New bid to save dementia sufferers from fraud

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A pioneering initiative has been launched in East Renfrewshire to protect people living with dementia from predatory fraudsters.

And if it proves a success it will become a good practice model that can be rolled out across the whole of Scotland.

The council’s prevention team has been awarded £405,000 to work with two other local authorities to protect people with dementia who are vulnerable to financial exploitation.

It will offer an individualised solution designed to safeguard them from financial exploitation, whether on the doorstep, by telephone, by mail or online.

Each area will bring together local and national organisations to develop and deliver a package of preventive measures, including practical solutions and various types of useful technology.

This will include call blockers which screen incoming phone calls and either block any unknown or unauthorised numbers or transfer them to a nominated family member or guardian.

Principal prevention officer Paul Holland, the scheme’s co-ordinator, said: “It’s hard to believe that people would be so callous as to target this group directly, but sadly it happens and the consequences for the person and their family are often devastating.

“Thanks to funding from the Life Changes Trust, we can proactively identify residents at risk and introduce practical solutions to stop unwanted nuisance and scam telephone, mail, internet and doorstep contacts.

Figures issued by Citizen’s Advice in 2014 showed that the most common type of scam takes place via telephone (34%), almost a quarter took place on the internet (24%), 16% came through letters and one in ten scams were via email.

Other types of scam include face-to-face visits – doorstep crime.

Funding for the project has come from the Life Changes Trust, an independent charity set up with a Big Lottery Fund endowment of £50 million to improve the lives of two key groups in Scotland – people affected by dementia, and care experienced young people.

Paul Holland said: “Many people who are living well and independently with dementia can sometimes become anxious and confused if they are subjected to a barrage of calls, letters and emails that prey on their fears and pressurise them to part with money.”