Council steps up fight against scammers

Council steps up fight against scammers
Council steps up fight against scammers

A North East council is stepping up its fight against scammers after it was revealed that dozens of residents have been conned out of thousands of pounds.

Thirty-four people in Newcastle lost more than £50,000 last year according to a new report. One resident lost £100,000 in a suspected investment scam.

Every year in the UK, an estimated five million people fall victim to conmen and the problem is on the increase with one in 10 of us having been the victim of financial fraud.

Now Newcastle City Council has pledged to do more to tackle the problem by targeting scammers, warning the public about scams and working more closely with other bodies locally and nationally.

Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Nick Kemp, said: “I am increasingly concerned at the growing number of people in our city who are falling prey to conmen and scammers. This is a rising trend aided by the spread of technology and online fraud.

“Many victims lose thousands of pounds but are too embarrassed to come forward, so we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

“As an authority we are determined to target those who are ripping off the public and raise awareness of the problem to help people protect themselves.”

About a third of victims get conned a second time within 12 months in the following ways:

  • Letters from psychics or clairvoyants
  • Online dating
  • Identity phishing
  • Bogus holiday clubs
  • Pyramid selling/gifting
  • Lotteries, sweepstakes and competitions
  • Unwanted SMS (text) services
  • Foreign money and advance fee scams
  • Work from home opportunities
  • Golden investment opportunities

Isolation and lack of communication with family and friends, and a lack of reporting channels can make older people more vulnerable to scams and fraud.

The Care Act 2014 requires councils to prevent people from needing future care and support and act if someone is financially abused in their own home. If they are, then they are 2.5 times more likely to go into residential care within a year.

Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, Cllr Karen Kilgour, said: “Victims of scams don’t just suffer financial loss but physical risk, loss of their homes, depression and even attempted or actual suicide.

“We work closely with the Elders Council, Northumbria Police and the banks to protect residents from scams and doorstep crimes. We are also looking at extending no cold calling zones so people do not get that knock in the first place.”

Cabinet will meet on January 21 to consider the report on raising awareness of scams and what to do about them.

 

Notes to editors:

There are 42,000 households in the city covered by 67 no cold calling zones

By trading standards officers calling at the homes of 34 victims it’s been estimated the victims were prevented from losing collectively another £33,000.