West Yorkshire Police is warning residents who have fallen victim to fraud to beware of becoming the target of further attempts to steal money from them.
More than £43 million was defrauded from West Yorkshire victims last year - and the force is keen to spread the message that people who have already lost money in this way are much more likely to be targeted again.
Data suggests victims of investment and online fraud are far more likely to be a repeated target of ruthless criminals.
One way this can happen is through so-called Recovery Fraud - where criminals prey on previous victims looking to recover their money, making contact with them and claiming to be from their bank, a law enforcement agency, solicitors or a “specialist recovery” firm.
This often happens after the initial fraud and involves the victims being told they can help recover the money that was lost in return for a fee.
They will claim they can arrest the fraudster or get back the money that’s been lost. But in either case, they’ll ask for a fee first.
Kay Bainbridge, Victim Care and Crime Prevention Officer at West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “If you’ve been a victim of fraud in the past, whoever took your money may keep your contact information and contact you again.
“This time, they’ll pose as an organisation that has been made aware of your loss. They’ll claim they can arrest the fraudster, or even recover the money you lost. In either case, they say you’ll need to pay a fee first. This is a form of advance fee fraud; you’ll never get any money back.
“If you pay, they’ll keep coming back to you with another cost that has to be paid before your money can be returned.
“If you ask them to take the fees from the money they claim to have recovered, they will give reasons why this isn’t possible. For example, they might tell you that your money is under the control of a court and can only be paid back to you by them.
“The fraudsters may also ask you to provide details of your bank account so they can pay your money into it. They will use this information to empty your account.”
The Economic Crime Unit has identified some signs people can look out for if they think they’re being targeted again.
Being contacted by an agency that knows a lot about the money you lost, but they want a fee first. Genuine agencies never ask for fees to recover money lost to fraudsters.
They’ve contacted you with a web-based email address, such as @Yahoo or @Hotmail. Genuine government or law enforcement agencies and law firms don’t use webmail.
They’ve made their email look genuine by including graphics and using official-sounding language.
Nationally, repeat victims of fraud lost £21,121 on average in 2019/20. But when a repeat victim reported at least one investment fraud, this figure rose to £84,604.
For more details about fraud recovery fraud and investment scams visit https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or to report a suspected fraud call West Yorkshire Police on 101.