Who are you going to call? Scambusters – volunteers supporting GMP in the fight against fraud

Meet the Scambusters: a team of volunteers who give up their time to offer help and support to victims of fraud on behalf of Greater Manchester Police (GMP).
Since the pandemic began, the Scambusters have helped almost 3,000 victims and have collectively given more than 1,100 hours to support vulnerable victims on behalf of GMP – the only police force in the country to have a scambusting team.
They aim to help stop elderly members of the community from falling victim to fraud such as telephone scams, online scams, romance scams, and doorstep crime. Some of the scams they have come across most frequently during the pandemic have been paying for fake mail deliveries and postage as well as being scammed on sales of puppies.
The volunteers, some of whom joined Scambusters after being a victim to a scam themselves, offer support and give practical help and advice to prevent people from falling victim again.

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.”

Emma Potts, the Scambusters Volunteer Manager from GMP, added:” All of the work the Scambusters do is to support the public. From speaking with victims of fraud to offering protection and prevention advice, supporting Age UK with online events due to Covid, and everything in between, their work really is invaluable. They also go above and beyond when speaking with vulnerable victims, often providing a wellbeing service too, and will signpost any additional help they may need.
“I would like to say a massive thank you to my amazing team of Scambusters! Without their constant support to me, Economic Crime and GMP, we would not be able to contact all the victims we are currently able to.
“The team is a great example of how people can give back, and their help, support, advice, commitment, and positivity are one of a kind! They really are unsung heroes.”
To get in touch with the Scambusters for support or to join the team email [email protected] or call 0161 856 4120.

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