A WORCESTER woman who was conned out of thousands of pounds by a fraudster says she is concerned by research revealing a drastic increase in the number of people falling victim to scammers.
Sally Ellison, chief officer at Worcester Volunteer Centre, was conned out of £2,788 after a man claimed the charity had an outstanding debt of nearly £5,000.
In a bid to protect the name of the charity Mrs Ellison paid the money from her own account, only later discovering there was no debt.
Now research has revealed she is far from being alone and the number of people conned out of money is on the rise.
Figures released by Citizens Advice show fraud offences in England and Wales rose by 25 percent in 2013 compared to 2012, with 207,252 cases reported to Action Fraud, but it is thought the number could be as high as four million as many incidents went unreported.
The research suggested the elderly and vulnerable were the most likely targets.
And in Worcestershire alone in the last 12 months Action Fraud said a total of 2,183 fraud offences were reported.
Mrs Ellison said it was a worry. "The thing that worried me was the good name of the charity if it appeared we have defaulted on our debts in that way we were vulnerable.
"I felt very vulnerable and very threatened. I am concerned with the rise. I worry that computers make it a lot easier because people don't have to face the person they are taking the money from.
"Also people bank online so they can get the money quicker and don't have time to think about it. It's a very worrying sign of the times."
The study found 34 percent of the scams were over the phone, 24 percent were through visits to a website and 16 percent were via letter or fax with 10 percent through emails.
West Mercia Police have been facing a spate of cons across West Mercia and Warwickshire in recent months and this week issued a warning for people to be on their guard.
It followed four new incidents in the region where people have been targeted by callers claiming to be a police officer from London.
Luckily three of the would-be victims realised it was a scam and in the fourth there were concerns £45,000 had been transferred to a false account but quick action limited the loss to £100.
DCI Sean Paley said people should be aware of fraudsters.
"Whether in the real world or online, I can't emphasise how important it is for consumers and businesses to know how to protect themselves against fraud. Always make sure you have the latest security software installed on your computer, so you can safely shop and bank online.
"Fraudsters can be extremely persuasive, do not be fooled. Your bank or the police will never call, visit or email you to request your PIN, collect your bank card, or ask you to transfer money to another account. Anyone attempting to do so is a fraudster."