Mailshot fraud fighting pair receive national Hero Award
A Derbyshire couple, Brian and Kandy Smith, who have been tirelessly campaigning to stop scam mail crime after an elderly family member became a chronic victim, have been awarded a national Hero Award at the Trading Standards Institute’s Conference in Brighton on Thursday 20 June.
The pair started the Scams and Prize Cheque Offences (SAPCO) pressure group after Kandy discovered her father, a fiercely independent gentleman, was responding to up to 150 letters per month offering him investment opportunities – and had sent some £50,000 over a period of five years to these criminals.
After a 12-month battle Brian and Kandy have managed to get Mr Smith’s mail redirected to them to prevent him from responding to any more scam letters. They haven’t stopped there however and are working together with their MP, scam mail charity Think Jessica, trading standards, the police and others to raise further awareness and fight this type of crime.
Their two main objectives is recognition that addiction to scam mail is a medical condition, which has been termed “Jessica Scam Syndrome”, and that mail carriers should have responsibility for not delivering mail that can be identified as fraudulent.
Kandy Smith said: “Scam mail is an insidious crime causing humiliation and isolation to the victims and dividing families. It is tantamount to mugging the vulnerable behind closed doors.
“People like my father do not realise they are victims or addicted. Like someone with a gambling addiction, they firmly believe that the next communication will finally turn out to be true and deliver the promised prizes.
“We need to see all agencies working together and the Government taking the lead to introduce better controls, so that we can stop this criminal material streaming through people’s letter boxes and destroying lives.”
The resourceful couple have enlisted the support of Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles and South Derbyshire MP Heather Wheeler, who helped raise awareness of scam mail by holding a debate at Westminster. Together with Hampshire MP Caroline Nokes they are seeking to resurrect a draft bill from 2011 which aim was to provide the police, the HMRC and Royal Mail with powers to intercept mail where they believe it is scam mail or fraudulent.
Brian and Kandy have built a team fighting their cause including volunteers from a London law firm, a private investigation agency and a PR agency, who have helped for example uncover the international dimension of the fraud.
Heather Wheeler MP said: “Brian and Kandy Smith have fought tirelessly to expose the evil of scam mail and have done an amazing job to gather around them a superb professional group. Through their clear-sighted and targeted approach members of the public from all over the country are now passing vital information to assist bodies like the National Fraud Intelligence Unit to bear down on scam mail criminals.
"Brian and Kandy’s determination to give wider publicity to scam mail and particularly push Royal Mail to cancel bulk contracts is all evidence to how effective they have been and why they are worthy winners of this important TSI Hero Award.
“It is my pleasure to use my officers to have this issue highlighted in Parliament and to engage Ministers on this matter.”
TSI’s chief executive Leon Livermore said: “We are delighted to be able to give national recognition to Brian and Kandy Smith – they are what our Hero Awards are all about. Their outstanding dedication to help others and the impact they have been able to achieve in a relatively short period of time is truly inspirational.
“Raising awareness of scam mail crime is one of TSI’s priorities – protecting the vulnerable from scams is after all a core plank of the trading standards profession – and as such we are pleased to give the work of SAPCO our backing, just has we have supported Think Jessica for many years now, recently endorsing their campaign to have Jessica Scam Syndrome recognised as a medical condition.”
Notes for Editors:
The awards ceremony was at the Brighton Centre on Thursday 20 June at 11am. For interviews or photographs please contact Trading Standards Institute press officer Irja Howie on 07780675815or by e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of their awareness campaign the Smiths have created a video clip which clearly illustrates how easy it is to identify mail as fraudulent. https://plus.google.com/photos/103318067900587139446/albums/5819271769260349217?authkey=CKel7InyvI3NhQE&banner=pwa&gpsrc=pwrd1#photos/103318067900587139446/albums/5819271769260349217?authkey=CKel7InyvI3NhQE&banner=pwa&gpsrc=pwrd1
For more information on Think Jessica and the Jessica Scam Syndrome please visit: http://www.thinkjessica.com
Trading Standards Institute (TSI)
TSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally. We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.
TSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses.
The Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference 2013
The Trading Standards Institute’s annual trading standards and consumer affairs Conference and Exhibition is the leading consumer affairs and trading standards event in Europe. The 2013 Conference is at Brighton Centre from Tuesday 18 June to Thursday 20 June.
Some 1,500 people are expected to attend the conference, including representatives from local and central government and those interested in fair trading, representatives of business and commerce, together with consumer organisations.
Journalists and photographers are welcome to attend but shouldcontact the press office on 0845 608 9430 to arrange passes.
For more information please visit http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/events/conference2013.cfm and follow the #TSIConf13 stream on our @TSI_uk Twitter account.
DATE: 21 June 2013