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Scammers pretend to be police

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Scammers pretend to be police

BRAZEN scammers are pretending to be police officers to con Dumfries and Galloway residents out of money.

The number of reported fraud incidents recorded in the region has risen by 250 per cent over the past five years, and police are now desperately trying to crack down on online and telephone scams.

Chief Superintendent Carol McGuire, Dumfries and Galloway Police Commander, said: “Callers are really quite convincing and they coerce the victim to remove or transfer funds from their account.

“One fraudulent scheme that we did see in the division involved the criminals purporting to be police officers.”

The police chief attended Dumfries and Galloway Council’s police, fire and rescue sub committee last week, presenting Police Scotland’s annual report for the region.

Figures were produced for various crimes that occurred between April 1 last year and March 31 this year. These ranged from violent assaults and housebreaking to domestic abuse and shoplifting.

However, the stats for fraud stood out because the figures have been growing steadily each year. In 2016/17, there were 179 incidents recorded, but by 2021/22 this had rocketed to 453.

Mid and Upper Nithsdale Councillor Tony Berretti asked: “Digital fraud is on the increase. What sort of resources are you thinking we may need to combat that in this next 12 months period?”

Chief Superintendent McGuire replied: “The rise in fraud is a trend not only within the division, but across Scotland unfortunately.”

“We do work around a communications strategy with partners to try and educate and negate these things happening.

“Obviously when they do, and in that one where the criminals were purporting to be police officers, we’ve got some very positive lines of enquiry that we’re following both locally and on a national basis.”

She added: “It is vulnerable people they are targeting, and they are being successful.

The police chief explained that officers are supporting the ‘Take Five – To Stop Fraud’ campaign and will be spreading the word with various pop-up stalls in town centres, social media marketing, and distributing materials at events.

Police are also working with the council’s trading standards department on the ‘Shut-Out Scammers’ initiative, which focuses on combating bogus callers and doorstep crime.

At a national level, programmes are running to tackle cyber crime, and local police officers will be trained to specialise in this particular area over the next 12 months.

Dumfries and West, Front

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