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Trading Standards carry out crackdown on mail scams

This news article was published more than a year ago. Some of the information may no longer be accurate.

Published: 29/10/2014

Twelve residents from South Gloucestershire have had money returned to them as a result of a crackdown on mail scams.

The action is part of an initiative launched by the National Trading Standards Scams Team and Royal Mail to return seized responses to mail scams before the money reaches the hands of the scammers. The initiative is supported by our Trading Standards service and officers have so far visited 12 residents to inform them they have been a victim of a scam in areas including Kingswood, Downend, Staple Hill, Yate, Thornbury, Severn Beach, Patchway, Almondsbury and Mangotsfield.

So far more than 6,000 items of mail have been returned as part of the national operation in the UK and more than £108,000 has been returned to victims. An additional 4,000 replies to suspected scam mails are currently being assessed with a view to returning the money to unsuspecting victims across the country. In South Gloucestershire we have returned over £100.

Cllr Claire Young, Chair of Communities Committee, said: “We welcome this initiative as mailing scams are notorious for targeting elderly and vulnerable people who are less likely to realise that the mail is not genuine. The most common include letters which claim the resident has won a foreign lottery or prize draw. We also see scams where a resident receives a letter from a clairvoyant suggesting good or bad news is on the way and they are encouraged to buy a reading or talisman to protect themselves from the bad news, or encourage good to happen. These can be quite intimidating and threatening, especially for more vulnerable people. Our Trading Standards officers have been visiting victims with a letter informing them about the fraudulent activity in the hope that this will deter people from responding to any future scams.”

Louise Baxter, Head of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, said: “It is often very difficult to persuade vulnerable, often elderly, individuals that letters telling them they have won large sums of money are scams. The fact that we are able to directly contact them with the money they sent, along with very clear advice, should really help to break the cycle in so many cases.

“Every cheque or money returned is another person helped and another blow to the criminals, so I’m delighted with the progress made so far and we look forward to continuing this important work.”

Tony Marsh, Director of Security, Royal Mail said: “Royal Mail does not want any of its customers to be targeted by scammers or to suffer loss as a result of its services.  We are very pleased to be part of this initiative to protect some of our most vulnerable customers.

“People who want to make us aware of potentially fraudulent mail so that we can then work with the relevant authorities to investigate and take action can write to Royal Mail at Freepost Scam Mail or call us on 03456 113 413 or email

It is estimated that prize draw scams cost the UK public £60 million per year, with an estimated 380,000 members of the public falling victim each year.

Anyone who thinks they may be a victim of prize draw scams, or thinks someone they know may have been, should get in touch with Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.

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