Taking on the online conmen

9 July 2019 | Midlands

TSB partner Simon Pelezok

Simon’s workshops help everyone from students to the elderly stay safe from fraudsters.

Meet scam buster Simon Peleszok. The TSB partner and Community Ambassador for Shropshire is leading the way battling fraud in his community.

It’s a crime the finance industry is committed to tackling and last year advanced security systems stopped more than £1.6 billion of unauthorised fraud.

But despite this, criminals successfully stole £1.2 billion through fraud and scams in 2018. Behind the figures, heartbreaking personal stories reveal the devastating impact these crimes have on victims.

Simon, 39, is determined to help protect people in his community from falling victim to fraud, and has run a series of specialist workshops imparting his advice and experience of the crime.

So far this year he has given 15 talks to groups including Age UK and the Women’s Institute. As a bank manager at TSB’s Ellesmere branch in Shropshire, he has seen first hand the devastating impact fraud can have on people. And he is determined to help as many stay safe from falling victim.

He says: “I had someone come in recently, who had been phoned by someone claiming to be from BT. When they told her she was about to get disconnected she panicked as the phone was her access to the outside world. Unfortunately, she fell for the con and they managed to download software on her computer that allowed them to access her online banking and transfer funds across accounts. She felt something wasn’t right but lives on her own.

“It is a horrible conversation to have when someone realises they have become a victim of fraud. I can help them get the money back but I can’t change how they feel. The emotional impact lasts and can be devastating.”

Simon, who has been giving workshops for around 18 months, adds: “The elderly are such targets. As a bank manager I’m an expert so my role is to educate them about all the types of scams out there that they might face. One of the main scenarios I have come across is that they get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the police.

“They tell them that their money has been compromised and that they will have to move their money to a ‘safe place’. These fraudsters are so convincing.

“Ultimately, if someone is even a tiny bit concerned, I want them to feel able to come into the branch and flag up anything they want to. That is what we are here for.”

As well as older residents, Simon works with students including some from nearby Chester University to warn them of the risks. “We class them vulnerable customers. Students are targeted because they have only just left home usually and are not financially switched on. They receive large sums of money in terms of student loans and can be an easy target. We will go in and speak to them but particularly in September when they are new and finding their feet.”

Simon adds: “It makes me feel good to be a local Community Ambassador. I live 20 miles away in Shrewsbury and last year I was driving into work and realised that I didn’t know much about my local area. Now thanks to the workshops I do. That is the way it should be.”

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