A specialist support worker has helped Cleveland fraud victims reclaim more than £52,000 from banks and other financial institutions in less than two months.
Fraud Victims Advocate Rachel Graham has only been in post at Safer Communities for six weeks, but she has already reclaimed £52,125 on behalf of victims.
By the end of last month, she was working on 14 cases with a total value of more than £720,000.
The role – the first of its kind – has been funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) following an award of £35,000 of funding from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) earlier this year.
The Fraud Victims Advocate is part of Safer Communities’ Victim Care, Advice and Support Service (VCAS,) which has been delivering victim services across the Cleveland area since 2016.
Gold Star Service
Dave Mead, Safer Communities’ Victims Services Manager, said: “This is five star, gold support for victims. It goes above and beyond anything we have offered in the past in terms of skills and experience.
“Rachel has managed to reclaim more than £52,000 for victims in the past six weeks but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“Cases currently with the Financial Ombudsman are worth four to five times that amount.
“The results of Rachel’s work take three, four, five months to come through so we are expecting to see a lot more.”
Using her 17 years’ experience as a Detective Constable in Cleveland Police, Rachel reclaims cash back from financial institutions on behalf of victims.
Her clients can be the victims of a range of scams, most of which take place online.
Couple conned out of £348,000
They have included a single parent, who was scammed out of £20,000 after striking up a “relationship” on a dating website. The “partner” also took out a £25,000 loan in their name. Rachel is now trying to get the debt written off.
There is also the case of an elderly couple, who transferred £348,000 of savings into a fraudster’s bank account.
They were persuaded to transfer the money after a scammer claimed he was a financial officer at their bank investigating a fraud and advised that their money was no longer safe in their account.
So far, Rachel has claimed back £40,500 on their behalf but she is still working with them.
All have been the victims of sophisticated, psychological manipulation to con them out of their cash. Many of the scams are run on an industrial scale by organised criminal gangs.
Rachel said: “Often victims will say “I can’t believe I have been so foolish” and haven’t even reported the fraud so I have to start there.
“Romance scams are the hardest as the victims believed the scammer was a real person. They feel foolish because the scammer has taken advantage of their emotions.”
The pilot role is funded until the end of March 2023.
Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner said: “I’m delighted we’ve been able to invest in this innovative new role. It helps victims of fraud overcome the injustice of losing their hard-earned money.
“Rachel’s work is already showing unbelievable results and I can’t wait to hear more success stories in the future.”