Vulnerable Angus residents lost more than £500,000 to con-artists in only five months last year.
Criminals took advantage of lockdown to carry out scams including fake NHS and social care bonus payments and tricks involving Amazon Prime payments and fake council tax rebates.
The total of 122 crimes between April and September last year was more than double that during the same period in the previous year. Victims lost a total of £510,098 during the period.
Figures for the final quarter of 2020 are due to be published shortly.
Fighting the faceless crime
Chief Inspector Wayne Morrison, area commander for Angus, said: “Fraud is often a faceless crime, with criminals using sophisticated means to exploit invariably the most vulnerable within our community. This makes the recovery of lost funds especially difficult.
“Fraud incidents continue to rise and with people spending more of their time online, the digital space has become a key area where these sort of criminals operate.
“Within Angus and Tayside Division, we are committed to help people understand how to protect themselves against fraud and are working with partners to bring criminals to justice, and recover lost funds.”
Mark Hodgkinson, Angus Council adult protection review officer, said the local authority was the only one in Scotland with a formal policy on financial harm.
He said: “It is a statement of intent that has been put into positive action through the creation of a financial abuse support team (FAST).
“The FAST is made up of officers from Police Scotland, Angus Council Trading Standards and Adult Protection Council Officers and seeks to support and protect Angus citizens at risk of financial harm, wherever the risk comes from.”
SNP councillor Julie Bell said she was “shocked by the level of financial fraud perpetrated in Angus.”
“Some of those crimes will relate to many thousands of pounds, while some relate to perhaps tens or hundreds of pounds. Regardless of the amount each fraud is significant to the victim.
“I really do urge people to do what they can to raise awareness of this hideous crime that robs people of their savings and financial security, preying on people’s trust.”
She warned the con-artists were very convincing.
“Please be aware, and make your older relatives and neighbours aware, of scams that deliberately target more vulnerable people.
“It’s very easy to believe they are real. Make no mistake, the responsibility for these crimes lies entirely at the feet of the perpetrators.”