Call blocker devices used to help protect vulnerable residents from fraud

Officers in Cheshire have a new tool in their armoury to protect vulnerable residents from telephone scammers.

Call blocker devices have been installed at the homes of victims that are particularly susceptible to this ever growing form of crime.

Funded by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU), the devices prevent fraudsters from getting through to the homes of vulnerable residents.

Police Constable Jim Day, of Cheshire Constabulary's Economic Crime Unit, said: "Over-the-phone fraudsters are not small-time criminals. They are part of larger organised crime groups who use a range of tactics to try to get as much money as they can from the people they call, and they are very persistent and their lies can be very convincing.

"With us being in the third national lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic creating new ways to scam victims, these criminals have stepped up their already considerable efforts to target money belonging to people at the other end of the phone.

"Fraud has become the crime that UK citizens are most likely to fall victim to, and here in Cheshire we are dealing with more than 100 cases every week.

"At the Economic Crime Unit we are doing everything we can to identify offenders and bring them to justice, as well as to prevent further offences from being committed.

"As part of this, in August we secured sophisticated call blocker devices from the NWROCU and have since been installing them across Cheshire, at the homes of victims that are particularly vulnerable.

"The areas we have installed them in so far are Alsager, Warrington, Alderley Edge, Macclesfield, Crewe, Chester, Ellesmere Port, Nantwich, Poynton and Knutsford.

"Fraudsters target the elderly and people with early onset dementia, though their operations are often so sophisticated and their lies so convincing that residents of any age can fall for them.

"The call blocker devices prevent the scammers from getting through to those they look to trick and defraud."

The only people who can get through to homes that are protected by one of the devices are those on a recognised caller list.

PC Day added: "It is not unusual for vulnerable residents to receive several scam and nuisance phone calls every day.

"The devices enable their families to create a recognised caller list for them whereby only those callers can get through to them directly.

"Everyone else can be instructed via voicemail to call a trusted family member – acting as a screen for incoming calls – to tell them who they are and why they want to speak to the vulnerable person.

"If the family member is subsequently happy for the caller to be added to the recognised caller list, they can quickly do so online.

"The vulnerable person's family can also see details of all their incoming and outgoing calls online.

"With the devices blocking scam and nuisance calls, there have been no repeat fraud offences involving those we have given them to over the past six months.

"We are delighted to have been able to safeguard those victims in this way and will try our best to secure more of the devices to give to those who need them most in Cheshire."

For more information on call blocker devices email [email protected].

Anyone who believes they have been contacted fraudulently or been a victim of fraud should call us on 101 and Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Information can also be reported via https://www.cheshire.police.uk/ro/report.

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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

David Smith
Wednesday 27th January 2021 at 7:19 pm
I receive a regular supply of scam emails that thankfully always seem to be 'spottable' by their simplicity, smelling pistakes, bad grammar or fit into the category of 'seen that one before'.
The advisable and good citizenship action to take is:
• Forward the email to which is a government fraud website that acts to prevent anyone else receiving them.
• Mark the email as junk
• Delete it from your device
I have started to get scam phone calls and today had one from BT with a recorded message that told me my landline and broadband would soon be cut off unless I contacted them by pressing 1 on my handset!

So that information was passed on the link along with their phone number and the time of the call.

This trend for phishing phone calls is made easier by VIRTUAL PHONE NUMBERS. They allow anyone to phone a number and display an area code that isn’t the one from which they are phoning. This is very useful when they are pretending to be from say your local bank and might make you not be suspicious.
You can see the various providers of this ‘service’ by searching the Internet for VIRTUAL PHONE NUMBERS.
If you see a number displayed that you do not know, don’t answer the call and afterwards dial the number with the prefix 141. This hides your number and if the call is a phishing call will probably say ‘number not recognised’.
Jon Armstrong
Wednesday 27th January 2021 at 9:15 pm
Most major telcos offer services similar to this free of charge, so I'm curious what advantage this has over those that would justify the additional cost of a hardware solution installed in the customer's home.
Marcia McGrail
Saturday 30th January 2021 at 4:54 pm
David - is that only for residential phones or mobiles as well?

Jon - I'm not sure the police will realise that point. Perhaps there's a few grand burning a hole in their budget?

Stay safe, everybody x

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