News item

African Scam Letters Strike Again

West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service has had a number of complaints about scam letters from Africa and is warning people not to get involved. The letters request that the recipient provides full details of their bank account. The sender then offers to transfer a huge sum of money, for instance twenty six million US dollars, into the recipient’s account.
The writer of the letter generally claims to be from a professional background, i.e. professes links to the Government, Petroleum Industry or the Royal National Bank plc. A lot of effort has been made to make this offer seem legitimate, but it is completely bogus.
The basic request is for the money to be transferred into a safe foreign account. It also claims that the recipient is the only person to have received this letter. However, the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service has hundreds of complaints about such letters.
At the conclusion of business the sender claims that you will be given 20% of the total amount of money available, 70% will go to the sender and the remaining 10% will be used to cover expenses.
Graham Hebblethwaite, Chief Officer of West Yorkshire Joint Services advises, “We cannot stress enough that people must never give their bank details to companies or people that they do not know. Providing personal details can result in severe financial loss for the respondent”.
Councillor Neil Taggart, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee, which oversees the work of Trading Standards said “These types of letters are always circulating and their intention is to take money from you, not give you any. Offers like this are always too good to be true”.
As part of the Financial Fitness initiative being delivered across Kirklees, and the SAFER project in Leeds & Bradford, community members have been learning how to spot the hallmarks of a scam, empowering themselves with the skills they need to protect themselves and to look out for others who might be vulnerable to falling foul of unscrupulous scammers. The SAFER project is aimed at older residents and involves engaging with interactive, hands on workshops, in a bid to raise awareness of scams emerging locally and improve financial health, whilst interacting socially with others, sharing tips and advice.
If you are a resident of West Yorkshire and have an inquiry about any scams, you should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0845 404 05 06 from Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm. The advice is free. Call charges for 0845 numbers are around 6p per minute from a BT landline.

DATE: 14 May 2013