Fraud occurs when someone gains something or attempts to gain something of value, usually money or property, from a victim by knowingly making a misrepresentation.
Someone’s conduct must be dishonest, their intentions must be to make a gain, cause a loss or risk of loss to another, but no gain or loss needs to actually take place for the offence to be complete.
For more information on fraud, visit the Action Fraud website.
Protecting yourself from fraud
Watch out for scam messages: Don't click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.
Shopping online: If you're making a purchase from a company or person you don't know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.
Ransomware: Ransomware is a key priority for businesses to protect themselves against. This form of malicious software prevents you from accessing your computer, suspects normally requesting you make a payment (the ransom) to unlock it. Such attacks can have a devestating impact on business, more so in these times as businesses, their IT companies and the wider security industry may have less capacity to respond to these attacks with staff being abstracted or self-isolated.
It is vital companies make regular backups of important files that are not connected directly to the network or their devices. Keep your operating systems and apps updated and ensure you use anti-virus software, keep it turned on and up to date. You should always report any such attack on your company.
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Phishing: Don't click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages. This can lead to malicious software being installed on your computer and the loss of your personal data or control of your online accounts and emails. Always take a moment to think why you have received that email, were you expecting it, why has it come to you. If it feels wrong, it probably is so delete it.
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Investments scams: Cold calls, which are normally made by telephone, victims are persuaded to invest money by callers who use high pressure sales techniques. Investments do not exist or are worthless. Callers may have details of previous investments made or shares held by the victim and often know personal details. Victims can lose their life savings within a few hours.
Purporting to be someone else: Cold calls normally by telephone from people who claim to be working for an agency such as the police, HMIC, a bank, or similar. Victims are led to believe that their money is at risk or that they owe money. They are persuaded into withdrawing money, transferring money into “safe accounts” or purchasing ITunes vouchers in order to pass the serial numbers of them over to the offender.
Door to door scams: Scammers claim to be a legitimate business or tradespeople; they falsely inform victims that work needs to be carried out at their home address and may gain entry in order to steal. Victims often are billed for work that they didn’t want, didn’t agree to, or which has never been completed.
Dating and romance scams: Offenders lower a victim’s defences by building an online relationship in order to obtain personal information and to obtain money. Offenders normally steer a victim away from communicating on a legitimate website, they will use a variety of scenarios to target a person’s emotions and ask that the relationship is kept secret. Money is often sent abroad.
Get Safe Online: Get Safe Online raises awareness about helping to protect people, finances, devices and businesses from fraud, abuse and other issues which are encountered online. The site provides practical advice and guidance and will assist in keeping you safe when online.
How to report: If you are a victim of fraud that is a crime in progress and you need an immediate police response dial 999.
If you think that you have been the victim of a fraud and it is a non-emergency situation report this to the Durham Constabulary on 101 and to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or by visiting their website Action Fraud.