Fraudsters have been posing as celebrities on dating sites in some of the new and emerging trends in fraud.
Scottish singer song-writer Lewis Capaldi is just one of the famous identities who has been used to trick people into parting with thousands of pounds.
The trick involves the bogus celebs spending extensive periods of time talking to the victims online and eventually asking them to send explicit images of themselves – before using them to blackmail the victims.
This type of scam was just one of the threats highlighted at the launch of a new pact between organisations to work together to tackle fraud across Nottinghamshire.
The Nottinghamshire Fraud Partnership Charter was launched on Cyber Monday – setting out how a range of blue light services, local authorities, businesses and charities will collaborate to combat fraud.
It comes as an average of 543 offences are reported to Action Fraud each month for Nottinghamshire, with this believed just to be the tip of the iceberg with many offences going unreported.
Fraud now accounts for around 40% of all crime nationally.
The partnership is convened by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire and members have signed up to the Charter in an agreement to work together on a range of issues, including improving public awareness, utilising the full range of powers available to partners, encouraging reporting, sharing information and intelligence, and helping to remove the stigma of becoming a victim.
It also aims to better understand the unique contribution each organisation can make as well as clarifying roles, responsibilities and leadership.
Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry opened the launch event, held at the Nottingham headquarters of partnership members Experian.
She said: “Today marks an exciting new start in how we tackle fraud across our city and county.
“As fraud becomes a growing threat to our local residents and businesses, we are coming together to ramp up our response to the misery caused by unscrupulous criminals who are trying to take our hard-earned cash from our pockets.
“We are much stronger as a partnership than we could ever be as individual organisations.
“Under the Nottinghamshire Fraud Partnership Charter, our commitment to share information, knowledge, skills and expertise brings each of us a much better awareness of the threats we are facing and allows us to collaborate on the best ways to prevent fraud and to support victims.
“For example, the sheer scale of data available to our Nottingham-based private sector partners at Experian, Capital One and The Nottingham Building Society, combined with the crime data recorded by Nottinghamshire Police, allows us to gain a much richer understanding of trends, hot-spots and victim demographics.”
Detective Sergeant Thomas Rawlings, of Nottinghamshire Police, gave a presentation which included a case study of a sophisticated scam by someone claiming to be Lewis Capaldi, who conned a fan out of a significant quantity of money.
Kerry Matthews was sent what appeared to be real photos along with text messages purporting to be from her hero – who is known to respond to fans, which made it seem believable.
Detective Sergeant Jason Gregory, Fraud and Economic Crime Regional Development Officer at East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) gave a presentation on current fraud threats, which also included celebrity dating scams.
He added that the HMRC is also warning that tax scams are being targeted at self-employed individuals. The concern is that more individuals could have money stolen due to the cost-of-living crisis and the temptation to save money.
The self-assessment deadline for the self-employed is the 31 January 2024, meaning these tax scams may become more intense.
He added that the most victimised age group in Nottinghamshire, on average, is 26–35-year-olds.
Dr Elisabeth Carter, Associate Professor of Criminology and Forensic Linguist at Kingston University, London, also spoke about the importance of avoiding ‘victim blaming’ in messaging when trying to prevent fraud.
Other speakers at the launch event included Mark Shelford, Mark Shelford, APCC Fraud and Economic Crime Lead and Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset, Tristan Prince, Fraud Product Director at Experian, and Colin Ellis and Michael Parsons, from the East Midlands Cyber Resilience Centre.
Current members of the Nottinghamshire Fraud Partnership include:
- Nottinghamshire Police
- East Midlands Specialist Crime Operations Unit (EMSOU)
- East Midlands Cyber Resilience Centre
- Action Fraud
- Nottinghamshire Victim CARE
- Restorative Nottinghamshire
- Trading Standards; Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council
- Local Authorities; Ashfield District Council, Bassetlaw District Council, Broxtowe Borough Council, Gedling Borough Council, Mansfield District Council, Newark and Sherwood District Council, Nottingham City Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, and Rushcliffe Borough Council.
- Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service
- East Midlands Chamber (including the Business Crime Reduction Partnership)
- The Nottingham Building Society
- University of Nottingham
- Nottingham Mencap
- Age UK Nottingham & Nottinghamshire
- Citizen Advice Nottingham and District
- Capital One
For more information on the Nottinghamshire Fraud Partnership and the Charter, visit Nottinghamshire Fraud Partnership (pcc.police.uk)
To see a video detailing the Kerry Matthews’ ordeal involving a fraudster claiming to be Lewis Capaldi, visit I thought ‘Lewis Capaldi’ loved me – it was a scam and they conned me into sending rude pics - YouTube
Posted on Monday 4th December 2023