Neighbourhood Watch Updates:
FREE CALL BLOCKING BEING ROLL OUT TO PROTECT VICTIMS FROM SCAM CALLS:
PCC Mark Shelford has welcomed a national rollout of free call blocking units to help protect people falling victims to phone scams.
Led by the National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team and in partnership with trueCall Secure+, the aim of the rollout is to prevent the public, especially vulnerable individuals, from receiving phone calls from fraudsters who are looking to obtain personal or financial information.
A call blocker is a unit that filters out unwanted scams and nuisance phone calls from a landline phone (the unit does not work with mobile phones).
In previous call block projects run by the NTS Scams Team, the units have blocked 91% of scam and nuisance calls.
The unit plugs into an existing landline phone and phone line, and can work alongside broadband and lifeline pendant devices that are already installed.
Those interested can find out more about call blocking units and how they work here.
You can check your eligibility for a free call blocker, please start the questionnaire on the Friends Against Scams website.
PCC Mark Shelford said: “It’s great to see that NTS Scams Team have received funding to rollout call blockers, a key tool to help prevent people from falling victim to scammers and rogue traders.
“Heartless fraudsters have no qualms targeting those most vulnerable in our communities so it is more important than ever that we take steps to help protect people. If you or a loved one is interested in a free call blocker, please do visit the Friends Against Scams website to find out more.”
Please see below or the attached for active links: https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/cbvideo
Don’t always believe what your told or hear on the phone says the Police:
Police are urging anyone who receives a call or message from somebody claiming to be from a trusted organisation and who suggests money should be transferred to hang up and dial 159, which connects people safely to their bank’s fraud prevention service.
Please see the attached document for more information on this service, which could potentially save your life savings.
Please read this Attachment: pcc-says-stop-hang-up-and-call-159.pdf
National Stalking Awareness Week
This week (24 – 28 April) marks National Stalking Awareness Week, a campaign run by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to raise awareness of the issue of stalking and the importance of personal safety.
Please see the attached document for more information.
New Government’s New Emergency Alert System via your Mobile Phone:
The UK government’s new Emergency Alerts system is now live. The system will enable people to be contacted via their mobile phone when lives are in danger. It will be used to warn you in the event of emergencies, such as severe flooding. There will be a national test of the UK Emergency Alerts System on Sunday 23 April. For more information please click here
A family in Yeovil have been subject of fraud within the past week. Cold Callers aka “Nottingham Knockers” attended the property and advised the resident that the roof was unsafe and posed a danger to the children living within. Clearly using a tactic of fear, the homeowner parted with over £1000 for remedial works, with a further demand shortly after “from the Specialists” of another £40,000. This was declined and immediately reported to Police.
Please do NOT fall foul to any unsolicited rogue traders:
The police want to remind residents they are under no obligation to answer the door to anyone they don’t know or aren’t expecting.
Police always recommend using a door chain and asking to see the identification of unexpected callers.
If you are suspicious of a caller ring 999 straight away
• keep your cash in the bank, not at home
• keep windows and doors secured if you are not in the room
Remember, genuine callers:
Expect you to check their identification before opening the door
• would never try to rush you by claiming there is an emergency
• will happily make an appointment to come back when you can have a relative or friend with you.
Take time to consider your options and research costs from other providers, if in doubt contact your local trading standards
If you feel pressured by any cold caller, have the confidence to be firm and say no.
Remember, it is your home, your choice. You have any works completed when you are ready, not when they are! Say NO.
Any information or similar incidents please contact the Police on 101 quoting reference number: 5222166807 stating
NHW release. Or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Thank you for your support.
“Phishing”, are text messages and emails that impersonate well-known organisations to trick people into revealing personal and financial information. Please see the attached document for more information and ways to combat this fraud.
We’re issuing images of a man we want to speak to after a woman was sexually assaulted while attending a festival in Shepton Mallet.
The victim, who is 17 years old, was assaulted near the main stage of the NASS festival, sometime between 8.15pm and 9.15pm on Sunday 10 July.
The man is described as around 6ft, of broad/muscular build, in his twenties, and he was wearing a white top and carrying a black bag.
If you recognise this man, please call us on 101 and give the call handler the reference number 5222164040. You can also call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They never ask for your name or trace your call.
CATALYTIC CONVERTER THEFT – IT’S ONE OF THE FASTEST RISING CRIMES IN THE UK, BUT WHY? –
There to help ‘clean’ the exhaust gas from vehicles, the metals catalytic converters are made of are becoming more and more valuable, some being more valuable than gold! – They’re easy to steal. Organised criminals have found ways to get under cars and steal converters in a matter of minutes, with cars parked up on curbs being the easiest targets. – They’re pretty small items, so once stolen they’re easy to move around to sell on the black market here in the UK or abroad. Our campaign is here with support from @ourwatch to help you learn the signs to spot if it’s happening in your area, the best tips on how to protect your vehicle from becoming an easy target, and as always our charity is here to give you a 100% anonymous way to speak up with any information you have that could put a stop to it. Call 0800 555 111 or head online to learn more. https://bit.ly/2RBlfwx Organised criminals can remove catalytic converters from under a vehicle in a matter of minutes. Catalytic converters contain precious metals such as rhodium, platinum and palladium which ‘clean’ exhaust gases. The sharp rise in the value of these metals over recent years has driven up the rate of catalytic converter theft. Palladium is currently more valuable than gold, meaning that a catalytic converter can sell for more than £500 on the black market. If you have information on those behind catalytic converter theft, contact us 100% anonymously. Catalytic converter theft is a crime and leaves drivers with an average replacement bill of £1,300. In some cases, the vehicle may even be written off by the damage caused by thieves sawing converters from the exhaust. This crime can also cause immense stress and anxiety to victims, with some drivers being repeatedly targeted. If you are approached to buy catalytic converters which you suspect may be stolen, you can contact us 100% anonymously to tell us what you know. We don’t need to know your name, just as much information as you can give us, such as the whereabouts of the criminals and who they are selling the metal to.
14/01/2022 Update re TV Licencing Scams
We have been made aware that the TV Licencing scam email appears to be going round again, no doubt a lot of you may have seen this before, if you have not, an example of what to look out for is attached to this alert. It is worth noting it may look different in other versions of the scam so do please remain alert and watch out for the obvious errors, such as:
– Sent from a random email address
– Spelling mistakes
– Poor grammar
– Obvious attempts to gain your personal details
A second scam has also been highlighted following fraudsters claiming to represent the Postcode Lottery. A withheld number called one of our members stating they had won £349 and an amount of Holiday vouchers. As the call progressed the NHW member began to suspect all was not as it seemed and at the point the gentleman with the oversees accent asked for updated bank details the call was fortunately terminated.
Do please remain aware of these attempts and if in any doubt, stop and check.
Updated: 08/12/2021 9788 Somerset Areas – Patio Door & General Winter Security.
Please take just a few moments to view the attached documents.
These will give you some good advice relating to both Winter security, as the nights have now drawn in, and Patio Door security.
Paul Johnson NHW Admin
Updated: 08/12/2021 9788 Somerset Areas – Bristol Water Scam (Phone Calls)
We have been made aware of a current scam were the caller claims to be from Bristol Water. The caller explains that they are checking customer details as part of a review and to ensure the details are accurate. They may also claim a payment has been missed and financial details are required to bring the account up to date, please DO NOT do this.
We do know already they will target your bank account / credit card as one victim found out when the following morning £500 had been stolen from their card.
Should you receive this telephone call, simply HANG UP and DO NOT part with your personal details.
Call your water provider, look for their correct phone number on your bill.
To read the latest “Our Watch” Newsletter, Click the link below:
05/11/21 – Spiked Drinks Warning
Please read the attached document for information on spotting the symptoms of drink spiking and what to do if you think you’ve been spiked.
Please share this information where possible.
29/10/21 – Vehicle Crime
At some point between Saturday 23 October and Monday the 25th, someone has damaged a vehicle while it was parked on Fore Street, Tatworth, by scratching an “X” into the paintwork of one of the doors.
If you have any information about this incident, please call the Police on 101 and quote Reference number: 5221253310. Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111
09/08/21 7164 Northeast/Bristol/Somerset – Vaccine Passport Scams
Please see the attached document for information from ActionFraud about fake emails claiming to be from the NHW. These say they can provide people with a “digital passport” to prove you’ve been vaccinated, but have links within them that can steal personal and financial information.
03/08/2021. Somerset Areas :-
More than 1000 wearable tech wristbands handed out to safeguard people living with dementia.
More than 1000 wearable tech wristbands have now been handed out as part of the Avon and Somerset Dementia Safeguarding Scheme, launched last year in collaboration with the Senior Citizen Liaison Team Charity.
Using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, the wristband stores essential information about the wearer, including their name and details of next of kin. This information can be used by emergency services, health professionals or community members to get the wearer back to safety should they be found whilst lost or confused.
There are still plenty of wristbands available to the public and care homes, free of charge thanks to charitable funding. Sgt Stuart King, who leads the initiative in addition to his role as a response officer said “I have been overwhelmed with the positive attention and wider support this scheme has received from the public. To hear the positive feedback and reassurance that the scheme brings to families and the people living with Dementia makes it all worthwhile.
“I would like to thank Bristol Dementia Action Alliance Charity, Senior Citizen Liaison Team Charity, Wessex Water, Bristol Water and Western Power Distribution for the funding to purchase the NFC wristbands.”
To apply for a wristband, visit the Dementia Safeguarding Scheme (also known as the Herbert Protocol).
Further information can be found here. Further support for families affected by dementia is available at the Avon and Somerset Dementia Forum on Facebook.
21/07/2021 9788 Somerset Areas – New partnership helps police protect victims targeted by fraudsters in gift card scams.
Avon and Somerset Police have identified and supported a number of fraud victims thanks to a new partnership with supermarkets designed to help prevent scams.
Fraud Protect Officers launched the initiative back in April after seeing a noticeable rise in scam cases where victims were being asked to purchase gift cards instead of sending money in the more typical ways. We have since been contacted multiple times by stores who have recognised the signs of customers being coerced into buying gift cards by fraudsters.
In most cases the requests for gift cards have been a part of a bigger scam where victims have unwittingly handed over thousands of pounds to criminals over a period of time.
What are scams involving gift cards?
It normally starts by fraudsters trying to gain the trust of their victim, and this process can happen over a period of weeks or months. It can be via the internet with someone posing as a person they are not, often involving an element of romance, or over the phone with a fraudster who is lying, claiming to be working for a reputable organisation, such as the police or HMRC.
Having gained the victim’s trust, they will ask them to purchase gift cards for them and will typically invent a time-critical reason as to why they need the victim to help them.
Once the victim has bought the gift cards they are then asked to provide the individual number on the vouchers. The fraudsters may drain the value of the card, but typically sell the gift cards on. They will usually then ask the victim to go and buy more for them.
Fraud protect officer Amy Horrobin said: “In a large number of these cases, sadly, the victim is taken in by the scam because they are trying to help others, whether that be someone they believe to be a love interest, or a reputable agency.
“These fraudsters are unscrupulous and are only interested in taking people’s money.
—Amy Horrobin, fraud protect officer
“It is brilliant that people are increasingly wary that they shouldn’t hand over banking information or transfer money to people they don’t know, but it means these fraudsters are coming up with more elaborate ways to steal innocent victims’ cash. People don’t tend to associate gift cards so readily with scams.
“If you have been a victim, please report it.”
What are Avon and Somerset Police doing?
We approached several supermarkets in the spring and encouraged them to make their staff aware of these scams and provided them with three simple steps to follow:
•If a transaction seems suspicious, don’t be afraid to challenge the customer and what the purchases are for
•Look out for anyone who appears to be nervous or anxious about what they are doing
•Report it to the police if you think someone is in danger, or a crime is being committed
Fraudsters in years gone by have asked victims to buy iTunes or Amazon vouchers, but we have seen an increasing number of crimes involving the purchase of Steam cards. Steam is an online platform where people can download and play games.
Our proactive work has led to staff at Sainsbury’s stores across the force area – or at Argos stores based within the supermarkets – to recognise several customers as a potential fraud victim. They have referred those incidents to us, allowing us to investigate and support the victim by firstly helping them to realise that they are a victim of fraud, and then providing them with advice and the tools to keep themselves safe in the future.
The incidents reported to us include: •Sainsbury’s in Taunton contacted us in May amid concerns for a shopper who had made several purchases of Steam cards totalling £140. When we made contact with the victim, it transpired they had been contacted by several people via a gaming app claiming to be single mothers unable to feed their children. In total, he parted with approximately £2,000.
•That same month, a customer who had bought a number of Steam gift cards over a period of weeks then tried to buy a £500 voucher. When approached by staff at Argos in Street, she said she had been asked to buy them for a man living in America who wanted to marry her. We made contact with the victim and established she was the victim of romance fraud. She had been in conversation online with someone with a fake profile and had sent a total of £4,000 to the fraudster.
•And in June a shopper in Bridgwater attempted to purchase two £500 Steam gift cards. They had been phoned by someone claiming to be a police officer, claiming a car had been found in Wales with paperwork linking the vehicle to them and that it also contained drugs and guns. The fraudster said that unless gift cards were bought then the woman could be arrested. We’re continuing to support the victim with advice to help them deal with any future phone scam attempts.
We have contacted other supermarkets too and hope to extend this initiative further in the future to prevent more people being scammed.
Fraud protect officer Jordan Coates said: “We’re really grateful for how seriously Sainsbury’s have taken this issue and supported our fraud prevention work. Their staff have allowed us to intervene and almost certainly prevented victims losing out on large sums of money.”
How to spot the signs of gift card scams
Key signs of a gift card scam are:
•Someone you don’t know, or haven’t met in person, asks you to buy gift cards for them
•Often they will claim it is an emergency
•They will often pull at heart-strings and say you are the only person they can turn to
Our advice to anyone who is asked to buy gift cards is to remember that they will never be a legitimate form of payment under any circumstances, so these requests will certainly be part of a scam. Payment in the form of gift cards is convenient for the fraudster, less likely to be intercepted, and difficult to trace back to them, compared with bank transfers.
Amy continued: “Victims often feel pressurised into buying the gift cards by the situation the fraudster places themselves in. This is a deliberate ploy to prey on the victim’s emotions and seek them to make a decision that rationally they would not make otherwise.
“We would urge anyone who finds themselves in this situation to take a step back and think ‘could this be a scam?’ and to ask someone else’s opinion if unsure. If contacted by an organisation saying they need you to buy gift cards, it’s safe to assume it’s a scam.”
Jordan added: “The police, bank or other reputable organisation will never ask you to obtain gift cards for them, in the same way they will never ask for your PIN number or you to withdraw money for them. If unsure, find a phone number for them – don’t use any number provided by the suspect – and call them to check.
“If you are asked to obtain gift cards by someone you have been speaking to online, you are likely a victim of romance fraud.”
Advice from victims
Some of the victims we have helped in recent weeks and months have offered the following advice to people.
One female victim said: “Tell someone else about what is being asked of you. I have a carer who could have helped me but the fraudster told me I could not tell anyone. I felt very isolated and frightened.”
A male victim advises checking how many profile pictures a new request has and look at their biography or description. He said if he’s never met them, they only have two or three photos and minimal personal details he will not engage with them online.
He added: “The language my scammer used was fractured and often did not make sense.”
He went on to praise the work of Avon and Somerset Police fraud protect team, saying: “Thank you Amy and Jordan for everything you have done and continue to do. You saved me a lot of money and I hope by speaking out it helps others.”
How to report scams
Under-reporting is a real issue with these sorts of crimes as victims wrongly believe they would be wasting our time, there’s nothing that can be done or they feel embarrassed by what has happened.
We urge anyone in this situation to report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at http://www.actionfraud.police.uk
19/07/2021 9788 Somerset Areas – ASB (anti-social behaviour) Awareness Week 19th / 25th.
To mark UK’s first ASB Awareness Week, Avon and Somerset Constabulary has joined a national campaign that is bringing together people and organisations from across the country to take a stand against anti-social behaviour and make our communities safer.
Running from July 19 to 25, ASB Awareness Week – Making Communities Safer aims to encourage communities to take a stand against ASB and highlight the options available to those facing it.
Organised by community safety specialists Resolve, ASB Awareness Week is being backed by the Home Office, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Local Government Association (LGA), National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the National Fire Chiefs’ Council (NFCC).
Within Avon and Somerset Constabulary we are conducting both an Internal and External Awareness drive during this week. We are show casing the excellent work our neighbourhood Policing team, Anti-Social Behaviour Teams and victim Care services carry out on a daily basis to ensure that officers across the force are aware of just what we can do to support victims.
‘Its just ASB’. Far too often this phrase can be used to describe the actions of people in the community that are having a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of others, which can lead to victims of ASB being persistently targeted. We as a Police Force want to directly challenge that view and ensure that the victims of Anti Asocial Behaviour in the communities of Avon and Somerset know they have the support of our organisation and partners and have the confidence to report any incident of ASB to the Police.
Chief Inspector Rob Cheeseman (Force Lead Officer for Anti-Social Behaviour) said: “This is a very exciting and important week to be part of. To have the opportunity to raise the awareness of Anti-Social Behaviour to our communities is fantastic. It can never be underestimated the affects ASB can have on the victims, and I want to encourage all victims of Anti-Social Behaviour to have the confidence to report incidents to the Police and allow us to investigate, deliver problem solving and sign post victims to partnership support services.
Attached to this email is a Poster detailing ASB Awareness Week, and we would ask that all members of the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme show support to this week and put these posters in to your community to help raise awareness.
Rebecca Bryant OBE, chief executive of Resolve, said: “We need to change the way we think about ASB. It is not low-level crime. It devastates the lives of victims and communities and can be a precursor to more serious crime.
“As the nation begins to recover from the impact of the pandemic and our society and economy celebrates the start of return to normal life, it is important that the challenge of ASB continues to be given the priority it needs nationally and locally so that people feel safe in their homes and communities.
“We are delighted to have Avon and Somerset Constabulary involved in this hugely important and successful campaign.
“It is vital to develop partnership approaches across communities to deal with the growing challenges around ASB.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe in their home and community.”
For more information visit http://www.resolveuk.org.uk/asbawarenessweek
If you would you like more information on reporting ASB or the services that can be offered please contact your Local Policing Team.