Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Stopping burglars from striking again and car theft crime

A dedicated police officer successfully predicts where and when burglars are likely to strike again - only this time, he’s waiting for them.

If you think criminals are getting away with it, think again! 

This ten-part series takes a very different look at crime, showing how the police and the public are using smart technology and specialist tactics to prevent crime and bring offenders to justice. 

Frontline Fightback, narrated by Rav Wilding, features an array of equipment, including cameras that can spot crimes almost before they happen, software that can quickly identify repeat offenders, sophisticated satellite tracking and high-tech drones fitted with heat-seeking technology. 

While police forces across the UK embrace these changes, the series also looks at how tech companies and universities are developing still more crime-fighting technologies that, it is hoped, will transform policing in the 21st Century. 

The series features victims of crime and shows how a combination of smart technology, specialist tactics and great police work are starting to make a real difference. 

When an elderly couple’s home is broken into, a dedicated police officer looks at burglary patterns in the area and successfully predicts where and when they are likely to strike again. Only this time, he’s waiting for them. In Leicester, hi-tech car thieves steal a Mercedes from a driveway, unaware that the incident has been caught on a doorbell camera. It’s the latest in a spate of so-called keyless car thefts. But car makers are fighting back by introducing new security measures to make crimes like this more difficult. In south Wales, Dyfed-Powys police train the next generation of traffic officers in the latest tactics – and we see how those tactics are deployed to bring a high-speed pursuit to a safe and successful conclusion.


Source: BBC iPlayer - Frontline Fightback Series 1: Episode 3

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Covid-19 - Restrictions in England from 29 March - Step One


[Click image for enlarged view]

For more information and detailed guidance visit gov.uk/coronavirus.

Coronavirus restrictions remain in place. Find out what you can and cannot do:

(COVID-19) Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do [Published:29 March 2021

Last updated:1 April 2021]

Tackling pickpocketing using video evidence

Video evidence from a police body camera helps convict a violent offender, and a wine bar uses facial recognition cameras to tackle their pickpocketing problem

If you think criminals are getting away with it, think again! 

This ten-part series takes a very different look at crime, showing how the police and the public are using smart technology and specialist tactics to prevent crime and bring offenders to justice. 

Frontline Fightback, narrated by Rav Wilding, features an array of equipment, including cameras that can spot crimes almost before they happen, software that can quickly identify repeat offenders, sophisticated satellite tracking and high-tech drones fitted with heat-seeking technology. 

While police forces across the UK embrace these changes, the series also looks at how tech companies and universities are developing still more crime-fighting technologies that, it is hoped, will transform policing in the 21st Century. 

The series features victims of crime and shows how a combination of smart technology, specialist tactics and great police work are starting to make a real difference. 

Video evidence from a police body camera helps convict a violent offender who attacked a policewoman. The footage shows how the officer was trying to help him when he turned on her and violently assaulted her. Facial recognition cameras help put pickpockets out of business at a London wine bar, and passers-by capture key evidence by filming a ram raid at a jewellery store. Several of them film the daylight robbery on their smart phones, and some even manage to wrestle one of the offenders to the ground and hold him there till the police arrive.


Source: BBC iPlayer - Frontline Fightback Series 1: Episode 2

Monday, 29 March 2021

Using smart technology to catch criminals who shoplift

Cameras with artificial intelligence catch shoplifters in the act, and a dedicated police team arrests a burglar who broke into an elderly woman’s home while she was asleep

If you think criminals are getting away with it, think again! 

This ten-part series takes a very different look at crime, showing how the police and the public are using smart technology and specialist tactics to prevent crime and bring offenders to justice. 

Frontline Fightback, narrated by Rav Wilding, features an array of equipment, including cameras that can spot crimes almost before they happen, software that can quickly identify repeat offenders, sophisticated satellite tracking and high-tech drones fitted with heat-seeking technology. 

While police forces across the UK embrace these changes, the series also looks at how tech companies and universities are developing still more crime-fighting technologies that, it is hoped, will transform policing in the 21st Century. 

The series features victims of crime and shows how a combination of smart technology, specialist tactics and great police work are starting to make a real difference. 

With retail crime on the rise, we see how some stores are using cameras with artificial intelligence to catch shoplifters in the act, while others are issuing their staff with body cameras. In the West Midlands, a female member of staff is assaulted and the shop’s owner turns to social media in an attempt to track down the culprit. A dedicated police team is cracking down on domestic burglaries in Bristol. They arrest a man who broke into an elderly woman’s home while she was asleep. In Nottingham, police catch another burglary suspect. This time, the suspect tries to get away by hopping from garden to garden – but there’s no escaping the police drone that’s hovering overhead, tracking his movements.


Source: BBC iPlayer - Frontline Fightback Series 1: Episode 1

Friday, 26 March 2021

Catalytic Converter theft From Safer Neighbourhood Board

 

There has been a surge in the number of catalytic converters being stolen in London, with thieves becoming increasingly violent, police say.

The Met's motor vehicle crime unit investigated nearly 15,000 reports of such thefts in 2020, compared to 9,500 over the previous year.

The devices, which reduce the emission of pollutants, contain precious metals.

More than 300 officers took part in raids on Tuesday across east London, Kent and Essex.

They also intercepted a shipping container, believed to contain stolen metal and car parts, which was due to be transported to the Ivory Coast to be processed and refined.

Two men were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit theft and a third on suspicion of theft.

A large number of catalytic converters and vehicles were seized by police, who also discovered cash, drugs and tools, including a smelting machine.

Det Ch Insp James Stanyer, the Met's lead officer for motor vehicle crime, said: "The criminals involved in stealing catalytic converters often commit their offences in full view of the owners of the vehicle and other members of the public, leaving them shocked and terrorised."

With more people at home because of lockdown restrictions, owners of cars parked on driveways are feeling increasingly vulnerable.

"People are feeling less safe, because of the way they're willing to use violence if necessary if uncovered or disturbed," Det Ch Insp Stanyer told BBC London.

It is believed a rise in prices of metals such as palladium and rhodium, commonly found in converters, triggered the increase in thefts.

Dedicated gangs are able to remove a converter from beneath a car in a matter of moments, leaving victims with a huge repair bill.

One victim, Mo Talukder from Islington in north London, must pay out £2,000 after four men targeted her car, with the theft witnessed by neighbours.

"They cut wires at the front of the car. When they were challenged, they threatened to ram anyone who spoke to them," she said.

Full article at: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-56502390

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Action Fraud warning as demand for tickets increases ahead of lockdown easing

 

Following the announcement of the easing of lockdown restrictions over the coming months, several festivals and concerts have been announced, with demand expected to be incredibly high. Some festivals have already sold out.

As a result of the high demand for tickets, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) are warning buyers to take extra care when buying tickets online. We are urging people to be wary of fraudsters selling fake or non-existent tickets to events. NFIB have already started seeing reports of non-existent tickets being advertised for sale online, some at inflated prices. 

In February 2021, Action Fraud received 216 reports of ticket fraud. This is an 62% increase on the previous month and the highest number of reports received since March 2020 when lockdown restrictions were first implemented. Victims reported losing £272,300 in February 2021 – an average loss of just over £1,260 per victim.

It is anticipated that increased demand for tickets following lockdown restrictions will lead to greater numbers of victims and higher losses as a result.

Spot the signs of ticket fraud and protect yourself:

  • Only buy tickets from the venue’s box office, official promoter or agent, or a well-known and reputable ticket site.
  • Avoid paying for tickets by bank transfer, especially if buying from someone unknown. Credit card or payment services such as PayPal offer greater protection against fraud.
  • Be wary of unsolicited emails, texts or adverts offering unbelievably good deals on tickets. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Is the vendor a member of STAR? If they are, the company has signed up to their strict governing standards. STAR also offers an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution service to help customers with outstanding complaints. For more information: https://www.star.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Star_TicketBuyingGuide_v3.4.pdf
Every report matters. If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040. 

HMCTS telephone numbers used by tax scammers

An increasing number of concerned individuals are contacting offices across HMCTS following emails or phone calls by scammers.

Scammers mimic legitimate phone numbers (spoofing) and may allege that you owe HMRC money and that a warrant for your arrest has been issued. Scammers may also tell you to look up contact details for HMCTS courts and offices to verify the number they are using to call.

These calls include:

  • previous mistakes in tax returns
  • National Insurance numbers being used fraudulently

HMCTS is separate from HMRC and is not involved with tax payments and will not contact you about tax matters. HMRC does not use any HMCTS phone numbers.

We will not call or email you about a tax matter.

If you receive a call or email, or any type of contact, do not provide any personal details or make a payment.

Check HMRC’s scams checklist, find out how to report tax scams and get information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contacts.

If you are suspicious about a call or text, follow the checklist and contact HMRC.

If you have paid money, report the matter to Action Fraud.

Monday, 22 March 2021

City of London Police warns public to keep online accounts safe from hackers


Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, received 15,214 reports of email and social media hacking between February 2020 and February 2021 – 88 per cent of which were from individuals who had their personal accounts compromised by criminals.

Visit Action Fraud to find out how to protect yourself and to report if your account has been compromised.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Trading Standards warns against spray foam loft insulation scam

 

Bexley’s Trading Standards team is urging local residents not to be duped into having unnecessary spray foam loft insulation carried out following reports of a scam which abuses the government’s Green Homes Grant Scheme.

Reports from elsewhere in the UK show that some vulnerable, elderly residents have signed up for contracts worth over £8, 000 for spray foam loft insulation, which is applied to the underside of the roof. Worryingly, known cases have been linked to a company which has a Trustmark accreditation, qualifying it to take part in the scheme - this is now being looked into.

The government’s Green Homes Grant offers eligible homeowners up to £10,000 of energy saving improvements. However, spray foam loft insultation is not necessary in domestic homes, unless the loft has actually been converted into a living space. In fact, spray foam loft insulation can indirectly cause timber rot in the rafters and reduce the value of the property as some lenders will not offer mortgages on homes with such insulation installed.

The recommended insulation is standard ceiling level mineral wool insulation laid out to a depth of 300mm. Many homes may just need a top up, which is often free from energy suppliers.

Bexley’s Trading Standards urges residents not to engage with cold-callers at all– especially at a time when cold-calling is in breach of Covid-19 lockdown guidance and puts people at risk.

If you have been approached for this type of insulation, or know of anybody who has, please contact Trading Standards immediately via the Citizens Advice helpline on 0808 2231133.

Information on the Green Homes Grant can be found on the government’s website.

Source: https://www.bexley.gov.uk/news/trading-standards-warns-against-spray-foam-loft-insulation-scam

ARE YOU SCAM-SAVVY?

Criminals are turning to more sophisticated ways to take your money, whether through online offers, emails or telephone calls. Can you outsmart them? Put your ability to spot a scam to the test with our quick quiz.

Let's go! (to take the Quiz)

WATCH OUT FOR SCAMS LIKE THIS

Beware if you receive a phone call purporting to be from your bank warning of irregular activity on your account – can you be sure it’s genuine? Our video tells you what to watch out for.



Thursday, 11 March 2021

COVID-19 vaccine fraud

 

Criminals are using the COVID-19 vaccine as a way to target the public by tricking them to hand over cash or financial details. They are sending convincing-looking text messages letting people know they are eligible for the vaccine or phoning people directly pretending to be from the NHS, or local pharmacy.

People are warned to be alert to these scams.

The NHS will:

  • never ask for payment - the vaccine is free
  • never ask for your bank details
  • never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine
  • never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport

How to spot fraud

The top four vaccine scams are as follows:

  • Text messages – People are asked to press a number on their keypad or to send a text message to confirm they wish to receive the vaccine, doing so is likely to result in a charge being applied to their phone bill and fraudsters collecting personal information to use again.
  • Phone calls – Victims receive a phone call from a fake caller offering the vaccine for a fee or asking for bank details.
  • Websites - Fake URL links to convincing-looking NHS vaccine booking forms, these look like official NHS forms and may contain some personal information already, at the end of the form it asks for the victim’s bank details.
  • In person - Criminals are calling unannounced at the homes of victims by pretending to be from the NHS to administer the vaccine there and then, in exchange for a cash payment.

How to stop fraud

Like for other scams, the following advice applies:

  1. Challenge - Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests that don’t feel right. Check GOV.UK to ensure it’s genuine.
  2. Do not respond to text messages that try to get you to send money, or important personal information such as bank details or passwords.
  3. Use official government websites and refer to ‘Contact Us’ sections of websites to access information and service.
  4. Challenge unannounced callers to your home. NHS visit, if necessary will be agreed with you directly or via carers, they will never turn up unannounced.
Visit the NHS Counter Fraud Authority website for more information and guidance.

Neighbourhood Watch and Faith Watch

Neighbouhood Watch is helping to keep you area safe, is your road represented yet? If not why not join us now.

If you wish to become involved please download and complete a BBNWA Application Form and post or email it to us at the address shown.

  • Vandalism, anti-social behaviour and hate crime - all issues that can affect religious communities.
Calling all Faith Watch members please keep us informed of any criminal issues around your places of worship.



Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Covid-19 Vaccination Hesitancy

Healthwatch Bexley engaged with over 700 residents in the London Borough of Bexley to explore their views on the Covid-19 vaccine.

On the 8th December 2020, a 90-year-old lady became the first person in the UK to be vaccinated with the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccination, this was followed by the introduction of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on the 4th January 2021.  This marked the start of a mass vaccination programme by the NHS which will take months to complete.

This report gives an insight into what residents feel the barriers may be for them not to have the Covid-19 vaccine.  It also looks at what the motivators are for people who want to be vaccinated.

Read the full report (pdf 520kb)

NHS text alerts for life-saving Covid jab

 


The NHS will begin texting people today inviting them to book their life saving Covid jab, making it quicker and more convenient to get an appointment. 

Almost 400,000 people aged 55 and over and 40,000 unpaid carers will be the first to get a text alert inviting them to book a slot as part of the latest development in the NHS vaccination programme, the biggest in NHS history.

The messages will include a web link for those eligible to click and reserve an appointment at one of more than 300 large-scale vaccination centres or pharmacies across England.

Reminders will be sent 2-3 weeks after the original alert to encourage people to get their vaccine if they have not taken up the offer.

Texts will arrive in advance of the standard letter, meaning if the trial is successful the solution could enable the NHS to react faster to changing vaccine supplies and fill appointments quickly.

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said: “Thanks to careful planning and the huge efforts of NHS staff we have vaccinated more than 18 million people in England, which is a remarkable achievement.

“The NHS vaccination programme, the biggest in health service history, continues to go from strength to strength and we are now building on that momentum by trialling a quick and easy service that will hopefully make it more convenient for people to book their life saving jab.

“I had my vaccine this week – it was simple, quick and painless – and I would encourage others who have not yet taken up the offer to come forward and receive the jab.” 

Some GP-led and hospital vaccination services, which operate their own booking systems, are already using texts for invites.

Introducing them to the national booking service for vaccine centres and pharmacy-led services will help increase uptake of the life-saving jab, particularly as the NHS moves on to younger groups.

Over the weekend and yesterday more than 1.7 million people aged 56 and over were invited to book their vaccine, as the biggest programme in health service history, continues to gather pace. Saturday was the busiest day for the booking service with more than half a million appointments confirmed. Almost nine out of 10 people aged 65 and over already taking up the offer of their first dose. 

People will continue to receive letters inviting them to book an appointment as well as a text alert, to ensure that people who don’t have a number registered or need information in different languages or formats don’t miss out.

People should not receive a text message or a letter from the NHS if they have already been vaccinated and this has been recorded. If people cannot or would prefer not to travel to a Vaccination Centre or pharmacy-led site, they can choose to wait to be invited by a local GP-led service.

In some cases text messages have been used by scammers to try to collect personal details from people, get them to ring premium rate numbers or enter their banking details. 

The text message will be sent using the Government’s secure Notify service and will show as being sent from ‘NHSvaccine’.

The NHS will never ask for payment or banking details.


Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and NHS medical director for primary care, said: “We know that some people are rightly worried about scams going around, but if the message comes from ‘NHSvaccine’ and links to the NHS.uk website you can be sure that it’s the right invite.


“For any messages you might get about the vaccine, always remember that the NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details, your PIN or banking password.

 

“The NHS will also never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine, or ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips.” 

 

Vaccinations are now being administered at more than 1,600 sites across the country, including mosques, museums and rugby grounds, with the distribution of centres meaning 98% of the country lives within 10 miles of at least one vaccination service.

 

Appointments are staggered to allow for social distancing and people are being asked not to turn up early to avoid creating queues.

 

Everyone receives a health status check and a pre-vaccination assessment before they receive their vaccine dose.

 

NHS teams are also visiting those who are housebound and cannot travel to a vaccination service.

 

The NHS made history when Maggie Keenan became the first person in the world to be protected against coronavirus outside of a clinical trial when she received the Pfizer vaccine at Coventry Hospital on December 8.

The NHS was also the first health system to deliver the new Oxford AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine when Brian Pinker, 82, was vaccinated on January 4.

For more details visit Action Fraud. [ /

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Sextortian scams surge during pandemic

In January this year, Avast threat researchers blocked over 500,000 attack attempts from cybercriminals claiming to have recorded videos of unsuspecting victims during private moments online. These attacks, known as sextortion scams, attempt to blackmail victims by threatening to make these apparent recordings public unless a payment is made to the scammer. Avast threat labs researchers advise people to stay calm and ignore sextortion emails instead of reacting to them, as they usually are fake claims. 

Cybercriminals have been using the increase in video conferencing services during the Covid-19 pandemic to validate their false claims and provoke a reaction from the victim. The fraudsters allege to have taken advantage of critical vulnerabilities in the Zoom application, allowing them to access a user’s device and camera. It is important to note that Avast has not found any actual vulnerabilities in the Zoom application.

“Sextortion scams are dangerous and unsettling, and can even have tragic consequences resulting in the suicide of affected users. During the Covid-19 pandemic, cybercriminals likely see a strong opportunity for success as people spend more time using video conference applications and in front of their computer overall,” said Marek Beno, malware analyst at Avast. 
“As scary as such emails may sound, we urge people to stay calm if they receive such a message in their inbox and ignore it, as it is just a dirty trick that cybercriminals use to try to get your money.”

Another common sextortion campaign identified by Avast is an email in which the attackers claim a Trojan was installed on the recipient’s machine, which has recorded their actions with a microphone and webcam, and extracted all data from their devices including chats, social media and contacts. A ransom is demanded and often includes a note about a fake “timer” that started when the email was received in order to set a ransom deadline. This campaign is also fake and uses social engineering to coerce people into paying. 

Read the full article to find out how to recognise and protect yourself from sextortion emails. 

Staying safe from email scams

Fraudsters are constantly coming up with new ways of trying to defraud people in relation to all manner of products and services, including loans, dating, holidays, business opportunities, clairvoyants, pharmaceuticals, lottery prizes, fake COVID vaccines, even recovery of money lost to fraud and a whole lot more. 

Here we look into some of the different types of email frauds that are currently quite common and what to look out for to indicate that an email may not be genuine.

COMMON TYPES OF EMAIL SCAMS

  • 419 Emails: You are offered a share in a large sum of money in return for helping to transfer it out of the country. Once you have given the criminals your bank account details, they empty your accounts.
  • Phishing: An email that purports to be from companies such as banks designed to trick you into revealing your personal information and passwords. REMEMBER: your bank will NEVER contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, full password or to move money to another account. 
  • Pharming: Pharming is a term used when you are directed from a link in an email to a website that spoofs a legitimate website in order to access your personal details.
  • Impersonation of UK official websites: For example HMRC, with an email message claiming you are due a refund and requesting your bank account details or directing you to a website link.
  • Impersonation of UK officials: Criminals impersonate a UK official to obtain personal information and steal money, often claiming that you are due a refund or must make an urgent payment. Examples of this scam include TV License, the HMRC Tax Rebate and the Council Tax Scam. 
  • Investment scams and pension scams: Emailed offers of worthless, overpriced or non-existent shares, or a time-limited opportunity to convert some or all of your pension pot into cash. Click here to find out more about these.

HOW TO SPOT A SCAM EMAIL

  • The sender’s email address looks suspicious. Roll your mouse pointer over the sender’s name to check it. If it doesn’t match the website address of the organisation it says it’s from it could be a sign of a scam. 
  • The email doesn’t use your name – it says something like ‘Dear customer’ instead. 
  • There’s a sense of urgency, asking you to act immediately. 
  • There’s a prominent website link that may look at first glance like the proper address but has one letter missing or is spelt wrong. 
  • There’s a request for personal information. 
  • Poor grammar and spelling mistakes. 
  • The entire text of the email is contained within an image rather than the usual text format, and the image contains an embedded hyperlink to a bogus site. Again, roll your mouse pointer over the link to reveal its true destination. But don’t click it!
It is almost impossible to keep up with the variety of fraudulent emails that are increasingly appearing on our computer screens and smartphones. However, by taking your time and following the simple steps below you can better protect yourself from falling victim to attempted email fraud.

TOP TIPS

REMEMBER: IF SOMETHING SEEMS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT USUALLY IS!

  1. Create a separate password for your email accounts 
  2. Make sure you have strong passwords with 3 random words and change these regularly. Find out more about strong passwords here
  3. Install two-factor authentication (2FA) for your email accounts. This is an additional process to secure your account.

Further actions you can take to keep safe

  • Look after your mobile devices. Don’t leave them unattended in public places, and protect them with a PIN or passcode.
  • Ensure you always have internet security software loaded on computers and update to new versions immediately. 
  • Don’t assume that Wi-Fi hotspots in places like cafes and hotels are secure. Never use them when you’re doing anything confidential online, like banking. Use 3G or 4G. 
  • Never reveal too much personal or financial information (such as in emails, on social networking and dating sites). You never know who might see it or use it. 
  • Always consider that online or on the phone, people aren’t always who they claim to be. Fake emails and phone calls are a favourite way for fraudsters to approach their victims.
  • Don’t click on links or open attachments if the source isn’t 100% known and trustworthy, or it seems strange that you’d be receiving them. 
  • Always access internet banking sites by typing the bank’s address into your web browser. 
  • Never pay for anything by direct bank transfer unless it’s to someone you know personally and is reputable
  • Never respond to emails, texts, letters or social media that look suspicious, including messages with bad spelling or grammar. 
  • Be cautious when going to a website from a link in an email and then enter personal details – the email could be fraudulent. 
  • If someone you’ve never met in person asks you for money, that should be a red flag. Tell them you’re not interested and stop all contact. 
  • When shopping online always sign up to American Express SafeKey, Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode so look for the padlock or unbroken key symbol when you first visit a site. Where possible make your purchase with a credit card or via a credible online payment system (such as PayPal) which protects you in the event of fraud.

If you are at all suspicious, heed your instincts! You are most probably right to be concerned. Report all emails that you believe to be fraudulent to report@phishing.gov.uk. 

Ruff time for animal lovers as scale of pandemic pet fraud unleashed by Action Fraud

  Data from Action Fraud,  the national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime , reveals that £2,638,323 was lost by prospective pet own...