Former Aylesbury soldier tells story of how he was almost conned out of £3,000 to House of Commons reception

An ex-soldier from Aylesbury has told a House of Commons reception how he was almost conned out of £3,000 by a lottery scam.

Three years ago Barry Atkins had almost £3,000 sucked from his life savings by a bogus Spanish lottery.

The lucky escape led Barry to become an enthusiastic advocate for scam busting and a passionate campaigner against financial abuse of vulnerable people.

Last week Barry was given a parliamentary platform to tell his story and urge movers and shakers of the finance and security industries to wage war on the scammers.

Barry was speaking at a reception hosted by Conor Burns MP, Bournemouth University and the National Trading Standards Scams Team, to combat cyber scams and financial fraud targeting vulnerable adults.

Barry, who now works closely with Bucks Trading Standards, and is a Mail Marshal with Friends Against Scams, scanning the post for scams, told the reception: “The problem is that scams come from all over the world, so they are hard to find and it’s getting harder and harder to get rid of them.

“I’ve already worked to help six people in the area with scam mail.

“All it takes is somebody that is slightly confused, or elderly, to be tempted.”

At the reception, Mr Burns MP praised the victims and organisations working to detect and deter scammers, but said more could be done by banks and building societies to increase financial security against scammers.

Noel Brown, county council cabinet member for community engagement and public health said in the two years to March 2017 the county’s trading standards received 204 reported doorstep crime incidents and 223 scam reports in Buckinghamshire.

The average loss per victim was around £1700, and some people have been scammed of more than £300,000.

Cllr Brown said: “Scam champions like Barry do a great work in helping people understand the problems created by scammers, what to watch for, and the importance of telling someone else if they have any doubts.

“This helps our Trading Standards team to take early action and gather evidence which can lead to successful prosecutions.

“Sadly it’s the vulnerable who are often targeted and we want to be at the forefront of protecting them from these criminals.

“If we can catch them, we’d love it.

“And we can make a lot of people feel much better and safer.”