FRAUD AND CYBERCRIME
Fraud and cybercrime are forms of financial exploitation. They involve people being pressured or deceived into handing over money and possessions. People may be tricked into downloading computer viruses and malware, or they may be blackmailed, develop large debts to another person or company (including loan sharks) or have money and possessions stolen.
People can be exploited online, through emails, the telephone, the post, or in person. They may be exploited by companies and strangers such as online and telephone scammers or doorstep callers. These people may befriend the person and groom them into handing over money and possessions. Family members, friends and carers may also try to exploit someone. This commonly known as mate crime – find out more about mate crime here.
Illegal money lending is a form of financial exploitation. Illegal money lenders are sometimes known as loan sharks. Loan sharks lend money illegally, often at a very high interest rate with little paperwork. They use violence and other illegal action to collect the money they’ve lent. You can find out more about loan sharks and get advice and support from Stop Loan Sharks.
Anyone can be financially exploited, but older people are disproportionately affected. Scams are a particularly common form of exploitation, but forced debt is also a growing problem, and is linked to other forms exploitation such as modern slavery and drug trafficking.
Signs that someone is being financially exploited could include:
- Changes in the amount of money the person has available, including unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts, evidence of unpaid bills or an inability to afford items
- Developing high levels of debt
- Control of finances moving from the person to another adult – this could be through a formal agreement or through someone taking control of someone’s spending choices
- Changes to financial documents such as changes to a will, adding names to a bank account, or signatures that don’t look like the person’s.
- Receiving lots of mail, emails or telephone calls
- Appearing stressed, anxious, or deterioration in health and wellbeing
- Having a new friend, who the person may have met in person, on the telephone or online
If you are concerned that you or someone you know is being exploited help is available.
CAMPAIGNS AND RESOURCES
Cyber Choices National Crime Agency campaign
to prevent young people from becoming involved
What we are doing to tackle fraud and cybercrime in Devon
We work with partners including child and adult safeguarding and Trading Standards to raise awareness of cybercrime and fraud in our communities and prevent people from becoming the victim of financial exploitation.
We have developed an online Preventing Exploitation Toolkit to tackle the threat of exploitation in Devon. The toolkit provides information and support to help frontline workers learn about, identify and report exploitation. It is designed for anyone who, through their paid or voluntary role, may come across people who are vulnerable to exploitation.
HELP AND SUPPORT
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger contact 999.
If you are concerned about someone’s safety or welfare contact:
Support if you are a victim of fraud and advice for protecting yourself against fraud
Stop Loan Sharks
To get support and advice and report a loan shark or illegal money lender
Helpline: 0300 555 2222
Victim Care Nework
Directory of local support for victims of crime and exploitation.