Know the signs of a scam before your loved ones fall for the trap

Scam mail is affecting thousands of Lincolnshire residents and it is essential that we know the signs to help the vulnerable.

According to the National Trading Standards 1,674 victims of scam mail have been identified in Lincolnshire alone. These victims can be anyone but often these scammers will target the vulnerable, elderly generation of people aged 70 years and older.

Scam mail can come in any shape and size promising money, health cures and even the services of spiritual mediums predicting your future.

These promises can be very persuasive to some people and the scam mail they receive can look very authentic and official.

People respond to these scams to get a financial gift for their family or if they are experiencing financial hardship. These people are specifically targeted by these scammers because of their vulnerability; they do this through a ‘sucker list’.

The National Trading Standards team has so far identified nearly 200,000 victims whose names appear on this ‘suckers list’ used by scammers.

This list is shared and traded between the fraudsters who have identified easy targets for criminals to extract money. Once someone engages with scam mail the chances of them receiving more increases rapidly.

If you respond to a scam you are likely to receive up to 32 more items of scam mail per day.

One case study provided by Lincolnshire County Council states:

“Mrs M is a 92 year old Lincoln lady. She has been responding to scam mail for over 13 years. The scale of her financial loss is enormous. Her son estimates she has given away in the region of £20,000, which includes her savings.

“Her children have tried hard to help her understand that this is the work of fraudsters. In spite of their efforts they have failed which, has caused family estrangement.

“Mrs M received approximately 8 – 10 pieces of scam mail a day and sends in the region of £100 – £200 per week.”

So how can we combat these criminals and how can we help the vulnerable who are being targeted?

There are some obvious signs when someone is engaging with scam mail. Although lots of people will be keeping it a secret you should be on the lookout for:

  • Large amounts of post everyday
  • Phone calls promising cheques will be delivered
  • Many letters waiting to be posted
  • Cheque book stubs with acronyms and empty cheque books
  • Lots of low value items such as cosmetics, biscuits and vitamins

If you suspect someone is a victim of scam mail it’s important to alert Lincolnshire Trading Standards as soon as possible.

You can fill out an online reporting form here, or you can phone Citizens Advice on 03454 045006.

For more information or for further financial advice you can call the credit union on 01522 873550 or you can visit our website.