Scams are fraud and fraud is crime – this is the message that Sussex Police is sending for the start of this year’s Scams Awareness Month.
During July, Sussex Police is running a range of partnership activities for the force’s well established Operation Signature campaign.
This includes the launch of a new video which encourages people to spot the signs of fraud and scams when they visit those who may be vulnerable.
The video urges viewers to contact Sussex Police on 101 or via www.sussex.police.uk if they think someone vulnerable is a victim.
In Sussex, those over 65 are especially at risk of being targeted by fraudsters. During the month, Sussex officers, staff and volunteers are joining forces with Trading Standards, the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner and her Elders’ Commission, Neighbourhood Watch and Adult Social Care for a range of preventative measures including: an opportunity for the public to get crime prevention advice at a range of events, including Eastbourne 999 Day and home visits from uniformed Cadets and other volunteers offering crime prevention advice.
Detective Chief Inspector Tracy Edwards, lead for Operation Signature, said, “We need to break down the misconceptions which surround the word ‘scam’, that it’s a minor thing and it doesn’t cause damage.
“A scam is a crime that can cause immeasurable pain to the victim. People can lose huge sums of money to clever and manipulative scams and frauds, and that’s not the only cost.
“In Sussex, we see some of our most vulnerable residents losing huge sums of money, but also their confidence, security and relationships with family and those close to them.
“Our new video helps people see the warning signs, which can sometimes be subtle. If you think someone is being targeted and they are elderly or vulnerable call Sussex Police on 101. All others should contact Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk.
“You can also spend some time with friends and family to help them improve their security. Simple steps like installing anti-virus software, using a call blocker device and displaying a ‘no cold caller’ sticker can make a huge difference.”
Katy Bourne, Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, said, “Scams are fraud and fraud is a crime that can ruin some people’s lives. The criminals that perpetuate them often target vulnerable people, including older residents, who may be more trusting and less “tech savvy”.
“Last year my Elders Commission talked to thousands of Sussex residents who highlighted real concerns about the potential scale of hidden or un-reported crime against our older citizens.
“Falling for scams was a recurrent theme and we heard about an older resident who was ‘romanced’ out of his savings and also a 92 year old conned into handing over £69,000 supposedly to help a neighbour.
“My Elders’ Commission lifted the lid on older citizens’ concerns about crime and revealed that some people are being exploited and intimidated simply because their age and isolation makes them more vulnerable.
“That’s why I am campaigning for the crime of Elder Abuse to be made an aggravated offence in line with racially or religiously motivated offences.”
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