£10m stolen from vulnerable Sussex fraud victims in one year

Sussex Police issued a warning on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Sussex Police issued a warning on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

More than £10million was stolen from vulnerable Sussex fraud victims in just one year, police have confirmed.

Sussex Police is warning the public to be aware of the dangers and scale of fraud against the elderly and vulnerable in the county.

Speaking on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day today, Chief Superintendent Lisa Bell said: “There is a growing global population of elderly people, and as longevity increases, abuse of the elderly is an increasing and serious problem that affects health and human rights and can cause death.”

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day shows that various types of abuse affect more than 500,000 older people across the UK each year. Abuse can be physical, financial, sexual or psychological and all can be a result of neglect.

Police say it can occur anywhere; at home, in residential care – even in hospital.

There are serious long-term physical and psychological consequences of the maltreatment of older people, and this is both under-recognised and predicted to increase, in-line with the aging population.

The aims of the day are to both voice opposition to the abuse and suffering experienced by so many people worldwide, and to collaboratively find ways to manage risks of abuse, provide education on ways to prevent abuse and give support to those experiencing such harm.

Fraud is a crime type which is particularly prevalent among the elderly population and Operation Signature is the Sussex Police process to identify, protect and support vulnerable victims of fraud within Sussex.

READ MORE: Care worker jailed for stealing £2,000 from disabled men to fund gambling

Police say that 89 per cent of Operation Signature victims are over 60, and 63 per cent of victims are living alone.

Increasingly fraud is becoming more complex and deceptive – Operation Signature follows up reports of any of the fraud types where the victim is vulnerable by providing preventative measures to support and protect them from further targeting.

This can include helping them to change their phone number to an ex-directory number, contacting family to suggest Power of Attorney, mail re-direction, offering them advice on call blocking devices and referring them to other support services.

In the 12 months to March 31, 2018 there have been 1,359 such reports across Sussex, with recorded losses of over £10 million.

Is this something that has affected you or a member of your family?

If you’d like to help us highlight the impact of crimes against the elderly and vulnerable, email: michael.drummond@jpress.co.uk

The banking protocol is a new initiative in Sussex where bank staff are trained to identify customers who are making unusual withdrawals or money transfers.

Victims are often after being pressured by rogue traders or phone calls from fraudsters impersonating officials.

Staff will ask questions to establish if the customer is potentially the victim of fraud and will make a 999 call to police quoting ‘Banking Protocol’.

In the past 12 months, 300 calls have been received from the banks, with more than 200 crimes recorded and safeguarding concerns raised.

Losses to victims in excess of £1,347,331 have been prevented and 19 arrests have been made. Police said this has been extremely successful in identifying vulnerable victims, preventing financial losses and locating offenders.

See further information and advice about to prevent fraud of this type on the Sussex Police website.

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