Les Allmark, one of the volunteer Scambusters, said: “There are so many different scams out there and as a team we get a lot of satisfaction out of supporting people. Every call is different and every situation is different but we are here to help. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t so talk to someone about it.”
Watch: The full interview our reporters Pauline Smith and Chris Vickers did with some of the Scambusters team, who offered their tips, advice, and warning signs to look out for.
Our Salford reporter Chris gives his views on meeting the Scambusters.
He said: “As one who has experienced a near miss when a scammer purporting to work for BT took control of my PC I know that my stomach was churning for about a week afterwards, and I could neither concentrate properly nor sleep well.
“Indeed the day following the incident I suddenly awoke at 6am in a panic and dashed to the phone to cancel my credit cards and confirm no fraudulent transactions had taken place. Later that day I visited my bank and advised them of the situation and begged that they would monitor transactions on my account extra carefully.
“I then visited my local police station in Salford to report the scam and there was given a leaflet and advised to contact Scambusters.
“So it was a privilege to be introduced to some of the team as part of our interview. The volunteers are from diverse backgrounds but they were all attracted to the need to counsel the public in how to avoid these egregious scams (80% are avoidable), and committed to contacting and supporting those who have been the unfortunate victims.
“The volunteers often go out and speak to their local communities regarding the various scams they have knowledge of so that there is more awareness of what to look out for. Also, they do their best to advise how to deter the scammers in the first place, for example, by using a call blocker that will not let unknown telephone numbers through; or not conforming to the scammers’ timetable, usually, they create a false time limit to be met or the ‘prize’ will be forfeited; and no reputable organisation asks for private information over the phone, ever.
“The Scambusters team had huge empathy for the victims of these pernicious thefts which include the gamut of romance, investment, Royal Mail and online shopping frauds; the list and ingenuity of these crooks is endless.
“We always need to be constantly aware. The mantra running through my head was ‘why didn’t you just cut off the call?’’ Why did you even engage at all?’ Sadly the incidence of these crimes seems to be on the up. It is more relevant than ever that we remain alert, these criminals are professional and good at what they do; be aware and don’t engage them.”