AN anti-fraud organisation has urged people across the region to be aware of fraud risks, as part of a campaign to stop people falling victim to conmen.

Action Fraud, the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and internet crime, said figures from Durham Police showed than more than 600 cases of fraud were reported in County Durham and Darlington last year, with many more unreported.

The organisation believes many fraud-related crimes are hidden from view by those who feel unable to report it, and has encouraged friends, family, neighbours and carers to take steps to help protect people they know from fraud.

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One of the most common scams in the area involves fraudsters promising large cash rewards or lottery payouts in return for upfront payments, often targeted at older and more socially-isolated people.

As part of the new campaign, Action Fraud has joined forces with Financial Fraud Action UK, the Citizens Advice Bureau, Age UK and local community groups to tackle the issue by providing information at established local events about how to spot the signs of fraud.

Action Fraud has a list of warning signs people should look out for, and encourage others to spot:

• Calls, texts or letters that are unexpected or from unknown organisations;

• Pushy sales techniques;

• Schemes that require payment of large amounts of money up-front;

• Being asked to surrender your bank card or personal information, particularly Pin details.

Anyone worried that they may have been targeted by a fraudster, or who would like more information, can call Action Fraud on 0300-123-2040 or visit actionfraud.