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Neighbourhood Watch

Street Watch: Join the scheme today

Would you like to help keep your community safe, get some exercise, and meet new people?

West Mercia Police are looking for more volunteers to join our Fairfield Street Watch scheme.

As a Street Watch volunteer, you will walk your local streets in groups and provide reassurance and engagement with local issues that matter most. While you will have no police powers, you will work directly with local policing teams to report any issues noticed during your walks.

Becoming a Street Watch Volunteer is a fantastic way to help keep your community safe, to meet new people in our community who share the same values, to improve community engagement with the police, and to keep fit and healthy.

If you’re also interested in becoming a Street Watch member you can learn more by clickinghere.

Or email the team directly: citizensinpolicing@westmercia.police.uk.

Courier Fraud Offences… Beware!

Project Prospero is West Mercia Police’s response to courier fraud which has been ongoing for a number of years. 

Typically, criminals carry out Courier Fraud by cold calling the victim, purporting to be a police officer, government officials, HMRC, bank official etc…. The fraudsters will then claim there’s an issue with the victim’s bank account or request their assistance with an ongoing bank or police investigation.

The ultimate aim of this call is to trick them into handing over money or their bank details. Common techniques used by the fraudsters include telling the victim to withdraw large sums of cash, purchase an expensive item, provide their bank cards/details or transfer money. A ‘courier’ will then come and pick up the cash or items, on behalf of the police or bank. Sometimes the victim may be persuaded to transfer a large sum of money to a “safe account” rather than a courier attending.  Once the money is handed over or transferred it will be gone and the victim will never see it again.

This video from West Midlands Regional Cyber Crimes Unit explains it in more detail:

Courier Fraud – “Your debit/credit card is YOURS!” – YouTube

This video is an example of how it can work (there are other MOs):

Courier Fraud – 89 year old victim speaks out – YouTube

Sadly Operation Prospero offences are happening again with multiple offences reported across the force recently.  An elderly lady in Shropshire lost £40,000 in one of these crimes, whilst only yesterday there was an attempt in Shifnal.  These criminals are likely operating within Telford now and you need to know how to respond. 

This crime type effects all members of society, but tends to be elderly and vulnerable people who fall foul of the criminals, often losing tens of thousands of pounds (as above).  It is hugely underreported with victims (and their families) often blaming themselves or hiding that it has happened from family members.  In many of these cases, criminals are pretending to be police officers, so victims may not have confidence in the police and as officers assisting them we need to give them the best service possible.

Please make family, friends and neighbours are aware so that they do not become a victim.

Why is it called “Courier Fraud”?
The ‘courier’ part of courier fraud is there because scammers will send someone round to collect the ‘evidence’ – usually cash or bank cards complete with PIN numbers – or in some cases actually pick the victims up and take them to a bank, jewellers, or currency exchange to withdraw cash, or buy expensive items to use as collateral in the investigation. The closure of many local Banks has made it easier for criminals to use less secure outlets where their victims can withdraw cash.
So, imagine going about your usual day when your phone rings. You answer it – it’s the Police!
You are told that there’s been fraudulent activity on your bank account, and they need you to help in an investigation to get it sorted. They already have your name and address, but ask you to confirm your identity with your bank details and PIN.

You panic – this sounds serious.
They then ask you to withdraw a substantial sum of cash to use as evidence in the case, but not to tell anyone you’re helping them, as this could jeopardise the investigation and you could be arrested. They send a courier over to pick up the money, and your bank card, all of which you’ll get back as soon as the investigation is finished.  
In other cases, they may ask the victim to buy high value items such as jewellery or watches “to help in their investigations” 
But of course, You never hear from them again. You never get that money back, and this is how Courier Fraud happens.

How can you help? 

If you know what to look out for, you can help protect not only yourself, but also those you care about.
Possible signs that could show someone might be a victim.
• Are they suddenly receiving more phone calls than usual, and not wanting to be overheard?
• Do they seem anxious or withdrawn?
• Are they suddenly more concerned or secretive about their finances than usual?
• If you have access to their bank accounts, are there unusual unexplained high-value withdrawals or purchases?
• Are they experiencing sudden money issues out of the blue? 
• Have you noticed unusual visitors to your vulnerable neighbours?


Nationally, total losses to Courier Frauds exceeds £12 million and average personal losses are in excess of £4,000 with some individuals losing much higher figures.


So stay in control
If something feels wrong, then it’s usually right to question it. Have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for personal or financial information. Neither your Bank nor the Police will ever call you and ask for your PIN, or get you to hand over your Credit Card to a courier.

Take Five To Stop Fraud

STOP: Taking a moment to stop and 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 for a scam and report it to Action Fraud

ALWAYS REMEMBER:
• Avoid disclosing security details
• Emails, Phone Calls and Texts may not be authentic
• Always make direct contact with any organisation by using a genuine phone number 
• Stop and Challenge any unexpected requests
• Protect others by reporting Fraud and Scams

If you’ve fallen for a scam, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk.

Scam Text messages can be forwarded to 7726 to help phone providers take early action and block numbers that generate spam on their networks.

Forward Fake Emails received to report@phishing.gov.uk.

How to avoid loan fraud

When it comes to looking after your personal safety and that of those in your local neighbourhood, it isn’t just physical threats we need to be aware of. With the rise in technology and the growing sophistication of opportunistic scammers, it’s important to have a conversation about how to protect your money.

One of the most prevalent financial scams is loan fraud. This is where criminals manipulate the loan process for their own gain, to either persuade victims to part with their money or steal personal information to take out a loan in your name. Unfortunately, there are certain groups that are naturally more vulnerable to falling victim to crimes of this nature. The elderly are particularly at risk, either due to their personal circumstances or a lack of understanding of modern-day scamming techniques.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of information out there to help everyone guard against these malicious crimes. Comparethemarket has produced this handy guide to loan fraud. It contains actionable advice on how to protect yourself from falling victim, information on how to recover after being targeted, and details of the legitimate loan process, so you know what to look out for if you’re ever suspicious.

By sharing this information with members of your local community, you’ll be playing your part in helping to keep everyone safe from the dangers of loan fraud and other financial scams. This guide presents all the necessary information in a way that’s accessible to everyone, so use it as a starting point to inform yourself and your community.

Source: https://www.comparethemarket.com/loans/content/avoiding-loan-fraud/

Licenced Pedlars

On Thursday 9th November, we reported a suspected unlicenced doorstep pedlar in the community, the person claiming to be part of rehabilitation scheme, his behaviour, mannerism and value of goods he was trying to sell aligned with what is commonly known as a Nottingham Knocker, i.e. https://www.westmercia.police.uk/news/west-mercia/news/2022/october/beware-of-nottingham-knockers-selling-items-door-to-door

Until last Friday (10th November), we were under the impression that West Mercia Police did not issue pedlar licences, and we have previously been encouraged to report visits by people claiming to be licenced pedlars.  We now understand from our Safer Neighbourhood Team that the person of interest was genuine, and he had a Pedlar’s Licence signed off by West Mercia Police.

To enable residents to identify between a genuine licenced pedlar and someone who is not, and to give the community peace of mind, we have obtained a copy of a Pedlar’s Licence, see below.  This will, hopefully, enable residents to make an informed decision as to whether they wish to assist someone, e.g. someone who is on a programme.

Should you receive a visit from an unlicenced pedlar, please continue to report to the police, and if the individual is licenced, do not be pressurised into buying any items.

Cold Mornings

Although vehicle crime is low across West Mercia, every winter the force receives a number of reports from drivers who have had their cars stolen after leaving the engine running, while they wait in the warmth of their home for it to heat up and defrost the windscreen.

Some vehicle owners nip inside for just a few seconds to collect a bag or finish the last mouthful of their breakfast coffee – but that’s all the time an opportunist thief needs. To ‘freeze out’ the thieves, West Mercia Police advises motorists to:

• Clear windscreens with de-icer and a scraper

• Sit in vehicles while the heater de-mists the windscreen

Drivers who ignore this advice are taking big risks. Thieves will drive around residential areas looking for likely targets – when they spot a vehicle with its engine left running on a drive or outside a home, it’s there for the taking.

One person will be dropped off, gets into the target vehicle and simply drives away.

Many of the vehicles are never recovered, and some – especially high value models such as Mercedes, BMW and Audi – may be shipped overseas.

It is also worth remembering if your car is stolen when keys have been left in it, you may find your insurance will not cover you. If your house keys are stolen along with your car, your home is then vulnerable too.

So, this winter, don’t give criminals an easy ride by leaving your car running unattended.

National Recognition For Fairfield Village Community Association

Earlier this year, Fairfield Village Community Association was nominated for the 2023 Neighbourhood Watch Network National Volunteer Recognition Awards for the category COMMUNITY HEALTH AND WELLBEING.

This category celebrates Neighbourhood Watch groups and Coordinators who have gone the extra mile to look out for the needs of their neighbours and neighbourhood.

On the 1st of September, the Community Association was notified that Neighbourhood Watch had received over 270 nominations and, after being shortlisted, judges had decided that our Community Association is a winner.

This is a huge achievement for our community. Congratulation to all our amazing volunteers and supporters for being part of our success, without you, none of our initiatives could be delivered that helps to enhance community cohesion, reduce loneliness & social isolation, and improve our environment.  So, whether you are a litter picker, tree planter, look after the flower beds, deliver newsletters, serve behind the bar, help with marketing, coordinate one of our initiatives, report suspicious activity or attend one of activities, thank you.

Our thanks also to the trustees of Fairfield Village Hall for use of our community building that allows community events to take place, and to all our partners.

The awards ceremony is being held at The Wellcome Collection in London on Wednesday 20th September.  Alan & Sarah Gormley will receive this award on behalf of our community.

Protecting your smart devices this summer

For many of us, today’s home is a very convenient and smart place to live, with more and more devices responding to a tap in an app or the sound of your voice. 
 

However, every device that’s connected to your Wi-Fi is also transmitting data which could be of interest to criminals, not least your speakers, voice assistants, cameras, intruder alarms, cameras, door locks and security lighting.  To find out how to protect your smart devices, read the Get Safe Online advice in the link below:

https://www.getsafeonline.org/smartdevices/

Live Stock Killed

During the night of 22nd June some sheep, that were grazing off a field on Warbage Lane, were killed and some had their heads cut off, leaving lambs without mothers.

The bodies of the decapitated sheep have been taken by who ever has done this.

If anyone has any information or spotted anything suspicious around this time, or has any CCTV around this area, please contact the police, crime number:

00251_i_23062023

Courier Fraud

West Mercia Police reported an outbreak of Courier Fraud scams in this region earlier in the year and now, once again, they are raising your awareness following a spate of reports of Courier Frauds focused in the Herefordshire area.

Courier Fraud occurs when a fraudster contacts victim by telephone usually claiming to be a police officer, bank official or other law enforcement official.

The caller may also be able to confirm some easily obtainable basic details about the victim such as their full name and address. The caller will try and build up trust with the potential victim before proceeding.

Their aim is to get the victim to reveal their PIN, credit or debit card and /or bank details, and more than often will target the elderly as potential victims.

How does it work?

  • The scammer calls you claiming to be from your bank or as a police officer and will tell you either a fraudulent payment on your account needs dealing with, or sometimes that a person has been arrested using your details and cards
  • You may be asked to call the bank back to convince you the call is genuine using the number on the reverse of your card. However, the Scammer has still kept the line open so you are still touch with the Scammer
  • If you do try to call your Bank back, always wait at least 5 minutes for the line to clear or use another phone
  • They will either ask you for your card PIN number or tell you to key it into the phone – you should never be asked for your PIN or pass it over on the phone
  • The Caller then tells you they will send a Courier to pick up your card – they may often provide a “password” to give to the Courier to make it sound even more genuine

Once they have your card and your PIN they then have access to your money.

Other versions of this scam include:

  • Asking you to withdraw a large sum of cash which the police will mark and return to the banking system in an effort to identify a corrupt banking person – once you hand over the cash to the courier –  it is gone
  • Scammers have also realised now that when a more vulnerable person goes into the Bank to withdraw large sums of cash the Bank staff become suspicious so the Scammer may tell the victim to withdraw the cash in Euros from a Foreign Exchange outlet
  • A person claiming to be a police officer and is investigating sales of counterfeit goods then asks you to buy an expensive item such as a watch or jewellery from a specific retailer. You are then asked to hand it over to the Courier to deliver to the “Police” and again that is the last you see or hear of it.
  • A further common variation is to tell you your bank account has been compromised and you need to transfer all your money into a “Safe Account”. Once again you have delivered your cash directly to the Scammer.

Protect yourself

  • Your bank or the police will never call you to ask you to verify your personal details or PIN by phone or offer to pick up your card by courier. Hang up if you get a call like this.
  • If you need to call your bank back to check, wait five minutes; fraudsters may stay on the line after you hang up. Alternatively, use a different line altogether to call your bank.
  • If you think you have been scammed use the dedicated  “159” telephone number for direct access to your Bank

Suspicious Activity – 9th June

A residents has received a cold caller wanting to know if they were interested in selling their motorhome. The caller identified themselves as J & O Motorhomes, does anyone know of them?  The incident appears suspicious and resident has been advised to report to the police.  

If the caller is genuine they have nothing to fear and we can update our community.

If you receive a cold caller, and it is not clear that they are genuine, please report https://www.westmercia.police.uk/

Landrover Defender stolen

West Mercia Police are investigating a theft of an Silver Landrover Defender stolen from an address on Dordale Road during the afternoon of Wednesday 26th April at approximately 15:55hrs, and they want to reassure the community that they are doing all that they can to trace those responsible.

A White car was seen in the area around the time of the theft parked up on Dordale Road.

If anyone witnessed anything suspicious or who has CCTV/Dashcam please contact West Mercia Police either via 101 or our website www.westmercia.police.uk 

Perpetrators of this crime often ‘work to order’ and will target specific vehicles, based on demand and value. If a criminal is targeting a certain vehicle they will also be targeting the owner, looking for easy ways to exploit their security and get to their keys.

“The most common methods used by thieves are to follow victims’ home or ‘cruise’ around residential areas looking for opportunities. If you think you are being followed or see any suspicious vehicles, take the registration number and report it to the police.”

You can also reduce your chances of becoming a victim of car key burglars with the following simple crime prevention methods which are the most effective way to deter potential thieves:

• always keep your keys somewhere safe and out of sight

• always lock your car away safely in the garage, if you have one

• fit a high quality alarm to your vehicle • use additional security systems such immobilisers and visible security locks

• always take your keys with you when leaving the vehicle unattended

• always keep your keys safe and concealed in public places

• make sure doors, windows, the boot and sunroof are secure whenever you leave your vehicle

• if you own more than one vehicle, park the lesser valued vehicle behind the more expensive one on the driveway, making it more difficult to remove

It is also important to remember to protect your home:

• make sure all windows and doors are securely locked

• install a high quality burglar alarm

• install an exterior security lighting system

Advice and tips can be found on our website here

If you are the victim of a burglary of any kind, call 999 immediately.

Car Key Burglary

Message from: PCSOSimon Cadwallader

West Mercia Police are investigating a number of reported car key burglaries in the Bromsgrove area and we want to reassure the community we are doing all that we can to trace those responsible.

Car Key Burglary is a crime where an individual breaks into a home with the specific aim of removing car keys and stealing a car from that property.

Perpetrators of this crime often ‘work to order’ and will target specific vehicles, based on demand and value. If a criminal is targeting a certain vehicle they will also be targeting the owner, looking for easy ways to exploit their security and get to their keys.

“The most common methods used by thieves are to follow victims’ home or ‘cruise’ around residential areas looking for opportunities. If you think you are being followed or see any suspicious vehicles, take the registration number and report it to the police.”

You can also reduce your chances of becoming a victim of car key burglars with the following simple crime prevention methods which are the most effective way to deter potential thieves:

  • always keep your keys somewhere safe and out of sight
  • always lock your car away safely in the garage, if you have one
  • fit a high quality alarm to your vehicle • use additional security systems such immobilisers and visible security locks
  • always take your keys with you when leaving the vehicle unattended
  • always keep your keys safe and concealed in public places
  • make sure doors, windows, the boot and sunroof are secure whenever you leave your vehicle
  • if you own more than one vehicle, park the lesser valued vehicle behind the more expensive one on the driveway, making it more difficult to remove

It is also important to remember to protect your home:

  • make sure all windows and doors are securely locked
  • install a high quality burglar alarm
  • install an exterior security lighting system

Advice and tips can be found on our website here

If you are the victim of a burglary of any kind, call 999 immediately.

Keyless car theft prevention advice

Police in North Worcestershire would like to reassure local people that they are aware of a number of thefts of vehicles recently and to ask that owners are doing what they can do to help prevent further thefts.

Sergeant Dan Townsend said: “Following a recent spate of keyless car thefts and attempted thefts of other vehicles in and around North Worcestershire, we have increased patrols in areas that have been targeted.

“Keyless entry vehicles, while convenient to the owner, are however an extremely easy target for theft. Many car key fobs allow for ‘keyless entry’, a system in which the car can read the signal of your fob so you can open the door without pressing a button.

“Unfortunately the signal sent out by the fob can be captured by criminals using a cheap and readily available tool called a ‘relay device’. If they capture – or clone – your key’s signal they can then open your car and drive it away.

“One of the simplest ways to protect your keys is to invest in something known as a ‘Faraday Pouch’. This is a small pouch for your keys which is lined with metal foil which the radio waves cannot penetrate.

“You can also add a device to physically immobilise the car such as a steering wheel lock. Any physical device like this will act as a very visible deterrent and given the additional time and effort that will be needed to overcome these devices will make would be thieves think twice about targeting your vehicle.

“We also recommend fitting anti-snap locks to front and back doors of your home and making sure all windows are locked and secure. These are relatively inexpensive and can be fitted very quickly.

“While there is a lot the public can do to protect their own property I would like to reassure everyone that we are working hard to catch those responsible and we have several investigations ongoing.

“Much of our intelligence comes from concerned members of the public who may have seen people hanging around, acting suspiciously. Please, if you see anyone acting suspiciously near your car or your property, call us on 101 and let us know.”

Preventing keyless car theft:

  • Ensure your vehicle is properly locked and keep keys far away from doors and windows to ensure the vehicle is no longer in range of the key’s signal.
  • Place keys in a metal/foiled lined box or container, or another container that blocks the keys signal from reaching the vehicle when it’s not in use.
  • Switch off the key’s wireless signal when you don’t need New Pageyour vehicle. If you are unsure if the key has this function, find out in your owner’s manual.
  • You could also purchase an aftermarket security device, such as a steering wheel lock, a driveway parking post or even a wheel clamp. Even if the thieves are able to access and start your car, these should prevent them from driving away. Many criminals will consider bypassing these as ‘too much hassle’.
  • Other steps include checking if there are any software updates for the car itself, remaining vigilant for unusual activity in your area and having an aftermarket immobiliser or tracker fitted.More information and crime prevention advice is available on our website hereIf you have information but don’t feel comfortable speaking to police, you can speak to the independent charity Crimestoppers. It is 100% anonymous, they never ask your name and they cannot trace your call or I.P address. You can visit crimestoppers-uk.org or call 0800 555 111.

Cost of Living Scams

Criminals are still using the cost of living crisis to scam the public

– do not become a victim –

Action Fraud are repeating their warning about cost of living scams in the lead up to Christmas

So once again we are encouraging members of the public to be extra vigilant against fraud, especially in sharing your personal and financial details with people you do not know. Do not let the fraudsters cash in on the cost of living crisis,

and please make sure you share this message with any friends and family who may be more vulnerable.

Common scams that are still circulating right now include:

• Energy Bill Rebates

• Cost of Living Payments

• Fuel Vouchers, Phone Bill discounts and Supermarket offers

• Fake Investment opportunities

Also beware of Non-Delivery and Non-Payment Scams.

• Non–Delivery Scam means a buyer pays in advance for goods or services online but those items are never received

• Non-Payment Scam means the seller sends goods sold via an online sales site but the seller never gets paid

Remember that criminals are expert at gaining your confidence and impersonating Government Agencies, Utility companies, Businesses and the Police.

As stated before, If it looks too good to be true it probably is.

Always be aware, and do not let Fraudsters and Scammers ruin your Christmas.

Scam Warning: THE RISING COST OF LIVING

We are all very aware of the current rising cost of living and no more so than the Scammers and Fraudsters who prey on the public’s emotions with tempting offers of rebates, discounts and prize awards. It is quite likely that these will be on the increase in the coming months.

At over one third of the reported crime, Fraud is extremely high on the number of the reported crimes in the region. Even more worryingly the actual number of Frauds and Scams may well be much higher as many victims are too ashamed or embarrassed to report the crime.

Never be afraid to report any such Frauds immediately to Action Fraud at the contact details at the foot of this message.

Whilst everyone wants to make savings, our awareness must be raised to the many and various, very authentic looking e-mails and texts, as the Fraudsters up their game in light of the current crisis.

For example, Scammers are taking advantage of the cost of living crisis and impersonating energy providers in very authentic looking emails to trick people into sharing their personal details.

A typical example of a current scam, now circulating, comes from British Gas offering an energy bill rebate of £315.

  • The email looks genuine as it uses the British Gas logo and brand and may even contain the account number
  • However it is not addressed to the account holder, only the email address of the customer
  • British Gas will always address you by your full name or surname, and will never ask you confirm or provide personal details via an email
  • Always check such emails for spelling and grammar errors, and check out the sender’s email address to make sure it is, as listed, on the company website or on any invoices you have
  • Finally, never click on any links within such emails. The email may not ask for cash, but sharing your personal details may open the door for scammers to access your bank accountsWhilst this is just one example, the tricks and ploys used by Scammers are many and various, as highlighted in previous messages.Examples of other fake messages circulation at the moment include the following:
  • An email claiming to be from OFGEM claiming the recipient is due a refund; OFGEM would never make such an offer and the email address of the sender info@rebate-ogem.com is obviously fake.
  • Phone Calls claiming to be from your local authority asking for bank details to make payments for Energy Rebates or Household Support Funds. Local Authorities will never ask for such details over the phone.
  • Fake parcel delivery messages claiming to be from genuine Parcel Delivery services, with clickable links to make a payment of a delivery charge or provide personal details – never be tempted to “Click”
  • A plethora of fake money saving schemes such as food giveaways and fuel gift cardsFinally, as people search for bargains through online second hand sales sites they become easy targets by paying for items which never arrive or even exist. Research the seller first, then try and pay by credit card where possible or select another secure method of payment that protects the payer.Take Five To Stop Fraud
  • Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect: If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.For further information visit:https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/https://takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/

Reporting Pension Scams

Why should you report?

Pension scams ruin lives. On average, victims lose £75,000! With some losses in the millions. For some, it’s their whole life savings and once the money’s gone, it’s often gone for good. Criminals’ tactics are constantly evolving and the nature of them means they can be hard to spot. So, it’s difficult to understand the true scale of threat.

What should you report?

It is illegal to cold call consumers to talk about pension products, if you have received an unsolicited call, you should report this to Action Fraud straight away (details below).

Report any information you think could be relevant including the name and contact information of those involved as well as related materials such as websites and brochures.

When should you report?

You should report if you believe a scam has already happened or if you suspect that a pension scam could be taking place or are suspicious of those involved.

Who should you report to?

In England, Northern Ireland and Wales you should report fraud, cyber-crime or concerns about a potential scam to Action Fraud via www.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime or on 0300 123 2040.

Get Safe Online

Get Safe Online is the UK’s leading source of unbiased, factual, and easy-to understand information on online safety
Website Checker: A new initiative has been set up by Get Safe Online in collaboration with a number of partners (including the National Trading Standards Scams Team) to establish a way for people to check whether a website is likely to be legitimate or a scam. If you are getting adverts when on social media or just surfing online, a good way to check if these are real is to visit www.getsafeonline.org/checkawebsite and type the website into the search bar and hit enter! The results you get can help you make your own decision on whether to buy from that website or not and you can do this before you even visit the site. The website checker looks at over 40 data sources to formulate its fraud score. The tool was originally devised in 2012 and has been the subject of continuous improvement by the ScamAdviser technical team ever since.

Goodbye PC Stone

PC Stone is off to pastures new, he has been a great friend of Fairfield, Wildmoor & Stoneybridge and will be greatly missed, thanks PC Stone for all that you have done & achieved.

PCC Community Survey 2022

John Campion West Mercia PCC

Working with local communities to build a safer West Mercia

In order to ensure the voice of the public is at the heart of policing, I am encouraging you to share your views in my latest survey.

As part of my ongoing commitment to take feedback from communities and use it to shape decision making, I am seeking views well in advance of setting next year’s budget. This survey will seek to understand what your concerns are and whether or not you are happy with how visible and accessible West Mercia Police are.

The survey is open until Monday 11th July and you can complete it by visiting www.westmercia-pcc.gov.uk

Be a Considerate Parker

Bromsgrove North SNT have had reports of inconsiderate parking. Please be mindful that even though you are parked legally, emergency vehicles may have to get through. Remembering this and leaving enough room for these larger vehicles would be greatly appreciated.

Hands on the wheel? Hands off your phone

From today, 25 March, the Government has strengthened the law to make it illegal to use a handheld mobile phone behind the wheel for virtually any use. The changes include any use such as taking photos or videos, scrolling through playlists, online chat functions or playing games.

Research has shown that drivers who use a mobile phone while driving are slower at recognising and reacting to hazards, fail to see road signs, fail to maintain proper lane position and steady speed and are much less aware of what’s happening on the road around them.

Read and see more at 

“Hands on the wheel? Hands off your phone.” | West Mercia Police

Chief Constable Visits Fairfield

At our afternoon Community Gathering on Wednesday 19th January, residents were joined by PC Lloyd Stone for one of his regular policing surgery plus a very special guest, the Chief Constable, Pippa Mills.

The Chief Constable enjoyed meeting residents and hearing their concerns, which included speeding and parking.

Do you know where to report scam messages?

Fake emails and text messages are a common tactic used by cyber criminals, their goal is often to convince you to click a link. Once clicked, you may be sent to a dodgy website which could download viruses onto your computer, or steal your passwords and personal information.

In order to try and convince you that their messages are legitimate, criminals will pretend to be someone you trust, or from some organisation you trust. This could be your Internet Service Provider (ISP), local council, even a friend in need. And they may contact you by phone call, email or text message.

Reporting suspicious emails:

If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, you can report it by forwarding the email to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service at: report@phishing.gov.uk

As of 31st October 2021, the number of suspicious email reports stands at more than 8,100,000, with the removal of more than 67,000 scams and 124,000 URLs.

Thank you for your continued support.

*In a small number of cases, an email may not reach our service due to it already being widely recognised by spam detection services. The vast majority of reports do reach our system so please keep reporting any suspicious emails you receive.

Reporting suspicious text messages:

You can report suspicious text messages to your mobile network provider, for free, by forwarding the text to 7726.

If you forward a text, your provider can investigate the origin of the text and take action, if found to be malicious. If 7726 doesn’t work, you can find out how to report a text message by contacting your provider.

(On many Android devices and iPhones, pressing and holding on the message bubble should present the option to forward the message)

For more of the government’s latest advice on how to stay secure online, visit the Cyber Aware website: ncsc.gov.uk/cyberaware

Thanks for reading! If you found this information useful, please help us spread the word by forwarding this email to your friends.

Tools Theft

Recently, some tools have been stolen from an outbuilding on Dordale.

Please review your shed and outbuilding security, for advice visit https://www.westmercia.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/protect-home-crime/secure-shed-garage/

Mark all your tools – SmartWater property marking kits can be obtained Free Of Charge from FVCA for residents and businesses in Fairfield, Wildmoor & Stoneybridge, for a kit email admin@fvca.org.uk Should items be recovered, SmartWater provides traceability of items back to the rightful owner and a 100% conviction rate.

WhatsApp & Lottery Fraud

WHATSAPP FRAUD

There have been a significant number of reports of Scammers pretending to be a family member or friend on WhatsApp.

This was highlighted earlier this month and the warning is repeated here again this week.

The basic method they use is as follows:

• The suspect will send the victim a message via WhatsApp claiming to be their son/daughter/friend and that they have had to change their number, having lost or damaged their phone

• The Scammer will then say they are now using a new phone number

• As a result of this, the Scammers will claim they are getting in touch in order to borrow money to purchase the new device or pay off a debt.

• After this, the Scammer will give their bank details so a payment can be made to them, with some coming back with further demands for money.

LOTTERY FRAUD

Analysis of reports to Action Fraud by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has identified a dramatic increase in Advance Fee Lottery Frauds over the last six months.

Over £925,000 was lost by victims during that period. Victims reported losing an average loss of just over £1,500.

70% of victims reported to be aged 50 or over.

Fraudsters will contact the victim in the following way or similar:

• Lottery fraud occurs when criminals use fake messages and calls to convince a person that they have won a lottery or a prize draw

• The victim is then informed that they will need to pay an advance “fee” in order to receive the winnings

• Victims are commonly asked to pay these advance fees by purchasing gift cards, and relaying codes to the Fraudster.

• In some instances, victims have reported being asked for personal and financial information in order to obtain their “winnings”. Some victims reported providing their bank details thinking they would be sent a small payment to verify the account. In reality, criminals use these details to steal the victim’s money.

IF YOU THINK YOU ARE BEING SCAMMED OR DO NOT RECOGNISE THE CONTACT

• Stop – Taking a moment to stop and think can keep you and your money safe.

• Challenge – Keep your money and information safe from criminals by only purchasing items from authorised sellers and doing your research fully before making a purchase.

• Protect – if you think you’ve fallen for a scam contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Be s-careful this Halloween

With Halloween fast approaching in the next couple of weeks, we are issuing some crime prevention advice to keep everybody safe this Halloween!

  • Adults should always accompany young children when trick or treating
  • Please, where possible, only knock on the houses of people you know
  • Keep to well lit areas, carry a torch, wear hi-vis clothing and always remember road safety
  • Eggs and flour can cause damage and considerable distress and can also lead to criminal convictions. Any premises selling these items will be more vigilant and will inform the police.
  • If anyone is displaying the “No trick or treating poster” do not visit the address

Stay safe and be sensible

Firearms Survey

With more than 30,000 firearm and shotgun licence holders in the West Mercia Police Force area, please take a few minutes to complete the survey.


The Association of Police & Crime Commissioners want to hear your views on potential changes to the licensing of firearms and shotguns in England and Wales. Their online survey takes just a few minutes to complete, and will remain open for responses until Weds 20 October. https://www.apccs.police.uk/latest-news/have-your-say-on-potential-changes-to-firearms-licensing

Nominated Neighbour Scheme

This is a free scheme to deter cold callers and rogue traders and help vulnerable and elderly people feel safer in their own homes.

It is funded by the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner to help reduce doorstep crime.

Nominated Neighbour uses bright yellow window stickers to show potential house callers that that they will only been seen if accompanied by a known and trusted person after their identity has been verified by that person.

All it takes is a neighbour, family friend or family member to agree to be nominated and have callers directed to them.

The scheme deters scam callers, who will not want their identity to be checked. In addition to the window sticker, a pack containing useful information on keeping safe is also provided.

Further information can be found at: Nominated Neighbour Scheme.

To join the scheme or if you have questions, contact the Redditch and Bromsgrove Community Safety Team at CommunitySafety@bromsgroveandredditch.gov.uk or call 01527 534187.

New 159 fraud hotline launched to counter threat

STOP, HANG UP, CALL 159

If you think someone is trying to trick you into handing over money or personal details…

…Stop, hang up and call 159 to speak directly to your bank.

Last year criminal gangs stole over £470m by pretending to be your bank or other service provider.

159 is the memorable, secure number that contacts you directly to your bank if you think you’re being scammed.

159 works in the same way as 101 for the police or 111 for the NHS. It’s the number you can trust to get you through to your bank, every time.

159 will never call you. Only a fraudster will object to you calling 159.

 

When should I call 159?

Call 159 if:

  • Someone contacts you saying they’re from your bank – even if they are not suspicious
  • You receive a call asking you to transfer money or make a payment – even if it seems genuine
  • You receive a call about a financial matter and it seems suspicious

Remember, 159 will never call you. But you can rely on 159 to get you through to your bank.

 

Who is behind 159?

159 has been set up by banks and telephone companies who want to fight fraud. It’s a pilot scheme at the moment. The following banks are part of it:

  • Barclays
  • Lloyds (including Halifax and Bank of Scotland)
  • NatWest (including Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank)
  • Santander
  • Starling Bank

That covers over 70% of UK primary current account holders.

We want more banks to join us, and we hope they will over the course of the pilot.

 

Will it definitely work on my telephone?

Almost all major consumer telephone companies are participating, and over 80% of UK mobiles and landlines will be able to use 159 at the outset. We are working to grow this reach to 100% during the pilot.

The telephone companies are:

  • BT, including EE and Plusnet
  • Gamma
  • O2, including giffgaff
  • TalkTalk
  • Three
  • Virgin Media
  • Sky

What happens if 159 doesn’t work, for any reason?

You should contact your bank in the normal way, using the number on your bank card.

How much does it cost to call 159?

Calling 159 will cost the same as a national rate call; usually part of the included minutes in most phone tariffs.

 

What’s the idea behind the 159 pilot?

159 is a pilot scheme – the idea is to collect evidence to show that calling 159 helps fight fraud. Then we want to make 159 a universal number – available on all phones and for all banks.

Barney on the Move

After many years working as a Safer Neighbourhood Officer for the Bromsgrove North & Rural area, which includes Fairfield, Wildmoor & Stoneybridge, PC Barney Kelso has moved to new challenges within West Mercia Police force area. The Community Association has thanked Barney for his work and have wished him well for the future.

Protect yourself from doorstep crime

A crime prevention message from PCSO Hyder

Protect yourself from doorstep crime. Be aware of people who turn up unannounced, most genuine callers will have a pre-arranged appointment. If in doubt, keep them out!

Doorstep crime can include rogue traders offering home improvement or gardening services, or bogus callers who claim to be the council, police, health carers or energy companies.

Rogue traders may say they are in the area working on another property and they have spotted a problem with your home or garden. They may claim to have materials left over from another job, like paving or tarmac. They may try to pressurise you to buy goods or sign up for services on the spot. Unfortunately all too often they may offer to carry out work cheaply , but charge an extortionate price after the work has been completed.

Bogus callers may claim to be working for the council, water, gas or electric company. They could also say they are a nurse, doctor or even from the police. Bogus callers may say they need to come into your home, or try to get you to go outside. They may try to distract you so they can steal your money. They can be male, female or even children.

A pedlar is someone who calls at your door to sell items that they have to offer, This can often include cleaning or household goods. These goods may be sold at an overpriced value. By law pedlars are required to carry a pedlar’s certificate, which is issues by the police force in the area they operate.

If you are not sure who is at the door, do not open it. Check the identity of any caller. Confirm who they are by calling the company they work for by using the number from the telephone directory or from off one of your bills. Do not call a number provided by them.

If caller does not leave your property when asked to do so, call the police.

Vaccine Scams

Once again, criminals are using Covid-19 to try and scam consumers out of money and personal details. Currently there are many scams circulating regarding to this, pretending to be from different organisations such as the NHS, the World Health Organisation or even your local pharmacy.

These scams may come in the form of text messages, phone calls, websites or even in person. When using text messages, people may be asked to press a number on their keypad or to reply to confirm they wish to receive a vaccine – this may result in a charge being put on the person’s phone bill and a loss of personal information.

Over the phone, criminals may impersonate health officials so they can offer a vaccine in exchange for a fee or requesting bank details to “verify” your details. Emails are making the rounds which often have an attachment or link to book your vaccine. These attachments may contain malware which infects your device and steals information. The links may go to a fake convincing looking vaccine booking forms and may contain some of your personal details to give you confidence in the website – however at the end of the form they will request bank details or further information about you.

With so many different scams relating to Covid-19, it is important to remember the following about the NHS:

• They will never ask for payment – the vaccine is free

• They will never ask for your bank details

• They will never arrive at your home to administer the vaccine unannounced

• They will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as NHS letters, passports or other identification documents.

Charity Scams

Criminals have been using the Covid-19 pandemic to solicit financial donations by impersonating legitimate charities.With the Covid-19 crisis in India being widely reported globally, it is likely that criminals may use the crisis in India to scam members of the public wanting to help.Key advice from Age UK if you receive a suspicious fundraising email or text message:• Be wary of unsolicited communication from a charity or any organisation you have had no previous contact with.• Think about whether you have donated before. Some scammers try to trick you into paying them by thanking you for a donation that you never made.• Do not click on any links or open any attachments in a suspicious email, text or social media message.• Do not reply to spam or suspicious emails or texts, even to say no.• If you receive a text message asking you do donate via your mobile, please be aware that texts from charities are always send from numbers between 70000 to 70999. You can also confirm the phone number on the charity’s official website.• Beware of spoofed email addresses and phone numbers. Criminals can easily make an email, text or call look like it comes from a legitimate source. If in doubt, verify what you have received is genuine with a known verified point of contact

British Gas Scam

Action Fraud received 537 reports in 48 hours relating to fake emails purporting to be from British Gas. The emails state that the recipient is due a refund because of overpayment and there is a link to a phishing website requesting personal and financial information.

As part of the scam alert, an example of the message has been released by Action Fraud. It states: “Hello, British Gas wants to inform you that you are eligible for a payment refund of £594. “Our records indicate that you have paid more than you should have for your British Gas Service from 2017-2019 and because of this reason, we have decided to refund you the total amount which you have overpaid.”

A link is also included in the email, which leads to phishing websites that are designed to steal personal and financial information, Action Fraud said. As with all potential suspicious or scam emails, forward them to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) via report@phishing.gov.uk

Energy Scam Calls

There has been a rise in the number of scam calls which are energy-related recently. These may come in the form of calls which promise you a reduced bill if you sign up to their service or the call may be from criminals pretending to be your energy provider and demanding money.

The criminals try to take advantage of people by calling and demanding payment immediately. The scams can use intimidating and aggressive tactics, such as pretending to be a representative of your energy provider and insisting you are behind on your energy bills. If you are concerned it may be a scam, hang up the phone and call back on a number which you know to be genuine. Here are some warning signs that you can look out for:

• Threats to cut your power immediately if you do not pay

• Unclear details about your current agreement with your energy provider

• Requests for money transfers or prepaid debit cards

New fake NHS COVID Pass emails and texts

The NHS COVID Pass was recently launched by the NHS, so people can prove their COVID vaccine or test status. This pass may be asked for when travelling abroad or if you are attending events and venues in England that ask for proof of your COVID-19 status. The pass can come in a digital form via the NHS app for vaccine or test statuses or a paper copy to prove your vaccination status.

The NHS COVID Pass is completely free and can only be obtained via the NHS app or using the online NHS COVID Pass service via the website NHS.UK. For the paper copy version, you can request it via the NHS website or by calling 119.

Criminals have been using this as a tactic trying to get people to part with their money or their details. These have come in the form of emails and texts which invite you to apply for the pass by clicking on a link. The link takes you to a convincing fake NHS website which will capture your personal details. These are the same tactics that we’ve seen previously relating to vaccines.

With so many different scams relating to Covid-19, it is important to remember the following about the NHS:

• They will never ask for payment – the vaccine is free

• They will never ask for your bank details

• They will never arrive at your home to administer the vaccine unannounced

• They will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as NHS letters, passports or other identification documents.

If you have received any emails or texts, it’s important to report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, Monday-Friday 8am-8pm. Or online at: reporting.actionfraud.police.uk.

You should also forward any scam emails to the National Cyber Security Centre at report@phishing.gov.uk and forward any scam texts to your network operator at 7726.

Insulation Scam Alert

Several residents have reported receiving a phone call from a firm offering a Free Loft Insulation Survey.When one resident said that her husband would phone back the firm back, they hung up. The resident has told us that the phone number the caller left was also strange.Another residents reports that the caller did not have an accent and sounded very plausible, asking what type of loft insulation was in her property. The resident, realising that it was scam call, put the phone receiver down.
PLEASE speak to your older and vulnerable neighbours about these cold calls, we do not want them being fleeced of their savings.

Speak Up For Rural Crime

Animals in the wild can’t keep themselves safe from crime. That’s where they need your help.
Criminals make money organising and betting on cruel and illegal bloodsports like hare coursing and badger baiting, whilst bats are at risk from thieves who want to trade them and rogue developers who don’t care about destroying their homes.
By speaking up with information that could stop crime, we can all play a part in keeping the countryside and its creatures protected.
Click Here to learn more about Rural Crime, and how you can talk to the charity CrimeStoppers, 24/7, 100% anonymously.

Protecting Your Bicycle

Some advice from PCSO Hyder

Bicycles are one of the most targeted items by thieves…

Always lock your bike when you leave it, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Look to spend about 10% of what your bike is worth on the lock. For better security use two or more locks of a different type – a D lock plus a robust chain and padlock.

All bike frames are given a unique serial number. This is normally located underneath the bike and should be written down or photographed and kept somewhere safe.

Security mark the frame. You can use a UV Pen or a property marking solution such as Smartwater. When marking your bicycle use your initials, postcode or another mark that is unique to you.

When possible lock your bike at recognised secure cycle parking area. Wherever you leave your bike unattended please ensure that the area is well covered by good lighting and CCTV, ensure both the wheel and the bike frame is secured to an immovable object.

If your bike is kept in a shed, keep the shed secure with good quality locks and ensure the windows are covered and an alarm is fitted. Remember, even if your bike is stored in a shed or garage, be sure to still use a bike lock in order to prevent anyone from riding off with it should they manage to break in and gain access.

Remember to Insure your bike either on your homes contents insurance or on a separate insurance policy. Double check with your insurance company that your insurance policy does also cover your bike.

Our News – August 2021

The August edition of Our News, the e-newsletter for Neighbourhood Watch supporters, is ready for you to read.

Read about Lottie, the Neighbourhood Watch winner of the Croods 2 treehouse design competition, how crime trends changed during the pandemic and about summer events for volunteers https://bit.ly/OurNewsAug21

Brilliant Fairfield Surgery

Brilliant turnout for Meet the Neighbourhood Team that was held on Monday 2nd August, at the Village Hall.

There were residents, some staying for the hour, others for a few minutes, chatting to PC Stone, catching up with friends and enjoying a cuppa & biscuits.

Thanks to all those who came along. Once again, PC Stone was impressed with the numbers attending and our village hospitality.

And thanks to all those who signed up to Neighbourhood Matters, http://neighbourhoodmatters.co.uk

Meet Your Neighbourhood Team

Bromsgrove North Safer Neighbourhood officers will be conducting a surgery at Fairfield Village Hall on Monday 2nd August at midday for one hour.  Also present will be a representative of your Community Association & Neighbourhood Watch Group.

Coffee/Tea & Biscuits will be available,

Please pop by and say hello and share any concerns. It would be very nice to see you, even if it is for 5 minutes.