DEMENTIA sufferers in Lancashire have been cheated out of £2.3million as a result of scam mail, according to the Alzheimer's Society.
Now the group is backing a campaign being run by Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service and Lancashire Constabulary, which asks carers and relatives to put scams they receive in ‘Scamnesty’ bins.
Running until the end of the month, there are 70 bins in locations including police stations, libraries and council receptions.
Last year the scheme helped to identify 400 separate scams, which, had they worked, could have cost Lancashire residents £10.6million.
County Coun Albert Atkinson said he was shocked to find that almost a fifth of scams identified in last year’s campaign came from criminals posing as psychics or clairvoyants, often containing threats that something awful would happen to the person or family members unless money was sent.
He said: “Most people see these for what they are, but those who are vulnerable for all kinds of reasons, whether due to dementia or declining mental health, or because they are socially isolated, over-trusting or superstitious, can easily become victims."
The Alzheimer's Society report ‘Short changed’ also revealed that nationally, 62 per cent of carers said the person they care for had been approached by cold callers or salespeople on their doorstep, while 70 per cent were regularly targeted by telephone cold callers.
DC Tony McClements said: “Carers and relatives of vulnerable people are in an ideal position to act as the first line of defence against scammers by spotting that the person they look after is receiving lots of scam mail, making unusual or large payments, or has less money than they should have.
“Scammers work together to share details of people who they discover to be vulnerable and bombard them with scam mail which is designed specifically to play upon those vulnerabilities to create fear or the promise of a better life.
"The main perpetrators are almost always overseas, making effective investigation almost impossible.”
More advice is available from Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.org.uk