The shocking amount of money lost to fraudsters in West Yorkshire in just SIX months

13 per cent were committed via online sales and 11 per cent over email.
13 per cent were committed via online sales and 11 per cent over email.

Criminals have conned more than £15 million from victims across West Yorkshire in just six months, shocking statistics reveal.

A staggering £15.2 million was stolen from individuals and businesses between April 2018 and September 2018.

The figures from Action Fraud UK show there were 10,931 fraudulent crimes reported in West Yorkshire in the same time period.

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Of the 10,931 frauds reported, 32 per cent were carried out over the phone, 13 per cent via online sales and 11 per cent over email.

Ramona Senior, head of the economic crime unit at West Yorkshire Police said: "Fraud is on the increase and everyone needs to be vigilant whether young or old, fraudsters have no regard for their victims or the financial harm they cause."

Police are currently seeing a rise in the number of people who fall victim to romance fraud.

Fraudsters tend to contact their victims over social media portraying to be someone they are not, with the aim of seeking a new relationship.

They will build the relationship and trust, before claiming they have been in an accident and are in desperate need of money.

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Ms Senior said: "Romance fraud is always high on the agenda due to loneliness and seeking companionship however when people are seeking friendships online, they also become vulnerable to fraud.

"This kind of fraud pulls on the heartstrings as well as the purse strings. They make contact via email, social media or dating websites and they build up a relationship before actually asking for money or making the victim feel the need to offer money in the first instance."

West Yorkshire Police has also revealed some of the most common types of fraud reported to them in the last six months:

Phishing - This is where an email falsely claiming to be from a legitimate source, like a bank or building society, tries to get a person to reveal personal information. Their details from the spoof site linked to the email are then picked up by criminals to steal money from the account. Recent cases have seen fraudsters send emails purporting to be HMIC, ITunes, BT and Virgin Media.

Courier fraud - This is when a person is called by someone pretending to be from their bank and convinces the victim to tell them card details over the phone - they then arrange for a courier to pick up their card to take it away for evidence or have it destroyed.

Mandate fraud is when someone gets a person to change their direct debit, standing order or bank transfer mandate, by purporting to be an organisation a person makes regular payments to.

Online shopping and auction fraud are also prominent on the internet involving fraudulent scams that rely on the anonymity of the internet.

Lastly frauds that abuse a position of trust are still on the rise. This is when someone abuses their position of authority for personal or financial gain, or so that someone else loses money or status.

People over the age of 40 are more likely to be a victim of fraud, research and statistics show.

Sadly it is also the most vulnerable that are often targeted.

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Ms Senior said: "There are simple steps you can take to protect you from being a victim of fraud. Please share this information with your friends and support those you know who are vulnerable and elderly.

"West Yorkshire Police is committed to the prevention and detection of fraud and will pursue those who commit these offences, seek recovery of their assets and wherever possible obtain compensation for fraud victims.

Further information is available www.actionfraud.org.uk or from the West Yorkshire Police website.