The first meeting of the New Year and the Committee decided that with the rising number of cases of the Omicron variant it would be safer, and the most responsible decision, to hold the meeting on Zoom. There were approximately 52 members attending (difficult to be accurate when counting people on screens) and as members joined there was a happy buzz of conversation.
Christine Barwell, Chair, opened the meeting by welcoming the members and explaining the Committee’s decision regarding reverting to zoom. She reminded listeners about the motto of u3a, ‘Learn, Laugh & Live’ and urged them to be become more involved and have their say. Chris reiterated that we had various committee members who were about to leave and hoped that from our 180 members there must be individuals who would consider joining the team. She then explained that the AGM, to be held in February, would also be on Zoom, as last year, and that members would receive all the nominations for committee by email. They could then make their choices and vote prior to the meeting to help simplify the process.
Following the election of committee and officers, Martin Gregory, Mayor of Looe, will address the meeting with his annual update of all matters pertaining to Looe Town Council.
Events: Once again, Chris appealed for members to become involved and submit fresh ideas for the future. She reported that the committee had decided to postpone the Annual Dinner, due to be held in February, as few had showed interest in attending whilst infections in the community were high.
Groups news: The Chair listed those groups that were currently up and running: Book Club, Film Club, Garden Safari, Languages (French, German, Spanish at intermediate and advanced levels) Music Appreciation, Poetry, Recorders, Tunes in the Afternoon, Ukuleles and the two Walking groups. She explained that there had been interest shown in a having a Science Club and a Discussion Group and asked members to get in touch if they were also interested in these.
Chris then introduced the speaker for the morning, Ash Jones of the Regional Organised Crime Unit from the Avon and Somerset Police and his talk entitled, ‘Have you been scammed?’
He began a most fascinating, informative and at times alarming tale of fraud, its impact and ways to prevent it.
Among many facts and figures, he explained that in 2020 the cost of fraud to the country had been £190 billion with £7 billion of that being loss to individuals but that 80% of that had been preventable. He explained that the top 3 frauds in the South West were; Investment fraud, Romance fraud and Courier fraud.
Ash then went on to give members his Golden Rules in order to avoid being scammed.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Give yourself time to think before making any commitment. Don’t be pressured to make a decision.
- Never pay for anything in an ‘odd’ or unconventional way e.g. gift vouchers.
- Never reveal personal information or data to anyone over the phone no matter how insistent or plausible they sound.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice from friends and experts.
- Always report it! This could help prevent someone else from being scammed in the future. Ring Action Fraud!
He ended with the advice for members to go with their instincts, ‘If something doesn’t feel right, put the phone down or just say no!’
Chris Barwell thanked Ash Jones for the talk and there followed a question and answer session during which members voiced their grateful appreciation.