Release date: 11 February 2020
“I was only looking for someone to play cards with,” explained Sally Jones at a conference in Burgess Hill held last week (Tuesday 4 February) to raise awareness of scams.
She was joined by expert speakers at the event organised by Trading Standards teams from West Sussex, East Sussex, Brighton & Hove, Buckinghamshire and Surrey, and the National Trading Standards Scams Team.
Sally shared the story of how she joined an online dating site. She said: “One of the first people to reply was a man called Harry, whose picture was of an English man holding a dog.”
“He sent chocolates, flowers and champagne on my birthday.”
Sally was persuaded to give the man thousands of pounds despite the fact they had never met in real life.
“My family realised there was something wrong but I denied it – something I deeply regret. It could have torn my family apart.
“My one piece of advice would be to talk to someone especially a close member of the family.”
During the conference organisations attending pledged to train thousands more people to be able to identify scams and scam victims by becoming Friends Against Scams.
Richard Sargeant, West Sussex Trading Standards Team Manager, said: “When it comes to tackling scams it is so important to work together and share knowledge. Since 1 April 2019 West Sussex Trading Standards officers have supported 393 vulnerable victims of scams and we run many initiatives to protect our residents.”
Between October and December 2019, West Sussex Trading Standards officers made contact with residents who had been targeted by a fraudulent company selling fake call blocking services.
Thanks to the advice of officers, 18 residents have received refunds of up to £500 by contacting their banks under the Direct Debit Guarantee Scheme. A total of £5,494 has been refunded.
Representatives from West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service and West Sussex County Council’s Prevention and Assessment Team also attended the conference.
Deborah Urquhart, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Scams devastate lives and have a lasting impact on both the finances and the health of those affected. Events like these so are important and I would like to thank everyone who took part.”
Anyone concerned about scams can get advice from the Citizens Advice Scams Action helpline on 0808 250 5050.
To learn more about scams and to report fraud visit the Action Fraud website.
You can report an incident or concern direct to West Sussex Trading Standards.