Officers from the Met’s Operation Sterling are today, Tuesday 1 June, joining forces with Bexley Borough’s Safer Neighbourhoods teams to deliver an important message to elderly residents.
As part of ‘International Mass Marketing Fraud Awareness Day’, the MPS are speaking to elderly and vulnerable residents – who sometimes face being bombarded with mail that tricks them into handing over hundreds of thousands of pounds in life savings.
Brampton Ward Safer Neighbourhoods teams, who are taking part in a ‘street-a-week’ initiative, were on hand to offer advice with the expert assistance of Operation Sterling officers. The teams have been working closely to raise awareness of the issue in the area, which is heavily populated with elderly people since March.
They spoke with a number of residents who are being targeted by these callous and greedy fraudsters.
80-year-old John Flunder, who edits Bexley’s Pensioners Forum Magazine, said: "I am responsible for making sure pensioners in Bexley are made aware of issues that could affect them. Cons and scams such as mass marketing fraud can cause serious financial and psychological damage to people of my age.
"The nature of these frauds is really quite sad and people get taken in because the scammers can be so persuasive and persistent – and our generation tend to be quite trusting."
Detective Chief Inspector Nick Downing, from the Economic and Specialist Crime Command, said: "This crime causes misery to victims and their families in the UK and law enforcement agencies take it seriously. Our advice is to never take anything at face value – these fraudsters make a living out of deceiving people and they will stop at nothing.
"By working with those who are targeted and educating them on the types of scams to look out for, we will be one step closer to making mass marketing fraud a thing of the past."
"We are working with the "Think Jessica" organisation, which gives great advice to chronic victims of scam mail. We are also supporting the other activities taking place across the country and across London to combat the problem and to highlight the dangers of this lucrative fraud."
Advice from officers from Operation Sterling is:
– If you receive an offer of a prize in the post or via e-mail that looks too good to be true – it probably is;
– Letters from people claiming to be Clairvoyants and fortune-tellers is a well known method for duping people out of cash – don’t be drawn in;
– Never send money to a stranger either in the post or by bank transfer.
If you suspect that you are a victim of Mass Marketing Fraud please call the Action Fraud helpline on 0300 123 2040.
International crime gangs are using increasingly inventive ways to try and part the UK public with their money. From romance frauds and fake lotteries to share frauds and inheritance scams, mass marketing fraud is serious, organised crime which can affect any of us and is estimated to cost individuals in the UK over £3.5billion a year.
Don’t let yourself or anyone you know become a victim.