Essex Police Fraud update 4th September 2020

Gift card scams – have HMRC really contacted you?

Many of us are aware that criminals regularly make telephone calls claiming to be HMRC. Increasingly, they are making these calls claiming that there is a warrant out for the arrest of the recipient and that they are required to pay their ‘outstanding debt’ in order to avoid arrest. However, they proceed to ask the recipient to pay off this debt using gift cards, including Amazon and iTunes gift cards.

Due to the fact that gift cards are relatively untraceable, this proves to be a low-risk, high-reward scam. As recently as this week, four people paid £1,000 each in Peterborough.

What to look out for:

  1. You cannot pay bills or outstanding debts using gift cards
  2. Fraudsters claiming to be from HMRC will try to panic you by informing you there is a warrant out for you arrest
  3. Once the gift cards have been purchased, scammers will ask you to scratch off the back of the gift cards and send them the codes underneath—this is particularly suspicious if they ask them to be sent via platforms such as WhatsApp.
  4. If you are unsure, hang up, and call back on a trusted number. Never use a number supplied by the person on the phone, and use an alternative phone if possible. Genuine organisations have no issue with you confirming who they are.

If you think you have been a victim of this scam or have received similar calls claiming to be from HMRC, report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at

This can also happen to businesses. Be alert for any unusual requests from colleagues asking to purchase gift cards and check whether they have come from a genuine email address.

Gift Card Scams—Fake Asda email

Over 100 reports have been received of an email circulating claiming to be from Asda offering a £1,000 gift card for filling in an online form.

These emails are known as phishingand use prizes to entice people to give out their personal information. Fake emails from supermarket chains are particularly common and offer a large shopping voucher in return for completing online forms/surveys. They will often be accompanied by a number of glowing reviews from customers who allegedly received a voucher.

The reports of phishing emails have escalated during lockdown, with criminals increasingly turning to online scams to target those who have been spending more time at home. Earlier in the year, Essex Trading Standards released the following statement:

“Please be aware of these scam emails circulating to be from various supermarkets.The scammers cloak the email in the branding of a popular supermarket chain and inform the recipient that they have received a money off voucher to assist with purchases during the quarantine.The email then directs the recipient to click a link so that they may claim the coupon. Rather than being a kind offer from some of Britain’s most popular chains, it is a fraudulent email which aims to steal the credit card details of the recipient.

Look out for the telltale signs that the voucher offer is a scam, such as poor spelling and grammar; however, this is not always the case, and many look identical to official supermarket emails.

Never click the links or input your card details.If an offer sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.”

If you think you have received a phishing email, forward it on to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) at

Uttlesford News

banner Face coverings protect others From today (24 July) you must to wear a face covering by law in the following settings: shops supermarkets indoor shopping centres public transport banks, building societies, and post offices  transport hubs (such as airports, stations and terminals) Face coverings will not be mandatory for anyone under the age of 11, those with disabilities or certain health conditions, such as respiratory or cognitive impairments.
Face coverings: when to wear one and how to make your own
Latest message from Cllr John Lodge, Leader of Uttlesford District Council

Leisure centres set to reopen


With the lifting of lockdown restrictions, there will be a phased reopening of the three leisure centres in the district. Great Dunmow Leisure Centre and Lord Butler Leisure Centre will be reopening on Monday 27 July on reduced opening hours. Mountfitchet Romeera Leisure Centre will be reopening on reduced opening hours on Monday 10 August. A phased reopening is planned for services in the centres over the next few months.

For further details, please check the 1Life page for each centre: Lord Butler Leisure Centre Great Dunmow Leisure Centre Mountfitchet
Romeera Leisure Centre

Shop local, shop safe


Please support our retailers by shopping local and safely – maintain social distancing at all times, wear a face covering, and follow the signage that is in place to protect you and others.
Advice for shoppers – how to stay safe while out shopping, where to park and getting further updates as new businesses open up
Advice for businesses – which businesses can open, when you can open and how to work safely.

Survey: have your say on temporary road closures in Saffron Walden


The Saffron Walden Business Improvement District is asking for people’s views on the closure of the Market Square to traffic during the pandemic. There are only a few questions so it should not take long to complete.
Take part in the survey Thinking of starting a food business from your home? Please remember that you must register your business at least 28 days before you start trading. Food premises registration is a legal requirement, and failure to do so could result in legal proceedings. There is no fee for registration. You can register online or print a registration form on our website.

Libraries update


A further seven libraries are now open, including Thaxted. Please note, the number of customers allowed in a library at any one time will be reduced to help people stay safe. Time spent in the library will also be limited. You can find out more information about our safety measures or watch a video on what to expect.

Cut your energy costs


The Essex Energy Switch, a countywide initiative designed to help residents reduce their gas and electricity bills, saved an average of £258 for each of the 1,644 households who took part when the scheme ran earlier this year. In October the cycle starts again, when energy companies will once again bid at an auction to see who can offer the lowest energy tariff to households who have signed up. You can register any time from 4 August until 5 October.
Find out more

It’s competition time!

plastic free july
Love Essex is giving away a plastic-free picnic hamper to one lucky winner that has signed the Essex Plastic Pledge this month. If you haven’t already signed up, click here and take the pledge! The competition closes at midnight on 31 July – T&Cs apply. Summer Holiday activity camp Essex Boys And Girls Clubs will be running an activity camp for 5 to 13 year olds in Uttlesford every day (Monday to Friday, 10am to 2pm) of the summer holidays. The programme will take place in three locations: Monday and Tuesday at Newport Youth Club Wednesday and Thursday at Thaxted Youth Club Friday at Sampfords Youth Club The day consist of a range of fun activities and lunch. For more information, email Rebecca on
Book a place

Click & Collect activity packs


Saffron Walden Museum’s next click and collect activity pack “Romans going Potty!” is now available to buy online. This week become a museum conservator and rebuild a Roman pot from a real pot sherd, make a mosaic and a Roman coin stamp.
Book yours online Pack collection is from Wednesday 29 July. Email to arrange your collection.

Looking after your mental health


It is important that we all take a little extra care to look after our mental health. With many feeling worried, anxious or isolated during these challenging times, Every Mind Matters highlights that there are lots of things we can all do to look after our mental wellbeing and help others to prevent any concerns they have from becoming serious issues. Protect yourself and others Handwashing plays a key role in protecting yourself and others from coronavirus. Wash your hands more often Use soap and water for 20 seconds Or use hand sanitiser
How to wash your hands Stay alert to stay safe We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must: stay at home as much as possible work from home if you can limit contact with other people keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible) wash your hands regularly Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.
FAQs: what you can and cannot
Latest NHS advice

symptoms2 Twitter

Elsenham Parish Council will reopen the playing field playground on 17th July 2020.

Playgrounds have been one of the last things to open, because the risk of transmission of the virus is likely to be higher in these areas, given the extent of shared contact.

The government has advised that playgrounds can reopen from 4th July, but only if it is safe to do so.

The government has set out guidance for managing playgrounds and the Parish Council must assess the practical application of these guidelines as some of these are considerably challenging. The Parish Council has a duty of care not only to the public but to our staff.

The decision to delay the opening until 17th July also took into consideration the Parish Council’s wish to protect the school bubbles and their staff. Our local education and childcare facilities have worked hard to create a safe environment for our children. The bubbles do not share outdoor equipment and large play equipment has been closed.  Therefore, it was deemed sensible that we should follow their example and reopen the playground for the summer holidays.

To reopen the playground, it will not be possible for Elsenham Parish Council to provide the following elements of the government guidelines. The Parish Council’s insurance company must also agree to our approach.

  • Provision of Stewards
  • Arrange a booking system
  • Clean equipment daily
  • Provide cleaning equipment
  • Create entrance and exit, as we only have one gate.

Elsenham Parish Council will carry out the following to reopen the playground

  • Carry out Risk Assessments including COVID-19 risks
  • Carry out safety checks
  • Arrange cleaning and repairs where necessary
  • Produce signage which will include the following.

Elsenham Playground COVID-19 Signage:

  • No entry to the playground if you, or any member of your household, has any symptoms of Covid-19.
  • Please respect social distancing measures at all times.
  • Only one child on an item of play equipment at any time, unless from the same household.
  • Only one swing from a pair to be used at any time, unless from the same household
  • Users are advised to clean equipment before use..
  • All users are advised to wash or sanitise their hands before and after using equipment..
  • Consumption of food and drink is not permitted in the play area.


If you or someone you know is vulnerable and has been a victim of fraud, please call Essex Police on 101.

Report fraud or attempted fraud by contacting Action Fraud at or call 0300 123 2040.

With the development of Track and Trace, many people have been asking for advice around how this works.

Please find below the official advice from the GOV.UK website on how the system works and advice on how to avoid being the victim of any possible scams as a result of the implementation of this system.

When we contact you
If the NHS test and trace service contacts you, the service will use text messages, email or phone.

All texts or emails will ask you to sign into the NHS test and trace contact-tracing website.

If NHS test and trace calls you by phone, the service will be using a single phone number: 0300 013 5000.

All information you provide to the NHS test and trace service is held in strict confidence and will only be kept and used in line with the Data Protection Act 2018.

Contact tracers will:
• call you from 0300 013 5000
• send you text messages from ‘NHS’
• ask for your full name and date of birth to confirm your identity, and postcode to offer support while self-isolating
• ask if you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms
• provide advice on what you must do as you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus
Contact tracers will never:
• ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to us (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
• ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product of any kind
• ask for any details about your bank account
• ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
• ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
• disclose any of your personal or medical information to your contacts
• provide medical advice on the treatment of any potential coronavirus symptoms
• ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
• ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS
For the full guidance/information please check the GOV.UK website –

Remember our advice
If in doubt use the A, B, C of scam awareness:
A- Never Assume a caller, email or text is genuine.
B- Never Believe a caller, email or text is genuine.
C- Always Confirm by contacting a trusted number, family member, friend, your bank’s fraud department or the police to check if it’s genuine.

‘Tell2, protect many’ is a communication initiative that empowers you to spread crime prevention messages to others in your life, who otherwise may never know.
Start with ‘tell2’ and ask them to do the same. It starts with YOU!

Support for families experiencing difficulties

As a result of the pandemic, parents, carers and young people are facing a range of issues. That’s why the Essex Welfare Service (EWS) is now supporting families experiencing difficulties. We can provide you with support on issues such as:

• managing family relationships

• parenting

• managing change

• coping with anxiety

• separation and loss

We have a team of friendly family advisors ready to take your call on 0300 303 9988 or you can visit Getting Help in Essex.


If you or someone you know is vulnerable and has been a victim of fraud, please call Essex Police on 101.

Report fraud or attempted fraud by contacting Action Fraud at or call 0300 123 2040.


This month, Action Fraud have received over 260 reports of COVID-19 TV scam phishing emails.

The emails purporting to be from TV Licensing claim that the recipient’s direct debit has failed and that they need to pay to avoid prosecution. Recipients are told that they are eligible for a “COVID19 Personalized Offer” of six months free. The messages contain links to genuine-looking websites that are designed to steal personal and financial information.


CIFAS (the UK’s leading fraud prevention organisation) are warning of a new HMRC scam. This scam appears to be specifically targeting people who are out of work or working less due to coronavirus, and is offering £1,000s in grants.

The recipient is told to click on a link to check their eligibility, and answer questions that are designed to steal personal information.

CIFAS are stating that this scam comes from the email address “”, but as new frauds spring up every day, this could change.

Whenever you get an email you didn’t expect, remember to Take Five:

– Stop

Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

– Challenge

Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

– Protect

Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

Finally, here’s where you can get the latest information on coronavirus-related scams and how to protect yourself:

Phased re-opening of Essex libraries

You may have seen the recent news that we’re preparing for a phased re-opening of libraries. We’re looking forward to welcoming you back, but safety of visitors and staff is paramount.

All libraries will be prepared, and risk assessed before they re-open to allow customers and staff to maintain social distancing and stay safe. Once open, regular cleaning measures will be in place.

From Monday 6 July we will open 16 libraries, those which are co-located with Registration Offices. The libraries will initially offer a reduced service; customers will be able to return and borrow books only. Other services will be reviewed frequently so that they can be offered again as soon as it is safe to do so.

In line with Government guidance, visitor numbers will be limited to allow customers and staff to maintain social distancing and stay safe.

Further libraries will re-open as they are made safe and ready; with as many as possible opening by mid-August 2020. Since libraries were closed in March, we have seen a huge increase in demand for our online library resources and the number of people joining online to access these. We encourage people to continue to use these digital reading resources where possible. We’ll update you with further information on our plans and available services as they develop and will soon be updating our website with FAQs to answer any queries.