So what’s the difference between Junk Mail and Scam Mail? Junk mail relates to flyers and promotions for the local pizza delivery service, the double glazing firm promoting seasonal offers or your local supermarket giving details of its 3 for 2 offers. Scam Mail letters are sent with the sole intention of obtaining money through deception or fraud. There are fake lotteries and prize draws, bogus health cures, investment schemes and all manner of other ideas aimed at YOU making money or finding a miracle cure.
The National Trading Standards Scams team estimate postal scams could be netting criminals worldwide up to £10 billion a year, with some 380 000 people falling victim to prize draw scams alone each year. Almost all scam mail originates from outside of the UK and once into our postal system Royal Mail are duty bound to deliver the items.
Initially a tempter letter is delivered addressed to the ‘householder’ or’ homeowner’. It may offer fantastic monetary prizes by way of a prize draw, look extremely official or professional but, requires a reply with your personal details. Once replying to that simple tempter letter, your details get added to the ‘suckers list’ and sold onwards and the floodgates open.
Quickly offer after offer will follow, requesting small sum payments ranging from £15 – £35 to deal with administration or as deposit to release the large cash payout. Once hooked into replying to scam draws, victims have been known to receive up to 100 scam mail letters a day!
A strategy used by these scammers is to suggest the victim tells no one about their good fortune and to keep their transactions ‘secret’ for fear that others may wish to take their new found wealth from them. Always thinking they will receive their money or prize at receipt of their next letter victims get drawn further and further into the scam and keep replying. Of course it never arrives and the scammers keep sending more letters for the victim to reply to and to keep the money flowing to them. On average victims we have un-covered respond to 10 – 20 letters per day. Take the average they send off with each letter as £20.00, for the admin fee of course, add up the number of £20’s they send off over a week, a month and you can soon establish where this will end!
Many people believe they are the only ones caught up in this scam and some do not know how to get out of it, thinking that IF they continue they will receive that cash to solve all their problems. Operation REPEAT has continually worked with Marilyn Baldwin and her charity, Think Jessica, which relates to Marilyn’s mother who was consumed by mail scams. We would advise anyone who wishes to know more about mail scams and how other people have also become victims to follow the Think Jessica links on this page.
Please find time to watch this video in full. It shows the complex situation Marilyn found herself in with her Mum, Jessica, surrounding Jessica’s engagement with Scam Mail and the subsequent anguish and heartache the letters brought to the family. Please share this video with as many people as possible.
We are grateful to Marilyn for allowing the use of this emotional video.
Pills and Potions
It is not just lotteries Mail Scams enable. The purchase of pills and potions is commonplace with companies such as BIOTONIC encouraging the purchase of their untested products. One purchase and onto that list you go, receiving handfuls of letters daily offering fantastic prize draw offers urging the victim to make another purchase, just to enable entry into that prize draw.
Clairvoyants spread hope to those down on their luck and regularly target people recently bereaved with inspiration offered to find solace and contact with departed loved ones. Small trinkets are sent as a token of good luck and faith in the actions to be conducted by the clairvoyant, but, the administration fee will be £65 - £85. Once that first contact/payment is made, the clairvoyant will continue to send personalised letters to the victim encouraging further engagement and that element of grooming the victim begins to grow as the victim places trust in the unknown clairvoyant. (see examples) The use of the victims name throughout the letter enhances the friendship the clairvoyant is trying to build up, knowing the victim, already in a poor place is more likely to respond.
Spotting victims of Mail Scams is not just looking for piles of mail, but realising it may be that small trinket on the mantlepiece (or several such items) or the small boxes stacked in the back of a room or even the request to purchase an extra 20 stamps. Whichever of the mail scams have been engaged with, the worrying knock on effect is that to many people this does become an addiction and any money they possess goes towards answering the letters with detriment to food and normal household bills, with the ultimate consequences this may have to both health and home conditions. Without doubt, this is one of the hardest cycles to break and get victims to come to terms with. But if we do nothing it will continue and the task of looking after them will fall on the whole of society through social care.
IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, THEN IT IS!
- Never reply to the tempter letter.
- Never reply to the letter from the lottery/prize draw you never entered.
- Never send money up front to receive ‘your offer’.
- Never send your personal details or bank details to any letter offering you fantastic new health cures.
- Anyone can fall foul of mail scams, young or old.
How you can help:
- Watch out for large amounts of mail being delivered to your relative, friend or client.
- Are there piles of official looking letters on the table/sideboard?
- Are you posting large amounts of mail for your relative, friend or client?
- Are you purchasing large amounts of stamps for your relative friend or client?
- Discuss the folly of replying to prize draw / lottery letters.
- Explain how no one ever wins, only the scammers.
You will not resolve issues or change perspectives overnight, but, by REPEATING and drip feeding the information it will sink in and your patience and perseverance will help prevent further crimes.
If you believe you or someone you know has been a victim of a Scam Mail please report it to the police immediately.