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Funding to continue work of scams unit

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Dudley Council’s scams unit could receive a cash boost to continue its fight against financial criminals who prey on the vulnerable, if budget proposals are given the green light.

In a budget report, to be considered by cabinet when it meets next week (December 17), £70,000 has been earmarked for the scam-busting team for next year.

If approved the money would be used to support the team to continue its work, having first launched nearly three years ago with a slice of Improved Better Care funding.

Since its launch its goal has been to target financial criminals who prey on vulnerable people on so called ‘sucker lists’.

Fraudsters use sucker lists to identify and target their victims who are often older, lonely and vulnerable and the criminals know they are more susceptible to being scammed.

The scams unit has worked alongside colleagues in the council’s adult social care team to support more than 800 people in the community and talk to them about the warning signs of being targeted.

It has also installed call blockers to 175 households to prevent people being targeted by cold callers and potential scammers.

Based on the number of the people the team has helped so far and its prevention work, it is estimated the unit has saved around £5.5million.

The figure is based on the money the unit has potentially stopped being lost to scammers and the long term associated costs of someone falling victim as statistics show 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.

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

Our scams unit has been a valuable asset to the council in the last three years, having been able to dedicate its time to working with and protecting vulnerable people in our communities.
This year has shown that scammers will adapt quickly to situations, with the team receiving numerous calls about coronavirus related scams targeting not only older and vulnerable people but the wider community too.
It’s really important we have a team on top of its game, that can outwit the scammers and continue their vital work to prevent financial crime in our borough.

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