The Pysähdy! (Stop!) campaign highlights the risk of fraud and emphasises traffic safety
The Pysähdy! (Stop!) campaign, launched by the police in the autumn, continues with the aim to stop, alert and encourage people to seek help at an early stage. In the week from 29 March to 4 April, the focus is on fraud targeting the elderly, and from 19 to 25 April, on safe behaviour in traffic.
The five themes of the campaign – mental health problems, intoxicant abuse and the related problems, domestic violence, online fraud and traffic safety – have been selected on the basis of an analysis conducted by the police.
“It is vital to prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading further, but at the same time, it is essential to remember and be aware of the fact that due to the prolonged exceptional circumstances, loneliness, financial worries, mental health problems and intoxicant abuse and the problems related to it have made many feel they are stretched to the limit. We in the police forces are concerned over people in difficult situations and want to remind everyone to take care of each other. No-one should be left alone and help is always available,” says National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased fraud targeting the elderly
The number of online fraud cases, reported to the police, has continued increasing. The number of cases of so-called online fraud, reported to the police from 2019 to 2020, has grown by more than 30 per cent. The police have enhanced cooperation with the authorities and other operators in communications intending to prevent crime.
“Recently, various types of fraud, particularly those targeting the elderly, have been headline news on a daily basis. The police alone records approximately 4,500 cases of fraud targeting over 65-year-olds every year, and every single one of these is too much,” says Chief Superintendent Tuomas Pöyhönen of the National Police Board.
Criminals use many different methods and locations. The crime may take place at home, over the phone, and online.
Crime committed in the data network
Pöyhönen says that the modus operandi in cases of fraud, committed by making use of the Internet, have become so advanced that it is difficult to distinguish criminal activity from lawful activity. For example, criminals have created authentic-looking web pages in Finnish. Perpetrators may contact potential victims in Finnish and the calls are made from Finnish phone numbers.
Pöyhönen points out that it is often difficult to reach the elderly and warn them about fraud.
“That is why it is vital that the various parties collaborate. In addition, each and every one of us should take care of our nearest and dearest and all senior citizens we know, and inform them about the methods that modern criminals use and the risky situations where a scam may occur,” he says.
Last year, so-called investment and CEO fraud cases appeared as yet another scamming method, resulting in criminal damage ranging from thousands to up to hundreds of thousands of euros.
In 2021, so-called helpdesk scams committed in a telephone call have become very common. In this type of fraud, the caller claims to be, for example, a Microsoft IT specialist, claiming that the victim’s computer is being hacked and there is a risk of losing money.
“The method often includes installing remote access software on the victim’s computer or phishing of credit card and bank card details or online banking credentials. These criminals specifically target the elderly,” says Tuomas Pöyhönen.
An exceptional year in traffic, too
2020 was a highly exceptional year in traffic, too, because traffic volumes declined drastically due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This was challenging for the police, because there was less traffic on the roads. Some drivers, particularly young male drivers under 25 years of age, behaved perilously in traffic. The number of cases of excessive speeding, reported to the police, increased by approximately 40 per cent year-on-year,” says Hannu Kautto, Assistant Police Commissioner of the National Police Board.
In these cases, the permitted driving speed was exceeded by at least 50 km/h.
Kautto points out another significant fact from last year: the incidence of cases of driving while intoxicated, reported to the police, increased by around 10 per cent, despite the fact that the police did not conduct large-scale breath test traffic checks due to the coronavirus.
Last year, the police caught 20,335 drivers driving under the influence of intoxicants, while the corresponding figure for 2019 was 18,499. Narcotics-related cases of driving while intoxicated increased most, by one third from 2019 (approximately 33 per cent).
“The trend is highly concerning and in 2021,traffic surveillance focuses, among others, on causing a serious traffic hazard and driving while intoxicated,” Kautto says.
Talking with young people is important
Young drivers’ nearest and dearest, and friends, can prepare them by providing information and instilling the correct attitudes to traffic safety by, for example, serving as role models.
“Pay attention to who your child goes out with. Weekend, mates riding in the car, drunk, with an inexperienced young driver susceptible to pressure by his or her friends, is a risky combination. Discuss these issues with your child, whether he or she drives the car or rides along,” Kautto says, reminding everyone.
Stop! Wake up! Get help!
If you have fallen victim to fraud or struggle with intoxicant abuse, you may feel ashamed. In this case, everyone can help those in need to seek help.
Important contact details to provide support with seeking and finding help have been compiled on the website of the Stop! campaign. The campaign runs in cooperation with stakeholders and uses video clips, social media advertising, podcasts and printable materials to help find assistance.