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Fighting back against scammers

     
Posted on Tuesday 26 July 2016

Nearly half of all UK adults have been targeted by a scammer - and 1 in 5 of them fall victim to scams of all kinds every year.

Now, Gateshead Council is leading the fight back by joining forces with Northumbria Police and Barclays Bank to provide local people who may be vulnerable to the fraudsters with the necessary knowledge to identify and resist them.

The council is organising a special Fraud and Scams Awareness workshop at St Peter’s Church Hall in Low Fell for anyone who might be concerned about themselves or a loved one being scammed by criminals.

The event will include presentations from Barclays Bank and Northumbria Police highlighting the many different types of frauds and scams currently being perpetrated on the public. The event is open to everyone.

Organisers hope that people will leave with a much better understanding of common banking frauds and scams, and are able to recognise the warning signs so they can protect themselves and others from approaches by fraudsters.

Results from the British Crime Survey suggest that fraud and cyber crime are now the most prevalent crimes committed against people in England and Wales.

Councillor Gary Haley, Cabinet member for the Economy, says: “We have seen a huge increase in the number of scams being perpetrated on ordinary people, often by sophisticated criminals. It’s a worrying problem, especially as many of those who lose money in this way are those least able to bear the loss.

“What is particularly worrying is that older people in particular are more likely to take formal-looking letters or official-sounding phone calls at face value and this makes them especially vulnerable.

“This workshop is therefore crucial for anyone who has elderly parents, or who works with older people, because it will help them to understand how you can prevent yourself from becoming a victim, and understand what to do if you or a loved one becomes a victim. “

Detective Inspector Angela Hufton of Northumbria Police's Cyber Crime Unit says: "We welcome the opportunity to work with partners to raise awareness in the community of how people can protect themselves from fraudsters. We aim to enhance the existing working relationships with Trading Standards and Local Authorities and hope that events such as this bring people together to discuss these crimes that often leave innocent people feeling embarrassed, humiliated and unsure where to turn."

In the UK last year, fraudsters stole more than £23 million from members of the public by making phone calls while pretending to be from their bank and persuading the account holder to transfer money directly into their own account over the phone.

Laura Brookes, Barclays Manager for the Gateshead area, said: “Phone calls, letters, emails and texts from scammers can seem legitimate and convincing, so it’s important to be vigilant and keep an eye out for anything suspicious.

“Fraudsters are constantly developing new ways and tricks to try and get you to part with your details and at this event we can help you understand these scams and how to avoid them and be alert to potential fraudsters.”

The latest estimate by the National Fraud Authority put the cost of fraud to the UK economy at £52 billion a year.

Postal or telephone scams aimed at consumers is a particular problem, with Gateshead Council Trading Standards regularly issuing warnings about postal or telephone scams known to be circulating in the local area. It’s estimated that £5 billion is lost each year by UK consumers to such mass marketed phone and postal scams.

Unfortunately, around half of all fraud and cyber crime is committed by criminals based overseas so bringing the perpetrators to justice and getting victims their money back can be extremely difficult.

The Fraud and Scams Awareness workshop will be held at St Peter’s Hall, Low Fell on Monday 8 August 2016 from 1.30pm. The event will last for two hours and booking is essential.

To book your place, please call Michael Walker on 0191 433 2842 or email michaelwalker@gateshead.gov.uk