Worrying rise of conning vulnerable people

Mick Gradwell

Mick Gradwell

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Last week the Evening Post commented on the considerable increase in the number of scams being perpetrated against unsuspecting victims in this country.

It also highlighted the wide-ranging MO these fraudsters use, which can involve the use of hi-tech or simply rely on a sleight of hand or slick turn of phrase. This type of offending is becoming more popular and is clearly getting out of hand.The elderly have always tended to be the preferred choice of victim for the fraudster. Whether it’s gaining entry to their home by asking for a glass of water, overcharging for simple building work or pressurising them into buying something they do not need.

One of the most worrying aspects about becoming a victim to this type of fraud is that the criminals often pass on information about their victims to other criminals. Once highlighted as a soft target, many more attacks will follow in a whole host of various guises.

Having personally dealt with a number of elderly victims, especially those targeted by bogus officials, it is often the case that the value of money stolen in the deception is not the main problem. It is the fact the victim then feels stupid, very vulnerable and it can badly affect their health. However, these types of criminals can be easier to apprehend, as there may be passing witnesses, CCTV evidence and possibly fingerprint or DNA evidence left at the scene. Whereas, in many of the recent hi-tech offences being committed nationally, the offender may not even be on the same continent as the victim.

The fact a suspect for the recent cyber-crime attack on the firm Talk Talk is only 15 years old provides yet another worrying aspect to this crime trend. For me personally, I still feel confident that I can deal, probably quite abruptly, with any con man who appears at my front door. However, I feel less equipped to deal with the ever-inventive ways that fraudsters are attempting to infect my computer with viruses and malware, in attempts to obtain confidential information.

Official advice offered that says, run a virus check and quarantine the suspicious item, is sometimes easier said than done. I wish companies and the authorities would provide more easily understandable advice on how to defend against a personal cyber attack, as well as increase the number of hi-tech investigators who focus on these offenders.