This week is a mass marketing fraud awareness week – dubbed ‘Silence of the Scams’ – when everyone is being warned to watch out for scam mail.
UK citizens lose around £2.4 billion every year as a result of scam mail.
Sent by professional fraudsters, scam letters are designed to con recipients into investing in bogus schemes such as fake lotteries, share frauds and inheritance scams. They depend on persuading victims to hand over money based on promises of valuable goods, services, or benefits that are never delivered.
After replying to a 'tempter' letter, victims' names can be put on a 'suckers list' which is then sold to other fraudsters. Chronic victims include some of the most vulnerable people in society, some of whom end up being hounded with terrible consequences.
Impact of scam mail
Think Jessica's Marilyn Baldwin, said: "My mother Jessica was in her late seventies and suffering from (undiagnosed) age-related declining mental health when she was hunted down by scam mail criminals.
"For five years I tried to convince my mum that she was being scammed, but criminals claiming to be clairvoyants, lottery officials & solicitors led her to believe the family were against her- she would not co-operate.
"I believe that the thousands of scam letters we removed from her home contributed to her death in 2007.
"I started the campaign www.thinkjessica.com three years ago and during that time we have been alerted to thousands of elderly and vulnerable silent victims who are being tricked, "befriended" and threatened by criminals worldwide.
"The most effective way of stopping these criminals from succeeding is by refusing to engage with them - this is the message we hope to spread during this week of awareness."
Anyone who has lost money after responding to scam mail should report it to Action Fraud.
Read more about Silence of the Scams on the Metropolitan Police’s website.
Please note: Action Fraud is not responsible for the content on external websites.
To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.