A pioneering East Sussex-based service aimed at combating fraudsters has saved potential victims across Britain more than a million pounds.
The work of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, hosted by East Sussex Trading Standards, is being highlighted as part of Scams Awareness Month, which runs throughout May.
The team was set up in 2012 to identify potential victims of mail, telephone and email fraud, who are referred to their local Trading Standards team for help and support.
A total of 119 local authorities across the country are signed up to the scheme, which has so far identified 1,265 confirmed victims and £4.3 million of money lost to fraudsters, and saved victims £1.3 million by intervening before people have handed over cash.
Across Sussex, the team has identified 284 confirmed scam victims who have lost £1.1 million to scams.
Among those to fall victim to scams, which can include fake lotteries, fraudulent lenders and charity scams, is pensioner John Roy, from Eastbourne. He was tricked by fraudsters asking for money to repair his computer and letters for bogus prize draws, leaving him thousands of pounds out of pocket.
East Sussex Trading Standards was able to educate him on how to avoid falling victim to scammers in the future and advised him to install a block on unsolicited calls.
Mr Roy’s wife, Mary, said, “It was terrible the number of calls we were getting and at one stage it was happening so often we could barely put the phone back on the hook before it rang again. It made me quite ill but having the block put on means I’m able to relax and I don’t get tense every time the phone rings anymore.”
Anyone who has become a scam victim should call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 040506.