During the ‘Spot it, Stop it’ outreach project, our trusted, well-known partners in the voluntary and community sector went along to existing activities in the community to speak to women aged 55 and over about fraud. The messages focused on how to recognise fraud, how to reject it, and where to report it.
Fraud can be a sensitive subject: people may be embarrassed to admit that they have been a victim of fraud or feel that they are somehow to blame for being ‘taken in’ by fraudsters and do not want to ‘make a fuss’. Providing these fraud-awareness messages at existing events where the women were amongst other people who they feel comfortable with helped to encourage discussion around sharing of experiences. This in turn led to members of the group helping each other by talking about their strategies for dealing with fraud. Hearing real examples of fraud from peers strengthened the messages of the campaign and created support networks within groups.
These are some of the stories that were shared by members of the community groups.
An older lady confessed to feeling duty-bound to answer her front door to everyone who knocked, as she is visible to them as she sits in her front room when they walk up the drive. She said that in the past she had been drawn into conversation, and that once drawn in she felt pressured to sign up to offers or listen to sales talk.
Through discussion with the group, she was taken with the suggestion to adopt a strategy of repetition to be assertive – becoming like a stuck record and repeatedly saying: “No, thank you”, “No”, and “No, I am not interested” to prevent herself from being drawn in and to make it absolutely plain to the callers that although she has answered the door, this does not mean she is going to buy anything.
At the St Andrew’s Church Boat House cafe, one 62-year-old lady said that she had recently received an email that looked to have been sent by a friend of hers. The email purported that she (the friend) was stranded abroad and had lost her money and credit cards and she was asking for money to be sent to her urgently. The lady said she was suspicious, so she had emailed her friend separately to query this (not by replying to the suspicious email) and had not received a reply back from her. The lady said she would check whether or not she had deleted the original email and, if not, was happy to report the details to the Action Fraud call centre.
At the Mickleton coffee morning, one elderly resident said she had been emailed by someone pretending to be from Windows and offering to clear a virus from her computer as long as she sent him £80. She had put the phone down, but another lady in the group confessed that she had received the same call and had fallen victim to the fraudster and had lost her £80. She had not done anything about reporting the incident, so the group encouraged her to do so.
While members of a card-making group were chatting together after the talk about fraud, a lady shared her experience of seeing a ‘free’ sample of face cream from the USA from a seemingly reputable company on the internet.
She had bought things online before, and committed to what she thought was postage-only costs for the ‘free sample’, but ended up paying approximately £150 in monthly direct debits from her bank account before she managed to cancel them.