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Warning about coronavirus shopping scam as female pensioner targeted

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Police are warning the public to be vigilant after receiving report of an elderly woman being targeted by a shopping scam.

A woman in her eighties reported being called by someone claiming to be from the NHS on Monday, (20 April). The fraudster called her three times in total over the course of 10 days and asked if she needed her shopping to be done.

They then proceeded to ask if they could come collect her bank cards to pick up her pension.  Thankfully, the victim refused and no money was lost.

PC Bernadette Lawrie, Sussex and Surrey Police Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer said:

“Criminals will exploit any opportunity possible to defraud innocent and vulnerable people out of their cash – and it’s incredibly disappointing to see that some are taking advantage of the Covid-19 outbreak for this purpose.

“We’re asking members of the public to please remain vigilant and to share our advice with their families so we can prevent further people falling victim to this terrible scam.”

There are many people in our communities who aren’t able to get out to the shops, or to get their medication, and it’s really important that they get the support they need.

Below are some tips to consider when others are shopping on your behalf:

  • Do not engage with cold callers. 
  • Verify the person is who they say they and from the organisation they are claiming to represent.
  • Agree a maximum budget in advance
  • Ask them to purchase the items in advance and provide a receipt before making payment
  • Never hand over your credit/debit cards, PIN details to someone you don’t know

If you need assistance with shopping, please see Age UK’s website for advice and information. 

Criminals are expert impersonators who will try to trick people into giving them their money, personal information or into buying products that don’t exist by contacting you online, via the phone or even in person.

Since the coronavirus outbreak Action Fraud has received report of hundreds of scams, including phishing emails trying to deceive people into giving their personal information and online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser and other products, which have never arrived.  

If you are approached unexpectedly remember to:

  • Stop: Taking a moment to think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam and report it to Action Fraud.
  • You can also report suspicious texts by forwarding the original message to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keypad.
  • The police, or your bank, will never ask you to withdraw money or transfer it to a different account. They will also never ask you to reveal your full banking password or PIN.
  • Do not click on links or attachments in unexpected or suspicious texts or emails.
  • Confirm requests are genuine by using a known number or email address to contact organisations directly.

For more information about Operation Signature, the Force’s campaign to identify and support vulnerable victims of fraud, see the website here

To report crime, please call 101 or report online

Coronavirus

Pandemic claims the lives of more than 5,200 people with dementia in the South East

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Orla Phipps and Grandma Agnes

A staggering 5,200 people with dementia are estimated to have died from coronavirus in the South East of England since the pandemic hit the UK in full force in March 2020.1

They are among more than 34,000 with the condition to have died in England and Wales from Covid-19, making people with dementia the worst hit by coronavirus.

In addition, new calculations from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that deaths of care home residents, where at least 70% of people have dementia, are 30% higher than previously thought.

There have been almost 12,000 (11,624) deaths since January 2021, which includes care home residents who have died in hospitals or elsewhere.

A coalition of dementia organisations including Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK, John’s Campaign and TIDE (together in dementia everyday), have come together to say never again will those affected face such hardship and loss.

Alzheimer’s Society’s investigation has shown the pandemic’s toll goes even further than deaths from the virus.

In a survey of 1,001 people who care for a family member, partner or someone close to them with dementia3, an overwhelming 92%4 said the pandemic had accelerated their loved one’s dementia symptoms; 28% of family carers said they’d seen an ‘unmanageable decline’ in their health5, while Alzheimer’s Society’s support services have been used over 3.6 million times since the pandemic began.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect support line has been flooded with calls from relatives revealing how quickly their loved ones are going downhill, losing their abilities to talk or feed themselves.

Nearly a third (32%) of those who lost a loved one during the pandemic thought that isolation/lack of social contact was a significant factor in that loss.6

People with dementia in care homes have been cut off from their loved ones for almost a year, contributing to a massive deterioration in their health.

A third (31%) reported a more rapid increase in loved ones’ difficulty speaking and holding a conversation, and quarter (25%) in eating by themselves.7

Only 13% of people surveyed have been able to go inside their loved one’s care home since the pandemic began. Almost a quarter (24%) haven’t been able to see their loved one at all for over six months.8

Alzheimer’s Society is calling for meaningful – close contact, indoor – visits to be the default position without delay from 8 March.

Orla Phipps who gave up her studies to live with her Grandmother Agnes said,

Coronavirus has affected my life and the life of my family immensely. The worry about what could happen to my grandma, if we risked having multiple carers looking after her, is the reason I become her full-time carer and left college.

Just before coronavirus hit my grandma Agnes was in a care home recovering from a hip replacement. We were very lucky that she was able to come home just before the nursing homes closed their doors. If she had been denied visits from our family, her dementia would have progressed much faster and her cognitive function would not be as good as it is today.

I have received so many comments from people who follow our TikTok account, who have lost loved ones too, many of whom had dementia and were in care homes. It breaks my heart to think of those who have died without their loved ones by their side.

We must do better by those with dementia and their families, now more than ever. People with dementia need human connection and visiting restrictions have taken this from them. Moving forward we must make up for lost time and show them the care and dignity that they so greatly deserve.”

There are an estimated 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, including more than 134,570 in the South East

Dementia organisations, including this coalition, joined forces as One Dementia Voice in July 2020 to call for designated family carers to be given key worker status to enable care home visits to loved ones.

Family carers are integral to the care system, and to the people for whom they care – it’s they who know how to get their loved ones to eat, drink, take medicine – and are often the first to know when something is wrong.

While the Government recently announced that indoor visits will restart for one family member from 8 March, the coalition emphasises that this must be the default position and that blanket bans on visitors (where there is no coronavirus outbreak) are unacceptable.

Jacqui Justice-Chrisp, South East Area Manager at Alzheimer’s Society said:

“Coronavirus has shattered the lives of so many people with dementia, worst hit by the pandemic – lives taken by the virus itself, and many more prematurely taken due to increased dementia symptoms and, in part, loneliness. Each one leaves behind a grieving family.

Family carers, too, have been buckling under the strain. We urge the Government to support people affected by dementia whose lives have been upended, putting recovery plans in place, but also making the legacy of Covid-19 a social care system that cares for the most vulnerable when they need it.”

Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK, John’s Campaign and TIDE (together in dementia everyday) are calling for:

  • A Recovery Plan with the needs of people affected by dementia at their heart.
  • Meaningful – close contact, indoor – visits to be the default position without delay from 8 March.
  • An end to blanket bans on care home visits where there is no active outbreak.
  • A recognition that family carers are integral to the care system.
  • Family carers to register their carer status with GP surgeries to ensure they get vaccination priority, and call on NHS England to ensure all surgeries enable this
  • Universal social care that we can all be proud of, free at point of use, like the NHS, like education – and providing quality care for every person with dementia who needs it.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect Support line – 0333 1503456 – [OK2] is available seven days a week, providing information and practical support for people affected by dementia.

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