Increasingly tenants are being encouraged to use online services such as applying for Universal Credit. Superintendent Simon Walls provides a timely insight into scams and the Scamwise NI partnership.
I started my career in the City of London Police. The “Square Mile” was an interesting place to work and the backdrop to my beat was St Paul’s Cathedral, the Old Bailey, the Bank of England, the Stock Exchange and many of the world’s most famous financial houses.
The City of London was outwardly one of the Capital’s most respectable places, occasionally I would see a gentlemen walking to work wearing his dark suit, bowler hat and carrying a rolled umbrella. The City was also steeped in tradition.
As a police officer I knew that, alongside the respectability and the tradition of the City, there was another less reputable side.
The City was a place where sophisticated and multi million pound frauds took place.
Sometimes in our police cells, alongside the roaring drunks, the drug dealers and shoplifters, was a well-spoken, well dressed and often convincing fraudster. Chalk and cheese to our more normal clientele but none the less a criminal and possibly responsible for taking down a bank or emptying the savings accounts of the rich.
Most of us will never have been victims of the big City frauds as our money was more likely to have been in a savings book as opposed to a smart private bank in London, but fraud has moved on a lot since then.
It has moved on for a number of reasons. Overwhelmingly it’s because we are all online and the internet and email provide the perfect platform for fraudsters and scammers. A scammer can send one email now to tens of thousands of people. It only takes one or two people to be duped to make it worthwhile.
We have all seen the figures for the cost of scams to the economy, eye-watering amounts of money every year are being taken in online scams, email scams, postal scams and even on peoples’ doorsteps.
If you strip away the head line figures and the pound signs at the end of every scam is a person. That person may well be vulnerable, an older person, a socially isolated person, or a person already struggling to make ends meet.
Last year a number of us came together and made that connection between scams and vulnerability. Out of these conversations the Scamwise NI Partnership was born.
The partnership brings together statutory and non-statutory “friends” committed to educating our communities about the very real risks of scams. Our strapline sums up what the partnership is about. It reads “If you can spot a scam you can stop a scam”.
For more information please go to the NI Direct website. You can also download the Little Book of Big Scams, this is an anti-fraud advice booklet produced by the PSNI to help the community protect themselves from fraudsters.
Also, please spread the word.
If you would like to get more information on Scamwise NI, printed copies of the Little Book of Big Scams and Scamwise leaflets are available by contacting Paul Armstrong at NIFHA by email at firstname.lastname@example.org