North Yorkshire Police revealed the “colossal” toll taken by fraudsters in 2016 as they urged residents to be vigilant against criminals “targeting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities”, often for tens of thousands of pounds.
In 2016, there were 2,467 reported incidents of fraud across North Yorkshire. In more than 1,000 of those cases, the victim was aged 70 years or over.
According to North Yorkshire Police, a number of these incidents involve scams perpetrated by telephone, such as computer software service fraud, advance fee frauds, pension fraud and timeshares and holiday club fraud.
Fraudsters will call, claiming to be from a legitimate organisation such as a bank, service provider, utilities company or the police, in an attempt to convince the victim to reveal financial information or to transfer money into a third party account operated by criminals.
The fraudster often supplies a fake number for the victim to ring back on or in many cases the actual number of the organisations genuine customer reporting line, however the fraudster keeps the line open and the victim rings back believing they are speaking to a genuine operative and discloses the information.
Detective Chief Inspector Jon Hodgeon, Head of Fraud and Economic Crime at North Yorkshire Police, said: “The loss by over seventies in North Yorkshire due to fraud in 2016 totalled to more than two and a half million pounds.
“This is a colossal amount of money and it is extremely worrying that fraudsters are targeting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and tricking them for their criminal gain.
“The fraudsters who operate these scams are highly organised and very adept in convincing people that they are legitimate.
“They often use clever tactics to gain personal information from the victim, which they will then use to convince the victim that they can be trusted.
“We are appealing for elderly members of the community to take some simple steps to help them avoid falling victim to this type of crime.
“Officers will be engaging with older members of our communities over the coming weeks and issuing the with advice and also a credit card sized sticker to go on their phones or somewhere prominent to remind them to be aware of this increasing type of crime”.
“We are also appealing to families and friends of the elderly. It is really important you help to ensure that they are vigilant against this type of crime. Make sure they are aware of these scams and how they can try and prevent it.”
Last year, police warned that an elderly woman in her seventies from York lost almost £300,000 and a couple in their eighties from the Ryedale area lost over £300,000 pounds through several fraudulent transactions.
Police advise residents to take some simple security measures, such as;
Always make sure the person who has called you is genuine
Never give personal or financial details over the telephone without checking the caller is genuine and you have gone through security checks
Just because someone has called you do not mean you have to speak to them - you can call back in your own time and checked some security details
Don’t call back unknown telephone numbers
Hang up on suspicious callers and wait 30 seconds for the line to clear
Make a list of the important telephone numbers you need so that you can call back and check the call is genuine
Before committing to doing anything which involves proving personal details or a financial transaction, discuss it with a family member or friend
If you think you or a family member or friend has been a victim of fraud then report it to Action Fraud at http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud. For more information and advice visit www.northyorkshire.police.uk/fraud