North East Lincolnshire Council’s trading standards team are launching are new campaign to show people how they can protect themselves and loved ones from ruthless fraudsters.
Con artists and rogue traders are again targeting vulnerable and elderly people in North East Lincolnshire and defrauding them out of thousands of pounds.
Thanks to funding from the Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner, Trading standards officers are raising awareness with community groups and other service providers during the coming months to help front line staff identify victims of fraud and the tactics fraudsters employ, who they target and the preventative measures people can take to stop them becoming repeat victims.
Financial exploitation officer Ian Boyd explained: “The cost of UK fraud amounts to £193 billion according latest figures with individual victims losing tens of thousands of pounds through scams, which often start with mail fraud.
“Mail fraud can be fake lottery or prize draw wins, false inheritance, phoney clairvoyants and psychics, mock officials, imitation investments or bogus charities and catalogues.
“Fraudsters make them look authentic and use the same marketing techniques as legitimate companies to draw people in.
“When someone replies to scam mail, their contact details often end up on a suckers’ list.
“These lists are traded between criminal gangs who then target the victims knowing they are likely to be easy prey.
“In some cases they will befriend victims and convince them they are there to help them, while all they’re doing is helping themselves to their savings.
“In most cases society’s vulnerable are targeted the most, especially those who live alone and have access to their own money.
“But the fraudsters do not discriminate and every individual in society is at risk. What makes the difference is how you deal with it.”
If you have an elderly relative or a friend who lives alone, check for the tell-tale signs that they may be being targeted.
- They mention a new friend
- Piles of junk mail
- Lots of phone calls
- High use of cheque books
- Unusual bank account activities
- Changes in mood and behaviour
Cllr Hazel Chase, portfolio holder for Safer Communities, Public Protection and the Visitor Economy, added:
“Con artists use all sorts of tricks to groom their victims and convince them to part with their money. Victims put their complete trust in them.
“In one case the victim wouldn’t listen to advice from their own son or daughter, they’d been so taken in by the ‘polite man in a suit’ who’d been helping relieve them of their savings.
“We’ve even seen a note from a victim apologising for not replying sooner to a scam letter, it’s shocking what happens.
“The bottom line is scams are fraud, it’s a criminal offence.
“Unfortunately these are crimes that resurface time and again in different guises and no matter how often people are warned about them, they still find themselves being conned and out of pocket.
“If you have concerns that someone you know is being targeted, please get in touch.”
Report it in confidence to trading standards via www.nelincs.gov.uk/scams or call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506.
Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner Keith Hunter said:
“The financial exploitation of elderly and vulnerable people is a big problem and one that often goes unreported, so I’m very pleased that North East Lincolnshire Council is raising awareness of the issue and what the public can do to combat it.
“I urge anyone who is either being abused themselves or suspects a loved one may be at risk to be vigilant and report it.”