Police and banks working to stop defrauding of elderly Sussex residents

Work between Sussex Police and the county’s banks has stopped elderly victims of fraud from losing £1.6m this year.

Cash machine (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The figure was shared by Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne at a meeting of the Sussex Police & Crime Panel on Friday (September 28).

Mrs Bourne described the work of a team of dedicated fraud case workers, funded through her office, and their efforts to protect the elderly and vulnerable from scammers.

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Mrs Bourne said: “Effectively, if they go into a bank in Sussex and they start to make withdrawals or transfers, the bank clerk can notify the police and the police will go round and visit that older person.”

Falling foul of fraudsters and scammers could cost the older generation more than their savings.

Mrs Bourne told the meeting that the ‘massive impact’ of such crimes could hit so hard that it affected the health of victims ‘so much so that they might need to draw on other services such as the NHS’.

She added: “People come to the coast to retire and live forever, because the sea air is so grand. But as a result we mustn’t forget that there’s a whole opportunity there for that age group to become victims of abuse.”

The force has a host of work in place to help protect the elderly and others who fall victim to scammers and fraudsters.

As well as the fraud case workers,there is Operation Signature, a campaign set up to identify and support vulnerable victims of fraud.

Mrs Bourne’s office also commissioned Hourglass – formally Action on Elder Abuse – to provide a tailored service to support those experiencing domestic abuse.

She shared the story of an elderly women called Irene – not her real name – who had been happy to see so much work being done in the area of domestic abuse.

Irene had been abused by her husband for much of their married life and said that, once he died, she started to have the ‘time of her life’.

Mrs Bourne said: “It always struck me – there she is in her mid-80s and she was having the time of her life – in her 80s – because the previous 40 years had been a living hell.

“I thought that can’t be allowed to happen.

“For me, funding this particular service was important because we don’t want to miss the fact that domestic abuse can happen to any age group.”

Key things to remember

• Never send or give money to anyone you don’t know or trust.

• Check people are who they say they are.

• Don’t share your personal information.

• Make decisions in your own time.

• If in doubt phone a relative or a friend.

• Trust no-one who cold calls you about your bank account or a problem with your computer.

• Under no circumstances would the bank or police: request a card PIN or security details over the telephone, or arrange collection of bank cards from a home address

To find out more about Operation Signature and other advice from Sussex Police, log on to www.sussex.police.uk/advice