ELDERLY Warwickshire residents have been falling victim to ‘sinister’ scam mails, with one woman sending so much to fraudsters she could not pay her bills and fell into debt.
Scam letters promising good luck and riches have seen local residents lose thousands of pounds.
One Leamington woman was sending money to so many fraudsters she could not afford to pay her bills. She was constantly being promised big prize pay-outs but it was really a ruse to sell her other products she did not want or need.
Another Leamington resident paid out over £12,000 in the course of a year and was sending between £500 and £1,000 each month to receive her ‘prizes’. She had received scam letters from the USA and Australia, telling her she had won large prizes in lotteries and prize draws.
And a south Warwickshire woman paid out £1,000 in a month to postal fraudsters who she believed were her friends. She was told she had won a large sum of money, but instead, the fraudsters were actually selling her huge quantities of vitamin pills.
Most postal scams rely upon the recipient believing they have won a lottery prize or are entitled to a gift or government pay-out, in return for an ‘administration fee’. In reality, the cash prize or pay-out never materialises and the ‘gift’ is usually worth considerably less than the cost of receiving it.
Some postal scams, particularly those sent by bogus clairvoyants are more sinister, frightening recipients into paying out for ‘lucky charms’ to avoid receiving bad luck, which it is claimed, might endanger themselves or their families.
Now Warwickshire Trading Standards is working with the Royal Mail to identify and support victims by intercepting letters and returning their money.
Coun Howard Roberts, Warwickshire County Council community safety spokesman, said: “We’ve all seen them, envelopes stamped ‘Euro Lottery Winner’, ‘Official Government Award’ or ‘Good Luck Inside’ and most of us will immediately consign them to the recycling bin.
“Unfortunately though some people do respond, sending money, cheques and in some cases their bank account numbers and PINS. These people are then drawn in to the scam, paying out ever more money in the hope of receiving a pay-out that will never come.”
The names and addresses of those who respond regularly to scam mail are shared or sold on, leading to victims to being bombarded with even more bogus post.
Across the UK reports of scams and frauds have risen by eight per cent this year to an estimated 3.6 million cases. UK residents are believed to lose over £10 billion to frauds and scams each year.
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/scams to find out more about spotting scam mail.