POLICE in Craven and across the county have warned shoppers to guard against becoming a victim of fraud during and after the January sales.

North Yorkshire Police have launched a new campaign - Freeze on Fraud - to stress the dangers of being targeted by trickster and scammers - especially online.

Risks are extremely high while the hunt for bargains is at full pelt in online shopping - and while making online bookings for things such as holiday and concerts.

It is also known that fraudsters prey on individuals who have made New Year’s resolutions to find love using dating websites.

Police point out that there are a host of telephone scams doing the rounds with the sole aim of extracting cash by whatever means necessary, including making threats to vulnerable and elderly people.

The Freeze on Fraud campaign features on ATMs across the county and newspaper websites throughout January.

Detective Inspector Jon Hodgeon, North Yorkshire Police’s head of fraud and economic crime said: “Fraud is a significant problem here in North Yorkshire with residents losing tens of thousands of pounds to very calculated and cold-hearted criminals.

“Every year we see a spike in such incidents during January to coincide with the post-Christmas sales, which are increasingly conducted online.

“This is why we are using the Freeze on Fraud campaign to make people aware of the serious risks they are taking, often without realising the imminent danger right in front of them, at their finger-tips or at the other end of a telephone line.

“It is important to realise that anyone can be a victim of fraud. Those committing the offence do not discriminate by social status or geographical location. People of all ages are affected, including those who are financially sophisticated and confident, but within this range of victims, older people are particularly vulnerable due to their reduced capacity to identify this as an attempted criminal act.

“Older people are also more at risk of scams such as doorstep fraud, bank and card account takeover, pension liberation and investment fraud.

“In North Yorkshire, however, the top most reported frauds are computer software fraud and online shopping and auctions. Cheque, plastic card and online banking do not feature as prominently in our area in comparison to the national picture, but always keep on your guard.”

More information and crime prevention advice is on the website www.northyorkshire.police.uk/freezeonfraud