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Frank Hovis

Vulnerable Old People Victims Of Scammers

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Yet another one in the paper today:

Conmen are targeting pensioners with a scam exploiting those who are good neighbours - and which has already cost one 86-year-old £2,500.

Sergeant Marc Sayers, from Truro police, said the tricksters, who were all men, knocked on her door in Truro claiming that her neighbour had a water leak.

The men told her that she needed "an item" put in her house to prevent the leak from getting any worse and that the item would need insurance.

Mr Sayers said: "She was so worried about her neighbour who she could not get hold of, she went along with it and gave them the cash.

http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/conmen-swindle-thousands-of-pounds-out-of-woman-86-who-was-just-trying-to-be-a-good-neighbour/story-29575195-detail/story.html

Now bar the various "rasing awareness" messages (which admittedly is all that I've just also done) what do you practically do to prevent this happening?

My real world example is a ex-neighbour, aged about 70 and reasonably wealthy through inherited money, but now a widow and because of a serious accident that affected her brain very childlike and trusting. She continues to live in the same big house she did when married but zero concept of looking after it or the garden; a distant relative by marriage organises cleaners and gardeners but they are more often than not unable to get in because she's out (down the day care centre or to her usual daily shop) and has no concept of time so the house and garden are a tip. The people who initially helped her when her husband died have been driven away by her ingratitude. She is not a nasty person but, as with a young child, she does not appreciate when somebody is doing her a favour but instead immediately takes them for granted and will start fault-finding.

When I lived next to her (when her husband was alive) I used to take parcels for her which were, from a quick google, these lite-scams which give you a chance to win £20k but guarantee a free "valuable" carriage clock. I raised this with her husband who I knew fairly well and he shrugged, it was her money (inherited) so if she wanted to waste it up to her.

She most be a scammmers dream and be on every sucker list going, she shouldn't be living in that big house and vulnerable to all callers but in supported accommodation with a warden (as she was post accident and before marrying at 50 or so). Social services won't step in until something happens and the only other thing that will make a change is her running out of money forcing her into a flat; which in the normal run of things won't happen as she is incapable of driving, going on holiday on her own etc. so her outgoings are minimal.

When I see these scams my attitude, knowing this person's situation, is "I'm really not surprised". IIRC Mrs Bear had a similar issue with an elderly neighbour.

I would assume, because she used to be in supported accommodation and goes to the day care centre, that she is recorded as being "vulnerable" by social services but this does zero good when nothing happens as a consequence.

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The men told her that she needed "an item" put in her house to prevent the leak from getting any worse

I'd tell them to use something to plug the hole that came naturally.

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Are there really so many older people who are particularly gullible, as opposed to cynical and cantankerous (the Victor Meldrew stereotype)?

Can't see my 90-year-old dad falling for that kind of nonsense.

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Are there really so many older people who are particularly gullible, as opposed to cynical and cantankerous (the Victor Meldrew stereotype)?

Can't see my 90-year-old dad falling for that kind of nonsense.

Yes, the World is full of them, both types I would add.

I work for the Council now on the 24 hour helpline....yes, there are both types, as well as "normal" intelligent people.

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Yes, the World is full of them, both types I would add.

I work for the Council now on the 24 hour helpline....yes, there are both types, as well as "normal" intelligent people.

Do you get people ringing up about bobble bees?

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That`s interesting Bloo Loo....

What kind of calls do you answer? Is it general or more specific ?

Anything and everything they call in for. We call relatives, we call ambulances, we reassure them...whatever they called in about.

We also have a service for fallers.

There is a device that can go on a front door giving a view of the caller outside when the doorbell is rung...if the caller is suspicious, the elderly person press the door alarm and a silent line is opened to our centre where we can hear what is being said...all calls are recorded, and if it sounds like a scam is in progress, we can call Police.

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Anything and everything they call in for. We call relatives, we call ambulances, we reassure them...whatever they called in about.

We also have a service for fallers.

There is a device that can go on a front door giving a view of the caller outside when the doorbell is rung...if the caller is suspicious, the elderly person press the door alarm and a silent line is opened to our centre where we can hear what is being said...all calls are recorded, and if it sounds like a scam is in progress, we can call Police.

Sounds like a good use of technology. How does it fit in with legalities of recording someone without their permission though ?

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Sounds like a good use of technology. How does it fit in with legalities of recording someone without their permission though ?

You can record whatever you like in your own house. Like CCTV.

Our recording only starts when the client presses the alarm.

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You can record whatever you like in your own house. Like CCTV.

Our recording only starts when the client presses the alarm.

Interesting - so I assume your front door is classed as your 'property' for this purpose ?

How does this work with shared entrances to flats ? Could a person put up a personal CCTV device on a shared entrance ?

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Interesting - so I assume your front door is classed as your 'property' for this purpose ?

How does this work with shared entrances to flats ? Could a person put up a personal CCTV device on a shared entrance ?

Dunno. The shared entrance is a public space and would come under the data protection act for CCTV.

Many flats will have a video facility for when their entryphone is requested.

Our system is for voice only, and it is the unit in the house that is monitoring...same as for an emergency call via pendant/smoke/co detector or falls device.

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What's new....there will always be people waiting to exploit the vulnerable, uninformed and those who trust in human nature....both young, middle and old, in fact anyone, anywhere at any time..... ;)

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Anything and everything they call in for. We call relatives, we call ambulances, we reassure them...whatever they called in about.

We also have a service for fallers.

There is a device that can go on a front door giving a view of the caller outside when the doorbell is rung...if the caller is suspicious, the elderly person press the door alarm and a silent line is opened to our centre where we can hear what is being said...all calls are recorded, and if it sounds like a scam is in progress, we can call Police.

A lot of scams are perpetrated on people with early dementia, and in such cases people are a lot less likely remember to use any alarm device.

It's a real problem - I read of a lot of cases on a dementia forum. Not just out and out scams, either, but people being endlessly persuaded into buying goods or services they don't need, or even have no possible use for. I read just the other day of someone whose mother had spent over £10k on things she had no need of.

I have said this before re scams and the vulnerable elderly, but it bears repeating - one thing you CAN do is scratch off the security code on the credit card.

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