Clarence Valley continues to fall victim to fraud
CLARENCE Valley residents are being caught out by scammers and fraudsters at an alarming rate with new figures showing fraud offences have jumped more than 60% in a year.
And with more purchases being made electronically than ever before, that number will continue to rise.
That is unless the community learns how to become resilient to fraudulent tactics, says Coffs/Clarence crime manager Detective Inspector Darren Jameson.
According to the latest crime statistics released by the Bureau of Statistics and Research on Tuesday, reports of fraud in the Clarence Valley totalled 258 in the 12 months to September 2016.
That's an increase of about 68% on the previous 12 months' figure of 153.
Det Insp Jameson said that while police assessed each fraud offence on its merits for investigation, the reality was that they were restricted in their ability to catch culprits, particularly those overseas.
"We have an ongoing issue with fraud, in particular paywave offences and scams online and over the telephone, as well as people who continue to provide information over social media and gateway web pages," he said.
"We recently had an example of fraud targeting an ethnic group in the Coffs/Clarence command, in which notified people their immigration status would be challenged if they didn't pay through iTunes cards.
"No government agency or legitimate organisation will make you pay fines or outstanding debts in this way."
When asked if he thought the fraud rate could be brought back down, Det Insp Jameson said for the most part it came down to personal responsibility.
"What we need is for the community to opt in a bit," he said.
"If you have cards with paypass activated, you need to make sure they are kept secure and if you lose them report it straight away. When you're dealing with online purchases, the transactions need to be done in a safe space preferably a public area under CCTV."
"If people are smart about their personal protection in regards to financial and identity information, they will be smart on how they interact over the internet and should be resilient against fraud."
For more information on scams, go to www.scamwatch.gov.au.