A new campaign by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is calling for community leaders to become scambassadors and stand against scams. CTSI’s Robyn Ellison joins us to explain more…
Scamming has deep roots in popular culture. When we think of scams, many of us think of fictional lovable rogues like Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses or Private Walker from Dad’s Army.
Selling Peckham Spring Water or swapping nylons for rations in WWII Walmington-on-Sea is a jolly old caper where nobody gets hurt, but it’s not real life.
Scamming in 2016 is a highly sophisticated, multi-billion pound industry, far more serious and with far greater consequences than these types of antics.
Criminals take aim at UK victims
Modern scams are perpetrated by unscrupulous organised criminal networks, who repeatedly target victims to ensure the highest financial gains.
For many thousands of individuals across the UK – our parents, friends, and neighbours – being ripped off by clairvoyants, bogus lotteries or overpriced catalogue subscriptions has ruined their lives.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is urging community leaders to sign up and become a #scambassador as part of our Stand Against Scams campaign to raise awareness of scams and help the victims.
Tricked by temptation
Take George, just one of the many victims investigated by Trading Standards so far this year, although that’s not his real name. When Trading Standards intervened he was sending over £600 every month to enter bogus prize draws and purchase overpriced vitamin supplements.
In the seven years since George began to be targeted, it is estimated that he lost a staggering £43,200 to scammers.
How could that happen, you might wonder. Admittedly, George’s case is shocking and his loss both financially and emotionally is great, but tragically it isn’t unique. Scam operations purposefully target elderly, isolated individuals, including those suffering with dementia. They build trusted relationships and many victims consider the scammers to be their friends.
Across the UK we have seen George’s story unfold time and again. Life savings lost, houses re-mortgaged, malnourished victims failing to pay bills to supplement the scams. With annual detriment estimated at over £52 billion, this growing problem isn’t going away and more action on scams is needed now.
Stand Against Scams
Just 5% of all scams are reported to the authorities and this needs to change. We’re calling on people to help us Stand Against Scams and raise the profile of this issue in communities up and down the country.
CTSI is building a network of parliamentarians, local councillors and community leaders to act as figureheads for their community, and we’re giving them all the knowledge and advice they need to help residents deal with scams.
More information about the initiative and the Stand Against Scams can be found on the Chartered Trading Standards Institute website. If you are concerned that you or someone you know has been targeted by a scam, please report it to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.
This is a guest post by Robyn Ellison, policy officer for the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. All opinions are Robyn’s own, not necessarily those of Which?