Stay savvy to keep scammers at bay


- Credit: Archant

The key to keeping elderly residents safe from scammers out to take their hard-earned cash is to raise awareness of their devious tactics.

That is the message from Home Instead director Mark McGlade, who is teaming up with the police, rotary clubs and memory groups to improve dementia awareness in Sidmouth.

He has shared some of the tricks scammers try to fool residents in their own homes – ‘where they should feel safest’.

“Home Instead is taking it on,” he said. “It’s a common problem across the board. We do what we can to raise awareness and go wherever there are older people.”

He said pensioners are particularly targeted because they are often less computer-savvy, have a nest egg and suffer from loneliness or memory issues.

Sidmouth’s high proportion of pensioners, and an estimated 750 people with dementia, has made it a popular spot for criminals.

One postal scam currently doing the rounds that police are alerting residents to in Sidmouth and Newton Poppleford claims that a relative of the recipient has died.

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It says they have left a large sum of money, but the recipient needs to pay a fee for it to be released.

Mark said this was a typical tactic, and even replying to opt out can leave the respondent on a ‘suckers list’ – meaning they are ripe for the picking by other scammers when their details are sold on.

And once they get sucked in, he said they may even get called by a conman ‘clairvoyant’ who claims good luck is coming their way if they keep paying – or harm to their family if they stop.

Or the criminals may try to drive a wedge between the scam victim and their family – with claims that their loved ones’ only interest is in protecting their inheritance.

Mark said learning to recognise these moves is the first step to staying safe.

Home Instead is working with East Devon District Council to promote scam awareness, with its first safety day in Budleigh Salterton on Wednesday, April 22.

Mark is also due to meet with representatives of the Sid Valley Memory Café, the town’s two rotary clubs and other various community groups in Budleigh Salterton today (Friday) on how to raise awareness of the Dementia Friendly towns initiative.