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Patricia Gibson, MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, today met up with former Strictly Come Dancing Head Judge, Len Goodman, 73, to talk about a campaign he is fronting for Santander UK to address the issue of scams targeted at the over 60s. Earlier this year, Len became the first graduate of Santander’s SAS (Scam Avoidance School), a free class offered all over the UK to help people avoid being taken in by scammers. The initiative was launched by the bank in March and since then around 800 classes have been held at branches and other local community centres across the UK, taking around 12,000 people through a syllabus of how to avoid online, impersonation, cashpoint and card cons. The Scam Avoidance School was developed by Santander in partnership with fraud expert Dr Paul Seager, psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire and followed research by Age UK highlighting how older people are one of the most at-risk groups for being scammed – upwards of five million over 65s have been targeted by scammers. Additional research by Santander has revealed that 65 per cent of over 60s in Scotland are worried about the threat of scams and the overwhelming majority (71 per cent) in Scotland believe more needs to be done to help their age group learn about scams to avoid having their money and identities stolen. Aside from wanting to do all he can to help other over 60s wise up to the tricks employed by scammers, Len Goodman was first to sign up to the SAS given his personal experience of fraud when his daughter-in-law lost around £16,000. Patricia Gibson MP said: Scamming disproportionately affects the elderly and other vulnerable members of all our communities and this problem is becoming greater with each passing day. The Office for National Statistics predicts the number of elderly people living in our communities will increase by 34% from 11.6million to 15.7million people by 2030. And those living with dementia will increase from 850,000 to 2.1 million people by 2030. Those criminals who perpetrate scams use sophisticated techniques to repeatedly scam their victims whilst Trading Standards, hard pressed as they are, are working on the front line to do all they can to safeguard the vulnerable. The most sinister, cynical and cruel aspect of scamming is that it is criminal activity that targets those who are most vulnerable in their own homes. Let us not forget that the impact of dementia and other impairments makes vulnerability more pronounced and the ability to repeatedly target an individual more possible. It has been demonstrated that victims of scams were nearly 2.4 times more likely to require increased care provision or be dead with the two years subsequent to being scammed than those who had not been scammed. It has been reported that scam victims often experience a rapid drop in their physical health after realising they have been scammed. That is why campaigns like this are so important.

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