More than 300 people from across the East Riding have been identified as victims of postal scams in just over a year, East Riding Council’s Trading Standards team has revealed.
Since officers from trading standards started working with the national scams team in August 2014, they have visited or made contact with 342 people from the area who have completed and returned forms sent as junk mail.
The joint approach is part of a two-pronged attack against the scams with the council’s officers identifying and speaking to local victims while the national scams team aim to disrupt the criminals on a national level.
They intercept the completed forms, some of which still have money, cheques or postal orders attached to them, and pass them on to trading standards officers who visit or make contact with the person involved to discourage them from sending more forms or money.
Postal scams come in many forms – they could be fake lotteries, prize draws, bogus health cures, dodgy investment schemes, pyramid selling, letters from clairvoyants and psychics warning of dire consequences unless a fee is paid.
Councillor Shaun Horton, portfolio holder for community involvement and partnerships at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “The figures are very worrying but it can be very difficult to persuade vulnerable, often lonely people, that letters telling them they have won large sums of money are, in fact, scams.”
Colin Briggs, trading standards manager at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “Some people are embarrassed about what they have done but what they don’t realise is that by completing just one form they are added to a list which can be sold on by other criminals who will continue to send scams through the post.
“It is incredibly difficult to get names removed from this list but the fact our officers are able to contact the victims directly, and in some cases hand back the money, they can give them advice and support which we hope will break the cycle.
“I would urge anyone who does get junk mail not to open it but destroy it.”
if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
if you haven’t bought a ticket, you cannot win it
if in doubt, don’t reply – bin it, delete it or hang up
you shouldn’t have to pay anything to get a prize
if you are contacted out of the blue you should be suspicious
never give out your bank details unless you are certain who the person is
financial providers do not ask for your pin number, so do not give it, or any other personal details
take your time and resist pressure to make a quick decision – ask a relative or friend for advice if you are not sure.
To report a scam contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, go to www.actionfraud.police.uk contact Citizen’s Advice consumer service on 03454 040506 or visit www.adviceguide.org.uk