Scam alert

Don’t let your elderly relatives or friends be caught out by scams

Barking and Dagenham Council is encouraging residents to keep an eye on their elderly friends and family after several residents got caught out by a mail scam.

Trading Standards officers from the council have been working closely with the National Trading Standards Scams Team (NTSST) who work to tackle frauds and scams and coordinate scam-related work with local authorities.

The NTSST have recently worked with the United States (US) Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take action against a company sending scam mailings to UK consumers. These mailings were illegal scams that falsely promised cash prizes in exchange for a small fee, and it was discovered that nine of the victims were from Barking and Dagenham.

The nine residents fell victim to a company called Next-Gen where they sent money as part of a deceptive sweepstake and game of skill scam.

Personalised mailers were sent to the victims, which promised prizes of up to $2 million. The fees to claim the bogus prizes were from $9 to $139.99, which some consumers paid several times before realising it was a scam. In total, Next-Gen defrauded 240,000 people from around the world.

Before going through the whole court process, Next-Gen agreed to settle and pay out nearly $25m to the victims including the nine from Barking and Dagenham.

However, when the council’s Trading Standards Officers went to return some of the money to the residents, unfortunately seven of them had passed away. All seven were elderly residents.

Councillor Syed Ghani, Cabinet Member for Enforcement and Community Safety said: “Unfortunately there are some people in this world who like to take advantage of the elderly and vulnerable and scam them out of money.

“We’re in a time now where every penny counts, so I’d like to encourage all our residents to keep an eye out for the elderly friends and family and make sure they’re not losing money to somebody else.”

For advice on scams or to report a scam, residents should contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or and Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040