Helping to protect our communities from cybercrime and fraud.


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.

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.


If you or someone you know is in immediate danger contact 999.

If you are concerned about someone’s safety or welfare contact:  

Action Fraud

Helpline and website where you can report fraud and find information and support:

Call: 0300 123 2040

Access the Action Fraud website

Trading Standards

Support if you are a victim of fraud and advice for protecting yourself against fraud

Access the Trading Standards website

Citizen’s Advice

Advice and information about fraud, debt and consumer rights.

Call: 03444 111 444

Access the Citizen’s Advice website

Crime Stoppers

Anonymous helpline for reporting information and suspicions

Helpline: 0800 555 111

Access the Crime Stoppers website

Stop Loan Sharks

To get support and advice and report a loan shark or illegal money lender

Helpline: 0300 555 2222

Access the Stop Loan Sharks website

Buy With Confidence

Search for businesses that have been vetted and approved by Trading Standards to ensure that they operate in a legal, honest and fair way.

Access the Buy With Confidence website

Victim Care Nework

Directory of local support for victims of crime and exploitation.

Access the Victim Care Network website

Devon and Cornwall Police

To report and seek advice about crimes, incidents and concerns

Call: 101 non-emergency number

Report via the online crime reporting form

Get Safe Online

Information about keeping safe online and protecting yourself from cybercrime and fraud.

Access the Get Safe Online website

Devon Safeguarding Adults Partnership

Information and support about fraud and links to support.

Access the Devon Safeguarding Adults Partnership website