Campaign to stop fraudsters

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A POLICE campaign is being launched to stop elderly and vulnerable people around Bognor Regis becoming fraud victims.

The initiative is aimed at raising awareness among officers and the community about the impact the crime can have.

Inspector Nick Bowman, the head of the town’s neighbourhood policing team, said: “This is becoming more and more of an issue.

“People can get taken in by all forms of scams. It can cost them hundreds of thousands of pounds in some cases.

“They can get into the scams so deep they can end up with no money. These are articulate, but vulnerable, people but the scams get hold of their lives. We want to increase awareness and increase reporting of these crimes.”

Only a few dozen of the crimes were reported to the police locally each year, he said, but the incidence of them had to be much higher.

PCSO Caroline Wilson, the police’s community engagement officer for Arun, said one scam which involved a surprise delivery of flowers and alcohol, for a £3 charge, cost one victim £4,000 from their bank account.

Another recent fraud cost a woman nearly £450 when she gave a fake bank employee her card details.

The campaign is being run with the Think Jessica charity. This was set up by Marilyn Baldwin and named after her mother.

The scams often begin with an unprompted piece of mail. This invites the recipient to make contact with the promise of winning a prize. The prize usually fails to materialise but the reply provides the fraudster with details of the unwitting individual.

“Because of the way the letters are written, and because of the sequence of the letters, and the personal context of the letters, vulnerable people take note of them,” said Insp Bowman.

“These scams can see them turn against their families.”

The campaign is part of a force-wide drive to highlight the effects of the scams on the population.