Enough is enough - why we want to empower victims of fraud and raise awareness of complex scams
17 Jun | 12:11

Enough is enough.

That’s the message from our fraud squad as they pledge to empower victims and raise awareness of the complex scams being used to dupe people out of their hard earned cash.

It follows the launch of Scams Awareness Fortnight on Monday – a campaign led by Citizen’s Advice which is aimed at tackling the rise of fraud in the wake of the pandemic through education.

And, while expert investigators from the Force’s Cyber Crime Unit continue to work tirelessly to pursue scammers and bring them to justice, they are also determined to make sure the public feel confident and capable of challenging scammers to help catch them in the act and report them in real time.

Detective Sergeant Philip Thoburn, who heads up Northumbria Police’s Complex Fraud Investigation Unit, said the best thing for people to do was to accept nothing and challenge everything.

He said: “Over the past few years, we’ve seen the number of frauds reported increase and we’ve also seen the methods these con artists use become more complex and elaborate.

“What’s despicable is that fraudsters have not stopped because of the pandemic – they’ve just adapted. They continue to prey on people’s vulnerabilities and fears, exploiting the fact we are at home for longer periods of time and expecting more deliveries and correspondence.

“It sounds worrying, but the good news is that the majority of fraud is preventable. These criminals are experts in manipulating people and copying the methods of communication used by banks, HMRC, the police and other reputable organisations so the best thing you can do is assume any correspondence or cold-calls are fake.

“No reputable organisation will mind if you take your time, challenge them, or ask for proof and hang up. Only a fraudster will try and hurry you into making a rushed transaction or supplying personal details in a hurry. If in doubt, check it out using your trusted sources. So, for example, drop in to your local bank or call the number given on your statement. If you’re online and there’s a pop up, ignore it – if there’s a link - don’t click it.

“If fraudsters ask you to put the phone down and dial 999 immediately, don’t do it - we’ve had a spate of courier frauds recently where victims have been unaware that the line takes around 10 seconds to clear and they’ve simply reconnected with the same number.”

Det Sgt Thoburn added: “Part of my role and the role of my team is to make sure these heartless criminals are caught and anyone who has been targeted is given the right help and support.

“While we want you to feel empowered to say no and to stand up to these despicable people – we will never judge anyone who has fallen victim, so please don’t be embarrassed and contact us immediately, we’re here to help and will not judge you.”

For help and advice, visit our website or search ActionFraud.

If you need to report a crime or suspicious activity please visit our website and use the Tell us Something Page/ Report and Incident.

You can also access advice and support from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk.

Remember, in an emergency, always call 999

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