Fraudsters target Yorkshire's most vulnerable to steal a staggering £30m in just six months

Fraudsters have conned Yorkshire residents and businesses out of a staggering £30 million in just six months - shocking statistics show.

People across Yorkshire have been conned out of 30m in just six months, shocking figures show.

In one horrifying case a female lost £150,000 to conman she met on Facebook in a dating scam, while another victim lost nearly £20,000 when fraudsters accessed their current account after claiming their bank had been hacked.

The statistics, gathered by the Yorkshire Post, highlight the need to raise awareness of the rising level of fraud, with a total of 21, 347 Yorkshire crimes reported to Action Fraud UK between April 2018 and September 2018.

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Of those 21,347 crimes, 36.5 per cent were carried out over the phone, 12 per cent were scammed online via email and another 12 per cent were committed over social media sites including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

West Yorkshire Police - Yorkshire's biggest police force, saw 10,931 fraud offences reported to them during the six month period. Victims lost a shocking £15.2m.

Victims in South Yorkshire lost £6m with 4, 419 crimes reported to police.

Humberside Police recorded 3,439 offences with people losing a total of £4.5m. Victims in North Yorkshire also lost £4.5m with 2,558 offences reported to police.

Ramona Senior, head of the economic crime unit at West Yorkshire Police, said: “Fraud is on the increase and everyone needs to be vigilant whether young or old, fraudsters have no regard for their victims or the financial and emotional harm they cause.

“There are simple steps you can take to protect you from being a victim of fraud available from police. Please share this information with your friends and support those you know who are vulnerable and elderly.

“Police forces across Yorkshire are committed to the prevention and detection of fraud and will pursue those who commit these offences, seek recovery of their assets and wherever possible obtain compensation for fraud victims.”

Police have also revealed the five most common types of fraud reported to them in the last six months.

The most popular is phishing. This is where an email falsely claiming to be from a legitimate source like a bank or building society tries to get a person to reveal personal information. Their details from the spoof site linked to the email are then picked up by criminals to steal money from the account. Recent cases have seen fraudsters send emails purporting to be HMRC, ITunes, BT and Virgin Media.

Courier fraud is also on the rise. This is when a person is called by someone pretending to be from their bank and convinces the victim to tell them card details over the phone - they then arrange for a courier to pick up their card to take it away for evidence or have it destroyed.

Mandate fraud is when someone gets a person to change their direct debit, standing order or bank transfer mandate, by purporting to be an organisation a person makes regular payments to.

Online shopping and auction fraud are also prominent on the internet involving fraudulent scams that rely on the anonymity of the internet.

Lastly frauds that abuse a position of trust are still on the rise. This is when someone abuses their position of authority for personal or financial gain, or so that someone else loses money or status.

People over the age of 40 are more likely to be a victim of fraud, research and statistics show.

Sadly it is also the most vulnerable that are often targeted.

Ms Senior said: "There are patterns (of victims) due to people's variant ages and level of social media knowledge.

"Having spoken to many elderly victims the one thing that is apparent is that they all admit to being emotionally vulnerable such as being lonely, having lost a loved ore, caring for someone or they may themselves by ill or just have a particularly 'off' day.

"Victims are mainly targeted by phone, post or online."

Visit your local police force website for advice on fraud prevention or alternatively visit where further information is available.