Scammers are conning one in 20 people to part with cash by bombarding homes by phone, mail and online by duping them with fake offers.
Consumer champions the Office of Fair trading has set up a ‘scam lab’ to track down online
fraudsters and has launched a ‘scamnesty’ campaign to raise awareness of how the crooks
The OFT scam lab has 10 computers separate from the OFT network that fool scammers in to
thinking they are real users. The computers then track the con artists online.
The scamnesty campaign lets anyone who has received a fake letter, fax or email leave the
details in a special bin at trading standards offices all over the UK. OFT investigators will
analyse the scams to detect the crime gangs sending the junk mail.
With millions of letters, emails and phone calls sent out every week, scammers are a big
problem in the UK.
OFT research shows one in 20 people lost cash to a scammer last year and 7% of those who
fell for the fraudsters’ tricks handed over more than £4,000 each.
How to beat the fraudsters after your cash
Most people are duped by bogus pleas for help asking people to hand over their bank details
or pay an up-front fee by persuading them that they are entitled to an inheritance, donating to
charity or releasing funds from a corrupt country.
Almost two thirds of victims (61%) say they responded by handing over cash or their bank
details because the scams looked real.
“Scammers are using ever more sophisticated and cunning tactics to dupe people out of their
cash. We want people to recognise the warning signs, and feel confident enough to seek advice
from friends and family,” said an OFT spokesman.
The OFT advises anyone receiving a suspected scam request to:
• Remember if an offer sounds too good to be true it probably is
• Do not send money or personal details to someone you do not know
• You won’t be the only one invited to take part in the scam
• Consider the risk is not what you could gain but what you stand to lose
• If in doubt, don’t respond or take advice from your local trading standards office
To report a fraud online, go to https://reportfraud.actionfraud.org.uk/fraudreport/ or call the
OFT-sponsored Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040