Pensioners Get Master Class in Fraud Prevention

Londoners aged 65+ are disproportionately victims of fraud

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Action Fraud

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Wandsworth's vulnerable elderly received a masterclass in fraud prevention yesterday last week, in a joint initiative by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and Wandsworth Council.

Around 40 elderly people and 60 elderly care professionals attended the pilot Senior Citizen Project at Wandsworth's Kairos Centre, where they were given the inside story on common cons, including investment scams, fake lottery wins and cold callers.

Londoners aged 65 and over are disproportionately victims of fraud, with MPS statistics showing that between 1 September 2011 and 31 August 2012, twice as many people aged older than 65 were victims of fraud than those under 65. The Senior Citizen Project is one way that Operation Sterling, the Met's pro-active fraud prevention team, is looking at redressing this.

The format is based on Wandsworth Council's successful Senior Citizen Scheme, in which small groups of residents take it in turn discuss a variety of topics with representatives from the emergency services. During the pilot, which was funded by Wandsworth Council, participants received talks from Operation Sterling, Operation Liberal - the national lead on distraction burglary intelligence, and the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit -London's lead on theft from ATMs.

Detective Sergeant Jim Aspinall, of Operation Sterling, said: "Fraudsters use varied and complex methods to abstract money from their victims, from sending them letters telling them they've won prize draws and asking them for a fee to claim their prize, to knocking on their door and pressurising them into paying for shoddy labour work that they don't need.

"The fraudsters are very accomplished, so they can easily confuse an elderly vulnerable person and convince them that they're genuine. This project is one way we're looking at teaching potential targets how to recognise when they're being scammed and how to respond to that, teaching them in a way that's easy to understand and remember.

"The pilot was really well received. Now we'll use feedback from the event to see whether the project could benefit other boroughs."

Councillor Jim Maddan, Wandsworth's adult care spokesman, said: "This groundbreaking initiative is fuelled by an incredibly important aim - to protect our older, and potentially vulnerable, residents from fraudsters.

"We believe the Senior Citizen Project pilot will help pave the way for other areas to run their own events, and hope that this will be the first of many similar events for Wandsworth residents."

Anyone who thinks they are a victim of fraud should call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or report it online at The Senior Citizen Project follows the publication of Operation Sterling's The Little Book of Big Scams earlier this year, as launched by Esther Rantzen.

The book is a quick guide to the most common types of fraud and is available to download at A hard copy can also be obtained from Wandsworth Council's Community Safety Division by calling 020 8871 6603 or emailing:

October 1, 2012