'Fraud is just so common' – £14.2 million stolen from Suffolk victims last year
- Credit: PA
A total of £14.2 million has been stolen by fraudsters from Suffolk victims in the past year - mainly through consumer fraud, latest figures have revealed.
During the last 12 months to February - much of which covered the Covid crisis - there were 4,484 fraud reports in Suffolk, according to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB).
But a lot more has been stolen in Essex, with £60.3million taken and 17,190 reports.
Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s current Conservative police and crime commissioner, has previously lamented how criminals are "taking advantage of the situation" during Covid-19 to target the vulnerable, saying: "I find this particularly upsetting."
He has previously urged people to be more aware of what they are doing online and doing all they can to protect themselves, saying: “Ultimately there needs to be a concerted national effort on eliminating fraud and a greater focus on prevention.”
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Reacting to the news, Elizabeth Hughes, Labour’s police and crime commissioner candidate for Suffolk, said this type of crime is "just so common".
Ms Hughes, who is also an Ipswich borough councillor, said: "The figures show everyone's been a victim.
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"From young to old, there are even 182 victims, who are 10 to 19-year-olds."
And "most surprising", she thinks, is that 2,734 of the Suffolk reports have been from people under the age of 59 - versus just 1,231 reports from over-60s.
She added: "It's a common misconception that it's older people, but it's people who are online-savvy that mostly have issues.
"You see often on Facebook all these advertisements for cheap things and then the person doesn't deliver what they promised.
"We need to educate people about buying online and stop victims of fraud from seeing a stigma from this crime.
"It's very sad to also see half of the people reaching out for victim support."
Liberal Democrat PCC candidate in Suffolk, James Sandbach, agrees that more should be done.
"It's a very significant issue in Suffolk," Mr Sandbach said.
"The fraudsters are getting cleverer about how they're doing online scams."
But he thinks Suffolk police and Suffolk County Council's trading standards need to look at stronger enforcement of the existing rules.
"It's too easy to get away with it," he added.