Warning of fraudsters impersonating police officers
The Commissioner has given his support for a campaign launched today by the Police Service of Northern Ireland which urges the public, in particular older people, to be vigilant of people impersonating police officers.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Wilson from the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Economic Crime Unit said: “Today we have launched a campaign in response to recent reports from older people in the community stating they had been duped out of money by persons who had phoned them purporting to be police officers.
“These criminals use a plethora of scenarios to dupe people into not only giving them money, but also passing their bank details to them. The fraudsters have asked victims to withdraw money from their accounts and hand over bank cards, jewellery and other valuables. They have even asked victims to leave cash outside their homes.
“The telephone number from which these criminals are calling may look authentic but it is not. Please remember - police will never ring you asking for such details.
Detective Chief Inspector Wilson continued: “These criminals can be very persuasive and they play on the fear they instil in their innocent victims.
“I am advising the public to be vigilant at all times and to be aware that police officers will never call you and ask for cash, bank details or questions about valuable possessions. It is vital people remember this to prevent any further cases happening.
“If you get a similar call please put the phone down and report the call via our 101 system. Do not provide any personal details to the caller. If you have older relatives or family members, please take time to share this information with them so they can be fully aware of this type of scam.
“Our message is simple – never disclose your personal or banking details to anyone over the phone or online, no matter how convincing they may seem, and never allow an unauthorised person to have access to such details.
“Guarding your personal and banking details is essential. Never disclose them to any unauthorised person or allow anyone access to them via your computer.”
Discussing the campaign, The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland,
Eddie Lynch said: “It’s appalling, but unfortunately not surprising, that there are people out there who would go to the extremes of impersonating a police officer in order to deliberately dupe an older person. Scammers know that older people may be more vulnerable than others to the techniques that they use, and that’s why they callously target them.
“Fear of being scammed is a common concern I hear from older people, which is why the work that the ScamwiseNI partnership carries out to raise awareness of these fraudsters, is so important. Being a victim of a scam can have a serious impact on a person’s mental health and wellbeing, particularly with more vulnerable people. It can damage their sense of trust, security and independence and cause relationships to break down.
“I would encourage everyone, including relatives and close friends of older people, to be aware and vigilant against anyone purporting to be a police officer and asking for money, and to report any suspicious activity to the PSNI on 101 or Action Fraud.”
If you have received a call of this kind or are concerned by the intent of unsolicited calls, emails or letters then please report it to Action Fraud via their website www.actionfraud.police.uk or by phoning 0300 123 2040, or call police on the non-emergency number 101.
For further advice and information visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni . ScamwiseNI has recently issued some helpful videos which show how these type of scams can take place and the terrible impacts for the victims.