`

Parts of Doncaster have some of worst figures for attempted online fraud: Police column

Police are investigating this damage to a bridge between Stainforth and Fishlake
Police are investigating this damage to a bridge between Stainforth and Fishlake

Figures show parts of Doncaster East have among the highest numbers in South Yorkshire when it comes to attempted online fraud, writes Insp Mark Payling.

I want to raise awareness about the issue. Police figures show Bawtry and Tickhill to be in the top 10 areas in South Yorkshire for reports of attempts to commit fraud online.

Police are investigating this damage to a bridge between Stainforth and Fishlake.

Police are investigating this damage to a bridge between Stainforth and Fishlake.

There have been around 100 reports of attempted online fraud in Doncaster in the last four months, with 35 in Doncaster East.

We know fraudsters are targeting over 60s with financial backing and some areas in Doncaster have many fitting who meet this profile. They may feel confident online, leading them to believe it wouldn’t happen to them. Sadly, this is not always the case and fraudsters are often underestimated, operating like a business by selling your information and targeting people in the most plausible ways.

We have launched Operation Signature, to reduce the risk of fraud by raising awareness. It’s often the case that fraudsters operate from overseas so our ability to tackle them is limited. If we can work with people to protect themselves we can make Doncaster a less attractive prospect for fraudsters.

Fraudsters are trying pensions and private investment fraud, lottery fraud and dating fraud, but ultimately anything which appears too good to be true usually is. We have produced five tips to help protect yourself:

* Check your social media privacy settings. If it’s not something you would tell a stranger,  set your account to private.

* Be wary of unsolicited emails, calls and texts asking you for information about passwords, logins or other security details.

* Choose strong and different passwords. You can stay safer online by using strong passwords. You could, for example, use three random words,  and use capitals, numbers and punctuation in the password. Use different passwords for different accounts.

* Update your device’s software. When that pop-up says ‘update now’, click to accept.

* Be careful when using public Wi-Fi. You can use it for general browsing, but never use it for shopping or banking.

We are also aware of the risks to older people with added vulnerabilities and have also pulled together a list of indicators for those visiting or caring for loved ones who may be vulnerable to fraud:

* Lots of calls over a short period from unknown callers. 

* Lots of unsolicited post. 

* Large or irregular withdrawals from bank accounts.

* Sudden or unexplained changes to investment. 

* Withdrawn behaviour

I also wanted to highlight car number plates being stolen. Whilst we have not seen an increase, I want to urge victims to report it. Often the plates have been stolen and put onto different vehicles, so offenders can fill up at petrol stations and drive off without paying. They are also taken to replace plates on stolen cars, which could also be used in other crimes. Motorists can buy secure number plates, which shatter when attempts are made to remove them, or anti-theft screws.

With regard to issues and incidents in the East of Doncaster, the bridge between Fishlake and Stainforth saw its stonework damaged by an agricultural vehicle in August. It was closed for several weeks. Some concerns have been raised that  police were not investigating, but I can assure residents we are, and have taken steps to identify the driver involved. We are satisfied we have identified the vehicle involved and I am hopeful our enquiries will be finalised over the next few weeks.

I also wanted to mention a van we recovered earlier this week which was stolen after its keys had been taken from a mobile building. Within 30 minutes of us receiving the report, we located it but discovered tools missing. Another vehicle involved in the incident was then identified and recovered a few hours later. Enquiries are ongoing to identify the offenders but the victim was delighted with the police response and the recovery of his van.

The off road bike team  visited Doncaster East over the past few weeks and seized two bikes suspected as being stolen. I urge residents who are suffering with this problem to contact us with details of where they believe the bikes or quads may be kept.

Over the past month, we have been tackling anti social behaviour in Armthorpe which has led to a small number of young people being spoken to and warned about their conduct and behaviour. I have seen complaints of such behaviour now start to reduce, but we will continue to monitor the situation..

We have not conducted as many speeding operations as we would have liked over the past month, but visited Sour Lane, Fishlake on August 22, Station Road at Hatfield and Doncaster Road, Kirk Sandall on August 29. In these three locations, we recorded the speeds of 322 vehicles, of which 12 were speeding.

We are trying to engage with communities. We have set up stalls in shops or community centres, maintained a Facebook page, website page, and sent out alerts to phones and e-mail addresses. We have also started Community Engagement Meetings  in Thorne/Moorends, Armthorpe, Rossington and Bawtry/Tickhill.

These are held monthly starting at around 7pm. Full details are advertised on our Facebook page and website.

You can sign up to SYP alerts by registering via our website www.southyorks.police.uk.