Wandsworth's vulnerable elderly received a masterclass in fraud
prevention yesterday last week, in a joint initiative by the
Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and Wandsworth Council.
Around 40 elderly people and 60 elderly care professionals attended the
pilot Senior Citizen Project at Wandsworth's Kairos Centre, where they
were given the inside story on common cons, including investment scams,
fake lottery wins and cold callers.
Londoners aged 65 and over are disproportionately victims of fraud, with
MPS statistics showing that between 1 September 2011 and 31 August 2012,
twice as many people aged older than 65 were victims of fraud than those
The Senior Citizen Project is one way that Operation Sterling, the Met's
pro-active fraud prevention team, is looking at redressing this.
The format is based on Wandsworth Council's successful Senior Citizen
Scheme, in which small groups of residents take it in turn discuss a
variety of topics with representatives from the emergency services.
During the pilot, which was funded by Wandsworth Council,
participants received talks from Operation Sterling, Operation Liberal -
the national lead on distraction burglary intelligence, and the
Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit -London's lead on theft from
Detective Sergeant Jim Aspinall, of Operation Sterling, said: "Fraudsters use varied and complex methods to abstract money from their
victims, from sending them letters telling them they've won prize draws
and asking them for a fee to claim their prize, to knocking on their
door and pressurising them into paying for shoddy labour work that they
"The fraudsters are very accomplished, so they can easily confuse an
elderly vulnerable person and convince them that they're genuine. This
project is one way we're looking at teaching potential targets how to
recognise when they're being scammed and how to respond to that,
teaching them in a way that's easy to understand and remember.
"The pilot was really well received. Now we'll use feedback from the
event to see whether the project could benefit other boroughs."
Councillor Jim Maddan, Wandsworth's adult care spokesman, said: "This
groundbreaking initiative is fuelled by an incredibly important aim - to
protect our older, and potentially vulnerable, residents from
"We believe the Senior Citizen Project pilot will help pave the way for
other areas to run their own events, and hope that this will be the
first of many similar events for Wandsworth residents."
Anyone who thinks they are a victim of fraud should call Action Fraud on
0300 123 2040 or report it online at www.actionfraud.police.uk
The Senior Citizen Project follows the publication of Operation
Sterling's The Little Book of Big Scams earlier this year, as launched
by Esther Rantzen.
The book is a quick guide to the most common types of
fraud and is available to download at www.met.police.uk/fraudalert A hard copy can also be obtained from Wandsworth Council's Community
Safety Division by calling 020 8871 6603 or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
October 1, 2012