Scamwatch: watch out for wedding fraud

Sad bride crying
Sad bride crying

Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, we explain how criminals are taking advantage of engaged couples to steal the money they planned to spend on their weddings.

How does it work?

Police are investigating claims that a rogue wedding planner at spectacular Guthrie Castle in Angus, Scotland, has left dozens of couples in the lurch after double or even triple-booking dates throughout 2017 and stealing their deposits.

It's understood that the total amount of cash stolen could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

"I just can't believe it. This was supposed to be the biggest day of our lives but we are potentially having to start from scratch," said one bride-to-be with a wedding booked at the castle.

If found to be true, this particular scam was particularly convincing as it was perpetrated by someone employed by the wedding venue.

However, it's far from the only type of scam couples need to look out for when planning their big days.

Other wedding-related frauds to be on your guard against include wedding dress shops changing the labels in their dresses to make them seem designer, and dodgy wedding planners who persuade you into paying them for services that are never booked.

How can I avoid being caught out?

You should always double check the account details you are given when making a large transfer.

In the Guthrie Castle case, for example, couples may have cottoned on to the scam had they checked the account details given by the castle wedding planner, which were for a private account registered in Inverness that had nothing to do with the venue.

Better still, try to pay for everything you can with a credit card so you can benefit from the protection offered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which states that card providers are jointly liable with suppliers who fail to deliver - as long as you spend within £100 and £30,000.

It may also be worth taking out wedding insurance to protect you and your wife or husband-to-be from any financial loss should a scam or a company going bust, for example, spoil your big day.

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

You can report a company - a wedding venue or a dress shop, for example - to Trading Standards by calling Citizens Advice on 03454 040506.

Fraud of any kind should also be reported to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040).

Depending on how you paid, it may be worth contacting your credit card company too, so you can request a refund under Section 75.