Police urge local people to ‘get wise to scams’

Temporary Chief Superintendent Simon Walls, Erika Murray, who has been a victim of scammers and an advocate for the initiative, Anne Connolly, Chair of The Northern Ireland Policing Board, and Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris at the launch of ScamwiseNI initiative.
Temporary Chief Superintendent Simon Walls, Erika Murray, who has been a victim of scammers and an advocate for the initiative, Anne Connolly, Chair of The Northern Ireland Policing Board, and Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris at the launch of ScamwiseNI initiative.

Phishing, vishing, smishing... do you know what these are and how to stop becoming a victim of them?

A major new awareness campaign was launched on November 10 in an effort to help people get wise to scams.

The ‘If you can spot it, you can stop it’ campaign - put together by the Policing Board, PSNI and the Department of Justice - is in response to the rising number of scams being reported.

Seventeen per cent of people across Northern Ireland have been the victims of scams in the last three years, which equates to 314,840 people.

There are countless ways that criminals have found to scam people out of their money but there are steps we can all take to be scam wise.

To support the campaign, the ScamwiseNI Partnership has produced a short film which details the experience of ‘Erika’ who has been a victim of scammers. The ‘Little Book of Big Scams’, which lists some of the key scams around at the minute and what to do if you think you are being targeted or may be a victim, has also been republished.

Speaking about the campaign, Justice Minister Claire Sugden said: “Scams are cruel and can have a devastating effect on victims. They cause financial loss and can undermine the sense of safety and wellbeing of victims. The attackers often target the elderly, but the reality is that no one is safe from the threat of their, often sophisticated, scams. I welcome the work the ScamwiseNI Partnership is doing to tackle the issue and look forward to seeing the impact it has. This initiative gives us the tools we need to protect ourselves and our families from this threat – making us all more scam-wise.”

Policing Board Chair Anne Connolly said: “All forms of scamming are crimes but because they can often be online and faceless, many people feel more embarrassed about being duped than angry at being robbed. Figures show that 17 per cent of our population have been the victims of scams but this does not include the thousands of others who have recognised the scam and ignored or prevented it, or those which have gone unreported.

“Many people who are scammed feel they are to blame for falling for it, but it’s not their fault. If you have - or know someone who has – been a victim of fraud, no matter how small, you should report it to the PSNI or Action Fraud. In the meantime, it’s time to get scamwise. Get the information to help you stop becoming a victim of scammers.”

Discussing the launch of the ScamwiseNI initiative, Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris said: “Scamming is a growth area of crime which impacts on many sections of our community. It’s a matter of real concern to police. We recognise it is not just the police who can impact on scamming, so we have taken a collaborative approach to highlight what steps can be taken to prevent people becoming victims of scams. Education is our best weapon in preventing people from becoming victims.

“The ScamwiseNI campaign aims to teach the public that we all need to be vigilant of any contact from an unsolicited source, whether that is from doorstep callers, telephone, mail or online. I would encourage any victims of a fraud or a scam to speak out and report it. Remember, if you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!”