Police concerned as scams escalate during lockdown

Police in Horsham, West Wimmera, Yarriambiack and the Northern Grampians have seen a significant increase in the frequency of deception-based offences since the start of the pandemic.

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Police believe that with more people staying at home, criminals are finding other ways to take advantage of vulnerable people.

Specifically, police have noticed a rise in offences involving financial scams and obtaining property by deception.

Examples of these offences include:

• people being contacted by phone or Facebook messenger where they are requested to deposit money into a bank account;

• people claiming to be from legitimate government agencies or not-for-profit organisation who contact victims and convince them they’re entitled to certain grants. Victims are then told to exchange personal information and bank account details to process the requests; and

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• online trading (purchasing cars and other items) where sellers do not have the property to sell but manage to take money from the buyer.

Detective Senior Constable Jackson Seres from the Northern Grampians Crime Investigation Unit (CIU) said under no circumstances should people give out their personal information.

“It would be extremely unusual for legitimate random requests of this nature to be made,” DSC Seres said. “If you’re unsure about the validity of these interactions, you should contact police for advice. Never provide your bank account details.”

“With more people staying at home due to public health restrictions, it is more important than ever to be conscious of random and uninvited requests of this nature.

“If it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” DSC Seres said.

Anyone with any information about these activities is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report to www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.

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