More than 50 scam victims have been contacted as part of a recent Day of Action but Trading Standards have said they fear this is just the tip of the iceberg.
‘Operation Bah Scambug’ saw Trading Standards officers across East and West Sussex join forces with the National Trading Standards Scams Team to provide advice and support to victims.
In East Sussex, teams of officers were deployed in each of the county’s five district and borough areas, visiting 54 residents who’d been identified as victims of scams such as bogus lotteries, prize draws and clairvoyant scams.
A number of people have been affected in the Rother area including a Fairlight resident who was fooled into handing over cash to a bogus police officer.
Another victim, a 70-year-old man from Bexhill, had signed up to a bogus telephone call blocker service.
A 91-year-old woman from Eastbourne who had lost around £2,500 to a bogus prize draw after responding to scam letters because she was lonely.
Officers also used the visits to advise residents about their rights and ensure each household had a ‘No cold calling’ door sticker.
Lucy Corrie, head of East Sussex Trading Standards, said: “The day of action enabled us to help a large number of victims and to try and prevent them falling victim in the future.
“However, this is just the tip of the iceberg and we are committed to identifying and helping as many people as we can find.
“If people think a friend or relative is responding to these kind of scam letters or emails, we would urge them to get in touch so we can arrange for them to be visited to offer advice and assistance.”
Cllr Rupert Simmons, East Sussex County Council lead member for economy, said: “I’d like to commend the work of the Trading Standards teams on a very successful operation which reached victims across the county.
“The people visited are victims of crime and financial abuse and we need to ensure we protect them from further harm – and target the criminals who prey on them.”
Police say they have compiled a list of 160,000 people across the UK who have been identified by scammers as repeat victims.
The list of potential victims is being passed to local Trading Standards officers who can then contact people to make them aware they are being targeted.
People who want to report a potential postal scam can write to Royal Mail at Freepost Scam Mail, phone 03456 113 413, or email email@example.com.
Anyone who is concerned about a possible scam or is worried about a friend or relative is asked to contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506.