The Fraud Awareness Roadshow.  Andy Foster 5th August 2019

Andy Foster is the Fraud PROTECT Officer work­ing in the Financial Crimes Investigation Unit of South Yorkshire Police.

His dual role is to sup­port vul­ner­able vic­tims of fraud and to work with other sup­port groups.

He also does road shows and other events to bring fraud­u­lent scams to public notice.

Operation Signature’ is the S.Y. police’s cam­paign to help sup­port vic­tims of fraud.

He began by show­ing a slide of facts about fraud, but there were so many I could not  note them all!

However:

  • Men lose 3 times more money than women.
  • Loneliness makes (par­tic­u­larly eld­erly) people vul­ner­able to fraud.
  • Only 5% of defrauded people make a report.
  • In some cases defrauded people have con­sidered, attemp­ted or com­mit­ted sui­cide.
  • 79% of house­hold waste con­tains items that could con­trib­ute to iden­tity theft.
  • Fraud costs people in the U.K. bil­lions of pounds annu­ally.
  • Once anyone is caught by a scam­mer they go on a ‘sucker list’ which is sold to other scam­mers who will inund­ate the ‘sucker’ with more frauds.

Action Fraud is a body that accepts reports about scams from vic­tims.

However, they have about 700,000 calls per year and simply register each call.

They do not invest­ig­ate crimes but send details to the National Fraud Intelligence Centre.

The NFIC decide if there are enough details to take fur­ther action, but on over 80% of reports no action is taken.  This is because crim­in­als are abroad and use phones or emails and there is not enough veri­fi­able detail.

One of the meth­ods fraud­sters use to hide stolen money (so that the banks do not become sus­pi­cious of money going in and out of their accounts) is to approach stu­dents and ask if they can put £5000 into the student’s account for a few days.  They give the stu­dent £100.  The money is soon moved on to another account.

Romance scams.

On dating sites the scam­mer gets the victim to believe they are in love and uses this to extort money.

Social media is used to set up a false pro­file and the scam­mer grooms the  vul­ner­able victim over months or years to scam them.

Telephone scams.

An eld­erly man that Andy met was phoned and per­suaded to invest in shares by paying into an account.  Then he was told that the bank wanted fees that were late.  He said he would not pay because he had not received a dividend.  The scam­mer sent him a £75 ‘dividend’ because he had still £182,000 that he had to invest, but told him that the bank would have to take legal action if he did not pay the fees.

When Andy went to see him about a pos­sibly fraud­u­lent roof repair the man’s stairs were stacked high with unopened mail sent by scam­mers.  Andy removed 17 bin bags full of mail from the house then installed a call blocker phone to keep him safe.  That same day a letter arrived telling the man he

had won £147,000 but to claim it he must send £35 into an enclosed pre-addressed envel­ope to Austria!

Authorised Push Payment Fraud.

This is when you have author­ised pay­ment from your bank.

A 30 year-old man sent £17,000 to his new ‘girl friend’, who lives in Kenya, to help chil­dren with polio.

In 2018 there were 84,624 APP frauds and 78,215 cases of per­sonal account fraud.

Miracle Health Cure Scams.

Calls to eld­erly people to sell health cures.

Other types of fraud were dis­trac­tion burg­lar­ies where someone at the door says they are from the Water Board and need to access the prop­erty.  They get in and steal, and ‘case’ the house so that they can come back later.

Andy gave us advice.

B.T., Sky and TalkTalk have a free call-blocking ser­vice that they will install for you if you con­tact them.

An altern­at­ive is to let all calls go to your answer machine after telling friends and rel­at­ives to always leave a mes­sage for you to call back.  You can then pick up to take the call.  Nearly all scam­mers will hang up when the answer machine cuts in.

Another altern­at­ive is to get a phone that you can pro­gram to block calls.

Probably the most effect­ive method is called ‘trueCall Secure’ which con­nects to your exist­ing phone.  It costs about 120 pounds.

A very inform­at­ive talk, which has aler­ted all of us to be care­ful, and to hang up the phone if we are not sure of the caller’s hon­esty.