Lincolnshire Police and trading standards officers are mounting a joint campaign against scams after learning that it may be costing people about £2million a year.
At its November meeting, Holbeach Parish Council was given details by police of the joint operation with Lincolnshire Trading Standards which claimed that more than 2,000 people may have been targeted by fraudsters over the past 18 months.
Recently, a Sutton Bridge pensioner was nearly duped out of £4,600 from her bank account when doorstep “scammers” altered her cheque before a carer alerted parish council chairman Coun John Grimwood who then contacted the bank just in time.
Speaking at October’s meeting of Sutton Bridge Parish Council, Coun Grimwood said: “The resident had maintenance work done by some people who persuaded her to simply write ‘46’ on a cheque because the work had cost £46.
“We got through to the bank at a quarter past two but if it had been a quarter past three, it would have been too late for the lady who looks after the resident to stop the cheque by contacting the bank.”
The countywide campaign coincides with National Consumer Week and Lincolnshire Trading Standards Officer Eve Wrighton said: “Over the last 18 months, we have been working to protect people from this type of crime and our team has visited 350 people.
Lincolnshire Trading Standards believes the total financial detriment to be an estimated £2 million, with most of this money sent in response to catalogue, clairvoyant, lottery and sweepstake scamsLincolnshire Trading Standards Officer Eve Wrighton
“Out of those, Lincolnshire Trading Standards believes the total financial detriment to be an estimated £2 million, with most of this money sent in response to catalogue, clairvoyant, lottery and sweepstake scams.
“We are working with our partners, such as Lincolnshire Police, to raise awareness of this silent crime which often targets the vulnerable ,such as people who are isolated, recently bereaved or suffering some form of cognitive impairment.
“Victims can be bombarded by between 25 and 30 pieces of mail a day so we are working with our partners, such as Lincolnshire Police, to raise awareness as £2million is a staggering amount of money to lose.
“Scam victims may be secretive when quizzed or be quick to change topic so I would always encourage people to ask gentle questions if they are concerned about someone being scammed.
“The number of victims we have identified is only a small proportion of the true figure and we estimate that it could be ten times as much.”