Duped and dumped: Fly-tipping Action Wales issues warning about social media scams in Carmarthenshire

When you think of an online scammer, the first thing that might pop into your head is someone asking for money or even posing as one of your friends or family members. But a growing problem has emerged in Carmarthenshire— involving Facebook scammers posing as legitimate waste removers, taking money from householders, and illegally dumping their waste.

This is why, Fly-tipping Action Wales has launched ‘Stop Facebook Fly-tippers Week’, to raise awareness and prevent members of the public falling victim to social media scams.

Retail banking chain TSB, recently reported that more than a third of adverts on Facebook marketplace could be scams, with UK customers losing around £160,000 a day on purchases made on the social media site. Similarly, Fly-tipping Action Wales is hearing more and more from local authorities about a rise in the number of Facebook fly-tippers posing as waste removal companies, taking householders’ money – only to end up dumping their waste to save on disposal costs. With Carmarthenshire being one of the largest areas in Wales for residential fly-tipping, having accumulated 3,769 tips in 2023 which cost the local authority £90,913, this not only causes great harm to the local landscape but householders are still at risk of a fine.

Neil Harrison, Project Manager at Fly-tipping Action Wales, said: “Nearly two-thirds (63%) of businesses offering to handle waste appear to be unregistered, and we have seen a concerning increase in the number of people posing as waste removers online only for householders to later find that they are not licensed to do so by Natural Resources Wales. This puts them at risk of being fined £300, if their waste was later fly-tipped.

“As we enter Spring, lots of people tend to start having a clear out which, in turn, creates waste — so, we have launched Stop Facebook Fly-tippers Week in the hope of raising awareness of these scams whilst sharing with the Welsh public, the guidance they need to find a legitimate waste carrier. We understand the power of social media and how easy it is to find what you are looking for on these sites, however by following our advice we can prevent more people falling victim to Facebook fly-tippers whilst helping us protect the environment.”

To help tackle the issue, Fly-tipping Action Wales has created a list of its five top tips on how to spot a ‘Facebook fly-tipper’ before it’s too late…

1. Ask the contractor questions BEFORE you accept a quote on Facebook

A contractor must have a waste carrier’s licence reference beginning with CBDU and ending with 1 to 6 numbers which can be checked via Natural Resources Wales’ website or by calling 0300 065 3000. We always recommend that you take a note of the reference number to prove that you followed your waste duty of care.

2. Ignore adverts with suspiciously low prices

We know how appealing a low quote can be but if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Legitimate and responsible waste removal is worth paying for to protect yourself from a fine, paying twice for getting rid of waste that you thought was being removed by your ‘Facebook fly-tipper’.

3. Avoid paying cash

Cash-in-hand is a MAJOR red flag when it comes to a contractor removing your household waste. Paying by card means that the payment is traceable, and we always recommend asking for a receipt.

4. Take note of the vehicle information

If your waste is found fly-tipped and traced back to you then the council will ask for any information that might help them trace the culprits so it’s worth recording the registration number, make and model of the vehicle that takes your waste away.

5. Consider your other options

Before you go on Facebook, why not speak to your local council about their bulky waste removal service, take your items to the tip or donate them to charity? This takes away the worry of having to check for a license and means you can rest assured your waste will be disposed of legally.

To find out more about Fly-tipping Action Wales, visit: www.flytippingactionwales.org  or click here to find resources that can help prevent Facebook fly-tipping: https://flytippingactionwales.org/en/blog/StopFacebookFlytippers.

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