Crawley mail scam victim sent money to fraudsters ‘every day for up to ten years’

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Posters and leaflets designed to raise awareness about mail scam fraud will appear on buses and be sent to every home across West Sussex.

Sussex Police said more than 400 elderly people living in the county had lost a total exceeding £2million to mail scams.

A victim who from Crawley sent £1,100 to scammers over the course of a month, said police.

The 94-year-old widow sent money to claim for competition prizes which did not materialise.

She used her bank card to send money to companies in Belgium every day for up to ten years.

The spokesman said: “She appeared addicted to the scams and couldn’t admit that it was causing her a problem.

“She stated it was just harmless fun.

“Her home was littered with envelopes and cut-outs from mail ready to be responded to.”

Working with the Metropolitan Police and National Scams Hub, Sussex Police obtained a list of potential scam victims containing the names and addresses of 1,537 people living in West Sussex.

The force visited more than 900 of the potential victims living in Sussex over the last six months.

The majority of the identified victims were aged between 80 and 90.

Almost all did not recognise they were victims of fraud.

Many who appeared on the list had died.

Chief Superintendent Wayne Jones said; “This is a mean and heartless crime that targets elderly, vulnerable and often lonely people.

“The scams usually involve the victims receiving letters and sometimes phone calls from overseas claiming that they have either won money and need to send a percentage of the ‘winnings’ to claim their prize or that they should send money in with competition entries.

“We have seen victims who have lost their entire life savings and prefer to send their pension to the scammers rather than buy food and pay for heating. Several of our victims have incurred large debts and their quality of life has been massively affected. Sadly we have even encountered examples where victims suffer anxiety, depression and in one case attempted suicide.”

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said; “Everyone has a responsibility to look out for those in the community who could be more susceptible to being scammed in this way.

“If you think that a friend, relative or neighbour may be a victim, please contact the police immediately by calling 101 or emailing”

For further information on the background to Operation Signature and how to prevent this type of fraud see the Sussex Police website -,-scams-and-financial-issues/what-is-operation-signature