Cons, Scams and Cybercrime

Crime statistics suggest that this is the most rapidly growing type of crime that is likely to affect the general population. It is also significantly under-reported, perhaps because the victims feel too embarrassed to admit that they ‘have been taken for a ride’? So, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of reported ‘Cons, Scams and Cybercrime’.

This was the topic of a recent presentation at Christ Church, given by Wycombe District Neighbourhood Watch Association (WDNHWA), the seventh in a series of such presentations across the Wycombe district. The event was supported by Sgt. James Benfield, our local Neighbourhood Sergeant, and Chris Holden from Trading Standards, who both emphasised the significant impact that this type of crime can have on the victim and their family.

Geoff Pegg gave a presentation on Cons and Scams, ranging from doorstep ‘cold-callers’, though postal frauds to telephone scams (Vishing). He described a number of local incidents where residents had been ‘conned’ into parting with significant sums of money. Sadly, the perpetrators target the vulnerable members of our community, those who are living alone and who are more likely to fall for the persuasive tactics of the criminals. He specifically mentioned the case of .an elderly lady who over a number of months sent money to the criminals in the belief that she had ‘won’ a significant prize, and this money was to pay for ‘administration’. Despite the pleas of her family she persisted along this path, eventually attempting to sell her home! Sadly, after her death, the family found in excess on 30,000 letters and other documentation associated with this fraud in her home. The family started the campaign ‘Think Jessica’ in an attempt to publicise this type of nefarious activity, which continues today.

Yours truly concluded the meeting with an illustrated presentation on ‘Cybercrime’. The exponential growth in computer technology over the last 40-odd years, coupled with the global coverage of the internet and access to high-speed broadband connectivity, has seen a tremendous growth in cybercrime – that is crime which utilises these features of our every day lives. Daily we are bombarded with scam emails pretending to be from our Bank, Credit Card provider, HMRC, Microsoft, etc., all trying to persuade us to reveal personal information that can compromise our financial situation. Social media is also used to facilitate some most unpleasant forms of crime, often aimed at our children and young folk who seem to be permanently ‘attached’ to their smart phones these days. In conclusion, I offered some advice as to how to avoid becoming a ‘victim’ to the many forms of cyber crime, drawing on recommendations from ‘Action Fraud’

Remember A, B C.

A – Assume nothing. Just because an email ‘appears’ to be genuine, don’t assume that it is!
B – Believe no-one. The person who tells you they are from your Bank may be a criminal.
C – Check everything. Trust your own instincts, and if the situation seems a bit unusual, check!

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For further information about any of these topics or about Neighbourhood Watch, contact:
David Gresswell – retiring Area Co-ordinator, Flackwell Heath
(Tel: 525019 e-mail: flackwell-nhwatch@talktalk.net)

Police General & Non-emergency number: 101
Community Safety Team (Anti-social behaviour): 01494 421 087
Crimestoppers (Anonymous): 0800 555 111
Trading Standards (Consumer Direct): 0345 4 04 05 06
Cyberaware – http://cyberaware.gov.uk
ACTION FRAUD: 0300 123 2040 (http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/)
The Information Commissioner’s Office: 0303 123 1113
NHS: 111