News item

Warning over increase in scam mail shots from China

Trading standards is warning consumers to be wary of scam mail shots apparently originating fromChina.

A man calling himself Peter Zu has written to many West Yorkshire residents recently (and possibly to consumers across the rest of the UK).

In his letter Mr Zu claims that one of his clients has recently passed away and with no family to inherit his fortune, he wants to share it with you given that you share the deceased surname.

West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service has recently received many reports of consumers opening similar letters. Mr Zu is not the only one writing to West Yorkshire residents. Others who have sent similar letters recently include Lui Wong, Hiu Au-Yeung, Christopher Wong, Aki Akira and Tai Fu Park, all offering a similar tale and the promise of financial gain through a spurious long lost inheritance.

These scams typically carry many of the same traits; the need for confidentiality - keeping the scam a secret between recipient of the letter and the scammer; to give credibility to the letter it often uses names or places having some commonality with the recipient, and an immediate response is often required to ensure the victim does not have a chance to think about their actions. Many letters bear UK stamps however in most cases the letters are sent in bulk into theUK and then posted on to its intended recipient at a lesser rate.

The letters don’t always ask for money or personal details immediately. However at some stage, the scam works by the victim paying a small fee relative to the amount to be released to the consumer. Unfortunately the larger amount never materialises, the scam is in essence an advance fee fraud. 

Trading standards advice to consumers is not to respond to such scams, as well as losing money those who do reply usually get added to a ‘suckers list’ - oftenresulting in them being targeted further.

Graham Hebblethwaite, Chief Officer of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said,”Although the vast majority of people see these letters for exactly what they are, the fact that they are still be sent out suggests this is not always the case. Although it is often difficultto trace their origin I would still encourage people to report them, the more information that can be gathered the more chance there is of catching those responsible”.

Councillor Neil Taggart, Chair of West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee, which oversees the work of Trading Standards said, “Iwould particularly appeal to those members of the public who may have a relative or know of someone living alone who may not be aware of these types of scams, prevention is always better than cure, please pass on the advice and make sure no one you know becomesa victim” .

Anyone who has concerns on this or any other consumer matter should call Consumer Direct on 0845 404 05 06. Alternatively consumers wanting to find out more aboutscam shots and the tricks employed by the scammers can visitwww.thinkjessica.com

Notes to editors:

Scanned copies of various examples of scam mails can be made provided. Please emaildstrover@wyjs.org.uk- David Strover, Principal Trading Standards Officer (T.0113 393 9902) to request copies.