Citizen’s Advice Scotland (CAS) has reported that its helpline received nearly 220 complaints last year from fraud victims in the Lothians. The majority of calls were related to Internet scams. Country-wide, the total number of calls for support recorded a 14% increase on the preceding year, according to the CAS report titled “Scammed and Dangerous: The Impact of Fraudsters.”
The highest number of complaints originated from Edinburgh: 117 of all calls came from residents of the city. Many complaints related to scams from dating sites and fake government or bank websites. The report stated that users under 25 years of age are the most likely to fall victim to online banking fraud.
CAS has sought to help by providing a guide on how people can avoid scams. According to the organisation, fraudsters act mainly through online channels. CAS estimates that 64% of e-mails fall into the spam category.
CAS warns that users are mainly duped into transferring sums of money to random online acquaintances. The persuasion tactics of criminals found on dating sites include posing as people who need money for a sick family member or pretending they need the money to cover travel expenses so the two parties can meet.
It is generally assumed that elderly people are the most common victims of scammers, however CAS has found that it is in fact people aged between 31 and 40 who are the most easily tricked.
The issue must not be neglected, the Edinburgh News cited CAS policy chief Susan McPhee as saying. It is quite unsettling to see criminals increasingly abusing people’s trust and good intentions. McPhee urged people to come forward with any knowledge they may have even if a scam did not target them. This way, honest citizens can be better protected and the criminals hopefully brought to justice, McPhee added.