I’ve had a press release from Action Fraud, the government-backed fraud-reporting centre, to say they’ve had 15,000 fraud reports since they started just a few months ago. However, they know there are hundreds of thousands more cases that aren’t reported.
They’re asking anyone who’s been a victim of fraud – big or small – to report it. Every report can help them track down the villains. Of course we feel stupid and gullible when we realise we’ve been scammed but it’s not necessary – these people do this full-time. Of course they’re going to be plausible. The best way to fight back is to overcome embarrassment and report it.
Action Fraud’s press release is so useful I’m printing half of it here:
According to the National Fraud Authority, which runs Action Fraud, at least £3.5billion is lost by individuals to fraud every year. However, the actual figure is probably much higher as many victims of fraud never report it.
Action Fraud takes crime reports from victims of fraud and provides a crime reference number. This information is then fed to the police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau to gain a more complete national picture of fraud.
Of the crime reports made, fraud loss has ranged from £6 to over £1million. The top five most commonly reported frauds in the last month were:
1. Online shopping and auction fraud
2. Advance fee frauds such as loan and psychic scams
3. Romance and dating frauds
4. Non-investment frauds such as miracle health and internet dialler scams
5. Share sale fraud
Brenda Parke, a victim of a romance scam who lost £60,000 earlier this year says “With great hindsight, I can see how I became a victim. My embarrassment is overwhelming but I know it’s important to take this step in reporting my experience to help other people avoid such devastating situations. Anyone in a similar situation should stop and think before they hand over a single penny and I would urge anyone who is a victim to come forward and report this horrendous crime to Action Fraud. The perpetrators manipulate you to pay a huge price financially and emotionally and I want to see fewer people becoming victims.”
There are some simple rules everyone can all follow to help protect ourselves against fraud:
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is If you didn’t enter a lottery…you haven’t won it
- Ask questions – If someone is legitimate they won’t pressurise you or be elusive
- Be very wary about giving your personal information to strangers or providing money up front
- Always check the real company’s details against the ones you have been given, and ring them direct if you are in doubt
- Don’t stay silent. If you’ve been targeted by a fraudster and lost money, contact Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.org.uk or call 0300 123 2040