Before I go into detail the best advice anyone can give you is “if in doubt take it to your local police station and ask”.
This might seem simple but it is the safest and best way to see if the police really do wish to speak to you. If you can’t make it to a police station call 101 and describe the letter to the operator, or if you don’t want to speak to police contact a local criminal solicitor.
As scams of all type become more common it is not surprising that this is the latest area that fraudsters have jumped into and these letters, although often obvious to professionals, can cause severe anxiety and distress to the recipients. So here’s some pointers to help you spot a fake letter.
Letters about police investigations will always be from a specific police force, it will have their crest, address, and telephone number on it. They will not come from the Department of Justice or Ministry of Justice.
Sunderland at Wembley: London pub chain Fuller’s heaps praise on Sunderland fans after Wembley weekend - after welcoming Peter Reid to one of its bars
Sunderland at Wembley: Fans raise 'virtual tip jar' fundraising target to thank staff at Covent Garden pub after smashing original total
19 Sunderland locations hosting Queen's Platinum Jubilee street parties
Sunderland aunt raises more than £2000 in four days for niece, 19, with two months left to live following terminal cancer diagnosis
JACK WOODLEY MURDER TRIAL: Jury sent home for weekend
They will also have a reference number which can be used to call 101 and obtain information about the case or speak to the relevant officer.
These would usually be for offences such as littering, minor road traffic offences, or COVID-19 regulation breaches.
Most of these are paid through the dedicated GOV.UK Penalty Notice Portal; definitely not by paypal, in bitcoin, or other such online payment methods.
You will never be offered a “fixed penalty notice” or “pay to avoid prosecution” for more serious offences. Often these scams choose offences such as “possession/downloading of indecent images of children” or similar.
This is simply to try and scare or embarrass people away from seeking advice.
No police force will ever offer you a chance to pay a fixed fee to avoid prosecution for these type of offences, you will always be interviewed and taken to court to be prosecuted – not asked to pay a fine.
Remember, if in doubt speak to the police or contact a criminal defence firm such as Ben Hoare Bell LLP.
If you receive any letter inviting you for an interview or if you are arrested then remember to request a free legal aid solicitor to represent you.