DORSET Police receives more than 6,000 reports of fraud each year with many committed by faceless fraudsters hidden online or at the end of a phone line.
Where previously a fraud may have been committed by post or face-to-face, offenders are now frequently using a mobile or landline phone, email or online platforms to contact their victims.
This makes investigating offences extremely complex as victims can be targeted across the country by offenders acting from any police force area, many of whom are hidden from view. A fraudster’s reach can extend across the country and even worldwide.
Dorset Police is continuing to highlight the work it carries out alongside partner crime-fighting agencies, such as the National Crime Agency (NCA), South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, Action Fraud and the Forensic Capability Network (FCN), as part of a public survey.
The survey, under the ‘Your Dorset. Your Police. Your View’ banner, looks into some of the more complex crimes that are often hidden from view, but sadly cause the most serious threats to our lives and target vulnerable members of our community.
Detective Inspector Andrew Kennard, of Dorset Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “We work alongside a range of agencies from the National Economic Crime Centre at the NCA and specialist fraud officers at the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit to Action Fraud – the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber-crime.
“Reports are either made directly to Action Fraud or in some cases sent on by Dorset Police. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau at Action Fraud will then assess all reports to identify serial offenders, organised crime groups and find emerging crime types. If they identify suitable lines of enquiry or victims who needed to be safeguarded, the report will be sent to the correct force for further action.
“We have specialist officers and staff in Dorset to investigate these crimes including the Fraud Triage Team, Priority Crime Team and the Economic Crime Unit.
“By co-ordinating this response at a national level, Action Fraud can ensure that vulnerable victims receive the safeguarding they require, and that multiple forces are not investigating the same offences.
“A recent example of this was where a fraudster used a social media platform to advertise items for sale that he didn’t possess. He took money from numerous purchasers, but never delivered any item to any customer.
“A victim reported the crime to Dorset Police and a check with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau identified a further 30 victims who lived all over the UK.”
James Lawrence Knight, aged 29 of Wimborne, admitted a total of 33 fraud offences and was sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court in September this year to 32 months imprisonment.
Detective Inspector Kennard continued: “Without Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, Dorset Police would not have identified the extent of his offending behaviour and got the justice his victims rightly deserved.”