Money returned to Powys residents in scam mail crackdown
Eleven Powys residents have had money returned to them as a result of a crackdown on prize draw mail scams, the county council has confirmed.
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 scammers. The initiative has gained the support of Powys County Council’s Trading Standards Service, which has visited those residents to inform them they have been a victim of a prize draw scam.
So far over 6,000 items of mail have been returned as part of the operation in the UK and more than £108,000 has been returned to victims. An additional 4,000 replies to suspected scam mail are currently being assessed with a view to returning the money contained within them.
Importantly, people are receiving their money alongside a letter or visit from a local trading standards officer informing them that they have been a victim of a prize draw scam. It is hoped this will deter them from responding to such mail in future.
Cllr John Powell, Powys County Council’s Cabinet Member for Trading Standards, said: “This initiative is welcomed by the council as prize draws are notorious for targeting the elderly and other vulnerable people, who are less like to realise that the mail is a scam. Our Trading Standards Service is working hard in partnership with numerous agencies to protect the most vulnerable in our communities during difficult times.”
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said: "To have reunited so many people with so much money in the months since the project launched is a great achievement and I'm incredibly proud of the work the teams are doing, but our job isn't finished. We are determined to prevent as much money as possible reaching the hands of these criminals, sending an ever louder message to the scammers that their cowardly activities will not be tolerated."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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.
Notes to editors
National Trading Standards Board
- The National Trading Standards Board is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards
- The National Trading Standards Board provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.
- National Trading Standards Scams Team
- The National Trading Standards Scams Team works in partnership with other agencies across the country to identify and support victims of mass marketing fraud
- The National Trading Standards Scams Team is funded by the National Trading Standards Board to help tackle mass marketing scams.
DATE: 20 October 2014