Hartlepool widow left £10,000 out of pocket by food supplements scam
An 87-year-old Hartlepool widow was conned into spending over £10,000 on food supplements.
Trading standards officers have issued a warning to residents to be on their guard and to look out for vulnerable family and friends after the victim was targeted over the telephone.
For 15 months, the lady was being charged hundreds of pounds a month to a total of 19 companies.
Hartlepool trading standards officials were alerted by concerned staff at the Yorkshire Bank and a visit to her home revealed a pile of receipts.
She said she receives regular unsolicited phone calls from ‘very persistent’ companies.
Officers have now installed a call blocker on the woman’s telephone and written to all the companies asking for an immediate refund and to stop all future contact.
Councillor John Tennant, chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Neighbourhood Services Committee, said: “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.”
Among the supplements the woman was sold included £763 of ‘mango supplement’, £728 of ‘Flexicare’, £515 of sea kelp, £508 of raspberry supplement, £486 of pineapple supplement and even £180 of cinnamon.
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.
“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 email 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.”
Hartlepool trading standards can be contacted on (01429) 523362.