Scores of Fenland pensioners are falling prey to vile scams to rob them of their savings, it has been claimed.
Figures from the Action on Elder Abuse charity have revealed that almost 700 elderly people in Cambridgeshire are at risk from telephone and computer fraudsters and bogus officials.
Now the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire, Jason Ablewhite, has joined the charity in urging older people and their families to learn how to spot the signs of financial abuse.
According to Action on Elder Abuse data, around 130 older people in Fenland may currently be experiencing this form of crime including fraud, forgery or embezzlement; the misuse of proxy decision making powers; “doorstep crime” such as bogus tradesmen and postal, phone or internet scams.
That compares to 94 pensioners in Cambridge, 100 in East Cambridgeshire, 197 in Huntingdonshire and 173 in South Cambridgeshire.
The charity’s chief executive Gary FitzGerald said: “Unfortunately, older people are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse and there are far too many people who seek to exploit them.
“Financial abuse can take many forms – it’s everything from carers or family pilfering money to phone scams and having Power of Attorney misappropriated.
“Very often, the perpetrator is someone close to the older person, such as a relative or carer.
“So we want to equip older people to protect themselves where appropriate and for those who love them to spot the signs that their older friend or relative may be being abused.
“Talking about things such as internet safety and ‘stranger danger’ is something we do routinely with our children. It’s about time we took the issue of abuse of older people just as seriously.”
Mr Ablewhite added: “Elder abuse is a big problem and one that often goes unreported so I’m very pleased that Action on Elder Abuse is raising awareness of the issue and what the public can do to combat it.
“I urge anyone who is either being abused themselves or suspects a loved one may be at risk to be vigilant and report it to the police.”
The PCC and Action on Elder Abuse have said that older people can help keep themselves safe by:
• Checking bank statements regularly and tracking receipts
• Reducing how much money can be taken from an account at any one time
• Having a copy of bank statements sent to someone trustworthy to check
• Limiting the use of ‘chip and pin’ to control money
• Keeping important documents and valuables out of sight
• Never letting anyone into your home unless you can confirm their identity or they have made an appointment
• Only booking work on a house through ‘trusted trader’ schemes
• Treat anyone asking for your financial details unsolicited with suspicion. Banks will never ask you for your account number or pin details.
Action on Elder Abuse operates a free, confidential helpline – 080 8808 8141 – offering advice on all matters.