Scamming increases as Ukraine donors are targeted

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FRAUDSTERS are exploiting the goodwill of people seeking to support Ukraine, the head of the Jersey Fraud Prevention Forum has said as it was revealed Islanders have been tricked out of hundreds of thousands of pounds already this year.

Chief Inspector Chris Beechey said that the States police had received reports of 19 scams since the start of the year – totalling a combined loss of £266,659 – a figure close to the amount lost in the whole of 2021.

He has issued a warning to Islanders that they could be targeted by fraudsters who are pretending to be from charities and organisations asking for donations to support those fleeing the war in Ukraine.

‘There is a very real danger that we will see an increase in the amount of scams in the coming months as fraudsters trying to latch onto the current environment, with everything that is going on in Ukraine. We have already seen the number of charity scams and cyber-threats increase as a result of the conflict,’ he said.

‘They will try to tug at our heart strings by sending emails and texts pretending to be charities asking for money to support Ukrainians. They will say things such as “we need money now” and “people are dying” – the types of phrases which try to get an immediate reaction out of you, without you questioning whether the email is legitimate.

‘You should only be donating through well-trusted charities and organisations.’

The forum issues a newsletter across the Island twice a year to raise awareness of the types of scams targeting residents. In July 2021, the forum revealed they were aware of Islanders losing up to £400,000 between August 2020 and April 2021 – the majority of which were Covid-related scams.

However, this year the most common scams at the start of 2022 related to advance-fee scams, cryptocurrency scams and fraudulent marketing investments totalling £70,000, £67,100 and £60,000 respectively.

‘There are often peaks and troughs in the number of scams over the years. While 19 reports is only a small number so far this year, the amount lost on an individual transaction can be substantial, and that is what the data has shown,’ he said.

Chief Insp Beechey said that he expected the number of scams this year to be greater than that recorded, as many people did not have the courage to come forward to reveal they had been a victim of fraud.

‘As the year continues, we hope Islanders will remain alert and think twice when they get a suspicious message, email or phone call. We encourage Islanders to challenge any unsolicited communications they suspect may not be legitimate and to report them,’ he added.

Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of fraud or has suspicions about fraudulent activity is asked to report it to the forum, and contact their bank and the police on 612612 if they have experienced financial loss.

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