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15 May 2013, 06:00
Newcastle City Council has joined forces with the Citizens Advice Bureau to warn people about the dangers of scams.
Every year an estimated three million people fall victim to scams, and almost half (48 %) of us have been targeted by a scam at some point.
May is national awareness month and the council and CAB are raising awareness of the problem by publishing information to help people avoid becoming victims.
Tracy Armstrong, Advice Services Manager for the CAB, said:
"These people are unscrupulous.
They will target vulnerable, lonely people, form a relationship, take their money and then disappear. As a result they have lost their life savings.
If you are cold called by someone asking you to invest and forming a relationship with you do not agree. Seek advice first."
Scams are schemes to con people out of money and are no different to fraud.
Victims are contacted through a range of ways including post, phone, online and even through a knock on the door.
Scammers use a range of techniques to create a sense of urgency, opportunity, and even threaten people to get them to part with their cash.
The latest scams include:
* Phantom debts - cold callers threatening potential victims with arrest unless they pay a debt that is owed
* Rare metal investment scam - cold callers persuading people to invest in 'rare earth metal oxides'
* Assassin scam mail - a sympathetic assassin who thinks that the recipient of the e-mail has wrongly had a contract taken out against them
David Ellerington of Newcastle Trading Standards told Capital:
"With the growing use of new technology, in particular social media, more and more people are getting caught out by ever more sophisticated scams.
In some cases they can lose thousands of pounds and because they feel ashamed or stupid don't always want to come forward to admit what has happened to them.
I would urge them to come forward so we know the extent of what is happening and we will obviously treat them with understanding and sensitivity.
Only by having an accurate picture can we fight back against the con artists who fleece people and leave them in financial difficulty."
If you have been targeted by a scam, or know someone who has then call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
Action Fraud is the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and internet crime.
If debit cards, online banking or cheques are involved in the scam the consumer's first step should to contact their bank or credit card company.