A new London project seeks to stop ‘scammers’ targeting older people across the capital and create a prevention model to be used across the rest of the country.
The City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust, has given Age UK £337,000 for a project to tackle fraud against older people and support older people in London affected by scams.
The Scams Prevention and Victim Support initiative in London is a partnership between Age UK and Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre run by the City of London Police.
The initiative, which will run in four London boroughs, will identify the most effective measures to prevent older people being the victim of fraud and provide support for people in particularly vulnerable circumstances. Evidence shows people who are victims will often find themselves targeted further by scammers.
Age UK will work with vulnerable older people and victims of scams in the four London boroughs, running awareness raising sessions and giving one-to-one support. Participants will be referred to the programme from Action Fraud as well as through local Age UK networks.
The project will benefit around 2,100 older people and will create a model for prevention and working with victims of fraud that can be rolled out across the whole of the UK. Figures show that 43 per cent of people aged 65 or older have been targeted by ‘scammers’ and the average age of the victim, of postal scams, has recently risen to 75. Age UK estimates that half a million older people could have lost their savings.
Those over 55 are often targets of investment fraud, dating scams and computer service software fraud.
Alison Gowman, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust committee, said: “Fraud, especially cyber fraud, is an escalating problem and older people are often the victims. There is also considerable evidence that once a person has experienced fraud they are most likely to become a repeat victim.
“We must do all we can to stop some of the most vulnerable members of society being targeted by scammers and losing hard earned savings. We hope this new project will also allow us to really clamp down on the amount of cyber scams older people are falling victim to.
“City Bridge Trust is committed to tackling disadvantage across the capital and making London a fairer and better place to live.”
Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud, added: “Sadly we regularly receive reports from the elderly who have fallen victim to fraudsters. Fraudsters target people of all ages and backgrounds, however they do tend to prey on the most vulnerable members of our society.
“We are hopeful that this new initiative, in partnership with Age UK, will assist us in not only helping people to cope and recover if they have the misfortune of falling victim to fraud, but also help us to prevent more of the elderly from becoming victims in the future.”
John Edwards, Head of Service Delivery at Age UK, said: “We are extremely grateful to City Bridge Trust for enabling us to launch a pilot programme in London.
“Scams have a serious emotional and financial impact on older victims, damaging quality of life and wellbeing. That anyone would target an older person to defraud them in the first place is abhorrent but we know that older people are deliberately targeted and can be especially at risk if they are living with dementia or cognitive decline.
“This ambitious new service will aim to raise awareness of scams and the way they’re reported, empower Londoners to feel safer, more secure and confident, and reduce the numbers of older people becoming victims of fraud.”
City Bridge Trust provides grants totalling around £20m per year towards charitable activity benefitting Greater London. The Trust has awarded around 7,600 grants totalling over £365m since it first began in 1995. It is London’s biggest independent grant giver, tackling disadvantage across the Capital. City Bridge Trust is committed to making London a fairer place to work and live.
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