Test and Trace number spoofing, fake holiday refund scams and illegal money lending are among a raft of scams targeting South West residents as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unscrupulous criminals exploiting fears and uncertainty during the pandemic has led to an increase in scams.
New research by Citizens Advice reveals that more than one-in-three people (36%) in the South West have been the target of a scam since lockdown began.
In response to the increasing prevalence, Trading Standards South West (TSSW) is launching Scam Awareness Week to help South West residents avoid Coronavirus-related and other scams.
Starting on Monday 22nd June, Scam Awareness Week 2020 aims to provide members of the public with advice and guidance.
A spokesperson from TSSW said: “Our data shows that scammers have been very active in our region since lockdown began. It’s appalling that opportunistic scammers have been taking advantage of people’s worries and concerns during this difficult time.
“No one is immune from scams, so we’re using this week-long campaign to encourage people to be vigilant and show them what to look out for. With greater awareness, we can stop fraudsters from profiting.”
Alongside the emergence of Coronavirus specific scams, there has been a widespread increase in all scam types. The Scam Awareness campaign will shine the spotlight on these tactics and show the South West community how to avoid being tricked by the scammers.
Romance Scams, in particular, is cruel and heartless – and sees victims scammed out of thousands of pounds.
Linda Griffin; Scam support worker said,
“Trust is built up between the scammer and the victim. The criminal creates hope for the victim that they have found someone who cares for them and who they can care for. All they want is love, friendship and companionship in later life.”
Due to the grooming techniques used when the victim is told that the relationship is not real they are very defensive and believe the fraudster more than those who are helping them, even when there is considerable evidence of a fraud.
“At a certain
“They rage at themselves about their stupidity in becoming caught up in it but also sadness that what they thought could be loving relationship isn’t and they are again lonely and isolated with no one to talk to.”
With restricted movements, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are potentially many people turning to the internet to make friends online.
Why not take five minutes to stop fraud and visit https://takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/coronavirus-fraud-and-scams/
If you think you have been scammed and need support contact trading standards on Citizens Advice Consumer Services on 0808 223 1133
The TSWW website offers many free resources, including a guide to help people if they, or a family member, are being affected by a scam. To access the information and download the free guide, visit www.tssw.org.uk/scamwise