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Police launch new campaign to protect those vulnerable to fraud

Police in Devon have started a new operation to protect elderly victims of fraud.

Since May last year in North and West Devon police know of 35 elderly people who between them have lost £600,000 in scam mail crimes.

Criminals are exchanging the names of the elderly in the West Country using marketing lists of the vulnerable.

Police say these organised gangs then bombard their victims with scam mail and are defrauding them of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

One 92-year-old woman, who didn't want to be named, thought she'd been paying clairvoyants to send predictions through the post. Officers say it's a scam, and she has no idea how much money she's lost to the fraudsters.

Officers say they're sure there are many more victims like this.

Police today launched Operation Jessica to help protect the elderly and vulnerable from this type of crime. It's named after a victim who died after being hounded by fraudsters. Her daughter started The Think Jessica Charity to try to stop others suffering as her mum had done.

The police believe money given by Devon victims to these fraudsters could be funding even worse crimes:

Police crack down on fraudsters

Old and vulnerable people in Devon and Cornwall have been conned out of £600,000 in the past eight months Credit: PA

Devon and Cornwall Police have begun a campaign against fraudsters.

They say old and vulnerable people in the force area have been duped out of £600,000 In the past eight months.

Officers are targeting the gangs and warning older people to be on their guard.

We've met lots of people who come in and say they've been taken for a ride and feel very silly about it. But, you know, the people doing it are very accomplished. So if you've got any doubts, check it out with family, friends, or with us at Age UK.

– MARTYN ROGERS, Age UK Exeter

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£1 million makeover for Somerset school

Somerset school gets £1m makeover Credit: ITV West Country

Pupils at a school in Somerset are benefiting from the results of a million pound building project at their school.

The investment at North Petherton Primary has enabled three new classrooms to be built to accommodate the rise in the number of pupils in the area. And a makeover of the outside space means there's more room for the children to play outside.

Head Teacher Gary Hobbs says the transformation has brought the school together.

Somerset farmers to protest falling milk prices

Farmers will protest in Bridgwater tonight over a further cut to the price they get paid for milk.

The new drop in price means farmers only receive an average of 24p per litre of milk - which costs around 30p to produce.

This follows similar action in October, when farmers blockaded a supermarket depot in Bridgwater.

Tune in to ITV News West Country at 6pm tonight, when we'll be talking to a dairy farmer about what has prompted this latest protest.

Tonight's protest will be the latest in a long-running dispute. Credit: ITV News

Donated Xmas dinners for Cornwall's crisis families

Hundreds of donated Christmas dinners are on their way to families in crisis across Cornwall.

The Cornwall Christmas box project is asking people to pledge a dinner worth £30. Blackwater Primary, Truro, is the first school to sign up to the scheme. A team from Cornwall Social Services will be delivering them to those in need.

We'd like to add things to it that will actually make it a pleasant Christmas Day, so there's mince pies, there's cranberry sauce, Christmas pudding, stuffing and maybe even a box of crackers, so right the way through the day we want to provide the family with something that means the pressure is off them financially to provide a substantial and enjoyable meal for the day."

– Rob Graham, Blackwater Primary School

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Plymouth billionaire to give prisoners a pep talk

Plymouth's first home-gown billionaire is going to prison today, but just as a guest.

The founder of the Range chain of discount stores, Chris Dawson, will be in Dartmoor today. He is giving prisoners a pep talk on how to make an honest living.

His chain of a hundred stores and other enterprises are said to have earned him more than £1.2 billion but can still be seen working at weekends in his first store in Plymouth.

Dartmoor Prison. Credit: PA

£2 billion funding for West's roads due to be announced

Two billion pounds' worth of new road schemes for the region are due to be announced on Monday, ITV News West Country understands.

These are likely to include a tunnel at Stonehenge and making the A358 into dual carriageway - something Yeovil MP David Laws has been campaigning for.

"It's totally unacceptable that we've got a road that is so congested for large parts of the year. That's very inconvenient for people in my constituency who travel around parts of Somerset, it's certainly very inconvenient for people who want to travel across the region. It's absurd that when we're investing so much in other parts of the country that the South West has had to wait for so long."

– David Laws MP, Lib Dem, Yeovil
David Laws MP. Credit: PA
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