FLINTSHIRE’S policing team has prevented “tens of thousands of pounds” being lost due to a change in their scam and fraud procedures.
District Inspector Darren Whibberley said NWP South Flintshire has a new and improved way of dealing with fraudsters who are attempting to scam elderly residents.
Insp Whibberley said: “Almost weekly, we see increasing reports of scams, and we have started dealing with them differently.
“Initially, fraud type scams were dealt with through phone calls to Action Fraud. NWP realised vulnerable elderly people were not being assisted by the police.
“Now there is a single point of contact – the local PCSO – who provides more support. We are now looking at the situation in different ways.”
Insp Whibberley said banks are now on board and are working proactively with police to put a halt to elderly residents falling victim to electronic financial scams.
He said: “We get called a lot to Mold and we turn out to the banks to assist staff and individuals, and that’s prevented tens of thousands of pounds being lost.”
There have been many reports of elderly residents being called and handing over their details electronically.
Under the new system, the investigative team now has the authority and power to access the scammers bank account, freezing any assets which they “can’t touch, and can’t transfer in or out”.
The fraudsters are forced to apply to the court to transact money from their accounts – which notifies the authorities.
Insp Whibberley said: “That’s the change of it. It has been around a few years but we didn’t realise the full value of it.
“It’s a good example of how things have changed.
“We realise that a lot of people who get scammed are elderly and alone, so they have been receiving regular visits from their PCSO to see if any frauds have occurred.”
Insp Whibberley added that through this system, a Mold resident was restored with the £30,000 stolen from her through a phone scam.
He said: “This is a high value example of us recovering thousands of pounds for victims.
“The key is acting quickly, and being aware that this type of crime is increasing all the time.”
Residents have been urged to refrain from giving bank details over the telephone or online unfamiliar accounts, and if they think they have, to contact their local bank immediately.
Insp Whibberley said the elderly are targeted as they are “more trusting” to give away their details to “anyone who rings.”
He urged relatives of elderly residents to talk to them, and “put something in place” to prevent them falling victims to fraud. This includes setting up a “block” system on telephones, and speaking to local branches.
Insp Whibberley urged: “Speed is of the essence. Once the cash goes abroad, there’s very little opportunity for us to recover it.
“Get in touch immediately through 101 or our social media pages if you think you have been scammed.”