Work to tackle 'Nigerian prince' scams and others in South Tyneside

Chiefs have reported successes in attempting to tackle scammers carrying out schemes in South Tyneside which include pretending to be a “Nigerian prince”.

South Tyneside Council officers stressed they have been working hard to protect vulnerable residents in the borough from being targeted by scams, including those on the phone and online.

It comes as part of activities carried out by the trading standards team, who form part of the council’s regulatory services department.

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Over the past 12 months 91 contacts were made with scam victims by the council, including two businesses, it has been revealed.

Work is ongoing to tackle scams, bosses have said.

During the year the team recorded helping 72 consumers by raising awareness of scams and assisted individuals from becoming repeat victims, a meeting heard.

James Maughan, the council’s service lead for community protection, said in two cases they have been able to return money lost through scams to the victims.

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He said: “Generally these types of scams are the ‘Nigerian prince’ kind, the we have some good news for you, all you need to do is buy our lucky numbers.

“Unfortunately, it’s dead easy for vulnerable victims to be taken in, so it is gratifying when we get to return sometimes hundreds of pounds to residents.

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“There’s some great work going on with scam victims who are referred to us.”

Mr Maughan made the comments at the latest meeting of the council’s licensing and regulatory committee, which took place on Friday, October 28, at South Shields Town Hall.

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Council chiefs noted the service has also supplied six call blockers to residents who believed they were being targeted by scam and nuisance phone calls over the past year.

The devices block unwanted calls automatically, and instead of trying to work out what’s genuine and what’s not, it lets friends and family straight through to talk but blocks everyone else.

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The work formed part of the “active” last 12 months for the trading standards team, in which they received 763 complaints over different issues.

Councillors heard such scams were one of the topics which residents got in contact about most, along with illegal tobacco products and age-restricted sales.