DYFED-Powys Police has recovered £459,000 from fraudsters so far in 2023-24 – more than five times as much as the previous two years.

Changes in legislation which make it easier to carry out civil recovery work are behind the rise, a report by the force’s police and crime commissioner said.

The commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn, presented the fraud and cyber crime report at a meeting of the Dyfed Powys police and crime panel, which scrutinises his work.

Mr Llywelyn said the effects of this criminal activity could not be underestimated, but that there was only so much individual police forces given its scale and reach. Fraud and cyber crime, said the report, now accounted for more than half all recorded crime in England and Wales.

“We want to make our area an inhospitable place for these types of offences to occur,” said Mr Llywelyn.

He felt it was vital that the force continued its work to warn people about scammers and fraudsters, and he encouraged people to report incidents even if they were embarrassed to.

The elected Plaid commissioner said Dyfed-Powys Police “triaged” incidents and focused on safeguarding the victim.

The report said the force’s in-house economic crime team had recouped £459,577 of ill-gotten gains in 2023-24 to date, compared to £86, 824 and £86,318 in the previous two years. Half the recovered money goes to the force.

The economic crime team played a key role in the recent conviction of Darryl Evans, of Green Court Crescent, Tenby, who presented himself as a trustworthy financial adviser and then conned £377,000 out of friends and associates by making bogus promises about investments and large returns on their money.

Sending the 62-year-old to prison for eight years at Swansea Crown Court last month, Judge Paul Thomas KC said Evans was the most “fundamentally dishonest” person he had encountered in his four decades as a barrister and judge. 

The report also said so-called courier fraud had become a problem in Pembrokeshire. This is when a fraudster phones a victim purporting to be a police officer or bank employee and says money has been removed from their bank account and that they need to cooperate in an investigation. The fraudster then convinces the victim to take out money or buy an expensive item, such as jewellery, and hand it over as part of the investigation with the promise that it’ll be returned. But it never is.

Between October 2020 and December 2022 Dyfed-Powys Police received 443 courier fraud reports, but most didn’t result in a financial loss. However, the 34 that did had a combined loss of £612,762. 

Mr Llywelyn urged people not to stay silent, as sometimes they could end up being repeat victims. He also said victims of so-called romance fraud, where victims are tricked into handing over money, sometimes didn’t believe they’d been duped despite by told by police officers in person that they had. He said it was a “very vile activity”.