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Frauds and scams: Don't be a victim

Frauds and scams: Don't be a victim

West Yorkshire Financial Exploitation and Abuse Team (WYFEAT) at Trading Standards helps vulnerable people who fall victim to scams and fraud.

Tracey, a Social Worker at WYFEAT, tells us how she was able to help Michelle, a victim of fraud, turn her life around: “When I first met Michelle she was receiving lots of fraudulent post and parcels that needed returning. She was receiving vitamins that she hadn’t ordered, claiming to cost £90 a box, with somebody ringing her daily to tell her she had to pay for them. She had also received a lot of fraudulent mail and prize draws, it was difficult for her to see which were genuine.” 

Before Michelle met Tracey, she believed she had already lost approximately £500 to scams and was worried how much more she could lose. Michelle had stopped using her laptop as she was worried about being caught out, as well as ignoring her mobile phone. She was becoming socially isolated and worried about doing day to day tasks that might have loopholes.

Shortly after they first met, Michelle became a victim of serious fraud. Tracey says: “Michelle had been called by somebody claiming to be from HMRC. They had told her that she needed to send £1,800 worth of iTunes vouchers to stop her being arrested and prosecuted for tax fraud.

“Michelle became frightened and was pressured into sending £800 worth of vouchers, before her neighbour intervened and called the police.”

When Tracey visited a week later, Michelle was very distressed by the events. Michelle said: “I was so embarrassed and upset that I could fall for such a big scam. I felt stupid, but the scammer was very convincing and I found it difficult to tell the difference between what was genuine and what wasn’t.”

Tracey said: “From this point, I worked closely with Michelle to get her confidence back. This wasn’t her fault, these people do this for a living and unfortunately they can be very convincing. I kept in regular contact with Michelle after this incident and eventually she had the confidence to engage in her local community, this has had a really positive impact and has allowed Michelle to spread the word far and wide about scams.”

“Michelle is no longer embarrassed about what happened to her. She has found help and is moving forward with the right support. Michelle has an active role in her community now and joins us for community workshops to help raise awareness. Stories like Michelle’s can go down many different routes, but with the right help, fraud victims have the opportunity to turn their lives around.”

Get help

If you’re worried that you, or somebody you know, could be a victim of fraud, there is help available. You can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06, they can offer practical advice on how to resolve your problem. All scams should also be reported to Action Fraud on www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

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