North Yorkshire defence team launches fraud crack down

A doorstep conman targets a pensioner (s)
A doorstep conman targets a pensioner (s)

A crackdown on fraudsters targeting Harrogate’s vulnerable elderly has been launched.

North Yorkshire Police have teamed up with the NHS, county council (NYCC) and charity Age UK to form a new line of defence for North Yorkshire’s pensioners, who so far this year have been defrauded of a region-wide £1.5million.

The team’s fraud prevention advice service will target those aged over 60 in the region with a booklet and poster-led campaign aimed at reducing the risk of someone becoming a victim of fraud, and there are hopes family and friends will help with efforts to battle the con men.

The crackdown comes the week after the Harrogate Advertiser series reported the case of Harrogate man Bernard Brian Collins, 61, whose 21-month jail term for cheating a 70-year-old out of cash for poor or worthless house and garden improvements was doubled following a trading standards intervention.

Copies of Age UK’s Avoiding Scams booklet will be made available at libraries, hospital wards and doctor’s waiting rooms across the county.

Detective Constable Melanie Spanton of the Major Fraud Investigation Team, said: “While there are many websites with warnings about this type of fraud widely available on the internet, our experience is that victims are not using computers to conduct research and are vulnerable to this type of fraud.

“We believe that the target audience for this campaign will be receptive to receiving trustworthy advice whilst visiting a doctor’s surgery or using a library.

“We all have a responsibility to keep vulnerable friends and relatives safe from fraudsters.”

In the financial year of 2012-13, NYCC 80 doorstep crimes were reported in the Harrogate area.

Police are hoping to raise awareness of doorstep crime.

Acting Detective Superintendent of Harrogate police Steve Smith said: “Bogus callers and rogue tradesmen are cruel people who think nothing of tricking their way into the homes of elderly and vulnerable people to steal from them.

“They are callous and greedy.

“Elderly people tend to be very trusting of others, therefore criminals see them as easy targets.

“The police and the wider general public have a responsibility to elderly and vulnerable members of our community and we all need to be vigilant to the risk posed by these criminals.

“We continue to work closely with partner organisations including Trading Standards at NYCC. Together we can help protect the elderly.”

Contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06, or in urgent cases call 999.