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Neighbourhood Watch

Malware alert: beware of fake delivery company text messages

A text-message scam that infects Android mobile phones with malicious software (malware) is targeting people in the UK.

The text message, which pretends to be from a delivery company, includes a link that claims to allow you to track a parcel.

However, this is an attempt to infect your phone with malware, which occurs if the link is clicked on. The scam text has been received by customers on all major UK networks. One example of this text, shown below, claims to be from DHL.

A screenshot of the ‘Flubot’ scam text

The malware, called Flubot, can allow criminals to access personal information on your phone, including online banking details.

If you receive one of these text messages, take the following steps:

  1. DO NOT press the link.
  2. Report the text by forwarding it to 7726.
  3. Delete the text from your phone.

If you think you have fallen victim to this scam, contact your provider as soon as possible, as well as Action Fraud, the reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Reports of fraud and any other financial crime in Scotland should be reported to the police via 101.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has also published advice for people who may have been affected by this scam.

Meet Your Local Policing Team

Bromsgrove North Safer Neighbourhood Team will be in Fairfield (outside the Cafe) Thursday 22nd April from 6pm for 1hr. Please come and say hello. Share any concerns or seek advice that is needed.
A representative from FVCA, your local Neighbourhood Watch Group, will also be present.

Vulnerable people targeted by fraud gangs

In the last few days, more attempts to defraud people have been reported to the police, with some victims handing over thousands of pounds. West Mercia Police are aware that criminals, pretending to be police officers are targeting people in Shropshire and North Worcestershire in a scam known as ‘Courier Fraud’. Again, the victims are elderly and vulnerable people.

Detective Inspector Emma Wright said: “Sadly, these predators are again targeting vulnerable people who may not have seen the news recently or aware of media and police reports about this scam.

“I urge everyone who has elderly or vulnerable relatives to please give them call, call over the fence to their neighbour or remind them if they pop into your shop that the police will never, ever, call you and instruct you to withdraw your cash. No officer will ever ask for you to travel to a bank and hand over your money as part of an investigation, if a loved one is in custody or if your account has been compromised. These are all lies.

“These criminals are significant members of organised crime gangs with the confidence and the experience to be very convincing and ‘Courier Fraud’ is just one element of their criminal activities. But we can defeat them in one simple act: hanging up the phone. No police officer will telephone your granny, your dad or you and ask for your money. They are lying, they are criminals and you can beat them by ending the call.

“So please, tell anyone you think needs to know, that no police officer from any force or department will ever ask you to hand over money or transfer funds, regardless of their name or unit. If you work in a bank, you can help us by using the Banking Protocol and preventing vulnerable people who potential victims of fraud from withdrawing large amounts of cash to hand over to couriers in these scams. Please alert us if you suspect a vulnerable person is withdrawing cash for this purpose, so we can check they are not a victim. I would like to reassure people in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford and Worcestershire that we are investigating these crimes and these gangs and want to hear from anyone who has been contacted in this way”

“If the crime is still in progress, because for example, you have recently provided bank details or handed over cards or cash or are going to visit your bank or the caller has arranged for someone to visit your address to collect items, you should call the police to report this on 101. In an emergency dial 999.”

“Please remember the police will never contact you asking for your bank card, details, cash or ask you to go to a bank to withdraw cash. If someone does, it’s a scam – provide no details and hand nothing over, hang up, wait ten minutes then call 101.”

Please Help Stop Livestock Thefts

Livestock thefts occur throughout the year, and there are times when it it more prevalent.

Last year there were several occasions in and around our community where livestock were stolen or butchered on site.

Please help stop livestock thefts. If you see suspicious activity – REPORT IT, tel. 101.

Government Text Message Scams

The National Anti-Fraud Network (NAFN) have been made aware that unsolicited text messages are being sent to members of the public purporting to offer a COVID-19 Grant due to the current lockdown. The text includes a link to “claim” the grant
and starts with the words GOV.UK and ends with govuk.com, suggesting the text message has been sent by or on behalf of the government and is therefore an authentic message. Open source checks confirm that the number from which the text
appears to be sent is associated with other fraudulent attempts. These can be forwarded directly to 7726, which goes to your mobile provider.

Delivery text messages and emails

There have been several reports of scam text messages and emails claiming to be from a well-known delivery service such as Royal Mail, FedEx, UPS, Yodel and Hermes.
Messages state that a delivery has been missed and that the recipient will need to rearrange a delivery or that it has a shipping fee associated with the package. It will contain a link which will direct the consumer to a phishing website designed to look like the official website where consumers can make payment.
If in doubt, don’t click the link. Take Five and think about what is being asked; are you expecting a delivery? Would it require a shipping fee if you have?
Royal Mail will only send email and SMS notifications to customers where the sender has requested this when using their trackable products that offer this service
The only time Royal Mail would ask customers to make a payment in an email or SMS is if a customs fee is due. In this case, they will also leave a grey card telling them there’s a fee to pay, either for the international customs fee or a surcharge for an underpaid item before they can release the item.
You can forward suspicious text messages to 7726 and suspicious emails on to report@phishing.gov.uk

Scam Calls – ICO Needs Your Help

Nationally, there has been a 250% increase in reported Scam telephone calls, and the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) needs your help.
The ICO would like you to report the unwanted scam and nuisance calls that you receive to them.
Download and complete the Phone Call Log, Phone Call Log (friendsagainstscams.org.uk), record details of the call that you receive, with as much information as possible, and periodically return the log to the National Trading Standards Team (address can be found at the top of the Phoned Call Log.

Early Morning Nuisance Call

A resident has reported receiving a nuisance call at 8.10 am, a time that most people would only receiving very urgent or emergency telephone calls.

The resident picked up the telephone receiver to find that there was silence for about 12 seconds, then the call was disconnected. The telephone number of the caller was 00.

Please remain vigilant, an early morning Scam call could easily catch someone off guard and could result with someone losing hundred, even thousands, of pounds.

Please speak to your elderly and vulnerable about telephone scams and nuisance calls.

Vigilant Resident Reports Possible “Crash for Cash”

Saturday 20th February – A resident witnessed two cars been driven suspiciously around Stoneybridge Island.  It is thought that the drivers of the vehicles were trying to instigate a slow speed rear crash, and it was third time that these vehicles, a silver Mercedes and a black Alfa Romeo saloon, have been seen in the area been driven in a suspicious manner.   The police have been notified.

If you witness any suspicious activity, please report to Home | West Mercia Police

Suspicious Activity Pepper Wood

With the rise of dog thefts nationally, a dog walker has contacted us to share an experience that made them feel uneasy in Pepper Wood recently.

“It was around 5 and I was walking with two dogs down the centre path towards the car park. When I approached the car park I saw a white van with a couple (could have been two women could have been a man and a woman). They were standing outside the van smoking cigarettes and chatting. As I got closer they started to walk towards the path without any dogs. I was turning around anyway to walk back but something just felt uneasy. The woman was not wearing the type of clothes you associate with walking in the woods. I felt quite nervous so started walking at speed and within around 5 minutes they had turned back.”

There is nothing saying that these people have done anything wrong, they may have just been out for a walk.  This experience highlights the need for vigilance at all times, if you do feel threatened or the activity appears to be suspicious please report to the police  CLICK HERE

Are You Blue Light Aware?

Do you know what to do should you be in driving along and you see blue lights and hear a siren?

Solid white line systems and traffic islands often cause confusion for drivers when an emergency vehicle is behind them. Stop? Carry on? Speed up?

Please watch this awareness video and help our emergency services.

Thieves target cars for catalytic converters

Thieves and organised gangs are continuing to target catalytic converters from vehicles across West Mercia. This is also an international concern with forces across the world reporting a recent increase in reported catalytic converter theft. The rise in the value of the precious metals they contain is thought to be the reason behind the spike in this offence.

Inspector Andy Tanner said: “Thieves tend to target vehicles such as vans and 4x4s that have a higher ground clearance making the converters more easily accessible. However, all types of vehicles are vulnerable.

“The illegal market for the metals that the converters contain is strong and each converter can make a thief hundreds of pounds, but take only a few minutes to remove from a vehicle and can cost thousands to replace.”

“We are actively investigating several cases and would ask people to please take a few steps to reduce the chances of their vehicle being targeted. One of those steps is to please report any suspicious activity around parked vehicles that you may see or have recorded on mobile devices, CCTV or in-vehicle cameras.”

Tips on how to protect your vehicle:

  • Keep your vehicle in a garage if you can
  • If you park it on a driveway, install motion activated lighting
  • Otherwise, park in a well-lit, populated area
  • Forensic security marking kits are available to mark your catalytic converter
  • Locks are also available that can be fitted to your converter
  • Use high visibility signage to deter thieves

For crimes in progress call 999. For non-emergencies report online at www.westmercia.police.uk/report 

Speak to your Safer Neighbourhood Team and for more information, visit https://www.westmercia.police.uk/

Warnings continue over Romance Fraud

New data from UK Finance reveals a 20 per cent increase in bank transfer romance fraud between January – November 2020 compared to the previous year, with the total value of these scams rising by 12 per cent to £18.5 million. The average loss per victim reported to UK Finance members was £7,850, highlighting the significant impact this type of fraud can have on victims’ finances.

But criminals can trick victims into sending them money in many ways, not just via a bank transfer. Action Fraud has also seen a rise in reports made by members of the public who have fallen victim to romance fraud in 2020, with total reported losses equating to over £68 million. In these reports, victims have lost money via bank transfer, money transfer, sending fraudsters gift cards and vouchers or presents such as phones and laptops, and providing them with access to their bank account or card.

Romance scams involve people being duped into sending money to criminals who go to great lengths to gain their trust and convince them that they are in a genuine relationship. They use language to manipulate, persuade and exploit so that requests for money do not raise alarm bells. These requests might be highly emotive, such as criminals claiming they need money for emergency medical care, or to pay for transport costs to visit the victim if they are overseas.

The rise in romance scams comes as more people have turned to online dating during 2020 due to social distancing restrictions. Figures from the Online Dating Association (ODA) estimate that over 2.3 million Brits used dating apps during the first lockdown, with 64 per cent of people surveyed seeing dating apps as a lifeline for those living alone. While the internet can be a great way to meet people and form new relationships, the growth in popularity of online dating is giving criminals more opportunities to exploit and coerce people into parting with their money.

Scammers will often build a relationship with their victims over time, the ODA’s data shows that half (53 per cent) of people surveyed are having longer conversations on dating services during lockdown. UK Finance is therefore calling on people to look out for their friends and family this Valentine’s Day. Dating app users should also speak to their friends and family for advice, and follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign to keep themselves safe from scams.

West Mercia Police Detective Inspector Emma Wright from the Economic Crime Unit said: “We are committed to safeguarding vulnerable people and disrupting criminality that preys on victims and causing them significant financial losses. We work in collaboration with the City of London Police to investigate reports and develop intelligence leads to disrupt romance fraudsters, whilst also safeguarding, supporting and offering protection advice to the victims.

“Romance scams are both emotionally and financially damaging for victims. The increasing popularity of online dating services has made it easier for criminals to target victims, so we urge everyone to be cautious and follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, which offers straight-forward and impartial advice to help people spot scams and protect themselves against fraud.

“Although banks are always looking out for suspicious activity, customers must be on their guard and protect themselves too. Always be wary of requests for money from someone you’ve never met in person. If you think you’ve been the victim of a romance scam, contact your bank immediately, report it to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or call us on 101.”

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “I am committed to protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims of crime. Romance fraud is a horrible crime that can leave victims devastated, both financially and emotionally. 

“Providing the right support for victims is central to my role as commissioner, and I would urge anyone that has been a victim of this very personal crime to reach out to the support that is available.”

If you’ve been affected by romance fraud or know someone who has, then support is available from the West Mercia Victim Advice Line.

The Victim Advice Line is a free and confidential service offering advice, practical help and emotional support to people affected by crime, regardless of whether it has been reported to the police. 

Support is available by telephone on 0800 9523000, via email at info@victimadviceline.org.uk and through live chat on victimadviceline.org.uk 

How users can stay safe from romance scams:

  • Be suspicious of any requests for money from someone you have never met in person, particularly if you have only recently met online.
  • Speak to your family or friends to get advice.
  • Profile photos may not be genuine, do your research first. Performing a reverse image search on a search engine can find photos that have been taken from somewhere, or someone, else.

If you think you have been a victim of a romance scam, do not feel ashamed or embarrassed – you are not alone. Contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk.

It is important that no matter how long you’ve been speaking to someone online and how much you think you trust them, if you have not met them in person it’s important that you do not:

  • Send them any money
  • Allow them access to your bank account
  • Transfer money on their behalf
  • Take a loan out for them
  • Provide copies of your personal documents such as passports or driving licenses
  • Invest your own money on their behalf or on their advice
  • Purchase and send the codes on gift cards from Amazon or iTunes
  • Agree to receive and/or send parcels on their behalf (laptops, mobile phones etc.)

Competition – Design A Croods 2 Inspired Treehouse

Neighbourhood Watch are delighted to announce our exciting new partnership with Universal Studios and the Co-op in the launch of The Croods 2: A New Age in the UK. The film (also known as The Croods 2) is a computer-animated adventure comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Universal Pictures.

The film centres around values of community, neighbourliness, inclusivity, and working together. These are values that are close to the heart of all Neighbourhood Watch supporters, and as part of our initiative to reach more young families and to add to the positive and approachable perceptions of Neighbourhood Watch, the opportunity presented by this partnership was too good to pass up!

The Croods and The Bettermans are thrown together, two very different families who have to learn to live with one another when an evil tribe of monkeys threaten their homes. Once safe from this threat, the Croods and the Bettermans realise that home is not a place, it’s people, and together they create history’s first neighbourhood!

Neighbourhood Watch’s partnership with the film provides the opportunity to reach young families and to promote the importance of neighbourliness and community spirit to new audiences and across diverse communities. We know many young people and their families believe in the values which we stand for and this partnership gives them the introduction to becoming Neighbourhood Watch supporters for life.

WIN! Design a Croods 2 inspired treehouse and win it for your local Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve

In partnership with ‘The Croods 2: A New Age’ and Co-op, we want children up to the age of 16 to design their very own Croods 2 inspired treehouse for their local community. What’s more, the winning entry will be brought to life and built within a nearby Wildlife Trust location to be enjoyed by the public for years to come!

What do you need to do to enter?

  • Head over to Co-op Insurance website to download the treehouse template and top tips for entering
  • Design a Croods 2 inspired treehouse for your local community – it can be as wacky as you want, let your imagination run wild!
  • You can draw, paint, use computer software or even cave drawings to create your design, but above all be sure to think about how this could be used by the community and bring a lot of fun.
  • Share the design on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #Croods2Treehouse and tag Co-op (@coopukinsurance on Facebook and Twitter) and Neighbourhood Watch Network (Facebook: @ourwatch; Twitter: @N_Watch and Instagram: @neighbourhood.watch.insta) to enter.
  • The competition closes on 22nd February and the winner will be contacted within 5 days via social media. The treehouse will be built by 26th March, just in time for the film’s release and Easter holidays!
  • Click here, for more details.

Vulnerable people and jewellery shops targeted in scam

West Mercia Police are aware that criminals pretending to be police officers are again attempting to defraud people in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, in a scam known as ‘Courier Fraud’. Some jewellery shops are also being taking advantage of as part of the scam.

Detective Inspector Emma Wright said: “This type of fraud traditionally targets older, vulnerable people however cases reported in the last 24 hours would suggest the criminals are targeting a broader range of ages.

West Mercia Police Economic Crime Unit is also making all jewellery shops aware of the Courier Fraud scam that can see their businesses used by criminals as part of the fraud.

Detective Inspector Emma Wright said: “Courier Fraud is an especially cruel type of fraud that sees vulnerable people prayed on by criminals.

“Victims are telephoned by a person, pretending to be a police officer. The bogus police officer explains that the victim’s bank accounts are under threat from fraudsters. He or she convinces the victim to participate in a fictitious undercover police operation to catch the fraudsters and safeguard their funds. They are told not to inform anyone, including their bank, as bank staff are equally under suspicion. Often the bogus Police officer discloses private financial information about the victim, which is used to encourage the victim to trust them.

“Where the jewellery shops may come into this, is that victims are sometimes instructed to either buy gold bullion or high valued watches. These items are handed to a courier who confirms a password given to the victim over the phone by the suspect.

“While this may seem hard to believe and that nobody would fall for this con, we have had recent cases where one victim was convinced over several long and very detailed calls to buy £250,000 in gold which once delivered to their home, was handed to ‘investigating officers’ and another where a victim who had already withdrawn more than £25,000 in cash was tricked into purchasing a £35,000  designer watch as part of a fake investigation, which was then handed to waiting criminals pretending to police officers.

“These people are operating as part of organised crime gangs. They are ruthless, extremely convincing and extremely successful and these scams net millions of pounds a year for them.

“So my message to everyone is simple: no police officer, bank security staff or government agency, will ever ask you for your bank details over the phone or by text and email. They will never tell you to withdraw money as part of a criminal investigation, nor ask you to buy goods like watches or gold, nor request that you transfer funds to another account. The police and security teams for banks simply do not work in this way. I would ask you to please let elderly and vulnerable people know never to believe anyone who claims to be from the police and who then asks for their money, even if they know some of your financial and personal details.

“We are contacting all jewellery shops across West Mercia to encourage them to be aware of the scam and what to look for if they are approached by a customer who may be a victim of this fraud and we are working in conjunction with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau to combat this type of crime.”

“If you are concerned you have been targeted, because for example, you have recently provided bank details, handed over cards/cash/valuables, you are going to visit your bank/a jewellers, or the caller has arranged for someone to visit your address to collect items; you should call the police to report this on 101. In an emergency dial 999.”

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 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.

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.

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.