Scamwatch: Alton Towers ticket scam

Scamwatch: beware new Alton Towers ticket scam

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.

SEE ALSO: Don't fall for this EasyJet scam on Facebook

SEE ALSO: Fraud increasingly affecting males in their 20s

This week, we issue a warning about a dodgy social media theme park offer that Alton Towers has called out as a scam.

How does it work?

Theme park Alton Towers has taken to Twitter to warn potential visitors about a new, cheap ticket scam circulating on social media.

The company made the move after being alerted to a deal from website UK Group Deals, which is advertising a fake, 60% off deal for a park ticket along with fast track access, coming in at just £21.20.

"We're aware of this scam circulating the web on 'ukgroupdeals'," Alton Towers said on Twitter. "This is NOT official or affiliated with Alton Towers Resort in any way."

The theme park has since said that it is working with authorities to remove the website, which has also been offering similar discounts for Thorpe Park, the London Eye and the National Sea Life Centre in London.

How can I avoid being caught out?

The criminals behind scams of this kind are often after your personal details.

So be wary of giving your card details to secure deals you find on social media without first checking the brand is "verifed" by Facebook and Twitter.

You can do this easily by checking whether there is a blue tick on the company's profile.

If you're invited to click on an URL, meanwhile, hover over the link to see the address it will take you to – and do not click on it unless the address looks genuine.

This is important as simply clicking on a bogus link could allow fraudsters to download dangerous malware to your computer, tablet or phone.

Another easy way to spot social media frauds is to check the spelling and grammar used. If the English is poor, you can be pretty certain it's a scam.

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

If you receive a suspicious message from a company such as Alton Towers, you should report it to the company via a separately sourced email address, for example, and then block the sender.

You can also report scams of this kind to the police via Action Fraud (0300 123 2040), which can give you advice about your next steps.

Victims of scams and fraud
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Victims of scams and fraud
Susan Tollefsen, Britain's oldest first time mother, was scammed out of £160,000 by a fraudster she met on an online dating site. A man claiming to be an Italian gold and diamond dealer told her he was in the middle of a land deal but couldn't access cash. Tollefsen felt sorry for him and started wiring him money, eventually selling her jewellery, her flat and borrowing £32,000 from friends to give him. Read the full story here.
In March 2015 an American woman who was only identified as 'Sarah' went on the popular US television programme the Dr Phil Show to reveal she had sent $1.4 million to a man that she had never met. Although she was certain she wasn't being scammed, her cousin made her go on the programme because she was convinced it was a scam. Find out more about the story here.
Maggie Surridge employed Lee Slocombe to lay a £350 deck in her garden in March 2015. However Slocombe used a combination of lies to scam Surridge out of thousands of pounds. He told Surridge that the front and back walls were dangerous and needed rebuilding and also conned her into building a porch, all for the cost of £8,500. Read the full story here.
It's not just individuals who can be the victims of scams, big corporations can also fall foul of these fraudulent practices. In 2015 Claire Dunleavy repeatedly used a 7p 'reduced' sticker to get significant amounts of money off her shopping at an Asda store in Burslem, ending up with her paying just £15.66 for a shop that should have cost £69.02. Read the full story here.
Sylvia Kneller, 76, was conned out of £200,000 over the space of 56 years thanks to scam mail. The pensioner became addicted to responding to the fraudsters, convinced that she would one day win a fortune. Ms Kneller would receive letters claiming she had won large sums of money but she needed to send processing fees to claim her prize. Learn about the full story here
Leslie Jubb, 103, became Britain's oldest scam victim in August last year when he was conned out of £60,000 after being sent an endless stream of catalogues promising prizes in return for purchasing overpriced goods. The extent of this con was discovered when Mr Jubb temporarily moved into a care home and his family discovered what he had lost. Find out more about this story here
Stephen Cox won more than £100,000 on the National Lottery in 2003 but has been left with nothing after falling victim to two conmen. The 63-year-old was pressured into handing over £60,000 to the men who told him his roof needed fixing. They walked him into banks and building societies persuading him to part with £80,000 of cash while doing no work in return. See the full story here
Last year the Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of a woman who had £250 stolen at a cash machine in Dagenham. The scam involved two men distracting the woman at the machine, pressing the button for £250 then taking the money and running away. Read about the full story here.
Rebecca Ferguson shot to fame as a runner up on the X-Factor in 2010 but fell victim to a scam artist last year when someone she had believed to be a friend conned her out of £43,000. Rachel Taylor befriended the singer in 2012 and claimed to be a qualified accountant, so Ferguson allowed her to look after her finances. Instead of doing this Taylor stole £43,000 from the Liverpudlian singer. Read more here
When Rebecca Lewis discovered her fiance had started a relationship with a woman he met online she packed her bags to leave. But that didn't stop her checking out the mystery woman, Rebecca quickly realised Paul Rusher's new love was actually part of a romance scam. She told Paul just before he sent the scammers £2,000 which was supposed to bring his new girlfriend to England. Find the full story here.

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