OAPs details among sick fraud ‘hitlist’

Tony Haslam, principle officer, Lancashire Trading Standards
Tony Haslam, principle officer, Lancashire Trading Standards
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A sickening hitlist of 1,100 vulnerable Lancashire residents who fraudsters believe are ‘easy pickings’ for scams is being traded by ruthless criminals, it was revealed today.

Several pensioners in Preston are among potential victims on a so-called “suckers list” obtained by investigators.

But the criminals behind the disturbing trade could soon see the tables turned on them after Lancashire Trading Standards revealed it would use the details to contact each person to warn them and check if they have been targeted.

The practice sees vulnerable and isolated people quickly become the target of hundreds of scammers all over the world after responding to initial “test” pieces of mail.

Vivienne Austin, 55, whose mum, 80, spent thousands on overpriced sweet goods from scam catalogues delivered to her Wyre home, said she was lured by the promise of a £41,000 prize if she made a purchase.

She said: “We believe she has spent at least £8,000 on scams - thousands on biscuits she can’t eat because she’s gluten intolerant.

“She was in denial.”

Tony Haslam, of Lancashire Trading Standards, said: “In one case I was sitting in a pensioner’s house when the postman arrived with eight pieces of “prize winning” scam mail - in one day.

“Dealing with the scams takes over people’s lives - they are brainwashed and led to believe these people are friends.

“It’s effectively grooming.”

May is National Scams Awareness Month. To report a scam, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.