Neighbourhood Watch Updates:
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.
23/06/2021 9788 Somerset – Covid Digital Passport Scam.
A new scam has been identified targeting the Covid Digital Passport scheme. Fortunately it appears this fraudulent website has since been closed, but as per the attached document there will undoubtedly be others so please remain aware.
26/05/2021 Warning issued following series of catalytic converter thefts in Somerset.
We’re asking the public to remain vigilant following a recent series of thefts from vehicles in the East Somerset area.
During the hours of 10.30pm on Sunday 23 May and 12.30am on Monday 24 May, we received seven separate reports about suspected catalytic converter thefts at addresses in Castle Cary, Sparkford, North Cadbury and Bruton.
In a small number of these incidents, the victims were subjected to threatening behaviour by the offenders after attempting to intervene.
An area tour to locate the offenders was conducted by officers on the ground with the assistance of the National Police Air Service (NPAS).
Officers are keen to identify the drivers of two silver saloon cars – a Mercedes and a BMW – seen in the area around the time the thefts took place and are working with neighbouring police forces as part of their enquiries.
Anyone with any information that could help police with their investigation is asked to call on 101 quoting crime ref no 5221113393.
Catalytic converter theft is currently both a force-wide and a national issue, and high visibility police patrols have been stepped up in response.
Catalytic converters are attractive to thieves due to the metals inside them such as platinum, palladium or rhodium. These metals have surged in value recently, leading organised crime networks to commit more offences.
They can take less than a minute for a thief to cut and remove.
While hybrid cars – such as older Toyota Prius and Honda Jazz models – are particularly likely to be targeted for their catalytic converters, we are currently receiving reports about thefts from various types of vehicles. These are occurring during daylight hours as well as overnight.
Many catalytic converters are also being sold as replacements and we are keen to hear from vehicle dismantlers and advertisers, should they be approached by sellers who don’t have the requisite documents to show ownership.
If you witness a theft in progress
• Approach the thieves or place yourself at risk
• Call 999
• Obtain car registrations, and detailed descriptions of offenders, ONLY IF SAFE TO DO SO
If you discover a theft after it has happened
• Report it to police on 101 or via our website as soon as possible.
For advice on how to protect your vehicle from thieves, visit https://crimestoppers-uk.org/keeping-safe/home-property-safety/catalytic-converter-theft
You can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111or via their Anonymous Online Form.
No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court or have to speak to police when contacting Crimestoppers.
Update: 18/03/2021 9788 Somerset: Prolific burglars, robbers and thieves to be fitted with GPS tags in Avon and Somerset.
Avon and Somerset Police is one of six forces taking part in a world-first scheme involving burglars, thieves and robbers being made to wear GPS tags on release from prison.
With more than half of those convicted of theft and burglary reoffending within a year, this will be a vital extra source of intelligence to help police catch these persistent offenders.
Under new rules, offenders committing acquisitive crimes that have served a prison sentence of a year or more will be automatically fitted with a tag on release, allowing their whereabouts to be monitored by GPS satellites 24 hours a day for up to 12 months.
Police will work with HM Prison and Probation Service staff to investigate whether those on the tags have been in the vicinity of recent offences. It could provide the crucial evidence needed to catch the perpetrators.
The intention is the tags will also act as a deterrent, protecting the public from further burglaries and thefts and targeting so-called ‘career criminals’.
Minister for Crime and Policing, Kit Malthouse MP said: “Being burgled or robbed is devastating and I understand how frustrating it is when the perpetrators can’t be caught, both for the public and the police.
“Tagging these prolific offenders so we know where they are 24 hours a day should be powerful persuasion to change their ways and will help police find and charge them if they don’t. It’s another tool helping probation staff to cut crime and keep the public safe.”
National Police Chief’s Council Electronic Monitoring Lead, Deputy Chief Constable Jon Stratford said: “Tagging prolific offenders provides a strong deterrent and means officers will be able to quickly arrest and gather evidence against anyone suspected of being involved in a robbery, burglary or other theft.
“This scheme will play a part in our overall work to prevent crime and keep our communities safe.”
DCI Dickon Turner, who leads the Integrated Offender Management team at Avon and Somerset Police, said: “We’re pleased to be one of the initial six forces taking part in this scheme and we estimate around 60 offenders will be tagged within the first six months in our force area.
“This innovative partnership approach will provide another tool we can use to help break the cycle of re-offending and reduce the amount of acquisitive crime committed.
“We know these crimes cause untold misery to victims. We believe this scheme will intensify our ability to tackle these offences head-on and bring prolific offenders to justice.”
The scheme will initially launch in six police force areas (Avon and Somerset, Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Gwent, Humberside and West Midlands) on 12 April and will be extended to a further 13 areas in September.
Police officers will be able to submit any offences they are investigating to a dedicated unit overseen by HM Prison and Probation Service. Trained staff will then be able to check the location history of those on tags against the details of the crime, allowing police to either rule out or investigate suspects further.
The joined up nature of this work builds on the recently updated Integrated Offender Management strategy, which sees police and the Probation Service working together to reduce neighbourhood crime.
Avon and Somerset Police. 16/03/2021 Criminal Damage Outbuilding.
An outbuilding has been broken into sometime on the 14th in Dommett Moor, Buckland St Mary. The offender has unlawfully entered the garden cabin causing damage to wall sockets and electrical cables in what would appear to be an act of vandalism.
Any information please contact the Police on 101 quoting Ref number: 5221055242 stating NHW Release or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. Thank you for your support.
Avon and Somerset Police. 10/03/2021: Phone fraud warning after incidents reported in Somerset.
We’re reminding people to be cautious and recognise signs of telephone and courier fraud following a number of reported incidents in Somerset in recent days.
We’re investigating four reports in the Bridgwater area of fraudsters phoning potential victims and claiming to be police officers dealing with fraud.
In one instance, a woman in her 90s living in Sedgemoor, was called by a fraudster falsely claiming to be working for police in Bournemouth. He told her officers had arrested someone who had her account details and claimed her bank were involved in the scam.
He went on to encourage her to take out a four-figure sum from her bank and to lie to cashiers about why she was making such a large withdrawal, before handing it over to a ‘courier’ who would give her a password when he arrived. She duly handed the money to the fake ‘courier’ and also provided personal banking information over the phone, which led to money also being stolen from her account.
Fraud protect officer Amy Horrobin said: “Fraudsters tend to prey on the elderly and vulnerable people but anyone can be a victim. There’s no shame in being tricked by these professional criminals, they can be very convincing.
“We must stress though police will never asking you to make a withdrawal from your bank for an investigation. They will never ask you to hand over personal banking details, such as your PIN. And they will never ask you to hand money to a courier who will collect it. The same goes for banks and other legitimate organisations and agencies.
“It is difficult during a phone call out of the blue to always think clearly, especially if the subject appears at face value to be very serious.
“So if you are unsure if what you’re being told may be a scam, then hang up the phone – the person at the other end of the phone will not be offended by you being cautious, if they are who they claim to be.
“Leave it five minutes, make sure you hear a dialling tone and the person who called initially has cleared the line, before then calling the organisation or company back. Use a number they advertise on their website or in the phone book. Don’t use any number the person gives you.
“Alternatively call police on 101 or speak to someone you know for further advice.”
We are also aware of an unsuccessful attempt to defraud someone living near Glastonbury too over the past week.
Crime prevention advice
Genuine callers, such as from a bank, police or crime agency, will:
* never ask you to withdraw cash for them
* never arrange for cash to be collected by a courier
* never ask for bank card details
* never ask for your PIN
We’d urge any other victims in the Bridgwater area to come forward and contact the police on 101, giving reference number 5221045252.
More information on how to prevent being a victim of fraud is available on Action Fraud’s website and we’d ask people to spread the message to friends and family, especially people living alone, to prevent further victims.
22/02/2021 9788 Somerset: National Insurance Scam (Telephone Call)
We have been made aware that a scam has been circulating where the offender is claiming either your National Insurance number has been compromised or has been used in serious crime. This scam is conducted via a telephone call which is automated, promptly followed by the usual request for action on the part of the recipient to press 1 on the keypad, again ‘please do not do this’. You may feel pressured into doing so as the message may state they are from the National Crime Agency, ‘they are not’. This is a scam.
If you receive a call claiming your National Insurance number has been compromised asking you to press a button on your keypad, please terminate the call.
Any general National Insurance enquiries can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/national-insurance-enquiries-for-employees-and-individuals
Please Read: 08/01/21 Covid Scam (Fake Text)
Trading Standards and some of our Neighbourhood Watch Schemes have made us aware of a scam being used by criminals. A text message, claiming to be from the NHS, is going around asking you to register to receive the immunisation, but which also asks for your personal information and debit/credit card details.
The vaccination is only available on the NHS, and you will not have to pay for it.
At the moment local surgeries are arranging appointments, and they will not ask your for any bank or credit card details.
27/10/20 7164 Forcewide – Operation Drive Insured 2020
Please read the attached document, which gives information about our latest campaign, Operation Drive Insured 2020, which runs between Monday 26 October to Sunday 1 November. This campaign illustrates the impact uninsured drivers can have on people’s wellbeing. Some drivers knowingly driver without insurance, but are you mistakenly uninsured?
1/10/20 9788 Somerset: Drone used as officers recover stolen farming equipment in Somerset.
Police working as part of Operation Remedy are investigating after stolen farm equipment was recovered overnight using a drone to conduct a search.
Response officers were initially called to reports of a curtain sided lorry loading what was suspected to be a stolen tractor in a lane near Tintinhull, South Somerset at around 8.30pm yesterday (20 October).
The lorry was located heading into Wiltshire on the A303 and a John Deere tractor stolen from Puckington, near Ilminster was found inside. The driver, a 32-year-old man, was arrested on suspicion of theft.
The force drone unit was then deployed to conduct a search for a second item suspected to have been stolen. A high value Manitou Telehandler was located hidden within a large hedge and has now been safety returned to its owner.
Stolen farming equipment hidden in a hedge was located using a drone and then recovered by officers, as shown in the body worn video footage below:
DI Scott Chadwick, investigating, said: “This is a fantastic example of how the use of technology, in combination with intelligence provided to us by the local community, can help us respond to suspected crimes in progress.
“We’re delighted to be able to return the stolen farming property to its owner so they can continue their essential work.
“We continue to urge anyone that spots any suspicious activity to report it to police on 101. If it is an emergency or you witness a crime in progress, please call 999.”
Anyone with information relating to this specific incident is asked to call 101, quoting reference 5219206787.
If you can help, please call 101and give the call handler the reference number 5219206787
You can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111or via their Anonymous Online Form.
No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court or have to speak to police when contacting Crimestoppers.
Fancy becoming a Police Officer in your spare time?
HMRC Scams (Ongoing – Remain Alert). 09/09/20
Fraudsters continue to contact residents claiming to be from HMRC (the Tax Office) claiming that they owe money and that an arrest warrant will be issued if they don’t hand over payment.
A Keynsham resident received a voicemail asking them to call back on a certain number, and when the resident called he was told that he owed money to HMRC and that he would be sent to court if he didn’t pay. The victim was told to purchase Amazon gift cards as the tax office was closed due to the Covid-19 virus and they couldn’t accept debit card payment. Sadly these were purchased and the codes and reference numbers were handed over during another call at significant cost, furthermore I have just been notified of a similar incident in Cheddar, however this time the Scam was spotted by a Neighbourhood Watch member.
These offenders are very convincing, using the fear of arrest to panic their victims into handing over payment for the non-existing debts. They may give passwords and fake identity names and “badge” numbers.
Be assured that HMRC will never telephone you threatening court proceedings as a first contact, and they certainly don’t take gift cards as a means of payment. If you receive one of these calls, hang up immediately. If you are concerned contact your local tax office using a phone number from previous printed communication or from the phonebook. Never use a phone number provided by the scammer.
Dated: 21/08/20 9788 Somerset: Important Scam Update
This morning one of our Coordinators has kindly advised us that another of their members received an automated telephone call claiming to be from Amazon stating that they had opened an Amazon Prime Account.
They are then told if they wish to cancel they should press 1 on their keypad.
The call is then transferred to a fraudster posing as an Amazon operative who will then advise them the purchase went through as a result of a “Security Flaw” on their computer.
They will then ask for remote access to your computer to “rectify this problem”, this is to steal your personal information.
NEVER ALLOW ANYONE TO REMOTELY ACCESS YOUR PERSONAL COMPUTER IF THEY HAVE CONTACTED YOU.
Dated: 03/08/20 7164 Northeast & Somerset – Community support helps officers disperse gatherings
We were able to disperse a number of large gatherings across our force area on Saturday 1 August thanks to support from our communities.
Events in Bristol, Bathampton and in Cheddar Gorge were disrupted after members of the public called to inform us, they were taking place. It follows recent calls from the force for residents to let us know when events were happening.
We received several reports from 2pm onwards about an unlicensed music event taking place in Dame Emily Park in Bedminster, Bristol, which was attended by several hundred people. Officers attended and engaged with the organisers who agreed to stop the music at 6pm.
Emergency services subsequently received further calls about anti-social behaviour in the park at 9.30pm, with hundreds of people reported standing around a bonfire. Police returned to the park along with the fire service leading to those gathering leaving soon afterwards.
In Bathampton, several calls were made to our non-emergency number 101 about a rave being set up at approximately 11.35pm. Officers engaged with the land owners who did not support the event and additional resources were brought in. A large number of vehicles attempting to arrive were subsequently turned away while a dispersal order was put in place which required those already in attendance to leave.
The local neighbourhood policing team in Cheddar were also called into action when a large number of vehicles started to gather in the Gorge from 3pm onwards. Additional resources were again brought in and officers worked with organisers to bring an end to the event. Several motorists were also issued with individual dispersal notices.
Chief Inspector Nigel Colston said: “Our ability to disrupt large gatherings and raves is significantly enhanced when we have the support of our communities. We’re extremely grateful for the assistance provided to us this weekend which enabled us to take action and bring an end to events which started to frustrate local residents. We hope people appreciate we can’t always charge in to situations to bring them to an early finish and there may well be some disruption until we can safely disperse people from the area.
“All of the events we disrupted this weekend were in motion before officers attended but we were able to negotiate with organisers and participants and encourage them to leave or issue orders requiring them to. The sooner we’re made aware of events taking place the quicker we can act and I’d like to thank all those who called us yesterday to report their concerns, it helped enormously.”
21/07/20 9788 Somerset: Chief Constable outlines increasing demand as lockdown eases.
The attached document contains a statement from Chief Constable Andy Marsh, who explains the demand the police faced over the last weekend. It provides an insight of some of the things the police have dealt with during just one weekend.
24/06/20 9788 Somerset: Warning after phone fraud in Somerset costs victim £13,000
People in Somerset are being reminded to be vigilant of telephone fraudsters following several reports of scams in the past fortnight.
We’ve been contacted by one person who lost £13,000, while we’ve received four similar reports this month from others. The five victims live in the area around Chard.
In all five cases the victims received calls from scammers posed as police officers from London. They claimed the victims’ money was at risk from a rogue bank employee and asked them to make a substantial withdrawal from their bank, but not tell staff why they wanted to take out such a large amount of cash. Two of the victims hung up on the call and reported the matter to the police.
The other three victims attended their local bank, but in two cases the bank staff felt the circumstances were suspicious and informed Avon and Somerset Police.
In the third instance, the victim took out £13,000 and left the money to be picked up by a male courier, described as white, 5ft 10ins to 6ft, with messy hair – dirty blond to grey hair in colour – dark trousers, dark grey top, logo on the right side and of medium build, with no discernible accent.
The two victims – both women in their 70s – who were prevented from withdrawing the money by their bank, have issued advice to people who may find themselves in a similar situation.
One said: “My advice would be to discuss it with a family member or talk to someone who is close to you before you proceed.”
The second victim said: “I feel very, very stupid. I feel so small, stupid and pathetic.
“I’ve never come into contact with that side of life so it didn’t occur to me that it might be a scam.”
When asked what advice she would give to others who may find themselves in a similar situation, she replied: “Put the phone down and report it to police.”
Neither the police nor the banks will ask you for banking details or PIN numbers on the phone. Similarly, they would never send a courier to collect bank cards or money.
Our message is – don’t discuss your finances with anyone who calls you out of the blue, even if they claim to be a police officer or a representative from a bank fraud department.
Genuine callers will be happy for you to make an appointment to visit them at a bank branch or police station. They will never ask you to withdraw cash on their behalf; arrange for cash to be collected by a courier; ask for details about your bank card; or ask for the PIN on your card.
If you know someone who may be vulnerable to this type of offence, please speak to them and share our crime prevention tips and remind them of the threat from telephone fraudsters.
People who receive a call on their landline and are asked to contact their local police station or bank to verify the caller’s details ideally need to put the receiver down and not touch it for five minutes, just in case the fraudster has kept the line open. Ensure you have a dialling tone before re-using. Ideally use another phone such as a mobile phone or a neighbour’s phone and use 101 to verify the call.
We would also appeal to taxi drivers who are asked to collect parcels – especially from elderly – to be vigilant and contact us if they are suspicious.
DS Louise Sinclair said: “The trusting nature of elderly and vulnerable victims is often preyed on by criminals who target them.
“Under no circumstances should people withdraw cash from their bank accounts as a result of a telephone call, and if you have received a call like this, or ever do so in the future, please do report it so we can put a stop to this crime.
“I can understand why anyone who has lost money to fraudsters in this way may be reluctant to report it because of feeling ashamed or embarrassed, but there is no need to be. We know how devious and cunning these people are.
“Any legitimate bank employee or police officer would never ask you to withdraw money, transfer it to a different account or send a courier to pick up your money. Bank staff will never ask you to reveal your full banking password or PIN and they would never ask you not to tell bank staff why you are withdrawing money.
“Contact your bank immediately if you think you have fallen victim to a scam and report it to Action Fraud.”
Anyone with information about the incidents in Somerset should call 101 and quote reference 5220128467.
More information on protecting yourself from fraud is available on our website and from Action Fraud.