Warning Issued Following Hoax Calls from Scammers Claiming To Be Police Officers
Detectives have been made aware of a spate of hoax calls from scammers claiming to be police officers from Cheshire Constabulary acting on behalf of HMRC.
There have been several reports over the last two months whereby people have been receiving calls from someone purporting to be a police officer or from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
The first part of the call is automated and asks the victim to press 1 in order to be connected to HMRC.
A recorded message then then informs the victim that they have an unpaid tax bill and that there is a warrant out for their arrest unless they pay the balance immediately.
The fraudsters then ask the victims to make a bank transfer to pay off their supposed outstanding tax bill.
Scammers can also make calls appear as though they come from legitimate numbers and in one recent case the numbers traced back to a Cheshire based police station and HMRC.
Detective Sergeant Chris Jacques of the Economic Crime Unit said: “It is important to remember that police officers and HRMC will never call you and ask you to settle the balance of a tax bill over the phone.
“Telephone numbers can easily be spoofed and you should never trust the number you see on your telephone display.
“If you receive a suspicious call, do not give any information over the phone and end the call immediately.
The time has come once again to grab that cup of tea, put your feet up and enjoy our newsletter. This month we reflect on perception of crime in lockdown and the successes of Neighbourhood Watch Week.
As well as looking at what we can learn from our experiences during lockdown we also look to our future and consider diversity in Neighbourhood Watch, summer seminars, the launch of a national burglary campaign, and how we can harness the power of volunteers post lockdown.
Call For Vigilance Following Spate of Catalytic Converter Thefts
Cheshire Constabulary is urging residents to be vigilant following an increase in catalytic converter thefts.
Since Wednesday 27 May officers have received six separate reports of thefts involving catalytic converters.
Honda and Toyota cars are particularly being targeted, and although thieves have stolen catalytic converters across Cheshire the most recent incidents occurred in Runcorn, Widnes and Northwich.
Inspector Anton Sullivan, of Cheshire Constabulary’s Roads and Crime Unit, said: “Investigations involving my unit and colleagues from neighbourhood policing teams are ongoing in relation to the thefts and we are following a number of lines of enquiry.
“While the investigations take place I encourage motorists to be vigilant and review any security measures they have in place.
“In recent times offenders have been predominantly targeting hybrid vehicles including Toyota, Honda and Nissan cars, but other vehicles may be at risk.
“Offenders use specialist tools to remove catalytic converters from vehicles and have been doing so in daylight at car parks and other areas where cars are left.
“If you see anyone using tools on cars in such places please let us know as soon as possible.
“I also ask scrap metal dealers to be mindful if they are ever offered catalytic converters or exhaust systems and to contact us if they suspect that they could have been stolen.”
There are a number of steps that motorists can take to reduce their chances of becoming a victim, including:
• If possible, park your car in a garage
• If your car is at high risk, consider marking the metal shell of the converter with a unique mark, so that if it is stolen it will be easier to trace back to your vehicle
• If your catalytic converter is bolted on, the bolts can be welded shut – this would not stop a determined thief but would slow them down
• Giving some consideration to the way your vehicle is parked could reduce the chances of your catalytic converter being stolen – high and low clearance vehicles being parked close together make it more difficult for a thief to gain access to converters
• Good quality lighting will improve natural surveillance and make a thief less likely to be able to remove a catalytic converter without being seen
• Leaving your car in an area covered by CCTV may also deter thieves – CCTV systems should be well signed.
If you have any information about the thefts, or if you see anyone removing catalytic converters or acting suspiciously in your community, please call Cheshire Constabulary on 101.
Alternatively, information can also be reported anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.
Message Sent By
Daniel Millington (Cheshire Police / Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, Media Officer, Corporate Communications)
Helpdesks To Open Across Cheshire For Residents Who Have No Other Way of Reporting Crime
A number of helpdesks will be open across Cheshire for residents who have no other means of reporting crime during the lockdown.
A total of 16 police stations will open for one hour a day to offer a service for members of the public who cannot contact the Constabulary online or via the phone.
These helpdesks will be for urgent issues where there is no other way of contacting police and social distancing measures will be adopted to ensure that everyone is kept safe
Opening times for the helpdesks will be posted on the doors of each station every week and publicised in advance via Cheshire Constabulary’s social media accounts.
Superintendent Peter Crowcroft said: “We recognise that not everyone can contact us online or via the telephone during these unprecedented times.
“So we have made the decision to open the helpdesks at 16 of our stations for one hour a day so that the people who need our service but cannot contact the police via any others means can report urgent issues.
“This is not to be used for general enquiries and in line with the advice on keeping safe, only make the journey if absolutely essential.
“We are telling anyone who does come to the station to always keep to social distancing rules of staying 2 metres away from others.
“We will also be ensuring that measures are in place at the stations to keep the residents of Cheshire safe.
“Please only visit a police station if there is absolutely no alternative and the matter is urgent. In an emergency, where a crime is taking place or there is a danger to life, always dial 999.”
Chief Constable Praises Public For Support In Helping To Tackle the Spread of Coronavirus
People across Cheshire are being praised for their community spirit in helping to tackle the spread of coronavirus.
The majority of residents appear to be following the new regulations that have now been in place for almost five days in a bid to save lives and protect the NHS.
Chief Constable Darren Martland said: “It is really encouraging to see so many people in Cheshire being supportive, listening to the advice, taking it on board and staying at home where they can. I would like to say thank you to everyone who is helping to play their part in the national effort.
“This is an unprecedented public health emergency and we are all having to make adjustments to the new measures, which are in place.
“We appreciate the difficulties and uncertainties that we are all facing. It is important to remember that this is something none of us have ever experienced before. We are all learning and, by the very nature of what we are dealing with and the fast pace of it, inevitably we will not always get things right as we get to grips with the circumstances.
“Our aim is always to engage with people, explain the reasons behind the new regulations, encourage them to take it on board and support the people we serve to ensure that everyone is fully complying with these restrictions and this is the message I am giving to my officers.
“Sadly, there have been a small number of cases when members of the public have refused and in such cases we may have to take enforcement action against those individuals involved.
“We police by consent, maintaining public confidence and caring for our communities is paramount so enforcement will always be a last option.”
There have been a number of cases across the county where members of the public have deliberately coughed in the faces of police officers, claiming to be infected with Coronavirus.
Yesterday (Monday 30 March) a 31-year-old man from Nantwich was jailed for eight months for deliberately spitting and coughing in the face of a Cheshire police officer. The incident took place on Friday night in Maplins Moss Place in Crewe as officers tried to arrest the man for being drunk and disorderly.
He was verbally abusive towards them before coughing and spitting in their faces.
There have also been a handful of other incidents of a similar nature.
Chief Constable Martland added: “This type of behaviour is disgraceful. Our officers are working in really challenging circumstances. They are putting their own lives and the lives of their families at risk on a daily basis. I want to acknowledge all police officers and police staff, who alongside other emergency workers, NHS staff and other key workers, are working on the frontline – they are doing outstanding work in exceptionally hard times.
“Our policing style in Cheshire is defined by our neighbourhood policing model, where officers, PCSOs and members of the Special Constabulary work to protect our communities and provide vital reassurance.
“This model, which has served us well and will continue, has enabled critical relationships to be developed with the public and our partners.
“We have been given extraordinary powers in an extraordinary situation, powers we would not normally wish to have, but I’d like to thank the public for helping and supporting us. We police with the consent of the communities we serve, so a positive relationship with those communities is of huge importance to us.”
Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane added: “Cheshire police officers are carrying out a very difficult job in particularly difficult circumstances so it’s great to see that the majority of our communities are complying by these new measures to keep us safe.
“It is also essential that the new policing measures are enforced proportionately and I am continuing to work closely with the Chief Constable to seek assurances that the policing measures used closely follow the new government legislation.
“These new measures have been put in place for a very good reason, to protect our communities, save lives and to relive pressure on our wonderful NHS, and I would encourage you all to follow them.”
The new public health regulations, which came into force on Thursday 26 March, have been introduced to ensure people stay at home and avoid non-essential travel – unless for one of the following reasons:
Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
One form of exercise a day – for example, a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of their household
Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
Travelling to and from work, but only where they cannot work from home
Participating in gatherings of more than two people in public spaces is also not permitted except in very limited circumstances, for example, where it is for essential work purposes.
Full details of the measures are available on the Governments website. Message Sent By
Peter Caldwell (Police, Digital Media Manager, Corporate Communications)
Information can also be reported anonymously by contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.Message Sent By
Ashley Lawton (Cheshire Police / Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, Administrator, Corporate Communications)
Action Fraud Have Issued A Warning Following the Increase In Coronavirus-Related Frauds
Recently the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) reported a new trend in fraud related to Coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Updated figures show there have been 105 reports to Action Fraud since 1 February 2020, with total losses reaching nearly £970,000.
The majority of reports are related to online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser, and other products, which have never arrived.
Other frauds being reported include ticket fraud, romance fraud, charity fraud and lender loan fraud.
Beware of phishing emails –
Action Fraud have received over 200 reports of coronavirus-themed phishing emails. These attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments which could lead to fraudsters stealing people’s personal information, email logins and passwords, and banking details.
Some of the tactics being used in phishing emails include:
• Fraudsters purporting to be from a research group that mimic the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO). They claim to provide the victim with a list of active infections in their area but to access this information the victim needs to either: click on a link which redirects them to a credential-stealing page; or make a donation of support in the form of a payment into a Bitcoin account.
• Fraudsters providing articles about the virus outbreak with a link to a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to a daily newsletter for further updates.
• Fraudsters sending investment scheme and trading advice encouraging people to take advantage of the coronavirus downturn.
• Fraudsters purporting to be from HMRC offering a tax refund and directing victims to a fake website to harvest their personal and financial details. The emails often display the HMRC logo making it look reasonably genuine and convincing.
Graeme Biggar, Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre, said:
“We have already seen fraudsters using the COVID-19 pandemic to scam people looking to buy medical supplies online, sending emails offering fake medical support and targeting people who may be vulnerable or increasingly isolated at home.
“These frauds try to lure you in with offers that look too good to be true, such as high return investments and ‘healthcare opportunities’, or appeals for you to support those who are ill or bogus charities.
“The advice is simple, think very carefully before you hand over your money, and don’t give out your personal details unless you are sure who you are dealing with.
Protect yourself –
1) Watch out for scam messages
Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.
2) Shopping online:
If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.
Detectives investigating four burglaries in one week at houses in Runcorn are urging the public to be vigilant and appealing for information.
Between Monday 6 January and Monday 13 January homes on Norton Lane, Goldcrest Close, Halton Brow and The Uplands were targeted by burglars either during the day or during the evening.
Once inside offenders have ransacked the house and stolen jewellery or cash from inside.
Officers believe all the burglaries are linked and are encouraging the public to take extra security measures as a precaution to help keep your home secure.
Close and double lock all doors and windows
Set your burglar alarm
Make sure all valuables are out of sight
In the evening, shut the curtains and leave lights on
Detective Sergeant Rob McLoughlin, of Runcorn Local Policing Unit, said: “Being burgled can be a distressing crime and while we continue with our investigation I want to take this opportunity to remind people to remain vigilant and take extra home security measures.
“We are currently following a number of lines of enquiry however, I am also keen to hear from anyone who may have seen people acting suspiciously around these areas or have information which could help the investigation, to get in touch.
“I am also keen to see if anyone noticed any vehicles near to the shop to come forward. If you have dashcam footage please submit it through to us.”
We’re issuing an urgent warning to residents after three elderly victims were conned out of more than £60,000 by fraudsters posing as police officers and bank workers.
Courier frauds are mainly committed by organised crime groups (OCGs). A member of the OCG, known as the ‘victim communicator’ makes phone calls to vulnerable potential victims, usually the more elderly members of the community, telling them they are a police officer or work at the bank.
They persuade the victim to cooperate with an ‘operation’ designed to gather evidence or identify offenders responsible for a fictional offence. The victims are asked to withdraw money from their bank, purchase an expensive item and/or provide their bank details or card to assist with the operation.
The money, item or documents are handed over to another member of the gang, the ‘courier’, who attends the victim’s address or meets them nearby, on the promise that the money or item will be returned or compensation provided.
In the last 28 days alone, three Cheshire victims have been conned out of more than £60,000 in cash and goods. Two victims in Crewe both handed over more than £10,000 each after withdrawing cash and giving it to fraudsters in the mistaken belief they were assisting police officers. One victim in Alderley Edge has lost £20,000 cash and over £20,000 in goods while there was a narrow escape for a Congleton victim who tried make a withdrawal from the bank but, thankfully, the Banking Protocol* was followed which prevented them from losing their money.
In the other five cases the potential victims realised there was a potential scam in progress and informed the police.
Detective Sergeant Chris Jacques from Cheshire Constabulary’s Economic Crime Unit said: “Nationally, courier fraud is a growing problem with over 1000 offences committed in the last six months. A national awareness campaign is being launched this week to target offenders, which we will be supporting.
“I would strongly urge anyone receiving calls asking for money to be withdrawn and handed over to a courier to immediately phone the police on 101 or report the incident to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Police, banks or other such services don’t cold call so, if you do receive a phone call purporting to be from one of these organisations, don’t be taken in by what they say. They are not genuine.”
Officers have issued general advice on how to spot and avoid courier fraud:
Police officers, banks or other such organisations will never ask you for cash or your bank details.
If you do receive a potential courier fraud call us on 101 or report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
If someone is trying to rush you into doing something regarding your bank account it is likely they are involved in a scam.
Do you bank with one particular bank but the person on the phone is talking about a different one – even if they do have the right bank, it doesn’t mean it is legitimate.
*The Banking Protocol trains bank staff to spot when someone is about to fall victim to a scam and will try to prevent them from withdrawing cash to give to a fraudster, after which they can request an immediate police response to the branch. 52 payment service providers, including all the main high street banks and the Post Office, are now fully signed up to the Banking Protocol and have trained up their front-line branch staff in the steps that need to be taken when a customer is at risk. Since March 2018, the scheme has been implemented by all 45 police forces across the UK.
Message Sent By
Ashley Lawton (Cheshire Police / Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, Administrator, Corporate Communications)