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Warning after fraudsters target parents with distressing messages

Police are warning parents to be on their guard after fraudsters have begun sending distressing messages in the hope of scamming money.

Victims initially receive a text message from a loved-one saying they are in hospital and the only way they can make contact is via text message.

After responding to the message, fraudsters then ask victims to purchase a mobile phone top-up code and text it to them.

Once the crooks have the code they get the cash credited to their own mobile phone account.

These messages can evolve into more elaborate scenarios and are designed to play on your emotions and get you to react quickly without thinking.

Remember that if a family member, loved-one or friend was hospitalised, they wouldn’t be forced to use a mobile phone that required credit to activate it as staff would easily be able to contact you by other means.

– Wiltshire Police

If you receive one of these messages:

  • Stop and think before taking immediate action.
  • Do you recognise the number? An easy way to check if the text you receive is a scam is to contact who the text is purportedly from, directly on their normal number that you recognise or have stored.
  • Chances are they will answer their phone or text you back.
  • Do not send any voucher codes, top-ups or money and do not provide any personal details or information.
  • Delete it.
  • Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online fraud reporting tool at www.actionfraud.police.uk.

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Phone fraud on the rise

Experts are warning people in the South West to protect their phones or face being a victim of identity fraud. David Wood reports.

If you are worried about identity fraud, you can reduce the risk:

If you use social networking sites, limit the amount of personal information you give away and activate tough privacy settings.

Only enter your personal details into secure websites (look for https:// at the start of the website address and a closed padlock symbol on your web browser window), belonging to organisations you know and trust.

Check the credentials of anyone asking for your personal information, whether by phone, face-to-face or over the internet. If in doubt, don't do it!

Shred any documents that contain your information before you throw them away.

For more information on protecting yourself from identity fraud click here

MP supporting fraud trial constituents

Richard Drax, MP for South Dorset. Credit: ITV Westcountry

The MP for South Dorset, is flying to Hungary to support a constituent who is being tried for fraud.

Michael Turner and Jason McGoldrick from Plymouth were arrested in 2009 after their timeshare marketing business collapsed.

Richard Drax MP, testified as a character witness, and should arrive in time for the verdict this afternoon.

Fraudster ordered to hand over more than £400,000

Keith Wood first appeared at Bristol Crown Court in 2010, pleading guilty to five offences of fraud. He then pleaded guilty to ten more fraud offences in January 2012.

Many were committed while Woods ran a company which claimed to specialise in the import and export of plant machinery.

He made arrangements with individuals and companies abroad to supply plant but despite money being transferred, the machinery was never received. Following Woods' conviction a court hearing was held under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Bristol Crown Court heard that his benefit from crime was £1,115,213 and he was ordered to repay £412,902 – the total cash and assets still owned. He has six months to repay the money or he will have to spend an additional three and a half years in prison - and still be liable for the money.

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Businessman who sold bomb-detecting devices charged with fraud

A businessman from Somerset has been charged with a string of fraud offences after a British company sold bomb-detecting devices to more than 20 countries, police have said. Jim McCormick, 55, will appear before magistrates in London on Thursday accused of six offences under the Fraud Act.

McCormick, of Langport, Somerset, was director of Wincanton-based ATSC that sold bomb-detecting device to countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

The decision to charge James McCormick follows consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service's Central Fraud Group. This charging decision follows a complex 30-month international investigation led by Avon and Somerset Police.

– AVON AND SOMERSET POLICE

McCormick will appear at the City of London Magistrates' Court on July 12 2012.

Businessman who sold bomb-detecting devices charged with fraud

A businessman from Somerset has been charged with a string of fraud offences after a British company sold bomb-detecting devices to more than 20 countries, police have said. Jim McCormick, 55, will appear before magistrates in London on Thursday accused of six offences under the Fraud Act.

McCormick, of Langport, Somerset, was director of Wincanton-based ATSC that sold bomb-detecting device to countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

The decision to charge James McCormick follows consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service's Central Fraud Group. This charging decision follows a complex 30-month international investigation led by Avon and Somerset Police.

– Avon and Somerset Police

McCormick will appear at the City of London Magistrates' Court on July 12 2012.

Man jailed for £344,000 fraud

Ian Beale from Gloucestershire has been jailed for two years and six months at Gloucester Crown Court after he admitted to stealing a total of £344,052 from his employer and from HMRC.

Beale was a director at the firm Evenproducts with sole responsibility for the company’s accounts. He submitted false invoice payments and fake VAT input tax returns and used the money to buy nine racehorses and fund the stables where they were trained.

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