Scammers still chasing vulnerable people for cash across Suffolk
PUBLISHED: 12:07 07 August 2017
Well over 100 scams have been reported to trading standards in Suffolk in three months as the county continues to suffer from a national epidemic of fraudsters trying to con vulnerable people out of their money.
The figure emerged as national statistics from the Local Government Association (LGA) showed that fraud – including scams – was the most common type of crime reported to trading standards across Britain.
Suffolk Trading Standards has received about 130 reports of scams since April. The service is working with the National Scams Project which launched a three-month drive against the fraudsters in November 2015 – but has seen the work continue for nearly two years now. The average age of victims was 79.
In the last three months Suffolk officers have contacted 125 victims who were identified via the National Project and visited or advised by phone more than 70 people.
Since starting the scams project 20 months ago, the department has contacted more than 1,600 victims and removed over 500kg of scam products from consumer’s homes.
A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: “This campaign was designed to last three months (from November 2015 to February 2016) but the department has just kept on getting the calls – there are three calls every two working days still.”
The LGA has appealed to anyone who comes across a scam to report it – it is estimated that scams cost UK householders £10bn a year but as few as 5pc may actually be reported to the authorities.
National Trading Standards prosecuted a man from Essex and his company who misled 102 disabled people into paying £49 a time for Blue Badge parking permits, normally bought from local councils for £10, using copycat websites.
Simon Blackburn, chairman of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Councils are receiving reports of scams every day from victims whose confidence and trust in people has been shattered, leaving them anxious and scared of being targeted and harassed again.
“It’s important that victims don’t suffer in silence or feel embarrassed. By reporting a scam, people can help someone else avoid being a victim and help councils track down the fraudsters, bring them to justice.”
Beware of scams
Suffolk Trading Standards has released details about the types of scam mail people in the county have received, in a bid to raise awareness and stamp out the crime.
Residents were sent fraudulent letters about fake lotteries, prize draws, miracle cures, bogus predictions and get rich quick schemes.
This is before taking into account phone trickers and doorsteppers, with con artists often preying on older people who may be vulnerable and alone.
Many people will be all too familiar with the dreaded PPI refund or “you have been in a traffic accident” call.
During a three month period between November 2015 and February 2016, almost 1,500 people in Suffolk fell victim to a scam.
Nationally, this figure stood at more than 19,500, with a reported funds loss of £20,593,040.