TIM DREW: Be aware and don’t fall victim to the scammers

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THOSE who attended the Sussex Neighbourhood Watch Federation conference in Hove last year will remember the excellent presentation by Inspector Nick Bowman, on the ‘Think Jessica’ campaign, which seeks to highlight the plight of the many vulnerable people preyed upon by fraudsters who contact them by letter and post and try to trick them into parting with money.

Criminals are finding that targeting vulnerable people to fleece them of their savings is more profitable and less risky than, for example, burglary, and are often adept at winning the trust of their victims. Jessica was an elderly lady who fell for a ‘competition’ scam and ended up by being hounded, until her death five years later, by swindlers who relentlessly pursued her, in particular by mail, to the extent that she was brainwashed by its

volume and content.

Tragically, some fraudsters posing as clairvoyants also managed to alienate her from her family, so that she threatened to disown family members if they tried to interfere, and refused any outside help.

Because Jessica was not diagnosed as having a mental condition, her family were powerless to intervene. ‘Think Jessica’, therefore, wants an ‘early warning’ system in place, whereby postal workers, who are well placed to identify increasing volumes of scam mail to individuals, can readily escalate their concerns so that victims can receive professional help sooner rather than later. As the law stands, any intervention such as redirection of mail is not possible without the addressee’s consent. ‘Think Jessica’ has also produced a DVD designed to inform and forewarn potential victims.

• The Broadwater Neighbourhood Panel will meet on Monday, from 7pm to 8pm, at the Broadwater Parish Centre, 117 Broadwater Road. The next day, PCSO Dan Cobden will host his surgery at the Durrington Community Centre from 5pm to 6pm. PCSO Elaine Tullett’s surgery will take place at Worthing Leisure Centre, in Shaftesbury Avenue, on Thursday, from 7pm to 8pm.