The SAFER Project, empowering the residents of West Yorkshire to tackle scams.

Friday 18 October

West Yorkshire Trading Standards’ lottery funded project, The SAFER Project (Scams And Frauds Education for Residents), has been helping older people and vulnerable adults across the five districts of West Yorkshire protect themselves from scams, frauds and doorstep crime from 2012 to 2018. During this time, The SAFER team have actively engaged with vulnerable adults across the region, empowering residents to live in a safer community and avoid falling victim to scams.  Over 20,000 people attended the workshops and over 5,000 partners were trained during this time.

Since the Summer of 2018 The new SAFER Project has continued to deliver free, informal and interactive workshops to ages 12+ and now offer 5 different workshops to priority neighbourhoods across the region.  Please visit our webpage for full details of the SAFER Workshops.

The new SAFER project has just brought the first year to a close, the workshops were attended by over 5,200 participants across West Yorkshire and a further 147 partners were trained on the latest Scams and Doorstep Crime tactics and the Summer of 2019 saw the SAFER team deliver workshops to over 800, 15-19 year olds that enrolled in the National Citizens Service from Leeds, Calderdale and Kirklees. 

The groups that the project have engaged with so far consist of carers, young parents groups, sensory impaired groups, groups with learning disabilities, youth groups and groups that come together to combat isolation.  Isolation in particular makes a person more prone to engaging with doorstep callers for company meaning that the individual is more likely to get scammed.  With the new SAFER project the key messages about scams, isolation, safer communities and community cohesion are aimed at younger people to ensure that they understand they too have a responsibility to try and keep crime out of their neighbourhoods and keep their communities safe.

Mrs R from Leeds reported an attempt to withdraw money from her account following a scam call she received.  Fortunately Mrs R remembered the information from a Scams & Frauds workshop she attended last week and was able to stop the scammer in their tracks.

Mrs R had been having problems with her broadband and reported this to her provider who arranged for a member of the complaints team to call her on her landline on an agreed date.  Mrs R received a call on the scheduled date and the person identified themselves as being from her broadband provider.  The caller asked that she log on to her laptop and guided her through some ‘troubleshooting options’ which is when it’s believed remote access to her laptop was gained by the caller.  The caller then proceeded to show her files that had been ‘compromised’ on her laptop.  The caller then asked Mrs R to switch off her mobile phone and all other devices, except her laptop.  It was then Mrs R remembered the advice given at the workshop, Take 5.  Take 5 is a Stop, Challenge and Protect strategy to remind people to stop and take 5 minutes to think about what is taking place and to speak to someone about what is happening.  It was then when Mrs R saw her neighbour walk by and called out for him to come in.  The caller asked what she was doing and when Mrs R told the caller she had asked her neighbour to come over as she was dubious about his authenticity he proceeded to confirm her modem number, which was correct, as further verification that he was from her broadband provider.  Mrs R still felt unsure and ended the call.  It was then when Mrs R switched her mobile phone on, text alerts from her bank came through asking if she was making attempts to withdraw £9,700 from her account.  By asking her to switch off her devices, the caller, now confirmed scammer was attempting to isolate her from being able to contact anyone and from anyone contacting her, i.e. her bank alerting her to the attempted withdrawal from her account.  Fortunately on this occasion, no money was withdrawn and Mrs R executed SAFER’s advice and will continue to share her experience and knowledge within her community, a real community champion!

Mrs R told SAFER, ‘If you hadn’t have done those workshops I would have lost that money. I just kept thinking about what you had said.”

The matter has been reported to the broadband provider and Action Fraud for further investigation.

SAFER also tackle subjects around money muling, social media scams and counterfeit goods and their connections to organised crime and money laundering.  Scams are constantly evolving and changing and the SAFER Project are here to empower the communities of West Yorkshire to spot, avoid and tackle these scams.

If you think you’ve been a victim of a scam, please report this to Action Fraud 0300 123 2040.

If you would like to know of any workshops that are taking place in your area, please contact the SAFER Project on 0113 535 0242, safer@wyjs.org.uk.