Council to return hundreds of pounds to scam victims

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Hundreds of pounds will be returned, and advice offered, to East Sussex residents who have fallen foul of postal scams.

Trading Standards officers from the county council are planning a two day operation to return cheques to those duped into handing over money for bogus lotteries, prize draws and clairvoyant scams.

As well as returning their money during the operation on Tuesday, June 23 and Wednesday, June 24, officers will be advising residents, offering support and putting measures in place to protect them from mass marketing scams in the future.

Cllr Rupert Simmons, lead member for economy at East Sussex County Council, said: “The perpetrators of scams are unscrupulous individuals who prey on older and vulnerable residents who, in many cases, don’t even realise they have been tricked.

“These people are victims of crime and need to be provided with the support and advice to protect themselves from future harm. We are delighted that we now have the mechanism to identify these silent victims to prevent them falling prey to scammers in the future.”

Current figures from Trading Standards National Scams Team show the average age of a scam victim to be 74 and with the average loss to each victim being £1,166.

The National Trading Standards Scams Team, hosted by East Sussex Trading Standards, receives intelligence from a number of sources including seized mailing lists and money, which it passes on to 153 local trading standards services.

The lists contain details of people who have been targeted by scam letters, including invitations to take part in bogus lotteries and prize draws.

People who reply to a scam letter for the first time are put on the lists and their details sold to criminals around the world, leaving them even more vulnerable to becoming a victim again in the future.

Measures put in place to protect victims from being targeted multiple times include registering the victim with the Mail Preference Service, fitting call blockers or contacting the victim’s bank to put a stop to any standing orders to scam companies.

Any relevant information regarding a newly identified scam company is fed back to the National Scams Team who then uses this information to identify the appropriate agency to tackle it.

Anyone concerned about a possible scam or worried about a friend or relative can contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506.