Milverton, Somerset
15/07/2024

Snapshot of the working life of a PCSO

The cold weather and rain haven’t always helped but its that time of year where we can look forward to the Spring. On the subject of rain, at the beginning of January, me and a colleague attended a van with its driver stranded in flood water. The Fire Service were on scene but soon left us to it. With the help of RAC, we pulled the vehicle and driver to safety as well as managing the traffic on this very busy road.

I received reports of motorised vehicles and motorbikes off-roading in protected areas of the Quantocks and have worked with the Quantock Rangers on this. I have attended several Neighbourhood Surgeries and was finally able to make Ashbrittle Lunch Club. It was lovely to catch up with this part of my community.

January saw the launch of my mini police in Lydeard St Lawrence with a visit planned soon to see all the different sections of the police including the Dog Unit among the lessons planned. I also attended a primary school to deliver internet safety advice to parents so that they can put measures in place to keep their children safe online.

PCSO Louise Fyne

PCSO February update

If you’ve been told you’ve won something in a raffle, prize draw, or competition, think about whether you actually entered. If you didn’t, you can be sure it’s a scam. Bin it!

If you are asked to pay a fee up-front in order to receive your winnings/prize/etc. it’s a scam. Legitimate organisations will never ask you to do this. Bin it!

Does the letter contain bad spelling or grammar? If so, it’s a scam. Bin it!

There are also certain letter styles that are commonly used in competition or lottery scam mail. If you receive a letter with one or more of these on, and claiming you’ve won a prize draw or lottery you never entered, it’s a scam. Bin it!

  • Coats of arms
  • Seals
  • Serial numbers
  • Barcodes
  • Watermarks
  • Reproduced signatures
  • Rubber stamps

Have you received the letter or catalogue out of the blue, without ever asking for it or even making contact with the company? If so, it’s probably a scam. Bin it!

Are they asking you for money? Always start from the position that any request for money is suspicious unless proven otherwise. Don’t send any money!

Never give out any personal information.

PCSO Louise Fyne 6945
Mobile 07889 659476
Email louise.fyne@avonandsomerset.police.uk

Courier fraud

Avon and Somerset Police are warning to look out for courier fraud.

A resident received a call from someone who claimed to be a London police officer working in Paddington station (which closed some time ago). Fortunately, the resident became suspicious and hung up, but we want to remind you to be wary of callers who claim to be a police officer working in a serious crime fraud unit in London or from another force.

They claim that your bank account has been compromised or that the bank card has been cloned. The purpose of these calls is to get people’s bank account details.

The offenders may also say that they are investigating your bank and need help to test the cash for counterfeit money. Victims are asked to withdraw a considerable amount of cash which will then be collected by a courier for “testing”. Of course it always fails and you never see the money again.

These criminals can be very convincing and will sometimes pass your call to another “department” which is another fraudster. They may also ask you to contact 101 or 999 to confirm their identity. In this case the culprit doesn’t hang up, so the line remains connected at their end, any other call you make is answered by them. If asked to do this, hang up and wait at least five minutes before making a call or ideally use another phone if possible.

It is important to note that the police do not accept Amazon vouchers or any other type of gift card as a form of payment, so if the offenders ask for these it WILL be a scam.

Report courier fraud online at Action Fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040

 

Shop safely online

Avon and Somerset Police are advising about shopping safely online this Christmas.

With Christmas around the corner, online shopping can save you time, effort and money. However, don’t be caught out by convincing fake online shopping websites or fraudulent listings on buy and sell platforms. Avon and Somerset Police would advise people to be extra cautious when considering purchasing items online such as concert tickets, phones, gaming devices and designer goods. Fraudsters will take advantage of lower stock levels of such items around Christmas time, and we see consumers searching for these in demand items often falling victim to fraud.

Don’t be lured onto a fraudulent website by clicking on a link you have been sent in a text or email. You can report suspicious emails by forwarding them to report@phishing.gov.uk and suspicious text messages by forwarding them to 7726.

  • Ensure your email and online shopping accounts are protected with strong passwords and you don’t use them anywhere else
  • Use the recommended payment method, or you may not be refunded for any losses to fraud. Pay securely and with payment protection (such as using a credit card)
  • When paying either by online payment service or payment card, ensure that the link is secure, in two ways:
  1. There should be a padlock symbol in the browser window frame, which appears when you attempt to log in or register. Be sure that the padlock is not on the page itself … this will probably indicate a fraudulent site.
  2. The web address should begin with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’. The above indicates only that the link between you and the website owner is secure, and not that the site itself is authentic. You need to do this by carefully checking the address for subtle misspellings, additional words and characters and other irregularities.
  • Check credit card and bank statements carefully after shopping to ensure that the correct amount has been debited, and also that no fraud has taken place as a result of the transaction
  • Avoid carrying out any financial transactions over unsecure connections, such as public wi-fi
  • Ensure you have effective and updated antivirus/antispyware software and firewall running before you go online
  • If you’re unsure about a link to a website don’t click on it. If the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is

Do your research on a website and go with your instincts When using auction sites:

  • Remember that it’s easy to set up a fake profile
  • Stay on the website when communicating with the seller
  • Do your research on the seller to make sure they are genuine
  • Decline any requests to pay by bank transfer or virtual currency
  • If a seller asks for payment by PayPal Friends & Family, this will be so that they can avoid PayPal charges, but will deny you any payment protection which PayPal may otherwise provide

You also need to be wary as a seller. Criminals sometimes pose as buyers on auction sites, sending spoof emails as proof of payment transfer to the genuine seller. The payment fails to materialise, but the goods have already been sent.

There have also been cases where criminals have turned up at the victim’s home to collect an item and presented a fake banking app, showing that the funds have been sent. Always check your account online or ask your bank to make sure cleared funds have been received before sending or handing over any item.

If you are the victim of fraud, report it immediately to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting Action Fraud

 

Check on neighbours advice

Avon and Somerset Police have issued this advice to Neighbourhood Watch teams:

Dear Coordinators and Members,

Wiltshire Farm Foods, a supplier of home meal deliveries has had their computer system damaged in a cyber attack, which means it is unable to provide food to residents across the area.

Because of this, we are asking our Watch members to check on any elderly or vulnerable neighbours to see if they have been affected and need help getting food, especially as it may take several days for the company to return to normal.

Holiday and travel related fraud

Avon and Somerset Police warn that as travel restrictions become more relaxed, Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, is warning the public to remain vigilant against holiday fraud when booking flights or accommodation online.

In the financial year 2021/22, Action Fraud received 4,244 reports of holiday and travel related fraud – a substantial increase of over 120 per cent when compared to the previous financial year. Victims reported losing a total of £7,388,353 – an average loss of £1,868 per victim.

Action Fraud has launched a national awareness campaign this week to urge the public to think twice before handing over money and personal information when booking holidays. Over 7 per cent of victims reported falling victim to suspects impersonating legitimate travel companies, including clone comparison websites, airline websites and holiday accommodation websites.

In some cases, victims have searched for flight tickets online and have found a website they believe to be the company’s genuine website. In other cases, victims reported responding to an approach or advertisement on social media or using what they believed to be legitimate flight comparison websites to search for flights.

In both instances, victims reported being contacted by someone purporting to be from the airline, or flight comparison website, to take them through the booking procedure and take payment.
The fraudster may completely end contact after receiving payment or provide the victim with fake booking information.

Sadly, some victims have only become aware that they have been the victim of fraud when they arrive at the airport and are unable to check-in.

Tops tip to avoid falling victim to holiday fraud:

  • Stay safe online: check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a
    domain name – such as going from .co.uk to .org
  • Do your research: don’t just rely on one review – do a thorough online search to ensure the company is credible
  • If a company is defrauding people, there is a good chance that consumers will post details of their experience, and warnings about the company. Look for the logo: check whether the company is an ABTA Member. Look for the ABTA logo on the company’s website. If you have any doubts, you can verify membership of ABTA online on their website. If you’re booking a flight as part of a package holiday and want more information about ATOL protection, or would like to check whether a company is an ATOL holder, visit the CAA website
  • Pay safe: wherever possible, pay by credit card. You should avoid paying directly into a private individual’s bank account
  • Check the paperwork: you should study receipts, invoices and terms and conditions, and be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all. When booking through a Holiday Club or Timeshare, get the contract thoroughly vetted by a solicitor before signing up
  • Use your instincts: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Cold caller alert

On Thursday 8 April my wife and I were approached by a youngish male as we unloaded shopping at our front door. Rather rapidly flashing a piece of official-looking paper in front of my face but whipping it away with speed, he claimed to be a participant in some sort of scheme to get himself back on his feet after service in the Military. He claimed to have suffered from mental health problems. He also claimed to have received real support from Milverton’s Church of England Rector, Helene. We could not deal with this at the time, but he seemed to be reluctant to let us get on with our task and lingered, delivering his narrative. He claimed to be from Middlesbrough (he had a north-eastern accent certainly). I told him I would speak to him if he returned in half an hour. I saw a second man of a similar age lingering outside The Globe Inn and, ultimately, entering the main door.

I used that time to try to verify his story, being perfectly willing to help if it were true, but neither Helene nor Louise Fyne, community police officer, were available. When the man returned I told him I had not been able to verify any of his story and did not intend to pursue our conversation further. He became more insistent, claiming that he had made lots of sales up and down the street. I congratulated him on his success and closed the door. .

I reported this matter to the Avon and Somerset Constabulary via the 101 system. They called me back that evening, taking details of appearance and the story he gave us. They advised me that this should have been a 999 call. They fully supported the suggestion that I inform the community that this should be the procedure. Their advice is not to engage with the characters who cold-call and if they adopt an insistent attitude, such as that described above, call 999 so that they might be apprehended. The police, I was informed, regard these activities as acts of nuisance and as such they will be treated as a legitimate call for the emergency number.

A Milverton resident.

Avon and Somerset Police theft alert

An outbuilding/stables have been subject of an attempted theft between 3pm and 4pm on the 15 March in West Bagborough. The offenders gained entry and removed a quad bike into a yard, where it was later discovered abandoned nearby.

Any information please contact the Police on 101 quoting reference number: 5222062334 stating NHW release or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Thank you for your support.

 

Avon and Somerset Police payment diversion fraud alert

Payment Diversion Fraud, spikes annually in March because of increases in business activity associated with company’s financial year-ends. The aim is to raise awareness of this type of fraud and deliver key protect messaging to potential victims.

Payment Diversion Fraud (PDF), also known as Business Email Compromise (BEC) or Mandate Fraud, affects businesses and customers where electronic financial transactions are taking place.

Criminals will contact businesses or customers via email, usually claiming to be from a company that the business or customer has been dealing with. They will request a payment to be made often or inform the recipient of a change of bank account details.

Criminals will often create fake e-mail addresses which are very similar to genuine business or customer addressees and send over fake invoices to make it more believable. All of this leads to payments from businesses and customers directly into bank accounts controlled by the criminals.

Criminals are experts at impersonating people and will spend hours researching you for their scams. Stop, think and follow the Take Five to Stop Fraud advice as it could protect you and your money.

Take Five to Stop Fraud advice

Advice for individuals

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.

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 for your financial or personal details. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam, don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed – you are not alone.

Report it to Action Fraud online at  or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Advice for businesses

Criminals are experts at impersonating people, businesses and the police. They spend hours researching your business for their scams, hoping you will let your guard down for just a moment.

STOP: If you receive a request to make an urgent payment, change supplier bank details or provide financial information, take a moment to stop and think.

CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? Verify all payments and supplier details directly with the company on a known phone number or in person first.

PROTECT: Contact your business’ bank immediately if you think you’ve been scammed and report it to Action Fraud.
Advice can be found on the Take Five website addresses here:

Improve your cyber security with NCSC Cyber Aware

Use the 6 NCSC Cyber Aware actions to keep yourself safe. Further details of these are available at Cyber Aware these are:

  1. Use a strong and separate password for your email.
  2. Create strong passwords using 3 random words.
  3. Save your passwords in your browser.
  4. Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA).
  5. Update your devices.
  6. Back up your data.

Avon and Somerset Police Covid scam alert

Criminals are once again using Covid to try and steal your money. Since 1 January, 412 victims have reported losses totalling over £531,000.

Fake text messages pretending to be from the NHS are circulating, so remember that the NHS will NEVER ask for payment or for your financial details.

To report suspicious text messages, forward them to 7726 (free of charge), or visit #CovidFrauds.

Examples of scam text messages