Protecting vulnerable New Forest adults from scams

Scam Alert!

Protecting vulnerable New Forest adults from scams: Life Matters with Lester Aldridge Solicitors 

Have you received a text message or phone call claiming to be from a bank where you don’t hold an account? What about an email notifying you about a missed delivery, when you haven’t ordered anything? Well, you are not alone.

Since the Covid-19 first lockdown began in March 2020, there have been reports of an increase in the level and types of scams that appear to be circulating. According to a Barclays survey, the number of people who became victims of scams increased by over 66% from July to December 2020.

Increasingly exploiting the vulnerable

scam alertIn January 2021, Dorset Police warned about a text message, where it appeared that scammers were trying to use the Covid-19 vaccinations to obtain personal or bank details from their victims. The text claimed that the recipient was eligible to apply for vaccination and it contained a link to a form that requested their personal information.

Action Fraud (the national reporting centre for fraud) also reported receiving over 1,000 reports of a similar email scam within a 24 hour period.

Of even greater concern was a man being charged for billing a 92-year-old woman £160 for a fake Covid-19 vaccine and allegedly also administering a fake Covid-19 vaccine to her. The trial, in that case, is due to take place later this year.

Action Fraud has highlighted the fact that the NHS will not charge for a Covid-19 vaccine, nor will it request your bank details.

Whilst financial fraud was a problem in the UK long before the pandemic began, it now seems that fraudsters are trying to use Covid-19 to their advantage, in particular, to try to exploit the vulnerable.

Who is at risk?

Anyone can fall victim to a scam. Given, the techniques used by some fraudsters, it is easy to see why people can unwittingly respond to fake emails, doorstep callers, text messages or phone calls.

However, potentially vulnerable adults can be at greater risk of financial abuse during periods when they are isolated or their usual support network becomes limited. So, whilst fraudsters have previously targeted older adults, adults with learning difficulties and adults with mental health problems, the pandemic may have made these groups even more vulnerable.

And, the number of potentially vulnerable adults in the UK may now increase. The reason for this is that those who did not suffer from any mental or physical health problems prior to the pandemic may have become vulnerable since the pandemic began. For example, they might now be dealing with the long term physical effects of Covid-19 (sometimes referred to as ‘long Covid’) or mental health problems such as stress, anxiety or depression.

Unfortunately, fraudsters may be ready to try to exploit such an increase to their advantage. People who become vulnerable may act in different ways to those which they did previously, or take increased risks.

One type of fraud that seems to have increased during the Covids-19 lockdowns and periods of social distancing are scammers bombarding people with text messages, emails and letters which (wrongly) claim to be from genuine organisations.

Scammers are aware that, at a time when many people will rely on parcel delivery services, they may drop their guard and be more inclined to click on an online link or call telephone numbers, which aim to harvest their personal information or bank details.

One online report of a parcel delivery scam involved someone receiving a postcard through their door, which claimed to be from a well-known delivery company. The postcard was poorly drafted, it did not bear the company’s usual branding and it asked the recipient to call a number about a missed delivery (which they were not expecting) and also to pay a fee for re-delivering the item. Luckily, the recipient sought advice from others and they did not respond to the scam.scam alert covid

Who are the fraudsters?

Financial fraud can occur in many ways. In many cases, scammers may be ‘professional’ criminals who do not know their victims personally.

In other cases, the victim may know the fraudster, for example, where a relative or friend abuses access to a vulnerable adult’s bank card.

There can also be cases of a formal abuse of position. For example, someone acting under a financial Lasting Power of Attorney. Whilst many attorneys do a good job and provide a vital source of assistance to vulnerable adults, there are also some cases where financial abuse occurs through a Lasting Power of Attorney. This is usually where the attorney either exceeds the scope of their authority or deliberately deprives a vulnerable adult of their assets, to the attorney’s benefit.

Anyone who is a financial attorney or deputy for a vulnerable adult should consider whether there is any unusual activity with regard to that person’s income, savings or assets e.g. unusual spending patterns, or an attempt to transfer a property into a name of a third party, without there being a reason for that to occur.

The purpose of this blog is not to cause anyone sleepless nights. However, it is important to check or report any communication which may seem out of the ordinary. Hopefully, preventative action can then be taken or, in the unfortunate case where fraud has happened, this can be reported.

If you are not sure about an email, text or phone call contact claiming to be from a company, consider whether or not it could be a scam, or an attempt to obtain your personal information. Action Fraud provides some useful advice and information about current scams which may be circulating and also what to do if you think you have been a victim of fraud. You can also report suspicious emails, texts, phone calls or interactions through social media using Action Frauds’ online form.

Victoria JonesThe Disputed Wills Team at Lester Aldridge deals with cases involving disputes about Lasting Powers of Attorney and elder financial fraud.

If you would like further information, please contact 01202 786161 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Victoria Jones, Partner
Lester Aldridge

Weekly legal advice clinic on funding care

If following last month's article about funding care you would like to discuss this subject, please contact the Community Care team on 02380 827483, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We offer a free initial consultation by telephone or Zoom and run a weekly legal advice clinic between 4-5pm every Tuesday where no prior appointment is required.

 Free consultation on any legal matter

Lester Aldridge Solicitors are based in London, Southampton and Bournemouth - where the office covering the New Forest is situated conveniently close to the main Bournemouth train station. Their specialist teams in the various fields of law will be happy to advise and assist you, starting with a completely free initial consultation during which you can decide whether you feel able to trust them with your confidential information.  For more information please click here. Consultations are also available via virtual meetings : advice is available through phone, email, Skype and Zoom.

Life Matters: Lester Aldridge Solicitors on a wide range of legal matters

Life Matters from Lester Aldridge Solicitors - logoLife Matters is a regular monthly feature on Lymington.com, which covers a wide range of legal subjects and is always written by one of the Lester Aldridge team. You can see a list of all published articles by clicking to the Lester Aldridge Solicitors webpage on Lymington.com here.

Other Life Matters Articles by Lester Aldridge

February 2021 Update on funding care
January 2021 Ins and Outs of Spousal Maintenance  
November 2020 Buying a property with someone else
October 2020 Upate on funding care
September 2020 Pitfalls of hastily made wills
August 2020 Inheritance tax planning
July 2020 Cohabiting considerations
June 2020 Accessing health and social care 
May 2020 COVID-19 and contracts, meetings and signatures 
Apr 2020 Are your legal affairs up to date? 
Mar 2020 Child contact during lockdown
Feb 2020 Don't leave it too late - power of attorney
Jan 2020 Funding care: frequently asked questions
Dec 2019 Are you ready? Make time to get your affairs in order
Nov 2019  What happens to your digital assets after death
Oct 2019  DIY divorce
Sept 2019  NHS continuing healthcare
Aug 2019  Mediation
Jul 2019  Expert advice on divorce
May 2019 Financial abuse of older and vulnerable people: the signs and what to do  
April 2019  Divorce law reform: no-fault divorce explained
March 2019 Separation and the legal rights of grandparents to see their grandchildren
February 2019  Crisis in health and social care - but help at hand
January 2019 The importance of precise instructions to avoid disputed wills 
December 2018  Abusive Relationships - help is at hand
November 2018  Benefits of giving cash as Christmas presents
October 2018  Getting our affairs in order (don't put it off!)
September 2018 Inheritance tax planning
August 2018  Lasting powers of attorney demystified
July 2018  Making time to make a will



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