CROOKS conned an elderly man with dementia out of £60,000.
The 76-year-old, from Lee-on-the-Solent, fell victim to dozens of telephone and postal frauds.
The confused man even sent off his passport to an overseas address.
When a switched-on friend saw he was making too many trips to the bank she uncovered a trail of fraudulent letters and phone calls.
Judi Cooper has now been honoured by the Trading Standards Institute after working to stop the man being a target for conmen.
Judi, 61, of Clifton Road, Lee-on-the-Solent, said: ‘This award came as a complete surprise. All I was doing was helping a friend.
‘He seemed to be always popping down to the bank.
‘I started questioning it and I noticed lots of junk mail. ‘The strips at the bottom which ask you to send money were on his table.
‘Then he was telling me about some shares he thought he had in America.
‘He honestly thought he was going to get something back.
‘He was losing money left right and centre.
‘Through that I was very involved in trying to find names and numbers of those involved.
‘It has been very hard trying to stop them doing this and to try and stop him from believing what those people were saying. They are very clever.
‘I know this is just the tip of the iceberg but I hope the investigations continue.
‘I am grateful for the opportunity to bring awareness to vulnerable adults.’
By visiting her friend every day, Judi was able to intercept any scam mail and stop the 74-year-old from losing any more money.
He had also fallen victim to a boiler room fraud, where high-pressure sales techniques are used to persuade victims to buy shares which turn out to be worthless. The TSI decided to honour Judi’s hard work in protecting the elderly man, who has dementia and suffers from short-term memory loss.
Judi helped Hampshire’s Trading Standards unit, the police and Hampshire County Council’s safeguarding team in an attempt to trace the tricksters.
It led to an investigation by Interpol.
Judi was given her award at a national consumer affairs conference.
At the same time, a council scheme protecting vulnerable adults from being conned out of their savings by fraudsters was honoured by the TSI.
The Financial Abuse Safeguarding Unit of Hampshire Trading Standards was presented with a recognition award at the conference.
The council’s leader, Councillor Ken Thornber, said: ‘The safeguarding unit is a powerful tool to tackle incidents of financial abuse among vulnerable residents.
‘I congratulate the team.’