DEMENTIA sufferers in Hastings have been scammed out of £154,700, a survey by the Alzheimer’s Society has revealed.
The survey found that 15 per cent of people with dementia in the town have been victims of financial abuse such as cold calling and scam mail.
Out of the 1,212 dementia sufferers in Hastings, 182 have been targeted by scammers, with The Office of Fair Trading estimating on average each person losing £850.
Chris Wyatt, the Alzheimer’s Society’s south east area manager, said: “We are merely scratching the surface of the frightening hidden depths of financial abuse.
“Too often con artists are dealing another body blow to people who already face high care costs and a society that fails to understand their needs.”
Dementia is a condition caused by the gradual loss of brain function and symptoms include loss of memory, problems with speech and changes in personality and behaviour.
The survey entitled Short Changed revealed in East Sussex there are 9,838 people with dementia and 1,476 of them have been duped financially. It is estimated they are out of pocket by more than £1.25million as a result.
Nationally, it was found 62 per cent of carers said the person they care for had been approached by cold callers or salespeople on their doorstep, while 70 per cent were regularly targeted by telephone cold callers.
The survey comes just a week after the NHS-funded report, National Audit of Dementia, found hospitals are failing to care properly for the growing number of people with the condition.
Financial expert Martin Lewis is now joining the Alzheimer’s Society in calling on Trading Standards and banks to protect people with dementia by appointing dementia champions to help increase awareness of the condition.
Founder of Moneysavingexpert, Martin Lewis, said: “The scale of this problem is huge.
“It’s deplorable that people are prepared to take advantage of some of the most vulnerable in our society. Society must help protect people with dementia - something must be done and I’d urge banks and Trading Standards in and around Sussex to take notice of the Alzheimer’s Society’s report and make urgent changes.”
The Alzheimer’s Society is developing a dementia awareness training programme which will be put in place in organisations such as banks.
By Chrissie Daniels