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Neighbourhood Watch

Coronavirus Vaccination Scams

As of 7 January 2021, Action Fraud had received 57 reports from members of the public who have been sent text messages claiming to be from the NHS, offering them the opportunity to sign up for coronavirus vaccinations. The texts ask the recipient to click on a link which takes them to an online form where they are prompted to input personal and financial details. In some cases the online form has looked very similar to the real NHS website.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said: 
“Remember, the vaccine is only available on the NHS and is free of charge. The NHS will never ask you for details about your bank account or to pay for the vaccine. If you receive an email, text message or phone call purporting to be from the NHS and you are asked to provide financial details, this is a scam.”


How to protect yourself:

In the UK, coronavirus vaccinations will only be available via the National Health Services of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, a local GP surgery or pharmacy, to receive your vaccination. Remember, the vaccinations are free of charge and you will not be asked for a payment.

The NHS will never:

  • ask for your bank account or card details
  • ask for your PIN or banking passwords
  • arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine
  • ask for documentation to prove your identity, such as a passport or utility bills

If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you are suspicious about an email you have received, forward it to report@phishing.gov.uk. Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726, which is free of charge.


If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, please report this to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.

Preventing burglars from stealing a piece of you Christmas

Now more than ever we will all be spending more time at home which may mean purchasing games console, computers, tablets, games and other expensive items to keep everyone occupied at home. This means there are even more items to keep safe. The best way to do this is to follow our tips for keeping your home secure this festive period.

  • Mark your property. We hold special bike marking events which are worth looking out for if you have got a new bicycle for Christmas. You can mark all your gifts including jewellery, tools etc and can place a sticker on your window to state that your property is parked. Marking your stuff makes it difficult for thieves to sell on, and so less desirable.
  • Register all of you good on the Immobilise Property Marking Register here.
  • Avoid posting photos of your gifts and purchases on social media and be careful not to identify your address in your posts.
  • If you are going out for the whole of Christmas day to form a bubble as per the regulations, ask a trusted neighbour, family member or friend to keep an eye on your home, and do the same for them – don’t’ forget to leave your lights on a timer switch to make it look like someone is at home in the evening.
  • Try and place your Christmas tree out of sight of street fronted windows
  • When Christmas is all over don’t leave the boxes to your valuable gifts out by the rubbish bin, this lets burglars know what you have in your home. Take them directly to your local household recycling centre or think about keeping the broken-down boxes in a garage or loft
  • Don’t keep presents in garden sheds etc and allow someone else to do their shopping at your expense.
  • Do not leave house or car keys near to your letterbox.

Inspector Ram Aston said: “Burglars often target homes specifically and although we will still be patrolling and are here to help you, we urge you to take these steps to protect your home.

“This year has been difficult enough for all of us without coming home or waking up to find someone has stolen some of you valuables. Crime prevention is absolutely crucial and anything residents can do to help protect their home can help make a difference.

“If you leave you home for the day make sure the house is locked up before you go and the burglar alarm is set. Right now the advice during the pandemic is to keep a window open for ventilation but it is really important you take a couple of minutes to check these are closed before leaving your house. Hide any valuable items from view from the outside and don’t leave anything in the garden that could potentially be used to gain entry into your home. Be mindful of where you store your wheelie bin too and consider if it could be used for someone to climb on and access an upstairs window or used to climb over into the garden.  If you’re leaving the car at home and have a garage, park it in the garage while you’re away rather than on the drive and if you’ve got gates close and lock them with a good quality lock.

“If you are victim of a burglary and your property is stolen, if the items are Smart Water marked we can ensure they are returned to you if they are found. This is particularly important with high value items such as games consoles, computers and bikes. It is also incredibly useful to take photos of your valuables so if they are taken you can supply us with an accurate image, This is particularly helpful with jewellery and family heirlooms.”

For more advice on keeping your home safe from burglars visit the West Mercia Police website here and for more ways to secure your home visit Secure By Design here.

If you’ve been a victim of a cybercrime, here’s how to report it

Criminals will use every opportunity they can to defraud innocent people. They will continue to exploit every angle of the Covid-19 pandemic as more people shop online this festive season.

Detective Sergeant Jon Cooper said: “I’m sure most of us will be ordering items online this month and we simply want people to be aware of the very simple steps they can take to protect themselves from handing over their money or personal details to criminalsI would ask the public to talk to each other; especially elderly and vulnerable friends and family and warn them of the risks and how they can protect themselves.

“Law enforcement, government and industry are working together to protect people, raise awareness, take down fraudulent websites and email addresses, and ultimately bring those responsible to justice.

“If you think you’ve been a victim of a scam, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk.

Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cybercrime.

They provide a central point of contact for information about fraud and financially motivated internet crime.

When you report to Action Fraud you will receive a police crime reference number. Reports taken are passed to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

Steps you can take to prevent yourself from cyber crime

Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They spend hours researching you hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment.

They can contact you by phone, email, text, on social media, or in person.

They will try to trick you into parting with your money, personal information, or buying goods or services that don’t exist.

If you are approached unexpectedly remember to:

  • Stop: Taking a moment to think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam and report it to Action Fraud.
  • The police, or your bank, will never ask you to withdraw money or transfer it to a different account. They will also never ask you to reveal your full banking password or PIN.
  • Do not click on links or attachments in unexpected or suspicious texts or emails.
  • Confirm requests are genuine by using a known number or email address to contact organisations directly.

To keep yourself secure online, ensure you are using the latest software, apps and operating systems on your phones, tablets and laptops. Update these regularly or set your devices to automatically update so you don’t have to worry.

More advice on how to keep prevent cybercrime is available here from the National Cyber Security Centre also here from Take Five to Stop Fraud

New Little Book of Big Scams released

West Mercia Police, working closely with colleagues in the Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) is pleased to be bring you The Little Book of Big Scams. This book has been reproduced with the kind permission of the Metropolitan Police Service’s Cyber Crime Unit.

The Regional Organised Crime Unit West Midlands Team leads the response for Serious and Organised Crime across the region, which includes Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire.  The goal of the team is to reduce the impact of the most dangerous offenders and criminal groups in order to make our communities safer.

Detective Inspector Emma Wright who leads the fight against fraud for the Economic Crime Unit said: “Fraud has evolved over recent years and The Little Book of Big Scams seeks to address the challenges both the public and the police face in deterring and preventing these crimes.

“The book covers everything from fraud enablers, types of fraud and what to do if you get scammed. Many of the traditional frauds remain a threat to us all however the prevalence of the digital world now has opened the door to new types of online fraud and new types of risk.

“With organised criminals finding new ways to access our personal details and new ways to exploit most people’s inherent trust in other people and what they tell them, it is more important than ever that we all arm ourselves with the best and most up to date knowledge available. It is only through doing this and working together that we will combat fraud in all it’s forms.”

You can download the booklet by clicking here.

Be Cyber Safe this Christmas

Still shopping online for those last minute gifts?


🛍 Remember to research retailers before making your purchase

🏆 If an offer seems too good to be true it probably is

💳 Consider paying with a credit card or PayPal for greater buyer protection

💻 Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date

🔐 Use strong passwords that differ across websites

Visit www.ncsc.gov.uk/cyberaware/home for more advice on how to stay safe online this Christmas.

Bicycle Security

PC’s Bolton & Trowman from the We Don’t Buy Crime team highlight cycle security and how quick and easy it is to take your bike.

Mark your bicycle with SmartWater (Free kits available to properties in Fairfield, Wildmoor & Stoneybridge – email admin@fvca.org.uk) and use a secure, sturdy lock.

West Mercia Police Christmas Domestic Abuse Campaign

This year has been difficult and challenging for our communities with prolonged periods of isolation and time at home which is why we are launching a new campaign against domestic abuse.

During the festive period we usually see an increase in reports of domestic abuse and with the heightened strain of the pandemic we are expecting to see these figures unfortunately rise further. During this time victims may have spent prolonged periods of time with their abusers and when this is added to the standard stress that Christmas can bring it may cause an already dangerous situation to escalate.

As part of this year’s Christmas campaign #ItsNotAGame we are encouraging people to look out for potential tell-tale signs of domestic abuse among their friends and family. Although many are not getting to see people in person at parties or gatherings like usual, there are still signs you can look out for; they may seem small but they aren’t trivial.

Are your friends or family members;

  • withdrawn
  • not themselves
  • hiding parts or their body or potential injuries
  • limited in how long they can talk or be on video calls
  • distant and distracted
  • reluctant to share information

DCI Jon Roberts from the Vulnerability and Safeguarding team said “Although Christmas is a joyous time for many of us it can be an extremely stressful time for others. This heightened level of stress can cause tempers and frustrations to become more apparent and can lead to incidents of both emotional and physical abuse.

“We work to tackle domestic abuse all year round but with the events of this year now coming to a head over the Christmas period it is now more important than ever to look out for your friends and family. Are they becoming more distant, do they bruises or marks they can’t explain? Perhaps they just aren’t talking to you as much as they used to. Although these signs might not be anything to worry about it is always best to check. Changes in behaviour can be early warnings for serious domestic abuse.

“If your friend or family member does not feel comfortable coming to us directly there are other options for them and you to consider using. There are numerous charities and helplines they can contact to get the support they need but please be assured that we are here for you, despite the pandemic, Christmas time or anything else going on the police are always here to help you.”

The domestic abuse area of the campaign will be shared through our social media channels so please keep an eye out on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

West Mercia Police supports Home Office weapons surrender initiative

Lawful owners of certain weapons can begin to surrender them to the police from today as part of a three month scheme launched by the Home Office.

The weapon surrender scheme runs from today, Thursday 10 December 2020 until Tuesday 9 March 2021, where those owning particular weapons can hand them over to police and submit a compensation claim from the Home Office.

The Offensive Weapons Act 2019 contains measures to make it unlawful to possess certain offensive weapons– including rapid firing rifles and specific types of knives such as flick knives and zombie knives.

West Mercia Police will be accepting offensive weapons – those detailed in the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 – at front counters at the following police stations; Kidderminster, Redditch, Worcester, Hereford, Telford and Shrewsbury.

Those with legally held firearms that are affected are being contacted directly by the Firearms licencing unit with specific instruction on surrender and compensation.

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Jones said: “Supporting this Home Office initiative is part of our commitment to tackling violence together with our partners and the public. It is only by working together that we will reduce violence including street violence and domestic abuse.

“For those weapons that are not detailed in the Offensive Weapons Act, there will also be knife bins at every station so they can be deposited safely.”

If you have information about someone you suspect to be in possession of an illegal weapon, you can contact West Mercia Police through the 101 number or via our website. Any information received is always dealt with in the strictest confidence.

If you have information but don’t want to speak to police, then you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or by visiting their website Crimestoppers-UK.org They are 100% anonymous and totally independent of the police. They never ask your name, they cannot trace your call or I.P address and no one ever knows that you’ve passed on information.

Young people can find advice by visiting Fearless.Org Full details on the Home Office surrender scheme can be found here.

Be wary of text messages claiming to be from your bank

More and more people are moving over to online and phone banking due to the current pandemic. Criminals have become wise to this and are sending out thousands of scam text messages every month to extract important personal information designed to access their potential victim’s finances.

To spot these fraudulent text messages, take a good look at them. Most are designed to instil a sense of panic (‘request was created from an unrecognised device’). After the sense of panic, the text message gives you way to solve the problem (‘Cancel this request via:’). The solution will lead you to a fake website, which looks a lot like your bank’s website, and instruct you to enter your details. Once this is done, they can now access your bank account.

You can report these text messages to your network provider by forwarding them to 7726. If you think you have been scammed, contact your bank immediately and report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Pension Scams

Criminals can be articulate and financially knowledgeable, with credible websites, testimonials and materials that are hard to distinguish from the real thing. They design attractive offers to persuade you to transfer your pension pot to them or to release funds from it. It is then invested in unusual and high-risk investments like overseas property, renewable energy bonds, forestry, storage units, or simply stolen outright.

If you suspect a scam, report it.

• Report to Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) at www.fca.org.uk or by calling 0800 111 6768
• Report to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040
• If you’re in the middle of a transfer, contact your provider immediately the get in touch with the Pensions Advisory Service at www.thepensionadvisoryservice.org.uk

Action Fraud’s Guide To Improving Your Cyber Security

Due to coronavirus, more people will be doing their festive shopping online this year.

This means more opportunities for hackers to carry out cyber attacks. They often do this by targeting people and businesses using:

* email and website scams
* malware – software that can damage your device or let a hacker in
* If hackers get into your device or accounts, they could access your money, your personal information, or information about your business.

You can improve your cyber security by taking six actions:

1 – Use a strong and separate password for your email

If a hacker gets into your email, they could:

* reset your other account passwords
* access information you have saved about yourself or your business
* Your email password should be strong and different to all your other passwords. This will make it harder to crack or guess.

2 – Create strong passwords using 3 random words

When you use different passwords for your important accounts, it can be hard to remember them all.

A good way to create strong, memorable passwords is by using 3 random words.

Do not use words that can be guessed (like your pet’s name). You can include numbers and symbols if you need to. For example, “RedPantsTree4!”

3 – Save your passwords in your browser

Saving your password in your browser means letting your web browser (such as Chrome, Safari or Edge) remember your password for you.

This can help:
* make sure you do not lose or forget your passwords
* protect you against some cyber crime, such as fake websites

It is safer than using weak passwords, or using the same password in more than one place.

4 – Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication (2FA) helps to stop hackers from getting into your accounts, even if they have your password. 

5 – Update your devices

Out-of-date software, apps, and operating systems contain weaknesses. This makes them easier to hack.

Companies fix the weaknesses by releasing updates. When you update your devices and software, this helps to keep hackers out.

6 – Back up your data

Backing up means creating a copy of your information and saving it to another device or to cloud storage (online).

Backing up regularly means you will always have a recent version of your information saved. This will help you recover quicker if your data is lost or stolen.

For more information, and step-by-step instructions, please visit cyberaware.gov.uk

PCC hosts online crime prevention event for Worcestershire residents

PCC John Campion is inviting Worcestershire residents to raise their concerns and learn how they can protect themselves from crime.

At a time where traditional public engagement isn’t possible, the PCC is bringing the town hall to Zoom. During the online session, which is taking place on Wednesday 9th December from 6-7pm, the PCC will be joined by the West Mercia Police We Don’t Buy Crime team, the Rural and Business Officer for Worcestershire and a representative from the Road Safety team.

A key part of the Commissioner’s commitment to the communities of Worcestershire is to ensure their voices are heard and they have the opportunity to highlight issues that matter to them most. He also wants to make sure that communities have the opportunity to receive valuable crime prevention advice so they can keep themselves safe.

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “As Commissioner, part of my commitment is to engage with the communities of Worcestershire and sadly, due to these extraordinary times, many events I would usually be attending have been cancelled. Yet thanks to the wonders of modern technology we are able to do things a little differently.

“Whilst virtual sessions are no substitute for face to face events, they are a great and safe alternative that allow communities to get involved and ask the questions that matter to them most. I enjoy hearing directly from residents, and I would encourage as many people as possible to join me and my panel.”

You can sign up to the event here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/worcestershire-what-matters-to-you-tickets-131173721131

Operation Snap Leads To Action

Operation Snap is the online dashcam reporting initiative where members of the public submit footage of moving road traffic offences directly via a secure portal on the internet.

Since mid 2018 the Op Snap Team at West Mercia Police alone have dealt with over 5100 submissions and around 91% of these reports have resulted in a ‘positive action’ result.

This doesn’t mean that 91% of drivers reported have been prosecuted, as in many case, an alternative means of dealing with the matter may have been used, such as warning letters or driver improvement courses. However, approximately 40% of reports have ended with a prosecution.

Around 5% are repeat offenders and those who are deemed to cause the most harm on our roads, for example drink/drug drivers, speeders, those using mobile phones whilst driving so the initiative has a huge part to play in ensuring these motorists are removed from the roads.

In approximately 9% of cases, no further action is taken – this may be because no offences can be confirmed from the footage, or the vehicle cannot be identified as the registration number or other unique markings are not visible.

West Mercia Police are very grateful to both our residents and visitors to the force area who take the time to submit Op Snap reports and by doing so, are helping to make our roads a safer place for everyone.

The work of Op Snap is contributing to helping us make the roads in West Mercia safer for all.

Anyone who captures what they believe to be a moving traffic offence is encouraged to upload it via the Op Snap portal at www.westmercia.police.uk/operationsnap

A Simple Act Can Help Protect Your Elderly Neighbours

Your elderly neighbours are vulnerable and can easily become a victim of a scam, please help them by making them aware of the different types of scams and what they should do if they receive a scam call, letter or visit.

Recently the Community Association has been contacted by several older residents regarding scam telephone calls, which they have found frightening as the automated message is threatening legal action.

The Community Association have acquired some literature that you can give to or post through the letter boxes of elderly neighbours.  The booklet, “Scamwise”, which has been produced by Independent Age, explains in simple language how to spot a scam, how to avoid becoming a victim of fraud and action to be taken if you think you have been scammed.  The booklet can be picked up from Fairfield Cafe.

Be Winter Wise
When delivering the “Scamwise” booklet to your neighbours, please also drop off a copy of the booklet “Winter Wise”, useful tips that help the elderly look after themselves during winter months.

Don’t Let Fire Ruin Festive Fun

Hereford and Worcester Fire & Rescue Service is asking people to take extra care during their Xmas preparations to ensure that their loved ones are protected from fire. Never leave your Xmas lights on unattended – just look how quick a spark can engulf a room!

How many smoke alarms do you have in your home?

Latest fire statistics reveal that one smoke alarm may not be enough to provide you with the best chance of escaping a fire in the home.

Most people know a working smoke alarm can save lives by providing those vital few seconds needed to escape a house fire. Despite the majority of homes (95%) having at least one working smoke alarm, smoke alarms only alerted householders to just one in every three fires in the home in England. The most common reason a smoke alarm failed to activate was because the fire was outside its range.

For this reason, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) are encouraging people across the two counties to have a think about the number of smoke alarms in their home.

Group Commander Stuart Crebbin, Community Risk department said: “We all must make sure that we have enough smoke alarms in our homes and that they are in the right places. If your whole home isn’t covered, you could be leaving it to chance and, in a fire, you might not get the early warning that you need.

“The vast majority of us now have at least one working smoke alarm in our home, but early detection and warning is vital to reduce the devastation a fire can cause. That’s why it’s so important that you have enough smoke alarms and that they are in the right places. That will give them the best chance of alerting you and your loved ones to a fire.”

He continued: “You should make sure you have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of your home, preferably in hallways and landings. Placing smoke alarms near to sleeping areas and in rooms where there are electrical appliances could give you the extra warning you need.

“It’s also important to remember that smoke alarms don’t last forever. The power might work, but the mechanism deteriorates with time, so whether they are battery operated or wired to the mains, to work at their best they should be replaced every ten years.”

HWFRS offered these smoke alarm top tips:

  • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home.
  • The ideal position is on the ceiling, in the middle of a room or on a hallway or landing.
  • Consider fitting additional alarms in other rooms where there are electrical appliances and near sleeping areas.
  • Don’t put alarms in or near kitchens and bathrooms where smoke or steam can set them off by accident.
  • Install a heat alarm in your kitchen
  • Replace your smoke alarms every ten years.
  • Test your smoke alarms weekly

Group Commander Crebbin also urged carers and people who keep a close eye on less able relatives to check that these homes have enough smoke alarms in the right places too.

“Finally, if you want to see if you would qualify for a free Home Fire Safety Check or would like any fire safety advice, please call 0800 032 1155,” added Group Commander Crebbin.

Hoax email from PDS (Parcel Delivery Service)

Action Fraud is reminding everyone that a chain email circulating warning about a postal scam that could leave you £315 out of pocket – is a hoax.

The hoax email reads:

“Can you circulate this around especially as Xmas is fast approaching – it has been confirmed by Royal Mail. The Trading Standards Office are making people aware of the following scam:

A card is posted through your door from a company called PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact them on 0906 6611911 (a Premium rate number).

DO NOT call this number, as this is a mail scam originating from Belize. If you call the number and you start to hear a recorded message you will already have been billed £315 for the phone call.

If you do receive a card with these details, then please contact Royal Mail Fraud on 020 7239 6655.”

If you receive this email just delete it and do not to forward it to anyone.

PhonepayPlus, is aware that a chain e-mail about an alleged postal scam is being circulated on the internet. The email refers to the Royal Mail, Trading Standards and ICSTIS (PhonepayPlus’ former name).

PhonepayPlus appreciates that recipients of the email may want to find out more information about the alleged scam and has therefore issued the following statement:

  • The chain email refers to a service (operating on 0906 6611911) that was shut down by PhonepayPlus (then ICSTIS) in December 2005.
  • PhonepayPlus subsequently fined the company that was operating the service, Studio Telecom (based in Belize), £10,000.
  • The service is NO LONGER running and has NOT been running since December 2005.
  • You do NOT need to contact PhonepayPlus, or the Royal Mail, about this service as it was stopped almost eight years ago.
  • If you receive a copy of the email warning you about the alleged scam, please do NOT forward it to others. Instead, please forward this statement from PhonepayPlus.
  • If you receive a delivery card through your letterbox which you do not believe is genuine and which asks you to dial a premium rate number, you can contact PhonepayPlus on 0800 500 212 (Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm) for further guidance.

For more detailed information about PhonepayPlus’ work, please visit www.phonepayplus.org.uk.

Please note: Action Fraud is not responsible for the content on external websites.

To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online fraud reporting tool.

Surge In Online Shopping Fraud

Reports of online shopping fraud have surged by 30% over the pandemic as many of us continue to shop online in light of current restrictions.

Figures from Action Fraud show that criminals conned 17,407 shoppers out of almost £13.5 million over the Christmas period last year, an increase of over 20% when compared to the same period in 2018.

Action Fraud is warning the public to take extra care when shopping online, ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as shoppers search for bargains and gifts for loved ones in the run up to Christmas.

Top tips to shop online securely this festive season:

Where to shop:
Making a purchase from an online store you haven’t used before? Carry out some research first, or ask a friend or family member if they’ve used the site and about their experiences before completing the purchase.

Your information:
Only create an account if necessary or to save you effort if you’re going to use that site a lot in the future. Be cautious if the website asks you for details that are not required for your purchase, such as your mother’s maiden name or the name of your primary school.

Payments:
If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, ensure that the webpage where you enter your payment details is secure (website address starts with “https”). Using a credit card to pay online also means that should the worst happen and your payment details are compromised, your main bank account won’t be directly affected.

Phishing:
Some of the messages you receive about amazing offers may contain links to fake websites. Not all links are bad, but if you’re unsure, don’t use the link – go separately to the website. Report any suspicious emails you receive by forwarding them to: report@phishing.gov.uk You can also report suspicious text messages by forwarding them to 7726.

For more information about how to shop online securely, please visit: 
actionfraud.police.uk/shoponlinesafely

Break-in at Brookfield Nursery

This morning (24th November), the owners of Brookfield Nursery on Quantry Lane found that they been broken into; items stolen include power tools, shop float and the Finn the Fabulous charity box.

Take Five To Stop Fraud

Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They spend hours researching you for their scams, hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment. Stop and think. It could protect you and your money. Read more  CLICK HERE

Scam Warning – Fake PayPal Emails

Action Fraud is warning people selling items online to be on the lookout for criminals sending fake PayPal emails.
 

  • Between January 2020 and September 2020, 21,349 crime reports were made to Action Fraud about fake PayPal emails.
  • Victims reported losing a total of £7,891,077.44 during this time.
  • Those targeted included people selling jewellery, furniture and electronics via online marketplaces.
  • Reports of fake PayPal emails to Action Fraud made up a third of all reports of online shopping and auction fraud during this period.


How does it happen?

Criminals have been targeting people selling items online, by sending them emails purporting to be from PayPal. The emails trick victims into believing they have received payment for the items they’re selling on the platform.

Typically, after receiving these emails, victims will ship the item to the criminal. This leaves them at a further disadvantage having not received any payment for the item and also no longer being in possession of it.


How can you protect yourself?

  • Sellers beware: If you’re selling items on an online marketplace, be aware of the warning signs that your buyer is a scammer. Scammers may have negative feedback history, or may have recently set up a new account to avoid getting poor feedback. Don’t be persuaded into sending anything until you can verify you’ve received the payment.
  • Scam messages: Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial details.
  • How to spot the difference: A PayPal email will address you by your first and last name, or your business name, and will never ask you for your full password, bank account, or credit card details in a message.

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

School Break-in

Overnight Monday 2nd – Tuesday 3rd November, there was a break-in at Fairfield First School, which resulted in criminal damage and the theft of items, including iPads.

Did you see or hear anything suspicious? Please report to 101

Attempted Shed Break-in (Pepperwood Close)

There has been an attempted shed break-in in Pepperwood Close.  It is though that the attempted break-in took place on Sunday 1st November, sometime after midnight. 

Please review you shed and outbuilding security, reporting criminal & suspicious activity to the police, tel. 101 or Online

For Garden, Shed And Allotment Security advice CLICK HERE

Shout Out Your Property Is Marked

Over the past two years, residents of Fairfield, Wildmoor & Stoneybridge have taken up the offer of receiving a FREE SmartWater kit, marking their property with this unique solution.

Please remember it is crucial that you put your SmartWater stickers in your doors & windows advertising that your property is security marked.

If you have moved into our community and would like a FREE SmartWater Security Marking Kit, email admin@fvca.org.uk

Fraudsters Targeting Bromsgrove Residents

The police report that fraudsters are targeting elderly and vulnerable people in the Bromsgrove area by phone to try to steal their money claiming they are the police. They aren’t, its a scam.

The police will NEVER phone and ask you to transfer money, take out cash or ask for your bank/card details.

Please speak to our your elderly and vulnerable neighbours about this scam.

Neighbourhood Watch – Neighbour of the Year Award 2020

Nominate a neighbour that goes above and beyond for your community for the Neighbour of the Year Award 2020
run by Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch

For the third year running, Neighbourhood Watch are excited to launch the nationwide search in partnership with our friends at Co-op Insurance to find and celebrate some of the UK’s best neighbours. 

Neighbourhood Watch members have said that to be a great neighbour people share some clear qualities: a willingness to look out for others; being sociable and friendly; offering practical help; and being kind, caring and respectful.

In addition to the Neighbour of the Year Award, there is also a brand-new category, Co-op’s Young Neighbour of the Year. This award will celebrate someone aged 18-24 who has gone above and beyond to help enhance their community and has brought people, young and old, together.
Nominations are now open

If you’ve got someone who ticks all these boxes and more in either category, tell Neighbourhood Watch all about them and how they go above and beyond.

Click here to be taken to their nomination form, where you can share your stories of great neighbourly activities and acts of kindness.

The deadline to nominate is 27th October.

Advertising Standards Agency launches new Scam Ad Alert System

The ASA respond to concerns and complaints from consumers and businesses and take action to ban ads which are misleading, harmful, offensive or irresponsible. As well as responding to complaints, they monitor ads to check they’re following the rules. They also conduct research to test public opinion and identify where they need to take action to protect consumers.

In 2019, they resolved 34,717 complaints relating to almost 25,000 ads.

Consumers can now report scam ads appearing in paid-for space online to the ASA. They will promptly send an alert to all participating platforms with key details of the scam ad, as well as to publishers when the ad appeared on a publisher owned site. If they locate them, partners will remove the offending ad and suspend the advertiser’s account. In some instances, they may also add them to ‘blocklists’, even when the ads weren’t appearing on their platform, stopping them from appearing in future.

Tackling online scam ads is a global problem, requiring a joined-up response involving law-enforcement bodies and statutory regulators, platforms and all involved in the online ad industry, as well as national advertising regulatory bodies such as the ASA. The Scam Ad Alert system coincides with the Consumer Protection Partnership’s Scams Awareness Campaign which this year focuses on COVID-19 related scams. Working with partners including National Trading Standards, Citizens Advice, Competition and Markets Authority and Trading Standards Scotland, we aim to reduce the risk and impact of scams by raising awareness amongst consumers and equipping them with the skills needed to recognise and report them.

ASA Chief Executive, Guy Parker said: “The overwhelming majority of ads responsibly inform and entertain their audience, but a small minority are published with criminal intent. Our Scam Ad Alert system will play an important part in helping detect and disrupt these types of scams. By working closely with our partners such as Google and Facebook, we can act quickly to have problem ads taken down as part of our ongoing work to better protect consumers online.”

If you see an advert online that doesn’t look or feel right, then you can now report this directly to the ASA online at www.asa.org.uk

TV Licence Fees

As you may know, free TV Licences for all over 75s in the UK, funded by the Government, came to an end this year. From 1st August 2020, anyone aged 75 or over who is not in receipt of Pension Credit (a benefit available to pensioners on low incomes) needs to pay for their TV Licence.

The TV Licensing team are contacting everyone who needs to apply via post over the next couple of months. It’s important to check that the communication that you receive is genuine and here are some ways you can check:

  • You will not be rushed into making payment; you have two months from the date of the letter to apply for your licence, anything telling you that it’s time critical will be a scam.
  • The TV licencing team will never phone you just to ask for your bank or credit or debit card details.
  • They will only email you in response to an email you’ve sent them, or if you’ve used their website to change your details (or buy a licence).

The website has much more of the information you need to protect yourself from fraud. You can find out more at www.tvl.co.uk/scams and if you’re unsure about any communication you’ve received from them, please call them on 0300 790 6151.

Green Homes Grant: Good News and Scam

Homeowners in England will be able to apply get up to £5,000 of vouchers for energy-efficient home improvements from September 2020. To get a government voucher, you’ll need to complete an online application for a recommended home improvement, get a quote from a listed supplier and have the quote approved.

For more information on this, please visit: www.gov.uk/improve-energy-efficiency. This new scheme fits in with a popular scam where consumers are contacted by phone and mail to explain that they can help consumers with applying for a grant, find suppliers and get the work done for them for a fee. Once the fee has been paid, no work is ever carried out and the money is gone.

What’s more is that these consumers will be added to a marketing list, which can be sold on to other fraudulent companies in an effort to target them with a completely different scam. If you receive a cold call or letter from someone claiming to be able to help you with the new government grant, hang up and report the call to Action Fraud.

Romance Fraud

Action Fraud have seen a significant increase in romance fraud during 2020 compared with 2019. A romance fraud is when a criminal creates a fake profile on an online dating or social media platform and targets individuals in an attempt to gain their trust. This eventually leads to requests of money for medical bills, investments, legal fees, travel, or other reasons. The Coronavirus outbreak in the UK has led to more and more people trying to find love online. This is a great way of finding people to share experiences with, so we are spreading awareness of the potential dangers to keep an eye out for. If you are new to this type of social interaction, there are some standard checks and red flags that you should be aware with. 

Please share these with your family, friends and neighbours: 

  • The person contacting you states that they have a career that they can’t talk much about and involves a large amount of travelling such as military, NATO, Greenpeace etc;
  • The person will try and move you away from the dating or social media’s messaging service in order to execute their scam, such as WhatsApp or Google Hangouts;
  • They claim to have poor internet in their location which can lead to them asking you for money as they can’t access online banking;
  • Plans to meet you in person keep on getting postponed due to travel cancellations or work commitments (COVID-19 has played a huge part in forming a legitimate reason);
  • They may have a too good to be true investment opportunity that needs to be invested in straight away in order to maximise returns and need you to move some money around for them. This can be backed up by false documents.

If you think that you have been contacted by someone like this, please report it directly to the website that you are using. If you think that you have been scammed by this type of fraud, report it straight to your bank and Action Fraud. These crimes not only cause financial loss but can have a devastating effect on the individual. The internet is a great tool during these strange times but please remain vigilant, if you see anything suspicious please talk to a someone you trust for help.

There’s Safety in Neighbours

As lockdown eases, Neighbourhood Watch & the Home Office are expecting a rise in burglaries across the country.

Life’s safer when you know your neighbours. With more people looking out for unusual behaviour on your street, burglaries can be prevented.  If you see suspicious activity REPORT IT, online via https://www.westmercia.police.uk  or telephone 101.  If safe to do so, share your observations with us admin@fvca.org.uk  so that we can make others aware. Get practical tips to burglar-proof your home at https://www.ourwatch.org.uk/crimeprevention/crime-prevention-toolkits/burglaries

Drink Driver Stopped

Yesterday morning (Sunday 5th July), the police reported that overnight a motorist was arrested for providing a positive roadside breath test in Fairfield. The driver of the vehicle provided a further reading of 73 in custody, charged and left to sober up in an en-suite room in custody.

Key Safe and Bin Theft

Recently a resident in Pepperwood has experienced the theft of their key safe, which was prised from the wall, and on a separate occasion their wheelie bin (not on a bin day).

If you know or have information relating to these thefts please contact the police.

NHS test and trace – fraud awareness

If NHS Test and Trace calls you by phone, the service will be using a single phone number 0300 0135 000. The only website the service will ask you to visit is https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk.

If NHS Test and Trace calls you by phone, the service will be using a single phone number 0300 0135 000. The only website the service will ask you to visit is https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk.”

Contact tracers will never:

• Ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to us (for example, those starting 09 or 087)

• Ask you to make any form of payment

• Ask for any details about your bank account

• Ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts

• Ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone

• Ask you to purchase a product

• Ask you to download any software to your device or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet

• Ask you to access any website that does not belong to the Government or NHS

If you think you have been subjected to, or a victim of, a scam or attempted fraud using Track and Trace or any other fraud please call 101 or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. If you or someone else is in immediate danger or risk of harm dial 999 now.

Fake Amazon callers trying to defraud West Mercia residents

Residents across West Mercia have been receiving telephone calls from fraudsters claiming to be from Amazon and have successfully defrauded victims of around £70,000 in the last 24 hours.

The scam involves a fraudsters stating that the recipient is eligible for an Amazon refund. The victim then follows a series of instructions from the criminal caller who then gains access to their bank details and removes their funds.

The West Mercia Police Economic Crime Unit is warning people who have been receiving these calls that this is a scam.

Detective Inspector Emma Wright “Please remember that no legitimate company, organisation, government body or police force will ever ask for you bank details, ask you to transfer money or offer to transfer money into your account. While we are working hard to make everyone aware of these scams and identify these criminals and bring them to justice the public can help us by helping each other; by telling vulnerable and elderly friends, neighbours and relatives who may not have seen the news or social media messages that these scams exist and what they can do. Together we will make it impossible for these fraudsters to take advantage of those more vulnerable in our communities.”

“We are advising all reports of these calls to be passed onto actionfraud.police.uk, and reminding computer users to evaluate their online safety. Tips include: ensuring you have up to date security software, using secure passwords and regularly backing up your data.

“If you are able to, I would recommend visiting actionfraud.police.uk, who have a detailed information such as below about what to look out for.

”Always question uninvited approaches in case it’s a scam. Instead, contact the company directly using a known email or phone number.

“Have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for personal or financial information. It’s easy to feel embarrassed when faced with unexpected or complex conversations. But it’s fine to stop the discussion if you do not feel in control of it. Never install any software or visit a website as a result of a cold call. Unsolicited requests for remote access to your computer should always raise a red flag.

“If you have received such a call and have provided personal details, which has led to funds being removed, it is advised that you contact your bank immediately and contact police on 101.”

Coronavirus-Related Scams – How To Protect Yourself

Criminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to try and get their hands on your money and personal information. To date, Action Fraud has received reports from 2,378 victims of Coronavirus-related scams, with the total losses reaching over £7 million.

How you can protect yourself from Coronavirus-related scams:

There are some simple steps you can take that will protect you from the most common Coronavirus-related scams. Here’s what need to do:

1 – Watch out for scam messages
Your bank, or other official organisations, won’t ask you to share personal information over email or text. If you receive an email you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS): report@phishing.gov.uk

2 – Shopping online
If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, for example, by checking to see if others have used the site and what their experience was. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, other payment providers may not provide the same protection.

3 – Unsolicited calls and browser pop-ups offering tech support
Never install any software, or grant remote access to your computer, as a result of a cold call. Remember, legitimate organisations would never contact you out of the blue to ask for financial details such as your PIN or full banking password.

NHS Test and Trace scams:

The NHS Test and Trace service plays an important role in the fight against coronavirus and it’s vital the public have confidence and trust in the service. However, we understand the concerns people have about the opportunity for criminals to commit scams.

What you need to know:

Contact tracers will only call you from the number 0300 013 5000. Anyone who does not wish to talk over the phone can request the NHS Test and Trace service to send an email or text instead, inviting them to log into the web-based service.

All text or emails sent by NHS Test and Trace will ask people to sign into the contact tracing website and will provide you with a unique reference number. We would advise people to type the web address https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk directly into their browser, followed by the unique reference number given to you, rather than clicking on any link provided in the message.

The NHS Test and Trace service will never:

  • ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to them (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
  • ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product or any kind
  • ask for any details about your bank account
  • ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
  • ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone  
  • ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
  • ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS

If you think you have been a victim of fraud, please report it to Action Fraud at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. 

New COVID-19 contact tracing app open to fraud

The UK Government is currently trialling a new COVID-19 coronavirus contact tracing app on the Isle of Wight. Many expect that the app will roll out to the rest of the country later this year. 

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has received evidence of a phishing scam themed around the app, even before the real app has released nationally.

Members of the public received texts informing them that they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The message contains a link to a bogus website which asks for the personal details of the user. Scammers may use the information to gain access to bank accounts and commit other forms of identity fraud. 

Scams related to the coronavirus emergency have taken off since March, and Action Fraud reports that COVID-19 scams stole over £2 million during this time. Consumer protection experts fear that more scams themed around the contact tracing app will appear once it is released nationally.

CTSI Lead Officer, Katherine Hart, said: “We have witnessed a surge in COVID-19-related scams since lockdown began. This evidence is yet another example of scammers modifying their campaigns as the situation develops.

“I am especially concerned that scams themed around the contact tracing app are already appearing, even though the official NHS app has only been released in a limited testing phase on the Isle of Wight.

“These texts are a way to steal personal data and may put the bank accounts of recipients at risk. If anyone receives texts or other kinds of messages like this, they should not click on any accompanying links, and report them to Action Fraud.”

To report instances of scams, go to the Action Fraud website

Increase in cyclists prompts police to share safety message

With more novice cyclists than ever taking to the roads for their daily exercise during COVID-19, police are urging both cyclists and drivers to follow some simple safety tips to help keep everyone safe on our roads.

We are sharing the following safety tips for novice cyclists:-
•Follow the government advice about how you exercise and observe social distancing while you do it
•Plan your journey in advance and advise someone of where you are going and when you intend to return, especially if you are cycling in a remote location.
•If you are cycling with a young family, consider riding routes with dedicated cycle paths to ensure the safety of young children and pedestrians. Please remember that if you are cycling on the roads that vehicles such as HGVs, are still regularly travelling routes in order to move much-needed supplies. Large vehicles might scare and unbalance young children on bicycles when overtaking them.
•Ensure that your bicycle is roadworthy. If it has been unused for a while, ensure that the mechanisms such as brakes and gears are working and that tyres are pumped up before starting any ride. Brake failure can cause a serious collision. Follow this link for a short video clip from Cycling UK showing you how to do the M check on your bike. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94RqKKbG2GQ
•Please take extra care at junctions. Nationally around three quarters of cyclist collisions happen at or near them (Source: Cycling UK)
•Think about your positioning in the road and whether you can be seen by other road users. Wearing reflective clothing and ensuring that your bike is fitted with lights and/ or reflective discs helps with visibility. Assuming a position towards the centre of the lane where possible maximises the rider’s line of vision and means that other road users have a clear view of you.
•If you are riding with protection around your face ensure that this does not restrict your head movement and that you are able to look around freely without restriction so that safety checks can be carried out.
•If you’re riding with your family, help motorists overtake you with the safe distance of 1.5 metres by filtering down to single file.
•Effectively communicate with other road users, by using hand signals when turning left or right. Try to make eye contact with other road users and pedestrians to ensure that they have seen you.

We are asking drivers to:-
•Follow the latest government guidelines around COVID-19, stay at home and only drive for essential purposes. These can be found on www.gov.uk
•Please slow down and take extra care around these vulnerable road users giving them extra space and time.
•Always expect the unexpected around each corner, and pass cyclists at a minimum distance of 1.5 metres when it is safe to do so, particularly on left hand bends. Cycling UK have produced a Too Close for Comfort video to show drivers what it’s like to be close passed so they can understand it from a cyclist’s perspective. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kgPt-lNYGY
•Please take extra care around cyclists (and other vulnerable road users) at junctions where three quarters of cyclist collisions happen.

The Law

You must ensure your brakes are efficient, and at night use lit front and rear lights and have a red rear reflector.

For more info, click here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/rules-for-cyclists-59-to-82

More information about safe cycling

https://www.rospa.com/Road-Safety/Advice/Cyclists-and-motorcyclists/Cycling-advice

www.cyclinguk.org


Suspicious Activity – 26th April

Sunday 26th April at approximately 8.45pm, 2 x Youths acting suspiciously in Wood Lane & Pepperwood Close, one wearing a black hoodie, the other a grey hoodie, aged approx.17/18 yrs. Police notified.

Please be vigilant, report any suspicious activity to the police.

Beware of COVID 19 Telephone Scams

Beware of telephone scams

We are aware that criminals are trying to exploit the national coronavirus crisis and take advantage of innocent people.
Fraudsters purporting to be from the police or your bank are targeting elderly and vulnerable people to try and steal money from their accounts. The callers will often seem genuine, offering you the opportunity to call them back to prove their identity.

They establish their trust with you by confirming some of your personal details and will then make up a story in which money in your bank account needs to be transferred or withdrawn.

The police or your bank will never:

• Contact you out of the blue and ask for your personal details, including your PIN number, password or account details
• Ask you to transfer money into another account for fraud reasons
• Ask you to withdraw cash and hand to someone for safe keeping
• Send someone to your home to collect cash, bank cards, account details or PIN numbers
Protect yourself
• If you are unsure whether someone on the phone is genuine, hang up and then use a different line to call the organisation they are purporting to be from using a number from the phonebook or internet to verify their identity
• Don’t give out your personal information to anyone over the phone, including your PIN number and bank account or card details
• If you have given out your personal banking details to someone over the phone or have given someone your card details, contact your bank immediately to cancel your card.

Where to go for help

• If you receive a call from someone purporting to be a police officer and asking you to withdraw or transfer money, call Warwickshire Police on 101 – the more intelligence we receive, the more likely we are to catch those responsible.
• If you have been a victim of a telephone scam, please report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via their website: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
• For advice on scams, contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.
• Always call 999 in an emergency.

Ongoing rural crime

Ongoing rural crime & we need your help stopping it 

Livestock in the area are being targeted.

If something looks out of place, people acting suspicious, an out of place vehicle at the entrance to a field, strange noises late at night – REPORT IT

Another Ewe Stolen, this time killed on site

An ewe has today been stolen from the corner field on A4491 and Harbours Hill, Wildmoor.  They perpetrator(s) have accessed from a gateway in Harbours Hill, Wildmoor.

The ewe had been hand-reared and was easy to get hold of.  It appears that the perpetrator(s) have slit the ewe’s throat on site,  due to the amount of blood in the gateway.

Police are looking for owner of a Renault Megane that was in the area, even if to rule out of enquiries.

If you saw any suspicious activity today or over the past few days, something looking out of place, a car hanging around, please contact the police.

Please be vigilant.  Report all suspicious activity to the police.

Crime Reference Number is 22/32104/20

Ewes Stolen

Two ewes stolen from field off Money Lane, leaving two sets of twin lambs, who without mum could starve to death.
 
The ewes were dragged across the field and over barbed wire fencing and then dragged under a gate onto the roadside.
 
If you have seen any suspicious activity in this area during the past few days please contact the police ref: 22/31040/20.
 
Please be vigilant, if you see or hear anything suspicious such as unusual noises from a field of sheep late a night or vehicles parked in gateways, please report to the police.