The number of people who are falling victim to scammers through fake telephone calls and online offers is seeing a “shocking” rise.
That is the view being expressed by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), who have produced figures that show 4800 reports of scams between April and December last year – up 11% on the same period in 2013.
While part of that rise can be put down to greater awareness by the public that has led to them being more likely to report scammers, the charity remains concerned at the growing number of scams being tried on unsuspecting members of the public.
Significant sums are still being lost through websites offering passport or driving licence renewal services which are free from official government sources. Many people are still seeking help and advice from CAS in relation to mail being delivered to relatives suffering from dementia who have lost hundreds of pounds as a result.
CAS say that they are hopeful a new television series – “Stopping Scotland’s Scammers” – which airs this week will help in making people more aware of the ongoing issue.
Spokesman Fraser Sutherland said: “It is shocking to think that so many Scots are still facing this level of crime – the number of scam cases we saw last year was high, but this year it looks set to go even higher.
“If someone came up to you and took money from your pocket you would report them to the police. So why shouldn’t you do that if they try to steal your money online or over the phone or with a letter?”
‘Stopping Scotland’s Scammers’ airs on STV from this evening at 8pm. Presented by Jackie Brambles, the series of three 30-minute programmes, sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland, will speak to victims about their experiences of being scammed.
Jackie said: “Like most people, I knew that financial crime happened but I didn’t realise just how prevalent it has become and how easy it is to be a victim.
“With the nature of evolving technology these kinds of crimes have become global, so a criminal mind sitting with a laptop a continent away can wreak havoc in the lives of people right here in Scotland.
“Presenting the series allowed me to meet some lovely people who had unfortunately fallen victim to scams but were brave enough to come forward and tell their stories in the hope that they could stop it from happening to others.
“Our aim with Stopping Scotland’s Scammers is to do exactly that, as well as offering essential advice on what to do if you think you are the victim of a scam.”