A nationwide “ËœScamnesty’ campaign by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) aiming to help end mass marketed scam mailings in the UK, is coming to Stoke-on-Trent next week.
“ËœScamnesty 2010′ calls on the people of Stoke-on-Trent to fight back against fraudsters by collecting any scam mailings they receive and dropping them into designated “ËœScamnesty’ bins located at Hanley Town Hall, The Civic Centre, and the City Centre library.
Trading Standards Officers will be raising awareness of the campaign at the city centre market in the Potteries Shopping Centre on Wednesday 10 February, and Longton Market on Friday 19 February.
Nearly half of the UK adult population has been targeted by a scam. Every year, 3.2 million adults ““ one in 15 people ““ across the country fall victim to a scam involving deceptive unsolicited mailings, phone calls, or emails, which are designed to con victims out of their cash. UK consumers lose around £3.5 billion to scams every year.
The Scamnesty bins will provide valuable new intelligence to Trading Standards Officers, and help inform future investigations which will prevent others from being scammed.
Examples of local scams include:-
* A recent prosecution against MM Publications. The scam involved setting up a bogus publishing business which alleged to produce leaflets for schoolchildren warning against the evils of illegal drugs. Very few, if any, of the nominated schools actually received the books. Trading Standards officers traced and spoke to hundreds of businesses and schools who were caught up in the scam. The court imposed a lengthy prison sentence of four and a half years to the main brain behind the operation.
* A local man was contacted by a company offering to recover over £7,000 worth of bank charges for him and requested payments up front to cover costs. Over £2,000 was paid in total, though this was done by bank transfer to India. Of course, no bank charges were recovered.
Heather Clayton, OFT Senior Director, said: “Scamnesty 2010 promises to reveal a marked increased in scale and range of mass marketed scam mailings in the UK. Every day, people are at risk from unscrupulous fraudsters who want to con them out of their cash. By dropping your scam mailing into your local Scamnesty bin, you will help provide crucial intelligence to support us in stopping scams bringing misery to millions of people every year.”
Councillor John Daniels, cabinet member for housing, environment and neighbourhood services, added: “These scams are becoming more dangerous and sophisticated and so it is vital that we stop them as soon as possible. With the Scamnesty system everyone in the city can play a part helping to put an end to these potentially harmful scams that prey on people’s desperation and trusting nature.”
People who think they have been the victim of a scam, or suspect a scam, can call Consumer Direct for advice on 08454 04 05 06 or visit