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A letter from Chief Superintendent Sally Benatar: online danger to children and fraud

Date: Monday 1 June 2020
Author: Sally Benatar, South West Borough Commander

Dear all,

The Prime Minister has announced further changes that will take effect from Monday 1 June 2020. This includes allowing up to six people to meet outside - provided those from different households continue to strictly observe social distancing. People will now also be able to meet in gardens and other private outdoor spaces. These changes will mean friends and family can start to meet their loved ones again. Everyone has a responsibility to continue to follow the guidelines.

As things slowly return back to normal, we expect to see a return of things we have come to experience in the past. We are ready to meet any increase in demand. As ever, we ask the public to stay vigilant, and to report any emergencies through 999.

I would also like to bring to your attention some advice in relation vulnerable children and fraud.

Vulnerable children and young adults

There is an increased threat to children and young adults as they spent more time online during lockdown. This might come in the form of radicalisation or online sexual abuse or exploitation.

We are urging parents and young people to remain vigilant and educate themselves around the dangers that being online can pose, as well as encouraging them to take steps in order to stay safe. We are asking parents to review and turn on safety features, such as parental controls and privacy settings.

The Met continues to strive to safeguard children and vulnerable people. As an example, in a recent week-long operation focusing on online child sexual abuse and exploitation, colleagues across the Met executed 82 warrants, made 38 arrests, and safeguarded 138 children.

In relation to radicalisation, we are encouraging parents and anyone with concerns to visit the Let's talk about it website.

Fraud

We are advising everyone to be vigilant to a number of scams being perpetrated by criminals looking to cash in on people’s fears about coronavirus. The majority of these incidents relate to online shopping scams where members of the public have ordered and paid for personal protective equipment, which has then never arrived.

Additionally, if you get an unsolicited home visit from anyone offering a service and asking for payment or to be let into your home, our advice is to immediately request and check their ID and credentials carefully. If you are not convinced or you still have suspicions, shut the door and report the matter to us by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency.

There have also been reports of coronavirus-themed phishing emails being sent. These attempt to trick members of the public into opening attachments which could enable fraudsters to steal personal information, passwords and banking details. Emails sent by fraudsters are often sophisticated and look like genuine emails from banks and other websites you might use regularly, so please be alert to this.

If you receive a suspicious email, don’t click on the links or attachments, and never respond to unsolicited messages or calls with personal or financial details.

Thank you for your continued support.  

Regards

Sally

Updated: 24 March 2021