Event aims to tackle fraud as more than £800k is scammed from local people

Cleveland Police and a charity are offering an evening of advice on fraud as it’s revealed more than 150 people each month are reporting these crimes.

Latest available figures from Action Fraud – the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime – show that in March of this year they received 165 reports from victims in the Cleveland Police area.

The crimes reported to Action Fraud include telephone fraud, online scams and phishing – when fraudsters harvest people’s personal details using email or text messages which often appear to be from legitimate organisations such as your bank.

For the whole of March, Action Fraud received reports totalling £829,508.02 of monies lost through fraud, with the typical loss for each victim being around £5,000.

Victims affected were aged between 15 and 88. Those aged 20-39 were the biggest group affected, forming 38 per cent of all reports. In this group, fraud relating to online shopping  and auctions was the most common cause for a report.

In March victims with the Stockton postcodes TS19 and TS17 made the most reports to Action Fraud, followed by TS5 in Middlesbrough, which covers Acklam and Linthorpe.

The figures for March also show that 59 victims were repeat victims, having already been subjected to another fraud.

In February 2019 Action Fraud received 161 reports concerning Cleveland victims, in January 174 reports and in December 2018, 159.

Cleveland Police’s Economic Crime Inspector, Jon Hagen, said: “People are being conned through internet, postal and doorstep fraud and we’re working to make that stop.

“Helping people recognise common types of fraud will make it harder for organised criminals to succeed with scams.

“There is a misconception that crimes such as telephone or online fraud are more likely to affect older people but these figures show that’s not the case. More than 80 per cent of victims were aged 20 to 59 and just a quarter were over 60.

“Simple measures such as keeping anti-virus software up to date on your devices, using strong passwords and questioning the legitimacy of texts and emails is vital.

“We hold regular information sessions and we’d encourage people to come to our fraud prevention evening in June to get useful tips on how to stay safe.”

A fraud crime prevention evening – run in partnership with the Victim Care and Advice Service (VCAS), which is funded by Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner – is taking place on Tuesday June 4 from 6.30pm at the Community Safety Hub, 1 Cliffland Way, Middlesbrough, TS8 9GL.

It will give an understanding of internet, doorstep, telephone and postal frauds, together with simple tips on how to avoid falling victim to these crimes. Members of Cleveland Police’s Cyber Crime Team will be on hand to answer queries.

If you or any family or friends, would like to attend please contact VCAS on 0303 040 1099 to secure your place. Alternatively you can email [email protected]