‘I can see why people commit suicide over this’

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It is sad that many people dismiss repeat victims of scams as somehow unintelligent or naive. Many of us are incredulous how people can fall for such seemingly transparent cons. However, when you deal day to day with the hard reality of this type of crime you quickly see a different side to the story.

Mr X who lives in Solihull is an 88 year old man who has struggled for years with an incessant barrage of phone calls and letters peddling ‘investments’ and money recovery deals. He has paid out over £100,000 to fraudsters. The scams range from diamond investments, fine wine, carbon credits and land banking schemes. He is an aware,  intelligent person who worked for years within the financial sector.

Solihull Trading Standards have visited and spoken to the gentleman on many occaions. It has taken up to two years for us to convince him to change his telephone number to stop these rogues contacting him. He has always been reluctant to do this because he was afraid that family and friends would not be able to contact him. He said to us that he feels like a prisoner in his own home and he can understand ‘why people commit suicide over this.’

It is a sad fact of life that we live in a more cynical, suspicous age . Mr X believes what people say to him and implicitly trusts that the ‘deal’ he has entered into will be honoured. It has taken a very long time to convince him that the people who call him are only after ONE thing.  The criminal world has evolved and he cannot conceive the fact that people will make false promises and say anything to get his money.

There are many people out there who are very vulnerable and at risk of being targeted by criminals. As soon as they fall for one con they WILL be approached again.

If you are concerned about a Solihull resident or feel that you yourself have been affected by a scam please call us via Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06.

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Do you realise how FAR scam victims can fall into the criminals’ traps?

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The above photo represents ONE elderly victim’s scam mail. The 87-year-old woman from East Sussex lost £90,000 after criminal gangs sent her endless fraudulent letters following the death of her husband.

The photo was taken by her local police force to reveal the startling extent of the volume of letters that come through letter boxes once a victim responds with money. See the full article here:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2582573/Shocking-photo-reveals-scam-mail-costing-Britains-elderly-millions.html

One of the most concerning areas of crime seen by Solihull Trading Standards is the prevalence of elderly, vulnerable victims being incessantly and mercilessly pursued by fraudsters. A recent sad example saw a Solihull resident lose £30,000 in buying useless land that was sold as an investment, £10,000 on ‘diamonds’ and £25-30,000 in ‘fine wine’ investments.

Once a victim hands over money to one of these companies they will  be hounded by criminal after criminal for more and more. We want to STOP these heartless thieves. If you are concerned about yourself or someone else in Solihull please contact us on 03454 04 05 06. We are here to help.

Yet another case of bogus officials targetting elderly victims in the West Midlands

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Criminals are remorseless and continue to target totally innocent, vulnerable elderly victims. This following report covers an incident in West Bromwich:

A heartless thief posing as a plumber stole a 96-year-old woman’s savings after rummaging through her bedroom – now we’re reminding residents to be wary of bogus officials after seeing a spate of offences.

The callous crook struck at the lady’s home at 1.15pm in West Bromwich having convinced her he was investigating a water leak.

It’s believed the man – described as white, stocky build, in his 40s and wearing a baseball cap – splashed water on the bathroom ceiling to support his burst pipe story. And while the pensioner ate lunch, he rifled through her belongings before pocketing cash and jewellery.

We’re also looking into reports of suspicious callers to addresses in Erdington and Handsworth on the same day where men pretended to be rat catchers and police officers; on both occasions homeowners became suspicious and the conmen left empty handed.

Last Monday morning (Oct 12) we received two calls in the space of 30 minutes from residents in Wolverhampton reporting suspicious men posing as pest controllers.

A man – believed to be similar in appearance to the water leak fraudster – was turned away by an 87-year-old lady in Pennfields after he asked to lay rat traps in her back garden. But a man did gain access to an 85-year-old woman’s home in Bradmore by using the same story. It’s understood he tried charging £80 for the traps and left after searching a bedroom.

It’s hard to imagine someone could be so cruel as to trick a 96-year-old woman and rummage through her bedroom while she innocently sat downstairs eating lunch. It is truly despicable.
Unfortunately there are people out there who think nothing of targeting the most vulnerable in society and stealing from them.

These callous individuals use a variety of tactics to talk their way into addresses: we’ve seen offenders posing as police officers; council officials; gas, electricity or water company officials; surveyors and workmen of various types.

Our message is never to let anyone into your home who turns up unannounced. If anyone says they’re on official business ask to see identification, check it carefully and phone the organisation they claim to be from. Get a number from the phone book or online – don’t use any number they provide you on a card.

If in doubt keep them out and call the police on 999.

Victims of scam mail ‘typically’ lose more than £1,000

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Investigators at National Trading Standards (NTS) have released research that suggests that the average age for scam mail victims is 74 and they have typically lost more than £1000 each.

10,843 victims were identified in the year to April but this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg as it is thought that over 90% of people never report that they have fallen victim to a scam.

See the full article here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34489206

Solihull Trading Standards are working closely with vulnerable victims of scams in the borough. We are here to help. If you have any information on scams affecting Solihull residents please call us on 03454 04 05 06.

Wythall resident suffers heart attack after being visited by a doorstep seller

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(Picture – Redditch & Alcester Advertiser)

An 84 year old Wythall resident was visited on Friday, September 25th, by a man who said he wanted to repair his driveway. After heated exchanges with the caller, the man remained persistent and said he would return the next day.

The daughter of the elderly gentleman became concerned about his health when she visited him later that day. He was taken to hospital and it transpired that he had suffered a heart attack and a stroke.

The caller did return the next day. The gentleman’s daughter told him to leave and called the police.

See the full article here:

http://www.redditchadvertiser.co.uk/news/13803427.Doorstep_caller_warning_to_Wythall_residents_from_family_of_pensioner_who_suffered_heart_attack/?ref=mmsp

Elderly people are particularly vulnerable to persistent and unscrupulous callers. If you are concerned about yourself or someone you know please call us on 03454 04 05 06.

Solihull pensioner cruelly cheated out of £20,000

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An elderly Solihull woman has given rogue traders £20,000 for a new roof for her property – all the ‘traders’ did was knock down a few bricks and then left not to be seen again.

The lady is very confused about the details of what has happened and is even unable to remember whether she called them or they knocked on her door. Her bank book reveals that she went to her local branch 8 times within a week and withdrew £2,500 each time. She does not know the name of any of the men she spoke to, their trading name or any details about them. We have been out to see the lady and have reassured her that we are here to help if the men reappear.

Elderly, vulnerable residents are being constantly targeted by conmen who have no moral scruples whatsoever to take as much money as they can from their targets. If you know of any information regarding rogue traders you think are operating in Solihull then please call us on 03454 04 05 06.

£250? ‘It’s only a pair of trainers. It’s not much is it?’

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These were the words of Michael Anthony Gales after a policeman found cash on him during a search. Gales and his partner in crime Lee Davidson have each been sentenced to a year in prison for a series of callous rogue trading offences they carried out in the north east of England last year.

The pair targeted elderly victims, charging for work that was unnecessary and, in several instances, non-existent. They charged an 81 year old man suffering from dementia £250 for guttering work where all they did was climb up a ladder and sit on the roof. Another victim was driven to the bank to withdraw money but when he realised that he did not have his cash card was left to make his own way home.

See the full article here:

http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/despicable-rogue-traders-who-targeted-9974759

If you have any information about rogue traders operating in Solihull please call us on 03454 04 05 06.

Think Jessica – a website that warns of the terrible consequences of scams on the elderly

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http://www.thinkjesica.com was started by the daughter of Jessica, Marilyn Baldwin, in 2007. The campaign began after Marilyn struggled for five years in getting help for her mother who had become completely immersed in the fictitious world created for her by criminals.

It is estimated that Royal Mail delivered over 30,000 scam letters to Jessica during those five years. After losing her husband in her seventies she became heavily involved in responding to cash prize scams (inevitably with ever increasing sums of money). Jessica was soon sending nearly all of her pension each week to keep up with the scammers’ demands. ‘Clairvoyants’ befriended her and warned her that her family would try to interfere in her life. Jessica would often sit up until 3am trying to keep up with the vast correspondence and demands of these heartless criminals.

Jessica sadly passed away on October 24th 2007. Think Jessica is campaigning for Jessica’s Scam Syndrome to be recognised as a mental health condition.

Solihull Trading Standards have unfortunateley spoken to and helped many victims who have undergone similar harassment by these conmen. If you are concerned about yourself or anybody you know in Solihull please contact us on 03454 04 05 06.

You can visit Think Jessica via this link:

http://www.thinkjessica.com/

Keep hold of your pension. Do NOT let the rogues get their hands on it

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You work hard for years and accumulate a healthy nest egg. Surely you can expect to retire and enjoy your rest in some peace and relative financial comfort? Not if some people can help it…

Recent legal reforms which allow early realisation of pension funds have led to the usual rogues slithering out from under their rocks to try and get a piece of the action. Two in five Citizens Advice staff have seen people being repeatedly approached by pension scammers and a half  think that the scams are evolving into investment fraud which targets the cash lump sums being released from pension pots. See the disturbing article from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute here:

http://charteredtradingstandardsinstitute.com/2015/08/10/people-targeted-repeatedly-with-pension-scams/

Do NOT let these criminals have access to your pension pots or trust them to ‘invest’ your hard earned cash in empty, worthless ventures.

If you are a Solihull resident and think you have been affected by pension fraud please call us confidentially on 03454 04 05 06.

http://charteredtradingstandardsinstitute.com/2015/08/10/people-targeted-repeatedly-with-pension-scams/

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15th 2015

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The United Nations has designated June 15th as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. (WEAAD).

The day aims to highlight the problem of physical, emotional, and financial abuse of elderly people around the world. World Health Organization statistics suggests that 4-6% of the elderly suffer from some form of abuse, a large percentage of which goes unreported.

From rogue traders to cold calling scams, Solihull Trading Standards helps a large number of vulnerable older residents who are continuously and remorselessly targeted by criminals for money. We are aware of the growing severity of the problem in a rapidly ageing society and we would like to raise awareness of the plight of the elderly in Solihull.

If you believe that a Solihull resident is being targeted by criminals please contact us on 0121 704 6853.