The fact that 50s women were robbed of their pensions by raising the pension age is undeniable. But the biggest argument against putting this right has been the cost – a fact perpetually used by the present pensions minister, Guy Oppenman, who quotes the £70 billion plus figure.
Recently I discovered that successive governments had taken a decision NOT to top up the fund as originally proposed by William Beveridge when the welfare state was set up in 1948.
What I did not know was how much money was lost. Now thanks to an extraordinary paper prepared for the National Pensioners Convention by a social security expert Tony Lynes,and still on the web, I now know. And it is staggering. You can read it here.
High Street shops that were prosecuted for selling illegal skin-whitening creams are continuing to do so, the BBC has found.
YouTubers Mariam Omotunde and Arlene Dihoulou used skin-lightening cream when they were younger, without knowing about the health consequences
Trading Standards acknowledged “it’s a really big problem” and more could be done to regulate the industry.
Substances containing hydroquinone and mercury are banned from being sold over-the-counter in the UK as they can cause liver, nerve and foetal damage.
But a lack of resources and data is making the problem hard to tackle.
A previous BBC investigation revealed the banned cosmetics were being sold across the UK.
Trading Standards is responsible for seizing the creams and prosecuting businesses that sell them. However, it appears convicted shop owners are undeterred by these fines, and are continuing to sell the products.
Undercover journalists visited 17 shops across London, Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester to see how many illegal products they could purchase. Six of these shops had been previously prosecuted for selling the creams.
A total of 13 shops were found to sell products containing illegal substances.
Of the prosecuted shops, four out of the six resold banned products.
Meg Chucks was fined £1,400 as well as £1,040 of legal costs in October 2017. She sold skin-bleaching products at her TM Cosmetics in Moston, Greater Manchester. Fifty-one products in her shop contained hydroquinone.
Before being prosecuted, Ms Chucks had been warned by Trading Standards for importing similar types of products via Manchester Airport.
But despite warnings and fines, the BBC has undercover footage of her still selling a skin-whitening cream.
Ms Chucks admitted to an undercover researcher that she used the product herself. She claimed she did not know it was illegal, despite hydroquinone being listed as an ingredient on the box.
The Nigeria-manufactured product – Funbeaut-A – contained 3% hydroquinone, which is more than the strongest medicine containing hydroquinone licensed for prescription by UK doctors.
In Manchester, a freedom of information request (FoI) revealed Ms Chucks was the only shop owner to be prosecuted in 2017-18 for selling skin-whiteners, despite BBC researchers finding prohibited substances in other Manchester shops.
Ms Chucks refused our request for an interview.
Safi George used several illegal High Street bought bleaching cosmetics every day for 10 years. She spent more than £200 a month buying creams.
Scared to tell her doctor because of the taboo surrounding these creams, Safi suffered in silence.
She was eventually hospitalised for a week for extreme scarring and burning.
“I would have lost my life,” she said.
“It’s like taking drugs. It’s not easy to tell someone to stop smoking, stop drinking, stop taking drugs.”
Safi was so embarrassed about her use of skin-lightening creams that she began to treat her own scars, and did not seek medical assistance.
Her sister Tutu said: “When I saw her she was completely a white woman.
“All her stomach and all her hands were complete blisters. We went to A&E and they put her on antibiotics it was so bad.”
The creams have left her with permanent scarring, and she thinks they are too readily available.
“If you can just display [skin whiteners] in a shop, I can just go there, [even] a 10-year-old, can pick it up and pay for it, that makes you think it’s legal.”
South London YouTubers Arlene Dihoulou and Mariam Omotunde used the skin-whitening creams when they were teenagers.
They had no idea the products they were using were illegal.
Arlene started using the treatments at the age of 16 because she wanted to “fit in”.
“I used to look at my skin as really ugly.”
“I just wanted to be desirable”.
Mariam, 22, went to a local shop to purchase the creams. She did not read the ingredients, but just picked the products based on the skin colour of the lady on the bottle, assuming they were safe to use.
Both girls stopped using the products before they had damaging health consequences, but were shocked the illegal products were sold so openly in the shops.
Mariam added: “Don’t they have people who come check what you’re selling? The regulations obviously aren’t doing their jobs if this is so readily available.”
“We have the sugar tax now, because people see obesity as a big thing. A cause of that is fizzy drinks. So now the prices are higher and the sugar is less.
“So in the same way, this is something that needs to be highly monitored and regulated, because people can die from these creams.”
Despite the damaging effects of the treatments, the BBC was told there is “no central collection of data” on the number of prosecutions, seizures or accusations across the country, resulting in a lack of understanding about the scale of the issue.
Trading Standards officer Cenred Elworthy said that some traders do stop selling the products after being prosecuted, although the BBC has contrary evidence to this. He said “secondary offenders are often not selling things that are blatantly, obviously full of illegal products”.
Elworthy admits “no-one has actually served jail time for selling them” despite being caught still selling the illegal products while serving a suspended sentence.
He suggested the industry could be better regulated through “on-the-spot fines” for businesses selling the skin-whitening products, and clearer sentencing guidelines.
According to Mr Elworthy, Trading Standards could do more shop visits and seizures, but it struggles to after a 40% cut in resources over the past 10 years.
He believes a team of 50 to 60 enforcers would be required in London alone to tackle the issue.
Inboxes are currently being hit by emails that urge you to click to view documents on Microsoft’s file hosting service OneDrive.
The text and subjects of the bogus emails vary considerably. Some versions may simply claim that your document is ready for viewing. Other versions may masquerade as quote requests or business related files that supposedly require your attention.
These emails are phishing scams that are designed to steal your email account login details.
If you click the link as requested, you will not be taken to OneDrive as you might expect. Instead, you will be taken to a fraudulent website that is designed to look like it belongs to rival file hosting service DropBox:
Despite its appearance, however, the site has no connection to Dropbox.
Once on the fake site, you will be asked to choose your email provider from a list. Clicking the name of the provider brings up a login box like the one in the screenshot below. Each login box is branded to the targeted email provider:
After you provide your email address and password and click the sign in button, you will be automatically redirected to a legitimate page on the Adobe website that allows you to download Adobe Reader.
But, meanwhile, online criminals can collect the login credentials that you supplied and use them to take control of your email account. Once they have gained access, the criminals can use the account to launch further spam, scam, and malware attacks in your name.
Often, your email account login credentials also provide access to linked services such as online file storage and app stores. If so, the criminals can also hijack these linked services, steal your personal information and conduct fraudulent transactions via your account.
If you receive one of these emails, do not click any links that it contains. Viewing a shared document via either OneDrive or Dropbox does not require you to provide your email account login details. In some cases, you may need to login to your Microsoft or Dropbox account to add, delete, or edit shared documents. If so, ensure that you are on the genuine file hosting website and not a fraudulent copy.
It is safest to login to all of your online accounts by entering the address into your browser’s address bar or via a trusted app.
Atos and Capita win PIP contract extension ‘because DWP is chained to a corpse’
The government’s decision to extend the contracts of two discredited companies that carry out disability benefit assessments has been branded “appalling”, “shocking” and “a complete con”.
The move has also been criticised by the Scottish government.
Sarah Newton, the minister for disabled people, told MPs in a written statement this week that she planned to extend the assessment contracts for the two companies that carry out the personal independence payment (PIP) assessments – Atos and Capita – by a further two years.
The contracts had been due to end in the middle of 2019.
Newton also announced that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was developing its own IT system that would allow it to “enable more providers to deliver PIP”.
Originally posted on The Thoughts Of Mr Bloggy: THE LONDON MUSEUM DOES IT AS WELL! Yes, the Loose Leaf Tea con has also reached the cafe in the London Museum. Yet another key location for visitors and tourists has joined in with the tea-bag in a pot being called Loose Leaf tea. Why must so…
Action Fraud warning to the public as equine fraud costs victims £70,000
3rd May 2018
Action Fraud is warning the equestrian community about a scam involving fake adverts of horses for sale.
Victims are told to pay an up-front fee for the horse and it’s shipment only to later find that it doesn’t exist.
Between 2014 and 2017, victims lost £68,717 to this fraud; an average of £3,436 per victim.
Action Fraud is warning horse buyers about fraudulent ‘for sale’ adverts. Fraudsters are placing fake adverts on reputable equestrian sale websites to scam victims out of large amounts of money. Fraudsters will even support their claims of the horse’s existence by supplying copies of relevant ownership documents, pictures and videos of the animal.
Although the adverts claim the horses are located in the UK, victims are later told that they’re located elsewhere in Europe and that the horse’s shipment can be arranged via an animal transport company.
On agreeing to buy the horse, victims are then contacted by someone who claims to be an agent of the transport company, who asks them to pay the purchase price and shipping costs of the animal either by money transfer or a direct transfer of funds into a nominated bank account.
In some cases, victims are contacted about problems with the horse’s delivery, such as the need for vaccinations, special insurance or costs arising from veterinary fees and requests are made to cover these additional costs.
Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said:
“With such large amounts of money involved, this type of fraud can have a significant and severe impact on the health and wellbeing of victims.
“If you are looking to buy a horse online, it is vital that you thoroughly check the details of where you are making the purchase from and be sure to follow our advice below.
“We urge those who think they have been a victim of fraud to report this to Action Fraud.”
How to stay safe when purchasing a horse online:
Be wary of horses being offered for sale below their usual market value, particularly where the seller is looking for a quick sale due to a recent family bereavement, marital breakdown or other issues. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Be wary of purchases where the advert suggests that the horse is in the UK but the seller later informs you that it is in another country.
Be cautious when buying a horse without seeing it, particularly when the only option of a vet check has been the sellers vet.
Never pay by bank transfer for goods which will be subject to delivery as the payment cannot be reversed.
Be cautious of transactions where the seller or shipping agent asks you to make payment by sending money via a money transfer company as the payment cannot be reversed.
Check the country code of the seller’s telephone number and make sure it relates to the country that they claim to be in.
Every Report Matters – If you have been a victim of equine fraud, report it to us online or by calling 0300 123 2040.
How has this happened before?
Case study 1:
A victim lost £6,800 to this type of fraud. The victim was looking to purchase a horse and was in contact with the ‘seller’ who advised the total amount was for the horse, shipping, transportation and documents as the animal was coming from Germany. Victim A paid £6800 in total via Western Union and was later asked to pay another £1700 as the horse was stuck in Belgium and needed particular documents. The victim knew at this point that it was suspicious and managed to gain the seller’s phone number which they traced back to Cameroon. The victim then asked for the documents to be faxed through to her, however this was not done.
Case study 2:
A victim was looking to purchase a horse online, which resulted in them losing £2,600. The victim came into contact with the ‘seller’ through a website and had been informed initially that the horse was in Cambridge, only to later be informed that it was in Germany. The victim was told that the horse would be sent via a shipping company in Frankfurt and they advised a credit card payment could be taken for shipping fees. The seller claimed that the card was being declined and instead took payment through a bank transfer. An additional amount was requested as an insurance fee/ferry boarding fee. At this point, the victim became suspicious, would not pay the additional amount and called Action Fraud.
Case study 3:
A victim saw a horse being advertised online and contacted the suspect, who asked for the victim to make an electronic bank transfer payment of £2,300. The victim made the payment and was sent links from the shipping company to a spoof web page which made it look like the horse was in transit. The suspect then came back and asked for another payment for international clearance of the horse. The victim started to get suspicious and did some research to find that the payment the suspect was asking for did not exist and this is when the victim knew they had been defrauded.
Case study 4:
A victim purchased a horse from Hungary through social media and it was agreed that an advance fee of over £500 would be made via Western Union to cover the transport of the horse. The payment for the horse was to be made when it arrived in the UK. The seller then asked for more money. The victim then said he would not pay any more money, cancelled the deal and asked for the money to be refunded, at which point the seller said he had no money to refund.
We are sad to announce the passing away of Barry Gendler, one of the key writers of our book, and a good friend. We know that Barry has been ill for a long time now, but he finally passed away Tuesday night, 21st February 2017 at St. Joseph’s Hospice, in the East-End of London. Barry’s […]
SORRY BUT WE ARE ALL AILING AT THE MOMENT Photo taken at the launch of “Tales by Eastenders” You may have noticed that there have not been many entries onto this site recently. This has been the result of a speight of bad health permeating throughout our team at the moment. The writers and team […]
SALLY GIVES UNEXPECTED READING FROM OUR BOOK ‘Tales by Eastenders’ received an unexpected boost when Sally Flood read one of the poems, ‘Small Cogs’, she wrote for our book at the Write Idea Festival last Saturday. Sally was talking to Kate Thompson about Kate’s new book ‘Secrets of the Singer Girls’ when the unexpected reading […]
Recent Posts: Decent Homes Rebuild Residents Diary
THERE IS STILL WORK TO BE DONE. At a meeting of the Granby Estate Tenants Association on 20th April, there was a series of complaints that work either has not been finished properly, and that it has been done to an unacceptable standard. The Keepmoat office in Bentworth Court has now been closed down, and […]
As the Decent Homes Scheme project within Bentworth Court is slowly coming to a close, it is about time to create a summary showing how things seem to have gone through the eyes of a resident. Companies Involved. There were two main companies involved in the rebuild of the block. These were Breyer who concentrated […]
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Recent Posts: Blithehale Health Centre Patients Blog
Originally posted on London's East End Guard Dog: Skin-whitening creams: The battle against illegal products VIEW THE ORIGINAL BBC NEWS ARTICLE: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45085674 High Street shops that were prosecuted for selling illegal skin-whitening creams are continuing to do so, the BBC has found. YouTubers Mariam Omotunde and Arlene Dihoulou used skin-lightening cream when they were…
Originally posted on The Thoughts Of Mr Bloggy: REAL AND LOCAL VOICES SHOW A UNITED FRONT TO SUPPORT THE DISABLED (NOTE: This article contains 5 slideshows which may take some time to load on some computers) Earlier today the REAL organisation and the Local Voices organisation joined forces to hold one of the most effective…
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PATIENTS GROUP MEETING The Patients Group of the Blithehale Health Center will be meeting on: THURSDAY 14th JUNE 2018 STARTING AT 1.00PM All patients registered with the practice are invited to attend. The meeting will only last about an hour, and we welcome new participants. The aim of the Patients Group is to work with […]