‘Sorry I can’t order more – I am very hard up on a pension’
That’s the sad note written underneath a £20 postal order sent off to buy some climbing strawberry plants from a catalogue. Sadly, this was a con and this lady won’t ever receive her plants. Instead she will have her identity and personal information taken.
New figures show that 1,500 people in Lincolnshire were conned by scam mail last year.
Lincolnshire Trading Standards, together with the National Trading Standards Scams Team, has intercepted thousands of pieces of scam mail all completed by unsuspecting members of the public – some with £5 notes, postal orders and cheques attached, together with card numbers with accompanying CSV codes, as well as all their personal details – date of birth and addresses, on their way to criminal gangs abroad.
Kirsty Toyne, principal trading standards officer at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “This is a significant and serious issue across Lincolnshire. We need to help people stop falling foul of this scam mail.
“We’ve worked with one elderly gentleman, John (72), who was paying in excess of £250 a month to the different frauds, but he wasn’t paying his electricity bill or gas. He was falling into debt and prioritising money to these competitions rather than paying bills.
Trading Standards has intercepted thousands of pieces of scam mail all completed by unsuspecting members of the public
“There are a lot of isolated people who do not have a support network, and because they are lonely they are more vulnerable.
“To deal with the issue, we, together with the Neighbourhood Policing Teams, will contact and visit every person on our list. We want to understand why they are responding to the mail. Do they know it is scam mail? If they do, and they do it, why are they doing it?
“As a local authority, we have a responsibility to ensure our vulnerable people are protected from financial abuse, and as such we will do what we can to help them. We will work with victims, carers, the police and other agencies to reduce the risk and harm to Lincolnshire residents.”
For more information on scam mail, please visit www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards
If you know someone affected by scam mail, please call Action Fraud on 0300 1232030.
Common scams in Lincolnshire include discounted strawberry plants, shampoos and vitamins, prize draws and lotteries.