In the last six months, scores of scam reports were received in the county, but with only an estimated five per cent of incidents reported, that’s likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.
During International Fraud Awareness Week, which runs from November 17 to 23 2019, East Sussex Trading Standards is urging people to be on their guard and to report suspected scammers.
Unscrupulous individuals have targeted victims through everything from dating scams to those claiming to be from TV Licensing, pension providers, the police and NHS or care staff.
Richard Strawson, East Sussex County Council team manager for Trading Standards, said: “Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their approach so it’s important people are on their guard.
“Wherever there’s money – whether it relates to your home, your job, things you buy, your education or your bank – there’s the potential for fraud, and if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
“We know that fraud is a drastically under-reported crime and often people are put off reporting because they feel embarrassed or ashamed at having been caught out.
“Scammers are very cunning and any of us can end up being a victim, so people should always report it because by doing so, they can help us track down and stop scammers.”
Recent scams reported to East Sussex Trading Standards include cold callers asking for bank details claiming to be transferring £600 into residents’ bank accounts, direct debits for non-existent insurance policies, health and vitamin and remembrance coins scams.
East Sussex Trading Standards installed 15 call blockers in the last six months to vulnerable residents who’ve experienced high volumes of nuisance calls, while many phone providers offer a similar service to customers free of charge.
In 2018-19, Trading Standards teams across the UK prevented people from being scammed out of £42 million, stopped 20 million illegal products reaching consumers and prosecuted more than 1,100 people, who received more than 317 years’ worth of prison sentences.
People are urged to report scams or suspected scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk while advice is available from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.