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Commissioner warning as fraudsters target vulnerable during Covid-19 Pandemic

1 April, 2020

Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw has called on the county to be extra vigilant as criminals target vulnerable people and businesses through scams which attempt to take advantage of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

In Lancashire, Trading Standards have highlighted the increased risk whilst nationally Action Fraud have reported a 400% increase in Coronavirus-related fraud reports in March.

These include phishing emails which encourage donations to bogus organisations, subscriptions and links to pages that steal their information and fake tax refunds or demands for payments of a fine.

Businesses also are specifically targeted as due to remote working and lower staffing levels, they may be more susceptible to falling victim to online hackers or scammers.

The Commissioner, who is also currently the national Association of Police and Crime Commissioners lead for fraud and cyber crime, urged residents to take care and be aware of the threats that scammers pose even at a time of national crisis.

He said:

“Reports that scammers are taking advantage of the most vulnerable in our society who are most impacted by the unprecedented situation is disgusting and I can assure the public that officers continue to work around the clock to protect people and remove criminals from our streets.

“My Be Cyber Wise campaign was launched to offer advice and support to those most likely to be targeted by online scammers, with older people and smaller businesses most at risk. This is often the case with these scams and we know that attempts to commit fraud unrelated to the current pandemic are also taking place.

“Tackling fraud is not something that policing can tackle alone with prevention being absolutely crucial in stopping fraudsters in their tracks. Tackling crime and supporting victims and those most vulnerable are key priorities in my Police and Crime Plan, with Lancashire Victim Services continuing to offer vital support to those who need it the most. “

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