A new campaign has been launched by Police Scotland to combat the recent rise in fraud in Scotland.
Officers will encourage members of the public and businesses to follow simple advice – Stop, Challenge and Protect – in the six-week partnership with Take Five to Stop Fraud.
Scottish Government figures in 2019-20 suggest fraud increased by 23% – with 11,939 such crimes recorded in Scotland from April 2019 to March 2020 – and since 2010-11 it has gone up by 33%.
Deputy chief constable Malcolm Graham also highlighted a rise in figures for this year during the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “Sadly, during the current pandemic when people have been at home, the occurrence of fraud has also risen.
“Our management information showed that fraud increased by 45% in the first six months of 2020-21 compared to the same period last year.
“Fraud, in any form, is a despicable and cowardly crime with, often anonymous criminals targeting the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“We are well aware that fraud continues to rise and want to take the opportunity to warn the public and businesses take a few steps to protect themselves and remain vigilant.
“Our advice is clear and the public should be aware that a telephone call, email or text may not be from the person or organisation it appears to come from.
“Never click on a link from an unsolicited email or text, and remember that banks, police or other legitimate organisations will never ask you for personal banking information or ask you to move funds to a different account.”
Information about the campaign will also be advertised on social media, digital screens and on Spotify in a bid to highlight online fraud, email deception and phone-based or social media scams.
Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “While levels of crime including those involving robbery, housebreaking and theft have fallen over the last decade, reported cases of fraud have risen by a third over the same period, at a time when we have all increased our use of online and mobile technologies.
“During 2020 we have seen unscrupulous individuals using the lockdown and on-going restrictions as an opportunity to target some of our most vulnerable citizens and exploit businesses.
“Such criminal behaviour is absolutely abhorrent and the Scottish Government is working with police and other partners to pursue those who cause harm and misery to our communities and to support people to stay safe.
“As we enter the festive season, I welcome Police Scotland’s timely campaign urging people to ‘stop, challenge and protect’ in order to help households, businesses and communities to keep themselves safe and secure this Christmas and into 2021.
“In addition anyone can sign up to receive trusted alerts and advice from Neighbourhood Watch Scotland on a range of safety and security issues targeted to their local area.”