Kibworth & Smeeton WI – March ’22

The subject of our March meeting was relevant to every one of us. Rebecca Spillane from Leicestershire Police talked to us about ‘How to detect and avoid fraud’. The scale of fraud is huge, yet only about 5% is reported. Part of Rebecca’s role is to raise awareness, encouraging us to talk to other people about what we have learned, and our own experiences. She said she could talk about this endlessly, but as she wasn’t wearing a watch we should give her a shout if she overran her allotted time! 

Rebecca took us through the four main vehicles used by scammers. Phone calls, supposedly from the bank, may advise moving money into a safer account immediately. A scam HMRC caller may tell the potential victim that they owe tax, causing panic, and ask for personal details over the phone. Banks, HMRC, the police and other authorities would never do that. You can hang up or challenge the caller; fir example, your bank will already have your details! If you want to ring your bank, wait several minutes for the connection to be broken, then ring the number on your bank statement.

4 Main Vehicles used by Scammers

Emails can initially look genuine. Often there are clues, perhaps in the form of address, e.g. simply “Hello” or “Dear customer”. Spelling, grammar and logos are other giveaways. If in doubt ignore the email. 

Romance scams are common and devastating. After gaining the victim’s confidence and trust through chatty emails and flattery, the scammers concoct a sob-story. Maybe they say they have a temporary cash-flow problem and ask for help. Ignore the request or ask them to give you a video call – there’s always an excuse not to do that. 

Scam mail includes promises of a large cash prize for winning a competition or a random draw. Claims require sending off an administration fee. 

Online shoppers are protected by corporate laws when buying from well-known companies. However if you are unsure about whether a company is legitimate, the advice is not to order. 

Doorstep scammers may say that your roof needs repair or a tree is unsafe. They will say they are working in the area, so can give you a special rate. Once the work has started they often invent more problems and demand more money. They commonly target older people who often have cash in hand. 

Advice to protect yourself from Fraud

Rebecca’s advice to protect yourself is: 

1. Stop – take a breath, give yourself time to think. 

2. Challenge – ignore emails and hang up on calls which seem suspicious or too good to be true. Banks, HMRC and the police would rather you do this if you are in doubt, even if their call is genuine. 

3. Report scams to your bank or other authorities. 

4. Call-blocker or monitoring services on phones are another method to protect yourselves. 

Rebecca answered many questions and gave us food for thought. Scams are on the increase and becoming more sophisticated. We must stay alert. 

Leicestershire & Rutland Federation of WI Annual Council Meeting

On Saturday 19 March members were delighted to attend Leicestershire and Rutland Federation of Women’s Institute Annual Council Meeting. It was at Leicester Grammar School for the first time since Covid. The formal business complete, we had two excellent morning speakers.

Susan McEniff told us about the work of Leicester Charity Link. Set up in 1876, it is just as relevant today, with Covid bringing more problems. It was fascinating to hear about the fundraising and wide range of agencies which source the help needed by families. The second speaker was Dickie Arbiter, former Royal Press Secretary. Impressively, he spoke for an hour without notes, enthralling us with his stories of the Royal Family. Discreet, humorous and charming, he corrected many inaccuracies of press reporting over the years. 

The lunch break was spent browsing stalls, exhibits and various competition entries. The raffle and fundraising quiz were popular; the craft stand had skills and artistic imagination to inspire us. 

After lunch Dr Annie Gray, food historian, told stories from her latest book. ‘Victory in the Kitchen’, the life and times of Georgina Landemare, which tells the story of Winston Churchill’s longest serving cook. It’s a fascinating insight into the world of cooking for the well-heeled in society, following changes in food fashions, recipes and requirements for a successful dinner party. 

Our Resolutions meeting next month will be followed by Blind Tasting – sounds fun! Visitors are welcome on May 12 at 7.30 in the GSH. 

Pat Sharma