Police launch Operation Jessica to protect elderly from fraud

Jan 22, 2015, 10:33 AM

This is a telephone recording of an elderly victim of a scam, calling the police call centre. It highlights the distress and anxiety caused from the experience. The callers personal details have been removed.

Following a rise in the number of frauds against the elderly in the North and West of Devon, Police have developed Operation Jessica.

It aims to warn and protect elderly and vulnerable residents against the perils of frauds, particularly those designed to catch people off guard via phone calls or mail.

Since May 2014, thirty five elderly victims have fallen foul of frauds operated by organised criminals, defrauding them out of life savings totalling over £600,000. Police suspect the figure is higher, with many incidents going unreported. The average age of victims is 75.

Operation Jessica has been launched to reduce the likelihood of further elderly people becoming victims.

“This operation is about protecting the most fragile members of our community from frauds which come through the postal system and by phone. By raising awareness of them and by working with the community, we intend to make North and West Devon a less profitable environment for criminals to operate within.” Said Detective Inspector Praveen Naidoo.

“We all have a role to play in preventing this type of crime, and this could be as simple as discussing these types of fraud with an elderly relative, friend or neighbour and giving advice on what they can do to prevent themselves from falling victim to one of these frauds.” He added.

In liaison with Trading Standards, police have identified 340 people whom fraudsters may be targeting. As part of the operation, uniformed police officers will be visiting people on this list, enabling them to take steps to reduce the likelihood of further victimisation.

Donna Woolway, Crime Prevention Officer advises people to always check the identification of anyone making contact and if for any reason you are unsure, end the call. Be suspicious of any call purporting to be from the police or bank reporting any fraud on your account. Never give your PIN, security or bank details to anyone over the phone.

If you receive a call you are unsure of, wait at least five minutes before attempting to make another call to ensure you’re not reconnected to the offender. Use a different phone such as a mobile or a neighbour’s phone. If this isn’t possible, phone a known friend to test the line to confirm you aren’t still unwittingly connected to the offender.

Operation Jessica derives its name from ‘Think Jessica’ a national campaign set up to protect elderly and vulnerable people from postal and phone scams, founded by Marilyn Baldwin OBE.

“The full price of fraud is not just financial or economic; it causes emotional and psychological harm to individuals and damages businesses.” She said.

Courier and telephone fraud - http://www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/crime-prevention/your-money/fraud/courier-and-telephone-fraud/ Action Fraud - http://www.actionfraud.police.uk Think Jessica - http://www.thinkjessica.com