What is a scam?

What to look out for

Scams come in many forms; uninvited contact is received by email, letter, and telephone or in person making false promises to con victims out of money. There are many of these sorts of scams but some of the most common are fake lotteries, deceptive prize draws or sweep stakes, clairvoyants, computer scams, and romance scams. The criminals attempt to trick people with flashy, official looking documents or websites, or convincing telephone sales patter, with the aim of persuading them to send a processing or administration fee, pay postal or insurance costs, buy an overvalued product or make a premium rate phone call. Doorstep Scams are crimes carried out by bogus callers, rogue traders and unscrupulous sales people who call, often uninvited, at people's home under the guise of legitimate business or trade.

A short video about Scams.

Mr and Mrs A's story

Mr and Mrs A had been scam victims for around 20 years. Mr and Mrs A had run a successful leisure business for many years and they were financially stable. Then, around 20 years ago, the business started to fail.

Mr A;

'When the first letters came telling me I'd won large sums of money I thought it could be true and just what I needed as I'd lost so much money because of the effect on our business. I suppose the scammers caught me at a low ebb.'

When the situation was at its worst they were sending £300 in cash a week to the criminals. Over the years their son had tried to convince them that they were responding to scams and not genuine lotteries or prize draws but to no avail. The problem was so severe that their son was afraid his parents wouldn't be able to pay their household bills.

Mrs A helped Mr A reply to the letters and became heavily involved too. So much so that when Mrs A started to show signs of dementia, Mr A felt that the administration work involved with replying to scams would keep his wife's mind sharp; she continued to do this until it all got too much for her and she was no longer able to deal with it because of her condition.

When trading standards intervened Mr A realised the mail was scam mail. He took advantage of the mail redirection service so all the mail was redirected to their son.

After two weeks Mr A's son said:

'Progress has been excellent. I get all the scam mail now and have had 20 items in the past two days. Nothing reaches my parents now and for the first time in a long time I can see that there is more money going into my father's account than going out. The only money going out is to pay household bills. It's such a relief.'

It is important to note that Mr and Mrs A started to respond to scams during a period of vulnerability-the decline of their business.

Mr A's son estimates that his parents had been scammed to the tune of well over a £100,000 over the years.