FRAUDSTERS stole £4.6 million from Dorset residents in a six month period – as police warn of the increasing threat from scammers.
Dorset Police say that between April and September 2016 – the latest period for when figures are available – 2,406 fraud-type crimes were reported.
The total victim loss was £4.6 million and the most commonly targeted victims were aged between 60- 79 years.
Fraudsters target victims in different ways including through banking and online scams and taking over computer software. The age of the internet has given criminals new ways to commit hi-tech crimes.
Of the crimes committed in Dorset last year, more than a third of fraud offences were over the telephone and 15 per cent was via online sale fraud.
Police say fraud often affects the most vulnerable in the community, but anyone can become a target.
Detective Sergeant Andrew Kennard from the Economic Crime Unit, said: "People often feel embarrassed about being a victim of fraud, but there is no reason to be. It can happen to anyone and it is important you tell us.
"Reporting fraud helps us to understand the new trends and techniques being used by criminals and gives us the opportunity to warn others before they become victims."
The UK has a centralised fraud reporting centre called Action Fraud. It records all incidents, refers cases to the police for investigation and provide specialist support and advice.
Det Sgt Kennard added: "It's easy to be caught out. Fraudsters are clever and know how to gain your trust. Make sure you don't give out any personal information to anyone unless you have confirmed who it is you are speaking to.
"Remember: You will never be asked for your personal banking details, such as passwords and PIN numbers. If you are, hang up and contact the organisation/company back by using a number you know, such as one from your latest bill, in the telephone book or from their official website.
"If you receive a suspicious phone call, hang up immediately, dial 1471 and note the number that called you, then contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or online at actionfraud.police.uk. Action Fraud will alert Dorset Police.
Dorset Police is stepping up efforts to alert residents to new and emerging fraud trends affecting the county.
Every month, the force will be updating the new Fraud Alert page on the force website, with emerging fraud trends that are affecting residents.
For up to date fraud and cyber crime alerts visit dorset.police.uk/fraud