Fraudsters swindled more than £6 million from Northamptonshire residents in 2021 - double the figure from the year before

It is estimated that only 15 percent of fraud gets reported, meaning the true figure could be much higher

Thursday, 6th January 2022, 5:26 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th January 2022, 5:29 pm

Northamptonshire Police has revealed that fraudsters swindled more than £6 million from Northamptonshire residents in 2021, implementing a wide array of devious tricks to get there.

The news comes amidst a steep rise in fraud nationwide.

According to reports by Action Fraud, the fraud and cybercrime reporting centre for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, between April 2020 and March 2021 there were 413,553 reported crimes – up 33 percent year on year.

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Other famous scams include pyramid schemes, pension release as well as demanding you pay a 'fine' or 'go to prison'

PC Neil Mackenzie, who is a fraud prevention officer with Northamptonshire Police, said he has seen incidents of the crime more than double in Northamptonshire since 2020, often with links to organised criminal gangs.

PC Mackenzie said: "This year it was £6 million, last year it was £3 million so that gives you an idea of the scale of how much these crimes are being committed.

"It's varied across lots of different scams.

"Crypto currency is probably the most common at this time. People are making investments based on comments by people like Elon Musk, thinking they can make lots of money very quickly. They make those investments without knowing the where's and what-for's and just jump in.

"Young people in particular are seeing that the interest rates on their savings aren't what they want them to be, so they are going into these areas and not doing the homework. Of extra concern is the fact that some use their student loans to do this.

"Fraudsters will start them off with a 'small' investment of something like £250, then show them a fake dashboard displaying their 'winnings' and make them believe they're earning a lot. Then they slowly up the amount to a point it can reach thousands of pounds."

PC Mackenzie said that almost all successful scams begin with a 'surprise phone call' where the fraudster tricks the victim with their 'drive or sheer silver tongue' into thinking they are legitimate.

Other methods usually involve unprompted messages via texts or over social media, an area the crypto-crooks are especially fond of.

One of the newest scams even involves them impersonating a loved one, in the aptly named 'friend in need' scam. It sees fraudsters claim they are a friend or family member who has 'damaged their phone' and has a 'new number'.

They then build a conversation and trust with the victim before requesting money, claiming they need it for a taxi or to pay a fine or for any other excuse that might fool their target into giving up the green.

But Northamptonshire Police has some advice that could save you or a family member from falling for this and similar scams.

PC Mackenzie said: "I always tell people to remember their ABC's. A, accept nothing. B, believe no-one. C, challenge everything. We also say you should 'Take Five' and think before making any decisions.

"If you are ever in doubt about a company, even if they look very professional, they could still be a scam. Fraudsters have gotten very good at making believable fakes.

"So you should always check with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) who have a complete list of registered companies. This should be your first port of call to make sure they are legitimate."

Even so, the police recommend people do plenty of research before committing to anything. They also say that if you receive an unsolicited message, no matter who it is from, you should simply ignore it.

If you suspect fraud has or is taking place, you can report it to Action Fraud on their website.

You can also visit the FCA register to double-check who you might be in business with.