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Crime in Aberdeenshire and Moray: Police launch major anti-fraud campaign

By Alistair Whitfield

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Police Scotland is running a major campaign to help people protect themselves from fraud – now one of the most common crimes in the country.

Cases of criminals exploiting vulnerable and unsuspecting people and persuading them to part with money or personal information have tripled in Moray since lockdown.

During the six-week campaign, officers will warn that criminals are taking advantage of advances in technology.

They are also becoming more sophisticated and convincing in their methods.

Malcolm Graham, Police Scotland’s deputy chief constable, said: "Fraud is a despicable and cowardly crime.

"We know these faceless crooks will take any opportunity to exploit any situation.

"We are well aware that fraud continues to rise and want to take the opportunity to warn the public and businesses take a few steps to protect themselves and remain vigilant.

Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham.
Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham.

"The public should be aware that a telephone call, email or text may not be from the person or organisation it appears to come from.

"Never click on a link from an unsolicited email or text.

"And remember that banks, police or other legitimate organisations will never ask you for personal banking information or ask you to move funds to a different account."

Between April 2019 and March this year there were 11,939 crimes of fraud recorded in Scotland – including many committed online, as criminals use the internet more and more to target victims.

That figure was an increase of 2,264 crimes from the previous year.

Humza Yousaf, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, said: "Levels of crime including those involving robbery, housebreaking and theft have fallen over the last decade.

"However reported cases of fraud have risen by a third over the same period, at a time when we have all increased our use of online and mobile technologies.

"During 2020 we have seen unscrupulous individuals using the lockdown and on-going restrictions as an opportunity to target some of our most vulnerable citizens and exploit businesses.

"Such criminal behaviour is absolutely abhorrent and the Scottish Government is working with police and other partners to pursue those who cause harm and misery to our communities and to support people to stay safe.

"As we enter the festive season, I welcome Police Scotland’s timely campaign urging people to ‘stop, challenge and protect’ in order to help households, businesses and communities to keep themselves safe and secure.

"In addition anyone can sign up to receive trusted alerts and advice from Neighbourhood Watch Scotland on a range of safety and security issues targeted to their local area."

Katy Worobec, managing director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said: "The banking and finance industry is committed to protecting customers from scams and is working closely with law enforcement and others to target the criminal gangs responsible, with almost £7 in £10 of fraud prevented in the first half of this year.

"Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police.

"Particularly with the impact of Covid-19 and an increasingly digitised society, criminals are ruthlessly adapting their methods to target consumers online, via social media and over the phone.

"We would urge people to follow the advice of the campaign to keep themselves safe from fraud.

"Always take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information.

"And don’t let a criminal rush or panic you into making a decision that you’ll later come to regret."

Related stories: Fraud triples in Moray since lockdown

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