Trading standards officers in Darlington have signed up to a national initiative which aims to offer better support for victims of scams.
The scheme will see closer links between Darlington Borough Council’s officers and the National Trading Standards Scams Team. The national team will pass on details of any mass-mailing scam victims in the Darlington area identified through its enforcement work.
Local trading standards officers can then work with victims on a one-to-one basis to prevent them from becoming repeat victims and to put them in touch with other available support mechanisms.
Scams are operated by criminals who identify and exploit people, often those who are elderly. Financial loss is not the only cost; feelings of vulnerability can have an overwhelming impact on many victims, who may be too frightened to complain. Trading standards is developing a range of measures to protect these vulnerable victims and combat the criminals.
Trading standards has received its first list of victims, as well as a batch of scam lottery mail that was intercepted by the national team. They are now working to contact victims and, in one case, to reunite a person with money they sent off to scammers.
Dawn Taylor, Darlington Borough Council’s trading standards and animal health manager explained:
“By collaborating with the national team, we can target our resources to those in need of our help. However, the information received by trading standards is just the tip of the iceberg and doesn’t reflect the scale of exploitation of vulnerable victims in our community.”
Councillor Jonathan Dulston, the council’s cabinet member for community safety, added:
“What makes this a heartless crime is that scammers deliberately target elderly and vulnerable people because they know they have a greater chance of success.
“By working together as a community, we can prevent people from becoming victims. Look out for your family, friends and neighbours because if you’ve received a scam letter there’s a chance they have received it too. Let them know that that it’s a con and that they shouldn’t respond.”
To report a scam, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 05 06 or Action Fraud at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
For more information about the work of Trading Standards, part of Darlington Borough Council’s Community Safety Team, visit: www.darlington.gov.uk/communitysafety