Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Don't Be A Scam Mail Victim

Criminals maintain lists of suckers who fall for mail scams and sell them on to other criminals for them to exploit too. Your elderly friends and family could be on these lists and you may not even know it.

Jessica was one of these chronic victims and the scammers had not only controlled Jessica’s life for five years, they were also responsible for destroying the relationship she had with her family including her daughter Marilyn.

http://thinkjessica.com/ was set up by Marilyn as part of this ongoing campaign in 2010. Please visit the site to read their full story and to find out how you can help.

This posting was prompted by the following email I received from an East Riding resident called Cheryl:

Dear Paul

I am writing to you about a horrendous problem, which not only needs highlighting but a change in the law (somehow), Jim (name changed) (71) my neighbour, has over the last 3 years spent his entire life savings responding to mailing scams, he has been taken in by companies promising him huge cash prices in exchange for orders.

I found out about this at Christmas and it has taken me 6 months to get through to him that he was being conned. Such is the power that these mailings have.

I have been doing some research into this subject and it has horrified me in a number of ways, all of these scams are generated from outside the UK, due to postal licence s supplied by Royal Mail, the majority of post is always UK post marked, there is also a UK undelivered mail return address printed on the back of the envelope, this gives the impression that these are UK based businesses. However to return your order along with your cheque, the envelope supplied by the scammers is usually overseas or a UK Po.Box.

Unfortunately the people that are repeatedly targeted don't know they are victims, the documentation is that good they genuinely believe that they are going to receive the promised cheque, instead they get more and more mail again promising cash prises. And because they wont accept its a con absolutely nothing can be done to stop them,

Royal Mail states they have a legal duty to deliver addressed mail and yet the postmen & women that deliver the mail know who is being targeted by the amount of mail a residential address received. Jim has now stopped replying to these scams however he has in the last three weeks received a full wheelie bin worth of mail. When he woke up to what was happening he filled 3 wheelie bins by dumping what he had hidden round the house.

Think Jessica was set up by Marilyn Baldwin after the tragic death of her mother Jessica. Jessica was conned out of £50,000 over a five year period, the stress of keeping up with the scammers demands finally took there toll in October 2007, before her death Marilyn had managed to remove over 30,000 items of mail from Jessica's home.

This is the only help in the UK for this problem, scam mail can be an addiction which is hard to break and unlike smoking, drinking or gambling addictions, you can-not avoid the constant stream of post arriving every day, nor is there any UK law or counselling currently in place to help "victims" imagine a drug addict getting a fix through the door every morning its just wrong - so it this.

It is with Marilyn's help, that I have got through to Jim, and by talking to the local post offices at Aldbrough, Sproatly & Bilton, I have since discovered that there is a victim at each post office. Again like Jim & Jessica they are chronic victims who will not listen and been given up on by the people around them.

This is something I feel very strongly about, the fact that these scams have been going on for so long, (I found stories on the internet about Vita-Mail going back to 2001) and the fact that there is complacency amongst people that can do something about it but wont.

Can you please have a look at the website http://thinkjessica.com/ and please unlike some others I have spoken to, don't dismiss this. Both myself & Jim were featured in the Holderness Gazette and we have both been filmed for the BBCs Fake Britain programme.

Scam mail is really big business all of which goes out of the UK and registering with the MPS or the DMA does absolutely nothing - the UK Direct Marketing Association actually has a scam mailing list for sale openly on its website.

Your help and support would be invaluable in helping to protect the vulnerable people in this area.

Yours Sincerely



Kev Owen said...

Unfortunately Paul, these scammers rely on the oldest and most powerful human trait to make their fortunes.
This trait is present in us all and we all succumb to it at some time or other...what is it?...GREED of course.
If you've ever paid for an all you can eat buffet and left food on your plate, you could be just the type of person the scammers rely on for their living.
If you can manage to curb this trait you won't fall victim to these scam merchants.

If it sounds too good to be true..it probably is...
If you didn't buy a ticket you cannot possibly win a lottery prize. Even if it's a no ticket type lottery (a drawn phone number or postcode) if you have to pay to receive 'winnings' there is no winnings and it's a scam.
If you have actually paid too much Council tax you will get a refund from the council and you don't have to pay anyone to find out how much an overpayment you've made. If you get asked to pay you're being taken for a ride.
Promises of a 'cut' in 'iced away' fortunes in exchange for your bank details is one of the oldest scams going. Greedy people still make it worthwhile for the scammers to propagate it.
Our greed makes us our own worst enemies.

Paul Robinson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lillian B said...

Obviously Kevin has not visited the Think Jessica website.
Chronic victims are not greedy or stupid. They are over trusting, socially isolated or suffering from declining (age related) mental health and dementia.
Criminals snare vulnerable victims with authentic looking documents and then put their details on "suckers" lists which they sell to other scammers all over the world.
Criminals who work in organised gangs home in…they trick, "befriend and threaten their prey. Bogus Lottery officials, solicitors, bankers create a delusional world that becomes the victims reality. Criminals claiming to be clairvoyants tell of danger and harm and demand protection money!
Behind closed doors victims in their 70s 80s and 90s are being delivered up to 100+ scam letters day by the Royal Mail (who make £millions from handling and delivering scam mail, they disguise bulk mail from criminal clients abroad, with a printed Royal Mail stamp!!!) yet there is no system in place for the postie to sound the alarm. Many victims are sworn to secrecy and empty bank accounts and sell homes to keep up with the scammer’s demands. Some elderly people have been driven to suicide by scam letters.
I suggest you visit the website and then spout your opinion.

Kev Owen said...

Au-contrare Lillian...I HAVE visited the site, I have read at length of how people chase after 'lottery' wins that are none existent and of how they give out their bank details on the promise from a complete and un-validated stranger that they will be richly rewarded.
Be the victim old, young, infirm, married, single, divorced or whatever, they all have one thing in common...they fail to realise that the reward they are paying for doesn't exist.
They quantify their spending thousands to gain nothing just as a gambler would justify putting 'just another £1 coin in the machine'...and like it or not the motivation behind it all is GREED.
We all want something for nothing unfortunately some people just can't get past that thought and get taken in.
Of course the older you are the more of a chance that 'some of the lights on the top floor of your house don't work as they should' and this too plays into the hands of the scammer.
So you see I didn't 'spout' without checking out the site.
Also it may help you to know that I have several relatives who are 'knocking on a bit' myself who have also had (and binned) some of these scam mails. I think I can speak with some authority on the subject having had an inbox full of these scam mails on a regular basis.
The old and vulnerable will always be a target for those with criminal intent but those who cannot control their inbuilt tendency to be greedy are also fair game. We should remember that and not think this is an old people's failing exclusively.
I could talk at length on this topic but it would be unfair on Paul to monopolise his blog.

Toni-Ann Carter said...

Thank goodness Kev Owen is not appointed to care for the elderly in this country; he thinks; those whose" lights on the top floor have gone out" (as he insensitively puts it) deserve to get scammed because they are “greedy” This is based on the fact that he has several relatives who have received and binned scam mail and he himself is smart enough to delete spam from his inbox.
Having never come across an elderly person whose failing and confused mind has been snared by criminals who work in organised gangs; He has no authority on the subject whatsoever-
Let’s hope Owens lights stay on until the end. After saying that, it looks like a few have gone out already!
Thanks for demonstrating the "im all right jack" attitude that this campaign is up against.

Kev Owen said...

Apologies Paul but I feel I must respond to Toni-Ann Carter and thank her for misquoting me.

I've no problem with alternative points of view, but if you must disagree so vociferously, please have the courtesy to quote me using the words I actually used rather than ones you thought I said.
Perhaps you would like to tells us all what YOU believe the root cause of the problem is if not greed? Why do the elderly make such good targets...don't just blindly quote from a website, lets here YOUR opinion.
You already know mine and whether you agree with it or not, it is all my own work.