A project seeking to stop scammers from targeting older people across London and create a prevention model to be used nationwide has been launched.
The City of London Corporation’s charitable arm, City Bridge Trust, has given Age UK £337,000 for a project to tackle fraud against older people in London and support those affected by scams.
The Scams Prevention and Victim Support initiative is a partnership between Age UK and Action Fraud, the fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre run by the City of London Police.
The initiative, which will run in four London boroughs, will identify the most effective measures to prevent older people being the victim of fraud and provide support for people in particularly vulnerable circumstances.
Age UK will run awareness raising sessions and give one-to-one support while victims will be referred to the programme from Action Fraud as well as through local Age UK networks.
Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud, said: “Sadly we regularly receive reports from the elderly who have fallen victim to fraudsters.
“Fraudsters target people of all ages and backgrounds, however they do tend to prey on the most vulnerable members of our society.
“We are hopeful that this new initiative, in partnership with Age UK, will assist us in not only helping people to cope and recover if they have the misfortune of falling victim to fraud, but also help us to prevent more of the elderly from becoming victims in the future.”
The project is estimated to benefit around 2,100 older people and will create a model for prevention and working with victims of fraud that can be rolled out across the whole of the UK.
Figures show 43 per cent of people aged 65 or older have been targeted by scammers and the average age of the victim, of postal scams, has recently risen to 75.
Age UK estimates that half a million older people could have lost their savings.
Those over 55 are often targets of investment fraud, dating scams and computer service software fraud.
John Edwards, head of service delivery at Age UK, said: “Scams have a serious emotional and financial impact on older victims, damaging quality of life and wellbeing.
“That anyone would target an older person to defraud them in the first place is abhorrent but we know that older people are deliberately targeted and can be especially at risk if they are living with dementia or cognitive decline.
“This ambitious new service will aim to raise awareness of scams and the way they’re reported, empower Londoners to feel safer, more secure and confident, and reduce the numbers of older people becoming victims of fraud.”
The government is finally introducing a ban on pensions cold calling, a proposal which was dropped in April due to the general election.
However, industry voices have urged the government to take this matter to parliament as soon as possible, so it can come into effect.