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“Life-saving” scams unit helps hundreds

A scams unit set up in Dudley to protect vulnerable residents from being conned out of cash has helped nearly 400 people, new figures have revealed.

The work of the Dudley Council team, has helped a pensioner get life savings of almost £60,000 back from his bank.

The man, aged in his eighties, had gone into his branch and transferred the cash to two bank accounts operated by scammers after receiving a call from someone claiming to be from his bank.

In addition the unit has visited 237 of the most vulnerable scam victims, many of whom were not previously engaged with support services, and supported a further 125 over the phone. More than 40 call-blockers have been installed in homes of scam victims to prevent further nuisance cold calls, with funding in place to provide a further 400 to residents free of charge.

The team has also trained nearly 40 people as “Scams Champions” to take the lead on scams awareness in workplaces including banks and building societies and the care and mental health services.

An online Friends Against Scams training course has also been launched on the council’s website and is available to members of the public. Nearly 400 people have completed the training so far.

The work of the team will be discussed at the next meeting of Dudley Council’s health and adult social care scrutiny committee on September 25 as part of a wider discussion on scams prevention.

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said:

"The work of the scams unit in Dudley is having a literally life-saving effect for some of our vulnerable residents, protecting them from fraud and scams and enabling them to live independent and healthier lives.

"Stats reveal elderly victims are more than twice as likely to die or need extra care and support in the two year period after falling prey to scammers, so it’s absolutely critical we do all we can to stop people becoming victims.

"Things like installing call blockers and educating people by visiting and talking to them will all help towards that. It is important the momentum achieved across the borough in preventing scams is maintained."

The scrutiny committee meeting takes place at 6pm on September 25 in Committee Room 2 at Dudley Council House in Priory Road. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

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