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Police urge public to be aware of ‘romance fraud’

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LOVE might be in the air around Valentine’s Day, but Dyfed-Powys Police is urging people to be wary of who they meet on dating websites after saving potential victims from sending £52,000 to fraudsters.

The force’s Financial Crime Team has offered advice to people dating online to help stop their heart – and their finances – take a bruising.

Romance fraud is where fraudsters set up fake profiles to form relationships with unsuspecting people looking for a genuine partner on dating websites. They use the site to gain your trust and ask you for money or enough personal information to steal your identity.

Over the past six months, Dyfed-Powys Police has stopped people from being conned out of a total of £52,000 in romance fraud cases through the banking protocol – a scheme that sees bank staff trained in how to spot signs that a customer may be withdrawing cash to give to a scammer.

Since the scheme was set up, the force has been able to save people a total of £156,841 – with 33% of calls taken (or £52,000) connected to romance fraud.

Fraud investigator Dawn Jones said: “The majority of accounts on dating websites are genuine people, but sadly there are fraudsters who might try to contact you by making a fake profile, using a fictional name or taking on the identity of real trusted people, and building what feels like a loving relationship.

“Without wanting to sound cynical, what we’re asking people to bear in mind is that your perfect online partner might not be who they say they are.

“There are certain things fraudsters tend to do, which should set alarm bells ringing – for example they will express strong emotions within a short space of time.  They may ask you to move away from the app or website and use a more personal, private means of contact, such as email, instant messaging, or over the phone. They might even send you gifts and shower you with compliments to make you feel special.

“Once they’re confident that they’ve won your trust, they will pretend to confide in you and tell you about a fictional problem that they need money for – maybe for a sick relative, to pay taxes, or even to pay for flights to come and see you.  Whichever way they chose to ask for money you could end up losing a lot – and the money you send is almost impossible to recover.”

The force has offered advice to anyone using online dating sites:

  • Avoid giving away too many personal details when dating online – revealing your full name, date of birth and home address might leave to your identity being stolen.
  • Never send or receive money, or give away or bank details to someone you’ve only met online, no matter how much you trust them or believe their story.
  • Pick a reputable dating website and use the site’s messaging service. Fraudsters want to quickly switch to social media or texting so there’s no evidence of asking you for money.

If you become a victim of romance fraud, report it immediately to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, as well as to the dating site where you met, no matter how embarrassing you might think it is.

This could result in recovering your money (although this is unusual), and help others from becoming victims to the same person.

Dial 999 if you or someone else is in immediate danger or at risk of harm.

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Drop-in session plan for Fishguard and Goodwick surgeries

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A PUBLIC drop-in session is being held in Fishguard next week to gather the views of local residents around plans to amalgamate Goodwick Surgery with Fishguard Surgery towards the end of this year.

The event will be held on Tuesday 27 February at Fishguard Town Hall from 2.30pm-7pm.

Goodwick Surgery has been managed by Hywel Dda University Health Board since April 2015. The Practice has used regular GP locums to cover the Surgery for the past 18 months and despite extensive efforts the Health Board has not been successful in attracting new GPs. Goodwick is one of a number of smaller practices in North Pembrokeshire struggling with the challenges of GP recruitment in order to deliver sustainable services.

In recent months the Health Board has been in detailed discussions with nearby Fishguard Surgery as to how the two practices could collaborate to secure future services for patients in the area. The Health Board is working with local groups and the Community Health Council to communicate all changes to the patients.

Prior to the amalgamation, patients of both Practices should continue to access services as normal. There is no need to move registration – this will be done automatically at the time and more details will be shared with patients over the coming months.

Plans are at an advanced stage with Welsh Government for the extensive refurbishment of the existing Fishguard Health Centre later this year to enable delivery of high quality services to the increased practice population. Community staff, including the District Nurse team and Health Visitors, will be located in the refurbished building, allowing better integration and working with the GP Practice. Fishguard Surgery will remain open during the refurbishment works and disruption will be minimised to enable full services to be maintained for patients.

It is anticipated that the larger, more resilient Practice will be better able to recruit additional clinical staff, including GPs, to reduce the dependence on locums. Staff currently working at Goodwick Surgery will have the option to transfer to Fishguard Health Centre as part of the larger team.

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care at Hywel Dda, said: ““As a Health Board we are committed to listening to and engaging with local populations around our proposals to strengthen our Primary Care services in the Goodwick and Fishguard area and we would therefore like to invite residents to come along and get involved in the conversation.”

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Haverfordwest: Police want to catch Labour Club gate tamperers

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating criminal damage at Haverfordwest Labour Social Club. Police told The Herald that sometime between 11am and 1pm on Wednesday, 17 January 2017, two men super-glued the padlock to the gate, and fitted an extra chain and padlock. The staff had to cut the chains and padlock with an angle grinder to gain entry to the club.

A police spokesperson added: “One of the men is described as aged in his 60s, with short, grey hair and moustache, reddened face, and wearing a dark coloured coat.

“He has a distinctive mark on the side of his nose.

“The second man is described as being younger and wearing a dark coloured parka type jacket with the hood up, loose fitting blue jeans, light coloured shoes and carrying a blue backpack.

The police have asked that anyone with information is asked to report it to PC 424 Dan Morris at Haverfordwest Police Station by calling 101. If you are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Pembroke: Appeal after glass attack at the Old Cross Saws Inn

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THE POLICE are appealing for witnesses following an assault at The Old Cross Saws public house, Pembroke, on Saturday, 10 February.

It is alleged a man attacked a male with a broken glass, in the beer garden. As a result, the police said, the victim required stitches to his jaw.

A spokesperson from Dyfed-Powys Police told The Herald: “A 25-year-old man from the Pembroke Dock area was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm on February 10, he has since been released under investigation pending further police enquiries.”

“Anyone who witnessed the incident, or has any information, is urged to contact DC 920 Phil Jones at Pembroke Dock Police Station, by calling 101.

“Alternatively, anonymously contact Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.”

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