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Elderly couple victims of scams

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Scam mail: The mail received by the elderly Pembrokeshire couple

Scam mail: The mail received by the
elderly Pembrokeshire couple

THE SON of an elderly South Pembrokeshire couple who spent more than £40,000 of their life savings on fake prize draws has urged others whose family may have also been taken in by scam mail to seek help from Trading Standards.

The man, who does not wish to be named, has spent years urging his parents to ignore junk mail – to no avail.

He said: “Over the years the stress it has put on my father and mother both emotionally and financially has taken its toll on their lives. It has also had a severe impact on other members of the family as well who have tried in vain to advise and intervene in my parents’ actions.”

The problems started around 14 years ago when his father, then aged 75, responded to an advert to buy books and videos.

The couple started to receive more and more junk mail, and his father would make it a priority to respond to it – often staying up late into the night to complete the paperwork for prize draws.

Important mail, such as doctors’ appointments, utility bills, and letters from the local authority, would be completely ignored so that he could continue to respond to the scam mail.

A few years later, he started to develop dementia, and although his son tried to intervene many times, his father still believed he would win – and that he was actually working for some of the companies that were contacting him so frequently.

At the peak of the problem in 2008, the couple were receiving approximately 30 to 40 letters a day – the vast majority from overseas.

But they denied that they were responding to it and hid it all over the house – in cupboards and under the bed.

“My parents were very secretive because they had effectively been ‘groomed’ by the scammers not to tell anyone about what they were doing,” said the son, who is 62.

Over a two-year period, the best part of £9,000 was sent to 70 different companies with payments ranging from £10 to £250, often with multiple payments made on the same day.

And they continued to send money – despite receiving a letter from the Office of Fair Trading saying they were victims of a scam, and cheques returned by the Canadian Police.

At last, after lengthy negotiations with Royal Mail, the son was able to re-direct their mail. Thanks to an understanding bank manager, who made him a signatory on their bank account, he was also able to take control of their finances.

“Because of the mental health issues of my parents I was unable to gain Power of Attorney but eventually with the help of the DSS I was made an appointee for my parents, which allowed me to handle their affairs with regards to benefits, council tax, electricity etc,” he said.

He added: “Until recently when I had a meeting with Pembrokeshire Trading Standards I felt alone and climbing an uphill battle with what at times seemed insurmountable opposition from regulated authorities who would not deal with a ‘third party’ only with the person named on the bill. If you are worried or concerned about a parent or member of the family who you believe is being scammed, take heart. There are ways around the system, you have to take control of the situation and stop the flow of mail and ‘demanding letters’.”

Pembrokeshire’s Trading Standards service has held a number of surgeries throughout the county offering advice on scams, and further ones are planned.

“Scams can cause a lot of anxiety. We are urging anyone concerned about them to contact us, so that we can provide help and professional advice,” said Nigel Watts, Trading Standards, Animal Health and Welfare Manager.

Cllr Huw George, Cabinet Member Environmental and Regulatory Services, said anyone could be taken in by a scam.

“These scams are incredibly convincing and many people in Pembrokeshire are being targeted,” he said. “If you think you or your family has been affected, please seek advice. The bravest phone call is the first one to Trading Standards.”

The son added that sadly, the hoaxes are so believable that his parents are still not convinced that they were the victims of scams, despite over two years of intervention.

“Even now, if my parents were to receive another letter promising them that they are ‘A Guaranteed Winner’ of an astronomical sum of money they would continue to believe it,” he said.

There is advice on how to avoid scams on the County Council’s website at www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/ tradingstandards

If you think a member of your family or someone you care for has been affected by a scam – or if you think you have – please contact Pembrokeshire’s Trading Standards team via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 / 040505 (for Welsh speakers).

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Marloes pensioner in child abuse images case

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A PENSIONER has been bailed to attend Swansea Crown Court by magistrates sitting in Haverfordwest Law Courts this week.

Derek Lister, 72, of Marloes is accused of making indecent photographs of children.

He appeared before the bench, on Tuesday (Apr 13).

Lister was represented by Redkite Solicitors.

The court heard that between June 2009 and November 2019 in Marloes, Pembrokeshire, Lister allegedly created 3 indecent category A images of a child, 14 indecent category B images of a child and 152 indecent category C images of a child.

He will now appear at Swansea Crown Court on May 11 at 10am for the next hearing after the local court declined jurisdiction.

Lister has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

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Primary school teacher described as ‘touchy-feely’ on day two of trial

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A HAVERFORDWEST primary school teacher, accused of sexually assaulting his pupils was “very touchy-feely”, Swansea Crown Court heard on the second day of his trial.

James Oulton, 34, of Haverfordwest would put his hands around students’ waists and touch their bottoms, an ex-female pupil said in a video interview played to Swansea Crown Court.

The defendant denies 30 charges of sexual assault at a primary school in Haverfordwest. The alleged offences took place between 2012 and 2018.

On the opening day of the trial, court heard that Oulton said the case was a “witch-hunt” and that he always behaved appropriately with children.

On Tuesday, the jury watched the video interview with one of Oulton’s former pupils, who said he was a “friendly person, very chatty and sociable and quite outgoing and wanted to know everything that was going on.”

She added: “Mr Oulton often wanted to know a lot of details on what we had done over the weekend, where we had been, and also who they had been with.”

“At the time I just thought he was trying to be really friendly but now when I look back at it now, it does seem odd.”

The witness also described the defendant as a “very touchy-feely teacher”.

She added: “If he was marking your work or if you approached him to ask him a question, he would put his hands around your waist or around your bum”.

“If he was standing by his desk, he would, like, motion to his knee, so he wouldn’t ask you directly to sit on his lap but he would tap his knee.”

Swansea Crown Court heard that the witness eventually came forward and told her parents parents after she heard them speaking about Mr Oulton being suspended from his job.

“Did you feel under pressure to say something had happened to you?” asked Mr Clee.

The witness answered “No”

Oulton, of Richmond Crescent, Haverfordwest, previously told the court he had behaved appropriately.

He also believed letters were sent by Pembrokeshire County Council to parents which encouraged “deliberately false evidence” and collusion between pupils.

The trial continues.

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‘We don’t want it’: councillors object to HGV tanker park plans

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PEMBROKE DOCK town councillors have objected strongly to plans to build a HGV tanker park in the town.

The tanker park would be located on the south-western side of Criterion Way, behind the ASDA petrol station.

However, at a meeting of the town council’s Planning Committee on Tuesday, April 13, councillors were in agreement that it would create more problems for the town.

Councillor Jonathan George said: “I’ve noted the public input on this and they don’t seem very happy about where it’s going to be put.

“It is close to a small park area and I don’t think it’s suitable to put this here. I won’t be supporting this.”

Cllr George Manning added: “There are many aspects of this which are totally inappropriate for Pembroke Dock. There are many other sites available but they haven’t looked at any of them.

“This does not do anything for the Future Generations act and it will bring more disruption to the town.

“This does not bring about any improvements to the existing transport infrastructure. There are lots of things about this, we don’t want it. I don’t think they have looked into it in enough detail.”

Cllr Gordon Goff said that the impact it would have on the public and wildlife would be ‘astronomical’.

He went on to say he was not happy with one of the statements in the application and said they ‘don’t want to be blackmailed’.

One of the documents submitted with the application states that if the development was not approved it would mean that the applicants, Certas, ‘will either have to find a different site’ or ‘will have to cease operating in the area’.

Cllr Terry Judkins said that the Port Authority wanted to ‘use Pembroke Dock as a dumping ground’ and added that he could not support it.

Cllr Maureen Colgan added that she was ‘totally against’ the application and said that the area should be kept for leisure and be developed as an area where people can sit and enjoy themselves.

The application is due to be decided by Pembrokeshire County Council at a later date.

Cllr Paul Dowson has already called in the application for it to be debated by the County Council’s Planning Committee.

In his request he states that it is too near habitation, it is within the Pembroke Dock conservation area and that children have been using the area near the bandstand as play area for over 20 years.

The area had also previously been the subject of an application for a marina and other leisure facilities but that investment was written off in 2017.

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