More than quarter of a million pounds conned out of Plymouth residents by scammers

Crafty con artists have managed to scam £255,000 out of 146 people in Plymouth.

Trading Standards have visited these people as a result of receiving a list of over 650 potential scam victims that have been targeted in the city.  But officers are warning this is just the tip of the iceberg with only five per cent of these crimes actually being reported. 

Scammers use a number of tricks to rob people of their hard earned money including cold calls, high-pressure sales tactics and automated voicemails asking for people’s details.

Nationally it is estimated scams targeting people by phone or post alone cost people in the UK an estimated UK £10 billion each year.

To try and remind people that scammers are still very active in Plymouth, the City Council’s Trading Standards Team have joined up with Citizens Advice Plymouth to expose the tactics used as part of this year’s Scams Awareness Month, which gets underway today Friday 1 July.

They’re holding a series of drop in sessions in the city to give people some top tips on how to stop scammers in their tracks.

  • 5 July City Centre walk around by Trading Standards  & Citizens Advice staff
  • 13 July – Central Library – 10am to 4pm

The free sessions explain all about the tell-tale signs of fraud, from being made an offer that’s too good to be true, to being rushed into signing on the dotted line.

Councillor Dave Downie, Cabinet Member for Children and Young people said: “These scammers deliberately prey on the vulnerable and more isolated, often elderly people and once a person sends money, their name is added to a scams list which is sold to other criminals and they are retargeted. 

“We want everyone to be aware of these scams and spread the message to their friends and families.  The drop in sessions will help people be aware of the signs to look for.  We don’t want anyone to suffer in silence and be misled and bullied by these relentless criminals.

“If you think your mother, grandparents, partner or friends are receiving large quantities of mail or nuisance phone calls then please don’t hesitate to contact Trading Standards or Citizens advice for help.” 

Cold calling on the telephone is still one of the most popular ways to try and scam people. Only last week Trading Standards had to issue a warning after they received several calls from worried residents who had been contacted by people claiming to be from the City Council offering compensation for accidents. People who received the calls described them as being from someone with a strong foreign accent who became aggressive when questioned.

Anna Salisbury from Citizens Advice Plymouth said: “Scams come in a variety of guises and we see new ones emerging all the time.  However, there are common hallmarks to every scam and we’re keen to show people what to look out for so they don’t fall prey to a fraudster.  Reporting suspicious offers and incidents of fraud is vital to getting scams closed down. If you think you’ve been contacted by a con artist or have been the victim of scam, seek advice and report it to the authorities.”

You can get advice or report a scam contact Trading Standards on 01752 304147 or Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06. You can also report scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040