New figures show that 1,500 people in Lincolnshire fell foul of scam mail last year, including 258 from Lincoln.
Lincolnshire Trading Standards have highlighted what they regard as a “significant and serious issue” by telling the story of one victim from Lincoln.
The woman, who enclosed a £20 postal order along with a note stating ‘Sorry I can’t order more – I am very hard up on a pension’, believed she was buying some climbing strawberry plants from a catalogue.
This however was a con and the lady won’t ever receive her plants. Instead, she will have her identity and personal information taken.
Common scams in the county this year included discounted strawberry plants, shampoos and vitamins, prize draws and lotteries.
Lincolnshire Trading Standards, together with the National Trading Standards Scams Team, has intercepted thousands of pieces of scam mail.
A were 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) from Lincoln, 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.
“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, people can visit the Lincolnshire Trading Standards website.
If you know someone affected by scam mail, please call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2030.