A CAMPAIGN is being launched after thousands of residents in Runcorn and Widnes have fallen prey to fraudsters.

More than 1,700 people have sought help from Halton Citizens Advice Bureau after being ripped off by con men.

The charity is urging people to be extra vigilant if anyone asks for financial details or offers unexpected prizes.

Halton CAB chief executive Hitesh Patel said: “Scammers can’t continue to get away with fleecing people of their hard-earned money. We want to see a fight back against scams.

“It is a disgrace that scammers often target elderly people with sophisticated scams such as posing as their bank or phone company.

“People regularly come to us with heartbreaking stories about con artists taking their money and it’s important that people know what to look out for and what they can do.”

Residents are warned to be on the lookout for any website, letter, doorstep seller or phone call with a proposal that sounds too good to be true because it might very well be a scam.

Scammers often try to seduce consumers through online adverts or dating websites and build relationships with people they later defraud.

Other common types including ‘phishing’ e-mails and ‘vishing’ phone calls designed to con people into giving away sensitive information, investment scams, and advanced fees requested to claim unexpected lottery wins.

CAB volunteer legal adviser Paul McGough said: “It’s time for us to give scammers the shove. By telling us about a scam we can stop the con artists in their tracks and make sure no one else falls foul of their tricks.

“We will be telling people about what to look out for, what kind of scams there are, and of the advice available if you think you might have been a victim.”

Halton CAB will be will be running information stalls, attending community events and running a Twitter and Facebook campaign during May.

If you receive a scam, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06.