February is ‘Scamnesty’ month in fight against postal scams
Throughout this month Scamnesty bins will be available at more than 100 locations in Lancashire, including Citizens Advice Bureau offices and police stations, where people can deposit any scams they receive by post.
The “Scamnesty” campaign is being run by Lancashire County Council’s trading standards service and Lancashire Constabulary.
County Coun. Albert Atkinson said: “Scamnesty is a hugely important campaign as it provides the police and trading standards with a large amount of intelligence on the latest scams doing the rounds.
“Scammers are always coming up with new ideas to catch people out so it’s vital people deposit the scams in the bins. While I can understand why people might feel embarrassed if they’re been taken in by a scam, I would strongly urge them to report it to Action Fraud. If they don’t, it is much more difficult to target prevention and take action against those responsible.
“The sad reality is that while scams are a massive problem, with some people being conned out of very large sums, only one in 20 victims report them.”
Last year’s Scamnesty campaign identified 689 separate scams which, had they worked, could have cost Lancashire residents £400,000. It also revealed fake prize draws remain the biggest problem, showing a seven-fold increase between 2010 and 2011.
Scams are a massive hidden problem with victims often too embarrassed to report them. Estimates put the cost to Lancashire residents alone at £64m. annually, with 76,000 people becoming victims every year.
DC Mark Aldridge, Lancashire Constabulary fraud evaluation and liaison officer, added: “We are delighted to support Trading Standards in this campaign, especially as many of the victims may be vulnerable.
“Being scammed in this fashion can be devastating to the victim due to the level of trust cultivated by the fraudster who effectively befriends them before striking.
“Predominantly the criminals perpetrating these types of scams are based outside UK jurisdiction making investigation extremely difficult, so always remember if it looks too good to be true it probably is.”
If you are unsure of an offer, speak to family or friends and seek advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506. If you think you have been misled into paying money as a result of a scam contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk where you can also report e-scams online.