The fight against scammers has seen 14 ‘No Cold Calling Zones’ set up in South Tyneside – but ‘willing victims’ have hampered efforts to stamp out the practice.
Nuisance calls, mail scams and rogue traders targeting vulnerable people are though to cost UK councils about £4.5bn every year.
Members of South Tyneside Council were told about efforts to get to grips with the issue, including referral services and personal advice.
But sometimes, despite being shown evidence they are being taken advantage of, some refuse to admit they have been conned.
Susan Bell, the council’s fair trading officer, said: “Part of the problem is some people are willing victims.
“It’s difficult to get the balance right between giving people sound advice and telling people what to do.
“If people want to pay scammers, even though we know they’re committing crimes, it’s really difficult to stop them.”
She also likened the effect of some scams to ‘brainwashing’ in the effect they have on victims.
In one instance, she said, a bank manager had alerted the council after refusing to renew a victim’s chequebook due to the amount of suspect cheques she was writing.
Social isolation and loneliness are factors which make people more susceptible to fraudsters.
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service