RISING numbers of fraudsters hoodwinking vulnerable residents into parting with cash will see a new campaign rolled out across Barnsley to combat criminals preying on victims.

According to South Yorkshire Police, an older person is a victim of fraud every 40 seconds and the typical targets of so-called ‘courier fraud’ are individuals over the age of 70.

In courier fraud scams, criminals pose as authority figures, including police officers and bank officials, to gain the trust of their victims.

They employ various tactics to manipulate victims, often initiating contact via email, text message or phone calls.

With fraud now being identified as the most common crime committed in the town, a Home Office-backed campaign - Stop! Think Fraud - has received a raft of support.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings said: “Criminals have developed such convincing tactics that it’s become harder to spot crime taking place in recent years.

“Fraudsters will appear full of reassurance and lull victims into trusting them and giving out sensitive, personal information.

“This new campaign is a major milestone that will hopefully build awareness of how to be better protected from becoming a victim and how best to prevent and report fraud.

“We should always draw breath, pause and think before giving any personal details or making any commitments online or on the phone.

“This is especially the case if we are sending someone details of our bank account.”

Courier fraud may also involve tricking someone into surrendering bank cards, PIN number and mobile phones, or other sensitive information, such as answers to security questions.

The fraudsters claim they need this information to verify the legitimacy of an account or assist with their investigation.

However, once they’re armed with these details, the criminals can gain access to funds and can carry out unauthorised transactions.

Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock added: “Fraud is now the most common crime in the UK and the effects on victims can be devastating and long-lasting.

“The rise of social media, online shopping and banking has provided fraudsters with a new opportunity.

“Sadly, not every case of fraud can be resolved to a satisfactory outcome, but there are many that can, and reporting your experience can help to catch perpetrators and protect others.

“There has been an increase in scammers calling victims to acquire the information they need to access personal accounts and records.

“There are currently fraudsters calling on seemingly legitimate lines, claiming to be bank services and asking people to share one-time passcodes or delete their banking app.

“Whilst we are not currently able to stop scammers altogether, we can take steps to protect ourselves and our families.

“If you think you have been a victim of a scam, it is important that you report this to Action Fraud as quickly as possible.”