Scams champion Barry gets parliamentary platform for his plea
Memories for veteran Aylesbury soldier Barry Atkins are still vivid - but not of war. They're of a mail scam that sucked almost £3,000 from his life savings a few years back.
Since then the one-time victim has become an enthusiastic advocate for scam busting and a passionate campaigner against financial abuse of vulnerable people.
And last week Barry found himself on a parliamentary platform urging movers and shakers of the finance and security industries to wage war on the scammers.
He was telling the story of how he was conned by a bogus Spanish lottery to more than 100 leading stakeholders at a House of Commons reception. It was hosted by Conor Burns MP, Bournemouth University and the National Trading Standards Scams Team, to combat cyber scams and financial fraud targeting vulnerable adults.
Barry, who now works closely with Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards, and is a Mail Marshal with Friends Against Scams, scanning the post for scams, told the reception: “The problem is that scams come from all over the world, so they are hard to find and it’s getting harder and harder to get rid of them.
"I’ve already worked to help six people in the area with scam mail," he said. "All it takes is somebody that is slightly confused, or elderly, to be tempted.”
Barry urged MPs to support the work of anti-scam campaigners.
Mr Burns praised the victims and organisations working to detect and deter scammers, but said more could be done by banks and building societies to increase financial security against scammers.
Noel Brown, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Public Health, (pictured) said in the two years to March 2017 Trading Standards received 204 reported doorstep crime incidents and 223 scam reports in Buckinghamshire The average loss per victim was around £1700, and some have been scammed of more than £300,000.
"Scams Champions like Barry do a great work in helping people understand the problems created by scammers, what to watch for, and the importance of telling someone else if they have any doubts," said Noel.
"This helps our Trading Standards team to take early action and gather evidence which can lead to successful prosecutions. Sadly it's the vulnerable who are often targeted and we want to be at the forefront of protecting them from these criminals.
"If we can catch them, we'd love it. And we can make a lot of people feel much better and safer."