The month of May is Scams Awareness Month and Monmouthshire’s Trading Standards service is urging victims of this type of fraud to speak out and stop the ever-growing wave of con artists devastating the lives of millions in the UK.
Fraudsters are currently targeting the public with a tide of mass marketed scams such as fake lottery wins and Trading Standards wants people to ‘turn them in and turn the tide’.
Scammers often target elderly or vulnerable adults, tricking them into revealing bank details or paying upfront fees with the lure of huge rewards, and victims can find themselves on the receiving end of wave after wave of letters, emails and phone calls aimed at parting them from their cash. And even after realising they have been cheated out of their life savings, many people fail to report the crime as they are too embarrassed to tell anyone.
The scammers are left free to carry on duping more and more victims, getting away with an estimated total of more than £73 billion a year according to the National Fraud Authority.
As scammers use ever more sophisticated tactics and materials, an increasing percentage of people targeted are falling victim to crime. The most common types of scam include fake lotteries, prize draws and sweepstakes, advance fees and money transfers, ticketing, home working and career opportunities, health and slimming miracles, pay in advance credit, and investment opportunities.
Sue Hollin, Consumer Advice Officer for Monmouthshire Trading Standards said: “An essential part of stopping fraudsters preying on vulnerable people is to make sure these incidents are reported to Action Fraud. All information is good information when it comes to tracking down those responsible for the network of scams that continue to plague people, particularly the elderly”.
Another important aim of May’s campaign is to help everyone recognise warning signs and have confidence to seek advice or simply reject approaches.
People with elderly or vulnerable relatives are urged to be extra-vigilant. An increase in mail, unusual payments or bank transactions, or more incoming telephone calls than normal to a parent, grandparent or other vulnerable adult could be a sign that scammers are at work.
Remember the following tips:
· Stop, think and be sceptical. If something sounds too good to be true it probably is.
· Do not be rushed into sending money to a stranger, however plausible they might sound and even where an approach is personalised.
· Think about how much money you could lose from replying to a potential scam - it's not a gamble worth taking.
· If you are unsure of an offer, speak to family or friends and seek advice before sending any money or giving out any banking or credit card details.
If you have fallen victim to a scam or you know someone who has, you can report it to:
Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk
For further advice contact: Citizens Advice Consumer Services helpline on 08454 04 05 06