Fraud against elderly is serious concern, says Sussex PCC
Commenting on the news that incidents of fraud have doubled to one million in the first six months of 2016 compared to the same period last year, Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said:
“This is shocking news and devastating for the victims. Fraud is on the rise nationally and Sussex is no exception, with criminals now targeting our older residents, which is particularly worrying.
“Research shows that older people are far more vulnerable to mobile, landline and email fraud. They are often more trusting and sometimes lonely and this is what makes the crime more despicable as criminals take advantage of this.
“Fraud against an older person is a calculated and deliberate crime. If this was a crime targeting a child we would be horrified which is why adult protection must be taken as seriously as child protection. Sussex has an increasingly ageing population, with many people living in care homes or with relatives and even more living alone.
“My Sussex Elders’ Commission identified financial fraud as a major concern when they launched their report in Westminster earlier this year. They highlighted concerns about the potential scale of elder abuse that is hidden or under-reported, including fraud, cyber crime and financial coercion.
“Last summer, over a period of three months, high risk victims in Sussex lost an average of £23,000 each – equivalent to approximately one year in a care home. It has been estimated there could be as many as 13,000 cases of elder abuse in our county (if Sussex matches national trends) and we know that, as people get older, their chances of becoming a victim increases.
“One resident lost nearly half a million pounds. These are real people being targeted every day. It has to stop. This is why I want to see elder abuse made an aggravated offence in line with racially or religiously motivated offences.
“The home is becoming the new frontline for crime against our elderly. We urgently need tougher sanctions for those that deliberately target our most vulnerable residents. After all, none of us are getting any younger ourselves.”
Notes to editors:
1. The new figures were released by Financial Fraud Action UK who have joined forces with major banks and financial services providers to combat financial fraud through the Take Five campaign. The campaign aims to put consumers and businesses back in control with straight forward advice to help prevent financial fraud. It focuses on financial frauds directly targeting customers, such as email deception (known as phishing) and phone and text-based scams (sometimes known as vishing and smishing), and is designed to remind people that it pays to stop and think. It will also help protect people from criminals duping them into moving money into bank accounts controlled by the fraudsters.
2. Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne established the Sussex Elders’ Commission in 2014 comprising members aged 60-85. Since then the members have talked to thousands of Sussex residents and captured nearly 6,200 concerns culminating in the launch of a report in Westminster earlier this year. This report highlighted concerns about the potential scale of Elder Abuse that is either hidden or under-reported, including scams, cyber crime and financial coercion.