THE heartbreak and misery of scams is being highlighted by a safeguarding officer in North Yorkshire who gets 90 reports of frauds a week and warns hundreds of thousands of pounds is being stolen from victims.

One woman involved in a romance fraud handed over more than £40,000 to a scammer she was convinced she was in a relationship with, some of it despite warnings from the police and her bank.

In another incident, a businessman put £30,000 into a bogus account after getting calls from alleged detectives investigating fraudulent activity on his account.

"Of course the money then disappeared. It is absolutely heartbreaking for people and it is happening on an alarming scale," said Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer Andy Fox who works with the Economic Crime Unit at North Yorkshire Police headquarters at Northallerton.

"I get an average of 90 notifications a week from Action Fraud on scams that have been reported to them from individuals and banks, and that is just in North Yorkshire.

"It's estimated only five per cent of frauds are reported so the actual numbers will be huge.

"People are often too embarrassed to report it."

Andy is running an information and support evening on Monday March 9 at police headquarters at Alverton Court, Northallerton, for victims and residents who want more information about how to stop the scammers.

Police Community Support Officers who are trained ‘Fraud Ambassadors’ and police volunteers with a specialism in cyber-crime will be on hand to help.

Andy added: "The most important thing for people to do is 'Take Five'.

"So often victims will say they thought something was wrong but they get carried away in the moment and don't stop and think about what is actually happening.

"It is so important that people do put down the phone, and make sure they have rung off, or walk away from the computer.

"Victims are often told to lie, to their bank or to other people, that is a real indication it is a scam and if people stand back and take five they will realise."

Andy said the biggest current scams include;

* Microsoft Scam. The fraudster pretends to be from Microsoft putting people into a panic telling them their computer is at risk and the victim needs to log on and let them in through team viewer. Once the scammer takes over the machine they can get bank account details or hold victims to ransom.

* HMRC ringing saying there is an outstanding tax bill if they pay immediately they can reduce the amount and ask for I tunes or Amazon vouchers which cannot be traced.

* A Bogus police officer rings to say suspect activity has been identified on a bank account and they need to act quickly either by setting up an alternative account or persuading people to withdraw cash which is collected by a courier.

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