossible.
Large scale Fraud can be carried out quickly and simply
One major case involving Trading Standards of late was heard at Hull Crown Court where a mother and son duo, The Chatfields, were both jailed for hour and a half years. They pleaded guilty to running a pet business which was behaving in a fraudulent manner. It wasn’t a particularly sophisticated crime, and there were only two people involved, but they managed to draw in over £400,000 over two years. The duo stored customer credit card details and then took a number of unauthorised payments from their customers. In the end, over 35,000 attempts to take payment from the accounts of customers were made, eventually seeing the family criminals caught and sent to prison.
One thing that is notable is that the number of cases which are reaching the Crown Court stage is rising. This has been a trend for recent years and when you consider that the number of cases being investigated seems to be lower, this is a remarkable turnaround. A lot of this is down to the fact that Trading Standards are focusing on bigger and more complex crimes. There is a genuine chance for criminals to make large sums of money through fraud and criminal activities, and this appears to be the focus for the criminals and the Trading Standards team.
Current Trends are very different from those in the Past
Colin Briggs from the East Riding Trading Standards spoke about the current trend in his industry. He said; “The type of fraud that is being committed now does not always have to be highly visible. From our point of view, you have to look hard for the evidence and that often involves the seizing of computers for forensic examination, as we saw in the latest case. There’s often a huge amount of work and heartache involved in bringing cases to court. It can be a very difficult process. You have to be committed and be prepared to see the job through to its end.”
Buying goods online can offer a chance to save money or find an item that has been difficult to obtain but it needs to be remembered that not everything is as it seems in the online market. There is a need for consumers to show restraint and caution when weighing up a purchase because if they don’t, there is every chance that they will end up losing out, sometimes in a large and troubling manner. Whenever an opportunity arises for a criminal, there will be people willing to break the law and make the most of their chance to fleece punters and make money in the short term.
With Trading Standards having to adapt to new crimes, solicitors and defence teams also have to adapt to new challenges and cases. This is why if you need legal representation, it is best to call on the services of a legal defence team that has stayed in touch with the latest trends.
Mr Briggs was happy to provide the following advice when it comes to shopping online. “A lot of people who fall victim to online fraud would have known and been able to take action quicker if they had checked their bank and credit card statements. The Chatfields, for instance, relied on the fact that many people do not check. In fact, some victims had no idea cash had been taken from their accounts until we wrote to them. Also, people should only enter their credit cards on a websites if they see a little padlock – usually in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. This means you are on a secure website. It is clear trading standards perform a vital role, keeping the public safe from shoddy workmanship, while helping legitimate businesses stay afloat. If these people are left unchallenged public confidence in the internet would fall away. Eventually, it would affect those businesses that trade in a proper way on the web. We can’t, and won’t, let that happen.”
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.