Tackling scammers, FAST

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A specialist multi-agency team aimed at targeting the criminal behaviour of scammers and supporting their vulnerable victims is now operating in Angus.

Angus Financial Abuse Support Team (FAST) came together in response to major concerns about the number of especially vulnerable people being targeted by criminals.

The virtual team comprises of partners that include Police Scotland, Trading Standards and social work and health.

It provides sharp focus and expertise for areas of work, especially financial harm, undertaken by the Angus Adult Protection Committee.

Angus Council was the first local authority in Scotland to adopt a formal policy on financial harm and earlier this year hosted a seminar on the issue, led by Social Work and health convener councillor Glennis Middleton and chief executive Richard Stiff.

Councillor Middleton said: “FAST enables key officers from the respective local agencies to come together at short notice and, wherever possible, put in place measures to protect people.

“It is determined local partnership working that deals with a problem that acts as a constant drain on the local economy and the wellbeing of Angus people, especially our most vulnerable citizens.”

Police Scotland’s area Commander Chief Inspector Gordon Milne said: “Our commitment to effective local partnerships helps us to catch criminals, detect crimes and prevent scams from spreading. It also protects our vulnerable people.

Richard Stiff praised the commitment of the FAST and shared the widespread determination to protect people from financial harm.

He said: “It is a massive issue for us. We know that the annual cost of scams to individuals in Scotland is estimated by Action Fraud to be in excess of £750 million.

“The Angus share of that is over £15 million and we know that the organised criminals target more vulnerable people.

“That is an awful lot of money lost to our more vulnerable citizens every year.

“However, we also know that it is not just international criminals and scammers who cause such a huge loss to local people and our more vulnerable citizens. It is also the rogue traders who bully people into having unwanted and unneeded work done on their house who cause misery, as well as the smaller crimes committed against the frail, elderly, or seriously ill people.

“Working with the police we have been able to identify people known locally to be involved with drug misuse that have been preying on people unable to protect themselves and we have been able to take action.

“FAST is up and running and will do whatever it can to respond quickly and efficiently with the aim of making a real difference”.

FAST wants to hear from anyone who has been a victim of a fraud or scam, or who knows, or suspects someone has been illegally targeted for money, whether a stranger, family member, or so-called friend.

For more information about FAST, or to report information, incidents or concerns call Angus Council AccessLine on 03452 777 778, or Police Scotland on 101, or Angus Council Trading Standards on 01241 435600.