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By Tim Clarke Thursday 03 January 2013 Updated: 04/01 16:32
POLICE in West Mercia are stepping up the fight against internet scams which target vulnerable people.
The force has signed up to Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud reporting centre, which acts as a central point of contact for all information about fraud and financially-motivated internet crime.
More than 2,700 fraud and forgery offences were recorded in West Mercia during 2011/12 but officers believe this is just 'the tip of the iceberg' and many more cases go unreported.
West Mercia Police hope by joining the centre they will able to significantly reduce cases of fraud which the National Fraud Authority estimates costs the UK economy £73 billion.
Detective Inspector Mark Glazzard, who leads the Economic Crime Unit for West Mercia and Warwickshire, said: "We are seeing a growth in all sorts of fraud, from fairly basic, unsophisticated scams such as bogus websites to highly organised criminal gangs targeting vulnerable people.
"However, we believe we only see the tip of the iceberg and a lot of fraud goes unreported - something which we hope may change with the launch of Action Fraud.
"As well as looking for potential investigative leads, Action Fraud will act as a central intelligence unit, pulling together all reports of fraud aimed at identifying and disrupting organised crime teams."
Instead of local police officers taking crime reports of fraud themselves, they will now redirect victims to Action Fraud where staff will take details over the phone or online.
Where a crime has taken place, it will be recorded and the victim given a national crime reference number.
Every day, details of all recorded crimes will be transferred to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), run by City of London Police. This information will be collated and analysed to assess if there are any feasible lines of enquiry. Where there is, these will be sent to the relevant police force for further investigation.
Action Fraud is currently being rolled out across the country and all police forces will sign up to it by March.
"We believe that joining Action Fraud will provide victims of fraud with an enhanced service," DI Glazzard added.
"In serious fraud cases or where the victim is reporting a crime in action or is assessed to be vulnerable, we will continue to deal with reports as normal. But for all other such reports, the victim will be referred to Action Fraud."
Action Fraud can be contacted by phone on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk
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