Milton Keynes City Council has partnered with Thames Valley Police (TVP) to take a stand against offenders who exploit vulnerable people for their money.
Called ‘Operation Intercept’, the initiative will see the City Council work with partners to raise awareness among family and friends to spot the signs of scams. The organised networks involved in these activities prey on vulnerable people, using exploitative techniques by befriending their victims and eventually leaving them in real financial difficulty.
There are a number of signs friends and family should look out for, including drug activity, persistent visitors to an address, unexplained injuries and money going missing, among others.
Some of the techniques used include grooming and befriending vulnerable people before exerting that control to make financial gain. Often victims are incapable of giving evidence due to their own vulnerabilities, providing a number of challenges to take action.
Milton Keynes City Council is already working to root out these people from the community, having recently secured a number of court orders to disrupt a local network of abusers.
Last month, the City Council presented evidence to Milton Keynes County Court which showed that both Louise Aherne and Suzanne Proctor targeted elderly victims by gaining their trust and taking £1,800 a month from their bank account.
The abuse began a number of years ago, following a period of grooming and befriending the victim, gaining trust before exerting their control over his finances. The City Council’s intervention was timely, with the victim in debt and at risk of losing his home before the perpetrators were intercepted.
An Anti-social Behaviour Injunction (ASBI) was granted against both women with conditions to protect the victim, and other vulnerable adults, from abuse.
The terms of the court order prohibits Ms Aherne and Ms Proctor from handling bank cards or money belonging to other people, escorting people to the bank, contacting the victim, and entering the area surrounding Bradville in Milton Keynes. If they breach the court order, they could face up to two years in prison.
Cabinet Member for Adults, Healthy Communities and Housing, Cllr Emily Darlington said: “Operation Intercept sends out the strongest possible message to perpetrators – stop the abuse now, or risk going to prison.
"Proving these cases can be incredibly challenging that’s why we’re asking families and friends to be alert and report any suspicious activity to us at the earliest opportunity.”