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2008 Retired Members' Conference
13 June 2008

Conference deplores the increasing incidence of mail, internet, phone and other scams aimed specifically at vulnerable elderly people. Tragic tales of elderly people sending off hundreds or thousands of pounds to bogus competitions, lotteries etc on the promise of a large cash prize are all too prevalent, and seem to be on the increase.

Conference is appalled at a new approach to this type of scam whereby recipients are asked to make a contribution towards the education of a child in a developing world country, usually somewhere in Africa, and includes heart-rending accounts of the life of a non-existent child attending a non-existent school allegedly run by nuns.

Conference believes that this fast growing crime has to be tackled as a matter of urgency and potential victims warned that these mailshots are run by highly organised criminal gangs whose only purpose is to steal their money. Experts in the field have discovered that many of these gangs are targeting their victims quite deliberately and know that vulnerable elderly people offer rich pickings.

Conference applauds the efforts being made by various organisations including relevant charities and consumer organisations as well as the media. However until all these potential victims understand the nature of this phenomenon and that there are no prizes, the gangs perpetrating these scams will continue to grow rich at the expense of elderly victims who can least afford to have their money stolen in this way.

Conference therefore instructs the National Retired Members’ Committee to:

i.Liaise with the National Executive Council about action UNISON can take to tackle this issue including relevant publicity which details the ever more devious and sophisticated methods employed;

ii.Liaise with appropriate organisations involved in tackling this problem,

particularly those working with and for elderly victims;

iii.Ensure retired members are aware of this problem through Branch Retired

Members’ Secretaries and Branch/Regional Retired Members’ Committees;

iv.Report back to Conference 2009.