Police warn of fraud deceiving people in western Mercia

A warning has been issued by police after reports of new dating fraud making the rounds in Worcestershire.

The trend that the police warned against is emerging at the present time and is related to current global situations in war zones.

A victim meets someone on a dating site, who claims to work as a surgeon or doctor for the United Nations in a war zone like Syria or Ukraine.

The fraudster then asks for money to help them leave this country. This can often be accompanied by a new request for money because they have passport problems or are trying to take certain goods with them out of this country.

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Quite often the requested money goes to an overseas bank account, so check the sort code, and often the name on the bank account differs from the contact.

According to police, romance scammers use different tactics to gain the victim’s trust, but the underlying patterns are often similar.

As part of a nationwide crackdown on fraud, police are advising the public to:

  • Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could protect you.
  • Challenge: Could it be wrong? You can reject, refuse or ignore any request. Only criminals will try to rush you or panic you.
  • Protect: If you think you’ve been the victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

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A new hotline has been launched for people to report and verify financial scams as they occur.

159 was introduced by banks and telephone companies to combat fraud, and although it is still a pilot program, the majority of banks now subscribe to it.

A potential victim who dials 159 will automatically be connected to their bank’s fraud prevention service, which can often save them a long wait.

Anyone who receives a call or message from someone claiming to be from a trusted organization and suggesting that money should be transferred is asked to hang up and call 159.

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