Trading standards officers in East Sussex have prevented would-be scammers from conning potential victims out of more than £1m, it has been revealed.
At a Sussex and Surrey scams event on February 4, it was announced that call blockers installed by East Sussex Trading Standards since 2014 had prevented residents from losing more than £500,000 to scammers. The device, which blocks scam and nuisance calls, is also estimated to have saved the NHS and health and social care services almost half a million pounds in East Sussex alone, bringing overall savings to just over £1m.
The event, chaired by East Sussex Trading Standards Manager Richard Strawson, gave those who work with people vulnerable to scams a chance to pool their knowledge and share their concerns.
Strawson said: “There is a lot of work going into disrupting the operation of scammers who con residents across the country out of billions of pounds of their hard earned cash every year – the call blockers are just one weapon in our growing armoury to protect individuals against the fraudsters.
“But equally as important as the methods and equipment we use, is the strength and efficiency of the partnerships between trading standards teams and those who have regular contact with people at risk of being scammed.
“The scams event was the perfect opportunity to bring those people – from local authorities, the voluntary sector and other organisations, to talk about what they could do to keep residents safe and help in the battle against unscrupulous scammers.”
Speakers at the event included CTSI Lead Officer for Consumer Advice Lou Baxter MBE, who developed and manages the National Trading Standards Scams Team; National Trading Standards Scams Team investigator Richard Clarke; and Steve Smith, director of trueCall, which developed the call blocker.
Attendees also heard from victims of scams, who spoke the impact on their lives, both financially and emotionally.
The event also gave trading standards teams the chance to promote Friends Against Scams – an initiative developed by the National Trading Standards Scams Team which recruits and trains volunteer Friends, SCAMchampions and SCAMbassadors who share messages about scams prevention with friends, family, neighbours, and community groups.
Strawson added: “We all have a role to play to ensure the scammers don’t win, and the Friends Against Scams initiative helps people from all walks of life know what to look out for and how to protect people vulnerable to scams.”