Written by David Kenyon, Head of Development, Supporting Justice
Supporting Justice and Friends Against Scams
First Published: 01 May 2019
Supporting Justice is happy to be a Friends Against Scams (FAS) organisation. In the past few years we have seen a significant rise in the number of frauds carried out across the country, estimated to cost the UK economy between £5 billion and £10 billion each year. That’s an awful lot of money.
But what can easily get missed in discussions of fraud, whether it is doorstep, online, postal or email is the human cost. For every scam there is at least one victim. In the past you may have heard people talk about “victimless” crime; fraud was often considered to be such a crime. People often associated fraud with some kind of impersonal attack on a financial institution like a bank. We now know better.
Fraud, as all crime, can tear apart someone’s life. We at Supporting Justice, as well as working towards improving the support to victims and witnesses following crime, also believe that we can help in raising awareness about crime so that fewer people fall victim in the first place. That is why we are happy to become a Friends Against Scams organisation.
Our work mainly involves helping organisations to improve their victim and witness care. We have developed a set of standards that, for the first time, aim to provide a benchmark for victim service. You can learn more about these from our website: https://supportingjustice.org.uk/quality-mark/. We have worked in partnership with Citizens Advice Witness Service and Trading Standards, for example, to make sure that witnesses in cases brought by Trading Standards are well supported at court. We are also engaged with statutory criminal justice agencies and police and crime commissioners aiming to help them improve the ways in which they interact with victims and reduce the level and impact of crime.
We will promote the messages of FAS with all the organisations with which we engage and work. Raising awareness is key to keeping people safe and minimising opportunities for the criminals. We will encourage our contacts and clients to sign up as FAS organisations and promote the message across our social media platforms. And members of our team will complete the online learning package.
Perhaps the need for FAS can be summed up in the blog below. It was written by a friend of one of our staff members to highlight how anyone can become a victim of fraud and scams and the potentially devastating effects it can have, not just on the individual victim but also on their family and friends.
Fraud victim blog
I’m not really sure if I’ve ever been a victim of crime - I can’t remember anything that stands out. I know I’ve never been a victim of fraud - I’d remember that I think because I have a business and like to think I’m fairly savvy.
Then again, my old man used to think he was fairly savvy. Built up a business, ran it for thirty odd years fairly well (though he was never going to rival Branson or Sugar). He just seemed to love “the deal” and meeting people - friends and even competitors at events and markets. And he did ok, as I say.
Then one day he died - massive stroke and a few days later, gone. I suppose because I worked with him in the business even though I was the youngest son I was the one that did most of the sorting and running around for mum and the family - it made sense as I “knew what was going on”.
Except I didn’t, did I? Because he didn’t, did he?
It turned out that over the years my “savvy” dad had been investing quite a lot of money in scam share schemes, lots of them in the States. Some of them looked sound enough at first glance but they weren’t. And when I totted up how much….well, that’s when the real shock set in. A few quid here and there? No problem. Oh no, somewhere between a quarter and a half million pounds!
Now, as I said, dad wasn’t thick. So I couldn’t understand how this had happened. Why? What possessed him? Why didn’t we (I) realise what he was doing and stop him?
I guess the truth is that it’s not that easy to know what’s going on at the time if it’s about scams or fraud. It’s only later that you realise - and in this case it’s other people, me and dad’s family, who realised. The real impact was on us not really on him.
It would be easy to really blame my dad, to resent him for all the emotional stuff he put us through (“why was he so stupid; how could he do this to us” etc) and I still get the occasional call from some guy in the States about the shares; I can’t write my response!. But it wasn’t him who scammed or cheated anybody. He and us were the victims in all this. And it helped to have friends who were able to talk to me about all this - one works with victims and really understood the issues.
But what about those people who don’t have someone who understands? Who feel cheated, stupid and, yes, alone? That’s why I said I’d write this blog when I was asked - because I can see the need for people to know what help is out there and how they can get it. It doesn’t make anything go away but it does help you cope and get over what has happened.