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A service which provided help and support to more than 1,200 Norfolk scams victims last year has been extended for a further year.
In 2019/20, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk (OPCCN) joined forces with Norfolk and Suffolk Victim Care to pilot the Norfolk Scam Prevention Service. Over the course of 12 months, that service provided free, confidential support to 1,245 scams victims, helping them to become more scam aware and reduce their vulnerability to falling victim again.
Supported by the agencies which make up the Norfolk Against Scams Partnership, the Scams Prevention Service has also been helping to raise awareness of scams countywide through training sessions for organisations and individuals across Norfolk.
With reports of criminals exploiting the Coronavirus pandemic on the rise nationally, access to information, advice and support has never been more vital.
Action Fraud has said it has seen a steady increase in scam reports since February with latest figures showing more than £4.6 million had been reported lost by over 2,000 victims of Coronavirus-related scams. The National Trading Standards Scams Team initiative, Friends against Scams, has been warning of increasingly sophisticated scams – from bogus sales of virus testing kits and vaccines to suspicious texts, phishing emails and cold calls.
The announcement by Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Lorne Green that he is funding Norfolk’s Scam Prevention Service for a further year comes during a three-week campaign by the Norfolk Against Scams Partnership to raise awareness of how to spot scams, where to seek trusted information, and how to access help and support.
The PCC, who is also a Friends Against Scams ‘Scambassador’, said: “Fraud affects thousands of people across Norfolk every year. Last year more than 6,500 frauds were reported in the county, but with criminals seeking to exploit people’s increased isolation and vulnerability during the Coronavirus pandemic, we could see that figure increase significantly this year.
“Most often it is the vulnerable in our society who are targeted and exploited by scammers but, particularly at this time, anyone could be a victim.
“The emotional and financial hurt of being a victim of a scam can be massive. Key to preventing that harm is sharing information and advice, and learning how to keep ourselves safe – and the Scams Prevention Service plays a vital part in supporting our communities in doing that.
“Feedback from those using the service shows it is helping people feel more confident, safer and better placed to cope with the impact of what they have experienced.”
Norfolk and Suffolk Victim Care are the delivery partner for the Norfolk Scam Prevention Service and their area manager Kara Shingleton added: “We are delighted that a very successful pilot means we will continue to work with the Police and Crime Commissioner and Norfolk Police in providing this essential service.
“Due to continuing movement restrictions, everyone in Norfolk currently faces major social challenges, and coronavirus-related scams are now a serious problem.
“The Norfolk Scam Prevention Service means victims of scams and fraud are not alone and do not need to suffer in silence. If you have been affected by a scam and would like to talk in confidence with a specialist member of our team phone 101 followed by extension 5483 or email email@example.com.”
Chief Inspector Craig Miller of Norfolk Police said: “We are extremely pleased that this vital service has been extended for another year
“Scammers have sadly used the current Coronavirus pandemic to further exploit the more vulnerable members of our communities. This is why there has never been a more prevalent time for us to continue to support those who really need it.
“Every year, people across Norfolk are scammed, from all walks of like. If you’ve been scammed, you’re not alone and there is support available.”
If you or someone you know has been targeted by a scam, the Scam Prevention Service can provide you with free, confidential support. More information can be found at https://www.nsvictimcare.org/help-and-support-2/norfolk-scam-prevention-service/#