As the world becomes more dependent on digital services, Northumbria Police officers are working to ensure they stay ahead of online gangs looking to take advantage.
The threat of cyber criminals can take various forms, with criminals advertising schemes promising, in some cases, high returns through cryptocurrency investing or mining.
Cryptocurrency is a form of digital money designed to work as a method of currency exchange online and as more people are investing in cryptocurrencies, criminals are using this as an opportunity to capitalise and commit fraud.
Detective Sergeant Steven Ross, one of the force’s top financial investigators, talked about how crimes involving cryptocurrency are becoming more of a risk to the public.
He said: “We’re seeing more and more reports come in of digital currency fraud and we’re urging the public to remain vigilant online. We understand more people are online than ever before, but we aren’t naive to the fact that it means more criminals are moving online too. These criminals look to prey on vulnerable victims with fraudulent investment opportunities and other scams.”
Criminals will often build a professional and credible advert, email, website or profile to advertise fake investment opportunities, including cryptocurrency.
But DS Ross is urging residents to remain cautious online, report anything believed to be suspicious and is working with his team to stay ahead of crime trends while also offering prevention advice and targeting suspected online criminals.
He added: “Our work in the Financial Investigation Team is about staying ahead of crime trends and offering prevention advice as well as targeting suspects but we need the public to do their part too.
"Stay vigilant online, be cautious of promises of easy money and investment opportunities. These fraudsters are professionals and go to great lengths to appear legitimate.
"Don’t feel pressured to make any payments and always take time to do your research. We urge people to report anything suspicious – it could protect you and your money.”
For more information or if you think you’ve been a victim of a financial fraud or scam, report it to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by contacting Northumbria Police.