Dementia sufferers robbed of £100m: Conmen prey on elderly
HEARTLESS criminals are targeting dementia sufferers in a bid to fleece them of their life savings.Charities estimate the gangs have pocketed more than £100million by conning the elderly and vulnerable on an industrial scale.
More than 100,000 have fallen prey to the crooks, who often sell the names and addresses of their victims to fellow fraudsters.
Now campaigners are demanding tough measures to protect the 700,000 people across the country who have dementia. Evidence suggests the trauma of being robbed is sending scores of victims to an early grave.
The elderly have always been easy targets for doorstep swindlers, who were mostly after cash hidden under beds. However, a callous new generation of criminals is using more organised methods.
North Yorkshire has become a hotspot for gangs from the South-west, the Home Counties and the Midlands. Cases have emerged of victims forking out £250,000 each for botched roof repairs, driveways or gardening work.
Trading standards officers with North Yorkshire County Council have launched five major investigations. Ruth Andrews, who is leading the inquiries, said: "In my eyes these offences are just as despicable as some forms of sex abuse with offenders grooming their victims.
"The impact can be devastating and in rare cases can lead to an early death."
Widow Kathleen Gardner, 81, was so traumatised after being fleeced of £6,000 that she had to leave her home in Thornton-le-Dale to move into a care home. Her nephew Michael Hall said: "At least she is safe there."
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