South Ayrshire Council is urging the public to be on their guard against postal scams.
The council is highlighting the issue after an elderly resident lost around £25,000 over a two-year period to scammers.
The 83 year-old man who lives alone received over 4,200 scam letters many of them involving bogus foreign lotteries. He was taken in because he was convinced that he was close to winning big prizes.
The Council’s Trading Standards team became involved after the details of the victim were discovered on ‘scam lists’ compiled by the UK National Scams Team.
Scams will usually require you to pay small amounts at regular intervals followed by larger payments for administration and courier fees to collect non-existent winnings.
You should never respond to mail advising that you have won money if you never entered the competition and never reveal your bank details or pay fees in advance to release a prize. If the mail tells you to keep the win a secret or to reply quickly or you will risk losing the winnings it’s almost certain to be a scam.
South Ayrshire Council’s Trading Standards team is working closely with partners to help potential victims. Work involves recognising targets by intercepting post destined for the scammers.
Support can then involve setting up mail redirection and liaising with Royal Mail to ensure scam mail is no longer delivered. Information can also be shared with enforcement agencies here and abroad to identify those responsible.
Mike Newall, Head of Neighbourhood Services for South Ayrshire Council said: “This was a particularly nasty case and the victim’s normally trusting nature has been shattered leaving him feeling angry and frustrated at being taken in by the scammers. Assisting the most vulnerable in our society to ensure they can live safely in their own homes is a priority for the Council.
“Residents living with dementia or other impairments are particularly at risk from mail, phone and doorstep scammers and we are using funding from The Life Changes Trust over the next 3 years to address this issue. We want to protect the vulnerable, but anyone affected by scammers can speak to our trading standards team confidentially and we will do whatever we can to help.”
Further information on services and assistance provided by the Council’s Trading Standards team can be found at www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards or phone 01292 616060.