Elderly Eastbourne woman, 95, at heart of campaign after being scammed out of hundreds of pounds

Elderly
Elderly

The case of a 95-year-old Eastbourne woman conned out of hundreds of pounds is being used to highlight the dangers of scams for a national campaign.

Doris, who lives alone in the town, was left more than £500 out of pocket after being tricked by telephone cold callers into signing up for products and services she didn’t need.

She had signed 12 new contracts with different companies last year after being pressurised by phonecalls.

With help from East Sussex trading Standards, £568.95 was recovered and returned to Doris, her personal details were taken off companies’ databases and a call blocker was installed on her phone to prevent future scam calls.

It was a good result for Doris, but every 15 seconds someone in the UK loses money through phone, text, email or doorstep scams.

The county council-run service is backing Scams Awareness Fortnight, running from June 10 to 23, during which time it will host a series of public events at county libraries.

Cllr Bill Bentley, East Sussex County Council lead member for communities and safety, said, “Scams not only cause financial hardship – they also take an emotional toll on their victims.

“In the last two years, around three quarters of people have been targeted by scammers, but only 13 per cent of fraud victims report it and many don’t even tell friends or family.

“These scammers are callous, heartless criminals who simply don’t care about the suffering they cause to their victims, many of whom are vulnerable people in our community, and they can also be very cunning.

“There’s no shame in being scammed – I hope these events will raise awareness of this issue, help protect people and let them know what help and support is available.”

In the 2018-19 financial year, there were 147 scam victims recorded by East Sussex Trading Standards, who between them lost more than £1,360,000 to scammers.

People aged from their mid-40s to mid-60s are most affected, usually because they’re home owners with access to financial assets. But over-70s are hardest hit by the effects of scams.

At the public events, people will be able to find out more about different types of scams and put questions to Trading Standards officers and a community banker from NatWest.

They will be held at Bexhill Library on June 10 from 10am to 1pm, Peacehaven Library on June 18 from 2 to 4.30pm, Battle Library on June 19 from 10am to 1pm and Crowborough Library on June 20 from 11am to 2pm.

People can report scams and suspected scams to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. Advice is available from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506.