December 2022 CAPASP News

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I don't know how it's happened but we're now just a few days from Christmas!

For me it always seems to come around quickly, but this year it feels like it has hurtled towards us more rapidly than ever. 


Perhaps this is because my team at Cambridgeshire County Council and our CAPASP partners have been busier-than-ever helping people to stay safe from scams over this festive period and beyond.  Please read on to find out more.

So whilst this newsletter comes a little later than I would have liked, I hope you'll agree it's better late than never!

Wishing you a happy and peaceful Christmas and 2023.

CAPASP Celebrates 4 Year Anniversary!

Partner photo 4 year anniversary meet

Members of the CAPASP board

14th December marked four years to the day since our Against Scams Partnership launched. To mark the occasion, the partnership board came together at Cambridgeshire County Council's HQ, New Shire Hall at Alconbury Weald, to reflect on our successes and plan new areas for growth and development in the future. 

Particular successes include:

6249 Friends Against Scams trained to 'take a stand against scams'.

36 SCAMchampions - people who became Friends Against Scams and decided they wanted to help deliver the Friends Against Scams training to recruit more friends.

119 CAPASP supporters committed to building local resilience to scams. These are parish councils, community groups, businesses, housing associations and individuals - all committed to sharing our key messages across their networks to keep people safe from the financial and emotional harm of scams. 

Nearly 700 subscribers to this newsletter and scam alerts.

Many case studies of scam victims who have received wrap-around care and support from a range of CAPASP partners rather than simply the intervention of the first organisation to become aware of their plight. 

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Darryl Preston said: 

“CAPASP provides a vital service across our communities, and I have no doubt the information and advice it shares has protected countless residents from becoming a victim of crime.

Amidst the ongoing cost of living crisis, unscrupulous criminals are using every trick in the book to cash in and swindle people out of their life’s hard work. The need for this service has never been more great and I would like to congratulate everyone involved in the scheme for the amazing job they do – keep up the good work!”

Read the full press release here.

Cost of Living Support

As the rising cost of living continues to bite, the false promises made by fraudsters become ever more tempting. For example, bogus claims that a big cheque is waiting, (you just have to pay a fee to receive it), can be very enticing when times are hard. 

And for anyone who does suffer financial losses at the hands of scammers, the current climate is likely to exacerbate the impact of this. See this article here about how losing just £100 would send 13 million into crisis.

This is why CAPASP partners are supporting cost of living events across the county. These multi-agency drop-in events have already taken place across Fenland and Cambridge City with forthcoming events planned across the rest of Cambridgeshire as follows:

  • 18th January, 12pm - 4.30pm, Huntingdon Library
  • 20th January, 10am - 1pm, Cambourne Library
  • 23rd January, 2pm - 5pm, Sawston Library
  • 24th January, 11am - 2pm, Linton Library
  • 25th January, 10am - 12pm, Ely Library
  • 1st February, 10am - 1pm, Papworth Library
  • 7th February, 11am - 2.15pm, Cottenham Library

These events are free of charge, take place in warm, friendly libraries (where there is no stigma attached to attending) and are a chance for people who are struggling to heat their homes or pay their bills to receive advice and support from many organisations such as Age UK, Anglian Water, PECT, P3, Citizens Advice and Community Protection/CAPASP.  

Stay Safe Online This Christmas

Get Safe Online Christmas 2022 campaign image

Get Safe Online are running a campaign to ensure that people are protecting themselves and their family's finances and devices as they gift devices or use them to connect with others over the festive season. 

Tips include using Get Safe Online's check a website tool to check if a website is likely to be legitimate or fraudulent and ensuring that devices have security software, a new PIN or passcode (not the factory default that may be easily hacked) and is backed up automatically to save your data. 

Visit the campaign page for full details.

Community Protection Team Under Review

The current financial climate has meant that Cambridgeshire County Council must meet a budget deficit for the coming year. One proposal to reduce costs is to delete the Community Protection Team and the scams prevention work it delivers, but exploring other ways that this work might be continued.

The Community Protection Team consists of just three part-time staff for the whole of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, delivering the following core activities:

  • Scams Prevention/Awareness Raising 
  • Supporting victims referred by the National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team and CAPASP partners
  • Leading and providing administration for CAPASP

A formal consultation will be launched on 9th January which will be shared with CAPASP partners and supporters to make their representations. However, in the meantime, if you have any comments about how the team and CAPASP have supported you, your community or loved ones to stay safe from scams please contact us.

For example, if you attended a scams awareness talk and this helped you to avoid becoming a victim of a scam, please let us know. If you are a CAPASP supporter and have used our resources to warn your community about scams, please tell us about it, especially if you have examples where residents have benefitted. 

Remember, a person defrauded in their own home is 2.5 times more likely to die or go into care within a year, so prevention has a huge role to play in keeping people living safe and well in their own homes.

CAPASP on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

Since our last newsletter, Charlotte Homent joined Jeremy Sallis on 15th November's Money Hour to speak about online marketplace scams.

Jeremy Sallis

Jeremy Sallis

Karen Reid then joined Jeremy on 13th December's show to talk about ensuring internet connected devices are used safely this Christmas.  You can listen to Karen's excellent advice here from 37:30.  Please don't delay as playback will only be available until 11th January.

Over to CAPASP on HCRfm

We are very fortunate to have an invitation for a regular extended interview on Norman Knapper's 'Over to You' radio show on HCRfm. 

Norman Knapper

Norman Knapper

This month Charlotte Homent chatted to Norman about the CAPASP four year anniversary and about staying safe online when shopping, gifting and keeping in touch using internet connected devices this Christmas. You can listen back here (hover near the dates to reveal a scroll bar and select Over to You on 14th December). Please don't delay as playback is only available until 28th December.

Foam Insulation Warning

As homeowners take measures to make their homes energy efficient, Nationwide Building Society are warning of the perils of foam insulation to reduce heat loss, often offered by cold-callers. 

Incorrect installation can cause damp and mould in your home - or worse - and some people have reported problems trying to sell a property, take out a mortgage or release equity from a property with foam insulation.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) says, while it is not calling for an outright ban on spray foam, it is advising homeowners to get an independent expert to check that it is suitable for their home.

Remember; traditional roll insulation is available from most DIY stores, providing a cheaper, easy-to-use alternative without the confusion or worry of foam insulation.

New Friends Against Scams

Friends Against Scams logo

November saw scams prevention talks to the Hemingfords' National Women's Register and to residents of the Cross Keys Homes retirement living scheme at The Acres in Barnack.

Don't forget; if you would like a Friends Against Scams talk to be delivered to your workplace, community group, club or parish council please contact us. We would be delighted to help. 

Scam Refunds Continue

Since our November newsletter, the Community Protection Team have continued to return money to victims who were defrauded by a sweepstake scam in USA.

The fraudsters behind the scam were prosecuted for their crimes and made to forfeit $30million for return to their victims worldwide. The £530,000 slice for UK victims has been provided to National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team to allocate to their local authority partners to deliver to victims. Read more in this BBC News article.

In some cases we have been able to return over £1,000 to victims in time for Christmas.

In other cases we have had to identify a lasting power of attorney for property and financial affairs to pass the reimbursement to.  

Sadly, in other instances, the victim was discovered to be deceased so some detective work has been necessary to identify heirs and beneficiaries eligible for the payout. 

This work has been a lengthy process but provides immense satisfaction that the money is going in the right direction - away from the scammers and back to victims and their families.