10/11/2020

ScamwiseNI Partnership Marks Fourth Year

An initiative to address the rising number of scams being reported to police has marked it's fourth anniversary.

The ScamwiseNI Partnership was developed by a number of organisations including the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Commissioner for Older People, the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the Department of Justice.

The aim of the Partnership is to make the public aware of scams and how they can protect themselves from becoming a victim.

Chair of the Partnership, Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: "I am delighted at how much the Partnership has achieved over the past few years. We initially started out with 15 members and we have gone from strength to strength and now have over 40 members representing statutory, community, business, banking, faith organisations and charities.

"Since we launched ScamwiseNI we have worked with a range of partners to develop new and innovative schemes, all designed to increase public awareness and understanding of the issue.

"The launch of the 'Scam? Ask Us,' initiative in March 2019 with the Post Office was the first of its kind in the UK, encouraging Post Office counter staff to ask customers if they are concerned they are falling victim to a scam. The Post Office counter staff then advise them if they think their request is unusual or if it is a scam they have come across before.

"In September last year we also worked with the six uniformed youth organisations to develop the Scamwise Youth Champion Handbook, which not only helps our young people be scam aware but also empowers them to talk to friends and family about the types of scams. The training package is being delivered to over 30,000 young consumers through the uniformed sector , Youth Work Alliance, Cadet Forces and is being adapted for use by other groups.

"We also have worked in collaboration with Gumtree in November 2018 on 'The Psychology of Scamming' event when the Partnership brought one of the UK's most renowned scammers Tony Sales to our event. He shared his personal perspectives on the psyche of scammers and his journey from a convicted fraudster to a fighter of crime through his work with policing services and other agencies to prevent and highlight scams.
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"These are just a few of the events/initiatives which we have organised over the year.

"During the past four years we have seen many advances in technology and this in turn has assisted the scammers ability to take advantage of the most vulnerable within our society. It is important that we stay one step ahead of the scammers so we can continue to highlight how to stay scam aware so that we may prevent and deter further scams.

"Throughout the four years our message has stayed the same whether that is from someone calling at your door or telephoning, mail or online scams, if you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam."

Discussing the Partnership, Justice Minister Naomi Long said: "Working closely in conjunction with ScamwiseNI has given the Department of Justice a variety of innovative ways in which to share information. This can ultimately prevent crime and protect people against those who would seek to take advantage of them for financial gain.

"The Department is a member of the partnership, which brings together representatives from over 40 organisations with a common purpose. By harnessing the knowledge and expertise from such a wide group, ScamwiseNI has given vital crime prevention advice around fraud and scams a hugely significant platform.

"The Department of Justice wants to create a safer community where we respect the law and each other and our partnership with ScamwiseNI has given us the opportunity to do just that.

"Happy Birthday ScamwiseNI!"

Welcoming the success of the Partnership, Chair of the Policing Board Doug Garrett said: "As a founding member of the ScamwiseNI Partnership, we're delighted to see how much it's grown over the last four years and the impact it has had.

"Working together is key to making our communities safer and reducing all types of crime. When it comes to scams, the simplest way to stay scam free is often just checking with someone for a view or advice before any action is taken.

"Millions of pounds are lost to scammers every year but it is still a crime that is often not reported as victims can feel foolish at being 'caught out'. Please don't be – please report it as the police and all the Scamwise partners are here to provide help and support."

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