A pensioner who handed over more than £20,000 in an email scam is just one of 250 victims helped in Northamptonshire in the past year, it has been revealed.
The woman, aged in her 80s, was left with no heating or food in the fridge and her bank account was overdrawn because she had been tricked into handing over such large sums of money.
But thanks to the support she received from Northamptonshire County Council's Trading Standards, Age UK and her bank, she has now had more than £20,000 of scam transactions refunded to her account. She no longer replies to scam emails.
New figures show that the average age of scam victims is 75, but increasingly younger people are being preyed upon as well.
An increasingly-common type of scam involves consumers buying ‘phantom goods’, in which shoppers are tricked into buying high value items, usually online, such as cars, flights and furniture, which turn out not to exist. The average loss was £1,100.
The message of this year’s Scams Awareness month is ‘play your part, act on scams’.
Northamptonshire Trading Standards is calling on the public to be more aware of how they could be scammed, and to report it if they get caught out.
Councillor André Gonzalez de Savage, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for public protection, strategic infrastructure and economic growth, said: “With so many consumers being duped by scammers, there is no reason to be embarrassed – and every reason to report incidents and help the authorities put a stop to it.
“We work closely with Northamptonshire Police and other partner agencies such as Citizens Advice Bureau and Age UK to identify victims of scams and provide support to try to prevent repeat victimisation, so I really would encourage people to come forward if they think they may have been duped by a scam.”
Paul Golley, of the Prevention and Community Protection Department at Northamptonshire Police, said: “There are a number of scams currently affecting residents in Northamptonshire and we are working hard to tackle this form of crime. We fully support the Trading Standards campaign and would encourage anyone who has been affected by a scam to report it.
“There are also some simple measures you can take to protect yourself from scams and fraud. The ‘Take Five to Stop Fraud’ campaign encourages people to always stop and think before sharing any personal or financial information.”