Scam warning after 87 year old woman conned into spending £10,000 on food supplementsPublished Monday, 15th July 2019
Trading Standards Officers in Hartlepool have issued a warning to residents after an 87 year old widow was found to have spent over £10,000 on food supplement tablets over a 15 month period.
A total of 19 companies sold the lady food supplements, including £763 of ‘mango supplement’, £728 of ‘Flexicare’, £515 of sea kelp, £508 of raspberry supplement, £486 of pineapple supplement and even £180 of cinnamon. One company alone had sold the victim an average of £240 of supplements each month.
Trading Standards Officers were alerted to the lady by her bank after concerns were raised for her welfare. After an initial visit to her home, a pile of receipts was discovered for food supplements that had been sold to her by phone.
Officers have now installed a ‘call blocker’ device in her home to prevent the majority of sales calls, and have written to all companies concerned requesting an immediate refund and to stop all future contact.
Councillor John Tennant, Chair of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Neighbourhood Services Committee, said: “I am extremely grateful to the staff of Yorkshire Bank for being so vigilant and I have no doubt that their prompt action has saved this lady many more thousands of pounds and removed the stress of constant, unwanted sales calls.
“It is so disappointing to see that companies see vulnerable people as potential targets, but the Trading Standards Team is working hard with other Council departments and agencies to identify these conmen and to make Hartlepool a safer place to live.”
Ian Harrison, the Council’s Trading Standards Manager added: “Protecting the elderly and vulnerable is a high priority for the Trading Standards service and I cannot understand how companies can prey on elderly and vulnerable people in this way.
“This lady advised that she receives regular unsolicited phone calls from ‘very persistent’ companies, and had even drafted a letter to one of the companies describing how she was returning some supplement tablets that she had been persuaded to buy, despite them having previously made her unwell.
“She said that although she appreciated she wasn’t going to be given her money back, she had grown up during the war years and didn’t like to see things go to waste.
“Thankfully we have been able to help this lady, but we cannot fix the problem for those victims that we are not aware of. Previously someone would lose money by being mugged in the street - unfortunately people are now being mugged in their armchairs by conmen based anywhere in the world who are just a phone call or e-mail away.
“I would ask everyone who knows someone who is elderly or vulnerable to regularly check in on them to ensure they are not being bombarded by unwanted sales calls or mail shots.”
Anyone who feels they may be a victim of a scam, or may know a victim, is encouraged to call Hartlepool Trading Standards on (01429) 523362.