The Police and Crime Commissioner and West Mercia Police are jointly retaining the focus on fraud, as a report from consumer group Which? showed the impact on victims can far exceed the financial impact.
Nationally fraud accounts for 39% of all crime, but only 2% of police resources are dedicated to it.*
In West Mercia, 1629 fraud offences were reported over a three month period** with an average financial loss of £5778. Some of the most prolific scams include criminals purporting to be from the police or a bank and asking people to transfer money to an account, courier fraud where victims are encouraged to hand over bank cards or money to a courier, national insurance and parcel delivery scams. The force are also seeing an increase in romance fraud.
The force have introduced specialist Cyber Protect officers to focus on cyber criminality including fraud, which is commonly committed on-line. The Commissioner has invested in services such as the Victim Advice Line to provide specialist support to those affected by scams.
Commissioner John Campion said “We mustn’t underestimate the significant emotional impact of these types of crime. Fraud can have a long lasting impact on individuals and their confidence. Scams can often be convincing and sophisticated. I’m pleased that West Mercia are also making this a priority and as Commissioner I am committed to ensuring victims get the right support to fully recover.”
Detective Inspector Emma Wright, from West Mercia Police Economic Crime Unit said, “Fraud is often viewed as a “victimless” crime and there is a perception that “it’s only money”. From working with victims of fraud, it is clear to me and my team that the effects are far greater than the financial impact, which alone can be devastating. Victims can end up losing not only their financial security but they can also suffer mental and physical health problems linked to the stress and worry of such a huge loss. Many victims are left feeling embarrassed or ashamed that they were taken in by the fraudster.
“This report recognises the significant impact of fraud and we are working hard in West Mercia to try and reduce this by educating the public on how they can protect themselves, along with bringing fraudsters to justice and providing support to those who are victims.”
West Mercia Police would give the following advice to help you protect yourself from fraud.
- The police or your bank WILL NEVER ask you to withdraw funds and hand them to a courier or to transfer funds to a “safe account”.
- If you get a call like this it is a scam – hang up, wait at least 10 mins and check with your bank on a number you know to be genuine for your bank (not a number that the caller has provided to you). It is important to hang up and wait to ensure the line has disconnected and that you are not still speaking to the fraudster or an associate.
- If you have started a relationship with someone on-line, be cautious if they ask you to send them money, particularly if you have never met them in person. Fraudsters can be convincing in making victims believe they are in a genuine relationship, that the funds are needed for some emergency and that they will be repaid once they meet. Unfortunately in most cases this is a scam. Be cautious and don’t led your heart rule your head – if the person genuinely cares about you they will understand if you say “no”.
- Report fraud to immediately Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040. If the offence is still happening (for example someone is coming to your address to collect funds) report this to West Mercia Police on 101 or in an emergency dial 999.
*Figures taken from ‘Who suffers fraud? Understanding the fraud victim landscape’- Victims Commissioner report, October 2021
** West Mercia Police figures cover May- July 2021 and come from Action Fraud Victim Reporting Data