Two care workers in Suffolk who stepped in to protect a 101-year-old woman who had fallen prey to a clairvoyance scam have been praised for their good work.
Community support worker Sally Mills became suspicious when the elderly woman she had been assigned to care for gave her a pre-paid envelope containing £45 and asked her to post it. Mills reported her concerns to her boss, Paul Watts, who had previously attended a training session given by Suffolk Trading Standards Officer Lesley Crompton.
Watts contacted Suffolk Trading Standards who helped to put support and prevention measures in place. The Suffolk Trading Standards team also helped provide statements for an international investigation.
It is estimated that over a period of several years the victim – who is now 103 – had sent more than £48,000 to the scammers, who are based in Austria.
In clairvoyance scams, fraudsters pose as spiritual guides offering insights into a person’s life and the future, preying on loneliness and vulnerability via mass mailshot letters.
Mills, who works for Caring Moments Ltd, a domiciliary care provider based in Lowestoft, said: “I just knew there was something incredibly wrong for her to be sending cash to someone I knew she did not know.
“I took it straight to Paul, who then got in touch with Trading Standards, and it quickly became evident that it was a scam.
“The people behind this are very cunning and brutal. The woman even had a picture of one of the scammers by her bed because he said he loved her. How could somebody be as evil as that?”
Watts said: “Sally came to me as soon as she became concerned, and based on the training I had received I gave the Trading Standards team a call.
“We don’t see this sort of thing very often as most of our service users have family nearby who can keep an eye out for things like this, but this lady’s family live miles away so she was looking after her own post.
“Hopefully this case will open the eyes of those who have, or look after, elderly and vulnerable people and what to do when they spot it.”
Sally has since appeared on ITV’s This Morning to help highlight an ongoing investigation into clairvoyant scams that is being coordinated by the National Trading Standards Scam Team.
In August, Suffolk Trading Standards presented Sally and Paul with flowers and ‘Suffolk Says Thanks’ badges for their intervention.
The pair have also been nominated for a Certificate of Merit at the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service Awards, which they will be collecting at the ceremony on 27 September.
Councillor Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Public Health and Public Protection, said: “Sadly, these sorts of scams are all too common and are particularly unpleasant as they prey on such vulnerable people.
“I applaud Sally and Paul for the way they stepped in as soon as they realised something was not right and for letting Trading Standards know so that something could be done.
“Trading Standards will pursue the scammers at every turn to ensure that, wherever possible, they do not get away with their disgraceful behaviour.”