Protecting elderly & vulnerable people from scams which come through the postal system and criminals who contact them by telephone.
The National Trading Standards Scams team estimated postal scams could be netting criminals worldwide up to £10 billion a year
Criminals worldwide are hunting down the most fragile members of our society by “working” from mailing lists which categorise people as being elderly or vulnerable in some way. Everyone is at risk but those listed as living alone, not having the internet or any way of being educated about scams or how to report them are their preferred targets. They contact them by letter and phone call and try to trick them into parting with cash.
Those who respond end up have their details put on what criminals call “suckers lists”. They sell these lists to other scammers all over the world. This can result in victims being delivered 100+ scam letters a day and plagued by international phone calls. Millions of victims have a condition which Think Jessica is trying to get recognised as Jessica Scam Syndrome (JSS)
People with JSS have been “brainwashed” by criminals who are having an easy and assisted passage into their homes, minds and bank accounts.
The definition of brainwashing
“To make someone believe something by repeatedly telling them that it’s true and preventing any other information from reaching them”
They do this by posing as various characters e.g. lottery officials, bankers, solicitors, presidents of companies, clairvoyants & FBI agents, some send out catalogues and repeatedly promise the victim a large cash prize if they place an order. Some vulnerable people have spent thousands of pounds chasing non-existent prizes. Scammers are ruthless, calculating and clever. They use the voice of authority to swear victims to secrecy and scammers posing as clairvoyants say things like “your family are against you” and “those pretending to help you, wish you harm”. The idea is to constantly fill the victim’s head with the “voices” of these characters until they become unable/unwilling to listen to anyone else.
Once snared JSS victims do not have the mental capacity to understand they are being scammed, even if they are told time and time again by family or professionals (read Jessica’s story) Think Jessica is continually contacted by relatives of people with JSS, thousands of these have emptied their bank accounts and some have gone on to suffer disturbed mental health and been sectioned after years of trying to keep up with the criminals constant demands for cash.
JSS sufferers have attempted and committed suicide. Please watch the shocking DVDs on the “Stories & DVDs” page.
Worryingly many sufferers are socially isolated or have family who are unaware that they are being targeted. Victims of scams or their relatives can make a report to Action Fraud or contact Think Jessica to have the victim referred to local Trading Standards for a home visit. However, because victims with JSS have been “brainwashed” they are willing participants of their own exploitation and have become trapped in the criminals delusional world, so they refuse to co-operate or pretend they have stopped responding to scams and carry on in secret.
As the law stands even if a person with JSS is identified by the police no intervention can take place.
In March 2014 the National Scams Team estimated £10 Billion a year was being sent to postal scams alone, however, Think Jessica believes this is only the tip of the iceberg as in one week the charity can be alerted to silent victims who have collectively lost over £1 million. (Unreported)
Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones MRCPsych, BA(Hons), DOccMed, MD(Imperial).Consultant Psychiatrist, Director and Lead Clinician, National Problem Gambling Clinic, London.
Elderly people are more vulnerable than most to becoming victims of financial scams as their mental ability to assess risk may be declining in keeping with other age-related brain changes.
Although Jessica scam syndrome is not currently a recognised medical illness, it is a sad reality for the many suffering victims.’
This condition is not properly understood because it’s impossible for professionals to assess someone who refuses help, isn’t diagnosed as having any mental health issues or doesn’t want to discuss their financial affairs. For years these victims have been labelled as “chronic” victims or gambling addicts.
Think Jessica is campaigning for protection for people with “Jessica Scam Syndrome” by having JSS recognised as a condition which is treated by separation from the criminals. It’s not just about protecting the victims; it’s about stopping this serious and endemic criminal activity taking place in the UK.
TJ does not want those with JSS to automatically lose control of their finances or independence, but their mail redirected to a relative or trusted person who would return the genuine mail and phone number changed. These victims will need counselling and aftercare too.
These crimes are called Mass Marketing Fraud (MMF)
Professor Mark Button, Director of the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies says,
“In 2009 I led a project for the National Fraud Authority and ACPO to investigate fraud victims and to look at the impact, support they receive. During this research we interviewed several victims who fell into this Jessica Scam Syndrome category, as well as their families. The impact of this fraud on the victims and families was terrible and we identified many areas where organisations and the Government could do more to help the victims and their families”
Leon Livermore, CEO Trading Standards Institute says,
“Trading Standards Officers up and down the country are working hard to help protect vulnerable people from these types of scams.
Unfortunately some victims are like Jessica and refuse to accept any help or intervention.
The impact on them and their families can be truly devastating. The Institute is fully behind the campaign to get Jessica Scam Syndrome recognised,
as we believe that this will be a valuable tool in helping professionals protect and support victims and potential victims”
“The National Scams Hub says,
(NSH) was set up in 2013 to help gather intelligence on scams and scam victims and to raise public awareness of damage caused by scams.
As well as educate practitioners to try to prevent further people suffering from this kind of financial abuse.
The NSH values all of the work that Think Jessica does in raising the profile of this devastating problem and welcomes the partnership with the NSH.
Together we can make an impact on this grossly under reported issue and help the people who are greatly affected by this problem”
We want to get information booklets distributed to the elderly and vulnerable people in your community? and have our information posters displayed in the doctor’s surgery, post office and library in your area? For more information about how you can help or if you would like to sponsor Think Jessica please email email@example.com