Fraudsters con victims out of £4.7 million in three months

Fraudsters conned more than £4.7 million out of people in Shropshire and the wider West Mercia area in just three months.

Re-elected: John Campion
Re-elected: John Campion

According to West Mercia Police figures, 1,629 fraud offences were reported between May and July this year, with an average financial loss of £5,778.

The force has now brought in specialist "Cyber Protect" officers to focus on cyber criminality including fraud, which is commonly committed online.

Nationally, fraud accounts for 39 per cent of all crime, but only two per cent of police resources are dedicated to it.

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, as well as national insurance and parcel delivery scams.

The force is also seeing an increase in romance fraud.

West Mercia police and crime commissioner John Campion agreed to use some of his budget to fund the cyber officers and has invested in services such as the Victim Advice Line to provide specialist support to those affected by scams.

Mr 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.”

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.

“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.”

Report fraud to immediately Action Fraud at 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.

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