Raising awareness of fraudsters’ scams

Northumbria Police's cyber crime unit is urging people to accept nothing and challenge everything due to a number of sophisticated scams being used to dupe people out of their hard-earned cash.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 11:13 am
Detective Sergeant Philip Thoburn.
Detective Sergeant Philip Thoburn.

Its officers 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 the force’s Complex Fraud Investigation Unit, 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 into 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 on 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: “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.”