Posted on 8th October 2014
Some victims of scam mail in Derbyshire could be in line to get their money back as part of an initiative to target fraudsters and offer support to those who have been conned.
Derbyshire County Council trading standards officers have been working alongside experts at the National Scams Hub to follow the trails left by scammers and intercept money that they have conned from people across the county.
Cheques and cash which were recovered from the fraudsters during investigations will now be given back to victims where they can be traced.
Over the coming months, Safer Neighbourhood officers will be working alongside Derbyshire County Council’s Trading Standards as part of a targeted pilot scheme which is set to run in the Derbyshire Dales.
Police and trading standards officers will be carrying out the first series of joint visits in the Ashbourne and Matlock area to residents who have been affected by scam mail fraudsters.
The team will be offering advice and support to those who have been conned, along with raising awareness of the crime.
The scams include fraudulent letters, emails and telephone calls to people telling them they’ve won foreign lotteries, prize draws, psychic predictions, miracle health cures and inheritance claims.
As a result many people will hand over payment in the hope they will receive a substantial cash prize or gift.
Head of the Derbyshire Constabulary Economic Crime Unit Detective Inspector Rob King said: “We look forward to working with our trading standards partners over the coming months to target scam mail fraudsters and offer support to people who may have fallen victim to these scams.
“One of the problems we face is getting people to believe that they have been a victim of crime. This is because the sophisticated methods employed by the fraudsters often lead to the victim actually believing that they have won or inherited a sum of money.
“We will continue to offer crime prevention advice and support through our Stamp Out Fraud in Derbyshire initiative and if I could give one piece of advice, it’s this – if a deal sounds too good to be true, then it probably is - so cease all communication with the fraudster and seek advice from someone you trust.”
Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Dave Allen said: “Tackling these fraudsters is a priority for us and we are doing all we can to stamp out scam mail and all similar cons whether they are online, over the phone or on people’s doorsteps.
“We know there are certain groups of people, including vulnerable or older people, who are more at risk from scammers, and these are the very people who can be hurt the most, both financially and psychologically.
“While the scammers are becoming more sophisticated and better at targeting people they think may be vulnerable, it is still difficult for us to identify victims as many people keep it a secret from their family and friends.
“However, working closely with the National Scams Hub is helping us to overcome this, and we know if we can get in touch with people we can give them really good advice and support which should stop them becoming repeat victims.”
Anyone who is concerned about a possible scam or is worried about a friend or relative can call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.