Lincolnshire Police Cyber Crime Unit is urging people to stay vigilant when online and on the phone, in a crackdown on fraud.
As pupils return to school and the autumn arrives, criminals see it as a perfect time to strike, knowing that many people will be in a rush at certain times of the day.
To fight the fraudsters, the police are launching a ‘back to school on cyber fraud’ awareness campaign.
Lincolnshire residents reported 2,120 fraud offences between October 2016 and March 2017, with a resulting loss of £3.3m.
Fifty six per cent of complaints were reported by individuals and not by companies, showing that these offences can affect anyone at any time.
These fraud offences included losses of £367,000 where fraudsters abused a position of trust and losses of £308,000 by dating scams.
Detective Inspector Joanna Reeves, Head of Cyber Crime Unit, said: “The Lincolnshire figures demonstrate that this offence can happen to anyone at any time. The ever-growing technological climate is always changing, and that means that criminals are too.
“Trying to find the difference between a genuine e-mail from a company, and an e-mail from a cyber-criminal is getting more and more difficult for people to notice. Often it can simply be a wrongly-spelt word that is the only difference between a major co-operation site, and a fake website. However, there are ways to recognise the differences, but it means staying vigilant, even at busy times of the day, and reporting anything suspicious.
“We urge people to question who they are speaking to on the phone, to question why their friend is asking something that they would never normally ask, and to question why their bank has e-mailed them asking for urgent transfers of money. These are all symptoms of fraud crimes, and are a criminal offence.
“We are committing to catching these offenders, and reducing the amount of victims targeted by these crimes. However, we urge people to take simple steps to make the job of these criminals much, much harder. This can be anything from changing passwords regularly, refusing to give confidential information unless 100% confident in the source asking, and reporting any suspicions to us.
“Doing these simple steps can make the job of a cyber-fraudster much, much harder.”
Lincolnshire’s cyber-crime unit deals with five prevalent types of fraud offences:
Online dating and other social media
All fraud offences are illegal under the Fraud Act and offences can be punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
To find out more – visit Get Safe Online
Each day this week Lincolnshire Police are highlighting an area of criminal activity with a view to educating and building awareness and therefore protecting the county from falling victim. Not only will they be “summing up the cost” of cyber crime, they will also provide simple tips on how to protect yourself.
Today the focus is on dating scams, then phishing scams (Wednesday), computer software service fraud (Thursday), ransomware (Friday).
If you think you have been a victim of cyber-crime or have any information relating to a suspected cyber-crime, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 20 40.
If you need urgent assistance, contact the police on 101 or 999 if it is an emergency.