The notices below are from the Thames Valley Police Neighbourhood Alert system and are published as and when they are received:
Received 23 November 2017 – Warning following two frauds in our area
Thames Valley Police are reminding members of the public that the Police will NEVER contact you in person or by telephone to ask you to withdraw money from your bank account, or to transfer funds into other bank accounts.
This warning comes after we have had two reports of this kind of fraud in our area this week.
One victim from Letcombe Regis, near Wantage was called by someone claiming to be a Police Officer from Hemel Hempstead Police station. He told the victim that he needed to contact his bank due to fraudulent activity on accounts at his branch and that a staff member could potentially be feeding counterfeit notes into the bank system. The Police Officer encouraged him to hang up and ring the bank. However, the fraudster did not hang up and therefore the line was kept open and he then pretended to be a member of staff from the bank, who confirmed that fraudulent activity was taking place on the account. The victim was then asked to go to the bank and withdraw £6200 so it could be checked for counterfeit notes. The victim took out the money pretending it was for building work (as advised by the fraudster) and took it home. A courier then arrived to take the money away to be checked.
Another victim from Henley was contacted again by a Police Officer saying their bank card had been cloned and she needed to take £2000 out of her account. Fortunately the victim did not give any bank card details.
These are scams and we advise residents to HANG UP and report to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040. Alternatively you can visit www.actionfraud.police.uk. The victims are usually elderly so please share this message with elderly family and neighbours to help them avoid becoming victims of crime.
For more crime prevention advice, please visit the Thames Valley Police website by clicking on this link – https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/advice/protecting-yourself-and-others/
Received 13 November 2017 – Employment Fraud Alert
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has identified a number of reports where job seekers are being targeted by fraudsters trying to obtain personal and banking details from them, or requesting money to secure accommodation.
Individuals registering with job seeking websites or searching for jobs on The Student Room website are being contacted by bogus recruitment companies/businesses asking them to complete application and interview forms which request personal details and banking details, as well as copies of identity documents.
In some instances the applicant is invited along for interview, either in person or over the phone, to make the process look as legitimate as possible. This is impacting on students and graduates looking for work both in the UK and overseas. Some job seekers, as well as divulging personal details, have paid money to the fraudsters in order to secure a bogus rental property alongside the job offer.
How to protect yourself:
• Check emails and documents from the recruiter for poor spelling and grammar – this is often a sign that fraudsters are at work.
• If visa fees are mentioned, ask the embassy representing the country where you believe you will be working how to obtain a visa and how much it costs. Check that the answers the potential employer or recruiter gave you are the same – if they’re not, it may be a sign of fraud.
• Carry out thorough research to confirm that the organisation offering you the job actually exists. If it does exist, contact the organisation directly using contact details obtained through your own research or their website to confirm the job offer is genuine.
What to do if you’re a victim:
• If you think your bank details have been compromised or if you believe you have been defrauded contact your bank immediately.
• Stop all communication with the ‘agency’ but make a note of their details and report it to Action Fraud.
• Warn the operators of the job website you used that their site is being used by fraudsters.
• If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Received 7 November 2017 – Phantom Debt Collectors and Bailiffs Fraud Alert
Action Fraud has recently experienced an increase in the number of calls to members of the public by bogus bailiffs requesting payments for a “phantom” debt. The fraud involves being cold-called by someone purporting to be a bailiff working on behalf of a court, attempting to recover funds for a non-existent debt.
The caller will request payment by means of bank transfer and if this is refused, will threaten to visit the premises to recover the debt that is owed. A range of different businesses and individuals are being targeted.
Though this type of fraud can occur throughout the UK, Action Fraud has noted that a significant level of reports are being made from those in the Yorkshire area.
Tips for staying safe:
• Confirm what the debt is regarding; bailiffs are only used to recover certain debts such as council tax, child support and compensation orders. Bailiffs are not used to recover debts relating to private advertisement; these would be collected by debt collectors. Debt collectors do not have the same legal powers as bailiffs and will not have special court authorisation to act. For more details regarding this, please look at the Citizens Advice website.
• If you work for a business and receive a call or visit from bailiffs or debt collectors, be sure to speak with your manager or business owner first. Never pay the debts yourself on behalf of the business you work for; some fraudsters have suggested employees do this whilst talking with them, suggesting they can then be reimbursed by their employer, when in reality the debt is non-existent.
• Double check with the court or originating company to confirm whether the call is legitimate; if you use a landline make sure you hear the dialling tone prior to dialling as the caller could still be on the line and you could potentially speak to the fraudster(s) to confirm the non-existent debt. Also be sure to independently search for a telephone number to call and clarify; never use a number provided by the caller without carrying out your own research.
• Request details of the debt in writing to confirm its legitimacy.
• Do not feel rushed or intimidated to make a decision based on a phone call.
• You can report suspicious calls like these to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfaud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Received 23 October 2017 – Modelling Jobs Advanced Fee Fraud Alert
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and Action Fraud have recently noticed that Fraudsters have been setting up fake adverts on social media (including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) and job browsing websites to dupe people into believing they are recruiting for prospective models.
Once victims show interest in the job, the fraudsters contact potential victims on the false promise of a modelling career and subsequently advise the victims to come in for a test shoot.
The fraud can then potentially be carried out in two ways;
Firstly, the fraudsters can pressurise the victims in sending an upfront fee to book a slot for the test shoot. Once they have received the upfront fee, the victim will never hear from the fraudsters again.
The second possible method is that the fraudsters will take the advance fee that the victim sends for a photo shoot and arrange a photo shoot with the victim. After the photo shoot, the fraudsters will contact the victim after a few days and convince them that their shoot was successful and offer them a job as a model. The victim will then be asked to sign a contract and pay another upfront fee, usually to secure the modelling contract.
Fraudsters are also creating fake adverts for supposed modelling opportunities for children which do not exist. Fraudsters will inform parents or guardians that a potential career in modelling awaits their child. This tactic convinces the parent or guardian to sign up their child and send an advance fee.
The suspects will also convince the victim that in order to become a model, they will need to have a portfolio. The fraudsters will recommend a number of packages and stress that if a package is not paid for in advance, the process of becoming a model cannot continue.
Over a two year period (September 2015 – August 2017), an average of 28 reports of advance fee modelling frauds have been received per month by the NFIB. In August 2017, 49 Action Fraud reports of this fraud type were received and may continue to rise. The total loss in August 2017 alone was over £71,000.
Tips for staying safe:
• Carry out your own research prior to paying any type of advance or upfront fee.
• Be wary if you are asked to pay for a portfolio, as many legitimate agencies will cover that cost.
• Don’t give your bank account details or sensitive information to anyone without carrying out your own research on the relevant agency.
• If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Received 9 October 2017 – Witness appeal following Arson in West Hanney
Thames Valley Police is appealing for witnesses following Arson in West Hanney.
At 5.51pm on Saturday (7/10) unknown offenders set fire to a stack of oil seed rape straw bales on Winter Lane, West Hanney. The bales were completely destroyed.
If you saw any suspicious people or vehicles in the area, or have an information relating to this message, please call the police on the 24 hour non-emergency telephone number 101 and quote reference number: 43170298063
Alternatively if you have information but wish to remain anonymous, please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online by visiting www.crimestoppers-uk.org No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.
Received 2 October 2017 – Hidden Harm – Open your eyes to abuse
Three modern slavery crimes are recorded every week across Thames Valley*.
Could you spot the signs?
Today (2/10) we are launching our Hidden Harm campaign, raising awareness of abuse in the heart of our communities.
Over the next 18 months we will be bringing a number of different abuse-related crimes, which often go undetected or unreported, into the spotlight. The first focus is modern slavery.
The message at the centre of this campaign is simple – Open your eyes to abuse.
It could be happening in your community, so if you suspect it, report it.
What is Modern Slavery?
Modern slavery is the illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain.
Victims of modern slavery can be any age, gender, nationality or ethnicity. They are tricked or threatened into work and may feel unable to leave through fear or intimidation.
Spot the signs
Modern slavery could be happening in your community so it’s important you know the signs that could indicate someone is a victim of this crime.
• How do they look? Scruffy, dirty, malnourished, injured?
• How are they acting? Anxious, afraid, reluctant to talk?
• What’s their work situation like? Long hours, unsuitable clothing, wrong equipment?
• How’s their accommodation? Overcrowded, poorly maintained, curtains always closed?
• What are their movements like? Never leave the house alone, limited contact with
friends and family, no access to money or identification?
We all have a role to play in keeping people safe from harm. If you think someone may be a victim of modern slavery tell someone. You will always be taken seriously.
You can contact the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121 700 or the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.
Received 19 July 2017 – Theft of lead crime reduction advice:
We have seen an increase in the theft of lead from roofs, particulary schools and churches.
Please consider the following if you have a lead roof:
• Security marking – marking the lead will make the crime less attractive and make it harder for the offenders to sell on. If you use a DNA marking solution i.e. SmartWater it can be traced back to the owner if recovered.
• Keep gates locked and restrict vehicle access.
• Maximise surveillance levels i.e. cutting back tall trees.
• Encourage members of the local community to keep an eye on the building and report anything suspicious.
• Remove things that might help thieves get access to the roof, like water butts, bins and tall trees.
• Conduct regular checks of the roof so the theft is detected at the earliest possible time.
• Apply anti-climb paint to drain pipes and guttering.
• Install CCTV.
Received 6 July 2017 – New service launched to reduce rates of re-offending in the Armed Forces community
We have today (6/7) launched a service that provides support for members of the Armed Forces community to prevent re-offending.
The Armed Forces Referral Service aims to help reduce crime, rates of offending and re-offending by providing better access to support for veterans and their families that come into contact with the police.
Thames Valley Police is one of the first forces in the UK to launch a service that provides members of the Armed Forces’ community with opportunities to access practical support from SSAFA, the oldest national military charity, upon coming into contact with the police through either welfare or criminal incidents.
TVP Armed Forces Referral Service Lead, PC Antony Colton, said: “Anyone who comes into contact with TVP and who is identified as having any links with the British Armed Forces will be offered the opportunity to be referred to SSAFA, a charity that offers practical, emotional and financial support to serving personnel, veterans and their families.
“The purpose of this service is to better support our Armed Forces community whilst helping reduce crime and rates of offending and re-offending.
“The Armed Forces Referral Service will make it easier for them to get the support they need, from organisations and charities best able to provide it.
“No matter how complex their needs, working together we can do more.”
Julie McCarthy, Director of Volunteer Operations, SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, said:
“Working with Thames Valley Police will ensure that we will be able to provide support to more veterans and their families who find themselves in the criminal justice system.
“SSAFA is extremely grateful to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund for providing a grant to support a wider SSAFA project working with veterans and families in the criminal justice system. We hope this project will help with the rehabilitation of veterans and in turn lower re-offending rates.”
TVP are holding a live web chat on 18 July between 6:30pm and 7:30pm where anyone can ask questions to a panel from TVP regarding the Armed Forces Referral Service. Join the session, go to: thamesvp.coverpage.coveritlive.com/.
For more information on TVP Armed Forces Referral Service visit:
– Thames Valley Police Website
Received 22 June 2017 – Outside Water Safety
This hot weather has encouraged people to cool off in rivers, canals, ponds, quarries and lakes. Please be mindful that this can be very dangerous.
Dangers of open water:
• The water may look calm on the surface, but there can be strong undercurrents that could pull even a strong swimmer under the water.
• The water may feel warm on the surface, but just a few feet below the surface it can be icy cold. The cold water can affect stamina and strength of swimmers.
Key safety tips for staying safe near water:
Alcohol and swimming do not mix! Stay out of the water if you have been drinking.
• Never let any children swim in unsupervised areas like quarries, canals or ponds.
• Never interfere with lifesaving equipment – you might need it yourself.
• Swimming anywhere other than at purpose built and supervised swimming pools is highly dangerous and is not recommended, unless as part of an organised club.
Parents please make sure your children are aware of the dangers!
It is Drowning Prevention Week please visit http://www.rlss.org.uk for more info.
For more water safety advice please visit: http://www.rlss.org.uk/water-safety/water-safety/
Received 6 June 2017 – Wedding Services Fraud
With the upcoming “Wedding Season”, and for those individuals who are considering making plans for next year and beyond, you should be aware of the potential risks of fraud involved.
According to ‘bridesmagazine.co.uk’, in 2017 the average wedding cost spend is approximately £30,111. This will be paid out to multiple vendors, including; photographers, caterers, reception venues and travel companies, to name a few. Many of these services will require booking at least several months in advance and you may be obliged to pay a deposit or even the full balance at the time.
Being aware of the potential risks and following the below prevention advice could minimise the likelihood of fraud:
Paying by Credit Card will provide you with protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, for purchases above £100 and below £30,000. This means that even if a Company goes into liquidation before your big day, you could claim a refund through your Credit Card Company.
Social Media – Some Companies run their businesses entirely via social media sites, offering low cost services. Whilst many are genuine, some may not be insured or may even be fraudulent. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself;
• Ensure you obtain a physical address and contact details for the vendor and verify this information. Should you experience any problems, you will then be able to make a complaint to Trading Standards or consider pursuing via the Small Claims Court.
• Ensure you obtain a contract before paying money for services. Make certain you fully read and understand what you are signing and note the terms of cancellation.
Consider purchasing Wedding Insurance – Policies vary in cover and can be purchased up to two years in advance. They can protect you from events that would not be covered under the Consumer Credit Act.
Complete research on each vendor, ensuring you are dealing with a bona fide person or company. Explore the internet for reviews and ratings and ask the vendor to provide details of past clients you can speak to. You should do this even if using companies recommended by a trustworthy friend or source.
For services such as wedding photographers, beware of websites using fake images. Look for inconsistencies in style; meet the photographer in person and ask to view sample albums. If you like an image from a wedding, ask to view the photographs taken of the whole event so you can see the overall quality.
Remember, if something appears too good to be true, it probably is!