A 92-year-old Sheffield World War Two veteran has been tricked out of £10,000 of his life savings by callous conmen.
Albert, of Manor Top, was sold thousands of pounds worth of fake medicines by cruel scammers – who have never been caught.
The pensioner’s savings were drained out of his account and he could no longer afford his weekly shopping.
Albert, who had lived in Sheffield all his life, saw active service in Northern Africa and Europe before working for British Rail’s depot at Spital Hill for more than 25 years.
He was targeted by high-pressure fake salesmen who sold him bogus drugs for arthritis for nearly five years.
Albert was hit with big overdraft charges – before his carer Sarah Simons discovered the fraud and stepped in.
Sarah, who looks after Albert one day a week with colleague Lauren-Jade Moffatt, said: “Albert is a friend and I just couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong at first.
“His telephone kept on ringing and he didn’t have enough money for his weekly shopping.
“He started hiding things from me and was becoming more worried. He’d have episodes when he was really down and expressed worries he was going to go overdrawn.”
Sarah realised Albert might have to scrap his respite care – a two-week break he looked forward to every Christmas – and took action.
“I felt I had to help and perhaps went further than I should have done by asking Albert if he had financial worries,” Sarah added.
“He explained he had letters from his bank and showed them to me. He had been charged £5,000 here, £2,000 there. I couldn’t believe it. He’s very trusting and I knew something wasn’t right.”
Albert had been targeted over the phone by callers telling him they would cure his arthritis. He paid huge sums for bags full of worthless drugs and vitamins.
Sarah got in touch with Sheffield Council’s Trading Standards team and they took action.
Albert said: “I’ve learned a lesson. Well, you do, don’t you? And nobody’s learned more lessons in life than me.”
Coun Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for environment at Sheffield Council, said: “We know that some of the most vulnerable people in Sheffield sadly won’t have face-to- face contact with many people on a daily basis, which is why it’s important that we use those living and working in our communities to look out for these people and be aware of the signs of scams and rogue trading.
“It is a sad fact that criminals prey on the most vulnerable. But once we are made aware of people being a victim of rogue traders or scams, we can use all the powers at our disposal to stop it happening again – and to bring these criminals to justice.
“Simple tools such as call blockers are changing people’s lives but, if we’re not aware of the problem, we can’t act. The message is to friends, families and neighbours – you can help us to help your loved ones.”
Sheffield Trading Standards has identified more than 600 residents in Sheffield being targeted by scam mail.
Sheffield Council’s ‘Not Born Yesterday’ campaign, which involves trading standards and adult safeguarding services, police, Age UK Sheffield and the fire service working together, aims to spot the warning signs and provide support to victims is a key aim of the project.
Victims might be receiving lots of junk letters for mail order products and prize draws, being pestered by scam calls, or being targeted at the door for unnecessary property repairs or gardening work.
Last year, officers intervened in more than 30 serious incidents of doorstep crime involving elderly or vulnerable residents. The team investigated a similar number of allegations of rogue trading where people suffered ‘serious’ financial loss.
Anyone who has concerns that someone they know may be a victim of scammers or rogue traders should call 03454 040506 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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