The Winchester Police Department (WPD) has relaunched its “Fight the Fraud Inferno” campaign in order to educate residents about how to safeguard their personal information and protect their finances. First launched in 2018, the campaign proved a success, dropping fraud reports from 2018 to 2019 by 15 percent. After the campaign was initiated, WPD used its community outreach events to educate the community. These events were suspended in 2020 due to COVID-19, and the Department’s fraud reports increased 14 percent in 2020, with losses totaling over $400,000.
“Many reports taken by our Department cannot be investigated or when they are investigated, they lead to a dead end, because the suspects leading the scam often live outside the United States,” stated Detective Jason Hardt, who has joined in on campaign efforts as he investigates many of the incidents reported to the WPD. “It is frustrating not being able to provide justice for victims of fraud, especially when the losses have a detrimental impact on their quality of life.”
The relaunch will include meetings with community leaders to elicit their involvement and educating community retailers. “We are seeing an increase in the amount of gift cards being purchased as a means to pay scammers,” stated Sgt. Adam Orndorff, who is leading the relaunch. “Prevention is the only way to reduce fraud in our community; therefore, we have created a tag line for this part of the campaign - ‘Gift Cards are for Gifts Only’.” The tag line has been developed on posters that the campaign team hopes to distribute to stores in the near future.
Additionally, the team has created a video to bring attention to other types of fraud. If you are a community leader or retailer who is interested in helping the WPD “Fight the Fraud Inferno”, please contact Amy Stotlemyer of the Criminal Investigations Division at 540-545-4704. We encourage our media partners to also help us in these efforts, and interviews can be made available by contacting Captain Amanda Behan.