According to Sussex Police, one in five people is conned by fraudsters every year. The Salvation Army is tackling the problem head-on by dispensing advice to people who are easy targets. The charity is also providing essential support to those who have already fallen victim to a variety of scams, including online and telephonic scams.
With its extensive presence across the country, The Salvation Army is ideally positioned to reach vulnerable people in communities throughout the UK. As part of its mission, the charity has produced a series of resources that are handed out at the various outreach projects on the go, including lunch clubs, befriending services, dementia friendly singing groups, drop-ins, debt advice services, and parent and toddler groups.
The problem is bigger than you might think
Sussex people carried out a study, called Operation Signature, to determine the extent of the problem. According to the results, nearly half of adults have been targeted.
Gail Millar, who is The Salvation Army’s Regional Specialist working with older people, commented on the findings. “These numbers are truly shocking, but I believe we can learn from them and help tackle fraud more widely through raising awareness and giving advice.”
She continued, “We have spoken to many victims of fraud who were enticed by a special offer that turned out to be too good to be true … It’s important that the public is aware of the many different methods fraudsters will use to pull off a scam. By being vigilant there are ways you can protect yourself from fraud criminals and we hope our resources will help people do this.”
Contrary to popular belief older people are not necessarily the most targeted. Andrew Wileman, who heads The Salvation Army’s Older People Ministries, said it’s likely that most people will know at least one person who has fallen for a scam.
Unfortunately, due to the embarrassment this involves, only about 5% of people report the crime to the police. Wileman said, “Our team has seen on a number of occasions the stress and anxiety this has caused at our front-line services. We believe that this is a very real issue that allows us to minister with both spiritual and practical concern to the many people who are victims to scams and fraud.”
The hope is that the information provided will enable people to spot scams and empower them to avoid becoming a victim.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information and advice. Report fraud to Action Fraud via their website or 0300 123 2040. It’s also a good idea to report the case to your local police on 101.
Resources produced for the awareness project can be found here.