Lincolnshire’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner has revealed how a woman was ‘conned’ out of her home and £250,000 as part of a dating scam.
Stuart Tweedale said it was one of many ‘horrific and heartbreaking’ cases he had heard from victims of scamming.
Figures show scammers are becoming ever more cunning and resourceful in their efforts to exploit often the most vulnerable members of society.
Mr Tweedale is one of the leading figures in efforts to tackle the problem in Lincolnshire.
The Deputy PCC - who is the county’s official ‘scambassador’ - has praised police for their work in highlighting scams - and tracking down offenders.
He has pledged that hard work will continue with police operating alongside officials from Trading Standards.
Mr Tweedale said: “A few years ago, the main concern was people who knocked on your front door, offering to lay a new drive or clean out your gutters for £20.
“That still goes on but we hear a lot of horrific and heartbreaking stories about people who have been targeted.
“One of the worst cases I’ve heard is a woman who lost a quarter-of-a-million pounds - and also her home - through a dating scam.
“She was lonely and that’s when people are at their most vulnerable.”
Mr Tweedale said it was important people reported scams and stressed support and advice was available.
He also revealed Lincolnshire is one of the first counties to set up a specially trained group to help people re-build their lives after being scammed.
He explained: “One of the most effective ways of tackling scamming is to raise awareness.
“We are becoming more effective. We don’t ant to panic people but need victims to report incidents.
“Often, those people are too embarrassed to come forward. They feel stupid.
“But we are not there to judge. There is help, There is support. Talk to us. Tell us what happened .”
Mr Tweedale was speaking at a scam awareness event in Horncastle last Wednesday.
He said officers from the town’s Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) were a ‘great example’ of county wide efforts to combat scamming.
He added: “If someone offers you something at a knockdown price, it is often too good to be true.
“If someone rings you and says they need your bank details, hang up.
“Ring someone you can trust but remember, wait 10-15 seconds so you ‘break’ that first call.”
Mr Tweedale revealed another recent scam involved offers of cheap medicine - often imported from eastern Europe and not subject to any testing.
He added: “The people offering these medicines often seem very plausible - and very professional.
“When you are ill, you can be at your most vulnerable.
“If you have any doubts, get advice Don’t buy and don’t give any details.
“If the offer is a letter, pass it on to police or Trading Standards - or throw it in the bin.”
PCSO Nigel Wass, from Horncastle’s NPT, said everyone could play a part in protecting vulnerable people.
He said: “If it’s a member of your family, check regularly.
“If you have a elderly neighbour who might be at risk, just call on them. Ask if they are OK.
“We can all do something to help.”