Community Wardens helping protect vulnerable people across Chichester District from scams
Vulnerable people across the Chichester District are receiving better protection from scams thanks to the work of the Community Wardens who have been leading awareness sessions to help people spot the signs of scams.
The work is being championed by Chichester District Council Community Warden Rich Moorey who was a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) in the area for 14 years. During this time, he regularly came across cases of people who had fallen victim to scams which prompted him to put together and start giving presentations on the issue.
Since joining the district council last summer, Rich has been eager to continue this work and has teamed up with a number of groups including: Selsey Town Council; The Care Shop in Selsey who provide outreach support for vulnerable people; and University of the Third Age.
Although Rich works predominantly with older residents who often live alone and are more vulnerable to being targeted by scams, he is happy to help anyone across the district who needs more information.
The information Rich provides covers a range of issues and advice such as discussing the most prevalent scams. Scams come in a variety of forms including courier scams (fraudulent communications that look like they are from delivery companies), financial and investment scams, and romance fraud on dating apps and websites.
"When I discuss how to protect yourself from scams, I often use rogue traders as another example," says Rich. "With them, I emphasise not being afraid to contact the police if you have real suspicions and concerns. I also point people to Trading Standards who have their 'Buy with Confidence' scheme, where you enter details online, the trade you need, and the site provides a list of traders who are registered with Trading Standards."
One recent case of a rogue trader that Rich dealt with involved an elderly man in his 80s at risk of losing £3,000 before Rich was able to assist. "The builder had attended the gentleman's property advising that there was an issue with his roof, and that it would cost around £4,000. He said he would need to return the next day with a ladder for a closer inspection," describes Rich. "He returned the next day and removed around 60 roof tiles and told the gentleman the repairs would cost £30,000. The homeowner didn't have that money, so the builder said he would do the work if paid £3,000 immediately. The gentleman agreed and gave the builder a cheque," explains Rich.
"Thankfully, a neighbour saw what had happened but wasn't aware money had been exchanged. The neighbour replaced the tiles and contacted me, I then attended the property and recorded incident and forwarded it on to Sussex Police. I accompanied the gentleman to his bank where he spoke with their fraud department, after this I took him back to his home where I gave him advice and a book on current scams, and stickers for his door and windows to deter any other uninvited callers.
"I'm very pleased to have been able to stop this man from becoming a victim to scamming, and thankful for the neighbour in contacting us and in being so vigilant. The gentleman being targeted was really grateful for our help and support."
All the Community Wardens have been using recent training to give them a better understanding and knowledge of scams which will be used as a safeguarding tool for residents in their areas. This advice details how people can help prevent themselves becoming victims of a scam. Top tips include:
- Keeping software up-to-date and using strong passwords on mobile devices, computers, and laptops.
- Deleting suspicious emails, then deleting them from the "deleted" inbox.
- When receiving suspicious email or mail, keep in mind whether it was solicited or expected.
There is also support online for those who are concerned they are being targeted. The free Get Safe Online website has lots of information and advice that residents can use to protect themselves.
Citizens Advice offer an online scam checker tool which people can use to check if they feel suspicious about websites they see links to or messages they receive.
"We are very proud of the work our Community Wardens do for people across the district," says Councillor Roy Briscoe, Cabinet Member for Communities, Sport and Culture at Chichester District Council. "Scams are a prevalent crime across the nation, not just in the district, but they are a major concern here with 35% of reported crimes involving scamming. And although figures have improved, the latest studies show the district remains one of the areas with the highest amounts of money lost through scams."
"With our Community Wardens serving a key link between residents, the police and other organisations, their new training and work in dealing with scam prevention and awareness will be invaluable to many across the district."
To find out more information, organise a scam-prevention presentation, or to discuss a different issue, people can email the district Community Wardens at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date of Release: 28 February 2023