Spot the scam, stop the scam – council helps resident to stop sending money to scammers
Shropshire Council’s public protection team have intervened to prevent a local resident from sending money to scammers.
Over a year’s period the victim was targeted by over 40 different scammers and handed over around £550 a month – thinking that she would receive more cash in return.
Once the case was highlighted, public protection officers visited the resident and gave her help and advice.
Although the victim continues to receive dozens of unwanted correspondence on a weekly basis, she no longer opens or acknowledges the letters, thanks to the continued support supplied by public protection.
The most popular scams are sent via post or involve a phone call from a criminal. They range from well-worded letters on headed paper, through to overpriced catalogues. The correspondence is sent from all parts of the world, claiming that the recipient has won a substantial amount of money in a foreign lottery, is in line for big prizes such as cars or holiday homes, or has been left money in a will.
The fraudsters will then ask for a small administration fee in order to activate the windfall, and this is the scam. You should never pay, or respond to these letters, messages or calls.
These scams take a number of forms, but the most typical involve clairvoyants asking for money to keep loved ones safe, or promises of a lottery win or a big cash prize for a ‘small fee’. Replying to just one of these letters will result in the victim being placed on a ‘suckers list’, which in turn will see the number of scams in the post rapidly multiply to dozens of letters per day.
The situation can quickly spiral out of control to a point where a victim becomes distrustful of their own family, while remaining convinced they would soon win a large sum of money. When their money starts running out they became anxious and their health starts deteriorating.
Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member responsible for public protection, said:
“Thankfully our public protection service is working hard to make sure residents don’t become targets. Every year people fall victim to mass-marketed scams such as bogus lotteries, deceptive prize draws and sweepstakes.
“These fraudsters run sophisticated operations with the sole aim of stealing money from people, and they often target the most vulnerable members of society. If you are a carer or a family member, please ensure you do all you can to make sure your loved ones don’t fall victim.”
Debbie Cooper, public protection officer, said:
“Our advice is simple – if you receive an unsolicited call, letter or email that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Just hang up the phone, bin the letter or delete it from your inbox.”
Should you receive any scam mail, or know of anyone experiencing problems with continuous telephone calls from persistent cold callers, you can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau Consumer Service on 03454 040506 to report the incident, or Shropshire Council’s customer services on 0345 678 9000.
The council’s public protection team is currently running a month-long campaign ‘spot the scam, stop the scam’ to raise awareness of a cruel crime that damages consumer confidence, and at worst, blights the lives of victims and their families.