Trading standards work recovers £2m

MORE than £2 million has been seized from the hands of criminals as a result of the work of Hampshire County Council’s Trading Standards officers.

Work to protect residents from rogue traders has secured more than £1 million in confiscation orders in the courts since 2009.

The largest amount recovered under confiscation orders was £300,000, from a man who sold fake electrical goods online.

Over the same five-year period, safeguarding and mediation techniques have been used by Trading Standards to recover £1 million from scammers, on behalf of vulnerable consumers.

The county council receives about 65 referrals a month and officers work with victims to help them get their money back.

Pauline McWilliams, from Trading Standards’ safeguarding unit, said: “Trading Standards visit every person to see how they are coping and to find out what’s happened.

“For example, someone with a learning disability, or an elderly person, may have paid £15,000 for some double-glazing work after a sales person knocked on their door.

“They may have felt pressurised by the cold call into buying a product they didn’t need or want. We would then intervene on their behalf and negotiate with the relevant company to get them a partial or full refund.”

Council leader Roy Perry said: “It doesn’t matter if it is £300,000 that is recovered, or £1, we will look to recover the proceeds.

“Many victims of financial crime or abuse, or indeed other scams, are often vulnerable. The thought of going through the court process and being a witness can make victims simply too anxious to proceed and often victims are too scared to tell anyone what has happened to them for fear of being judged.

“This can make victims feel socially isolated, force them to suffer real financial hardship and in the most extreme cases, make them feel suicidal.”

Anyone who has fallen victim to a scam or cold call or knows someone who has been affected, is urged to report the matter to Trading Standards on 08454 04 05 06 or at www.hants.gov.uk/tradingstandards.htm.

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