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Scamnesty 2009

January 28, 2009 8:44 AM

Kent Trading Standards together with 81 other local authorities are taking part in the Office of Fair Trading's (OFT) nationwide Scamnesty campaign again this year. They are asking for members of the public to drop their scam mail in bins and bags placed around the county.

It is estimated by the OFT that scams cost the UK £3.5 billion per year - or more than £80 million by Kent residents. The effect of the scams on victims and their families goes beyond the financial cost, with victims sometimes become 'addicted' to the mail, and will sometimes trust the lies of the scammer over the advice given by their families or other agencies.

The victims are promised a non existent prize and are skilfully persuaded by the scammer to part with more and more money so their prize can be released, to cover legal fees, customs duties etc. etc. The victims will often receive letters from clairvoyants with the scam mail that reinforce the messages given by the criminal.

Kent Trading Standards are aware of scam victims who have certainly given many thousands of pounds to the scammers - certainly into tens of thousands and in at least one case it is likely to be a 6 figure sum.

To find out more about the operation of the scam and to see the effect on victims and their carers, friends and relatives visit www.thinkjessica.com

The OFT use the Scamnesty to gather information about the type and number of scams in circulation, and they can then use this to help stop the worst criminals.This year we are attempting to target areas of Kent where the victims are likely to live.

Scamnesty bins will be at the following locations in Shepway (subject to final confirmation):

  • Hythe Library
  • Folkestone Library
  • Waitrose - Hythe

Scam mail will also be collected at all other libraries in Scamnesty bags and can be handed to a KCC warden.

Last year a number of people forwarded scam mail but expressed concern about the name and address appearing on the letters. If they wish to, the most effective way of removing the name and address is to go over it with a dark permanent marker or to snip it out of the letter. Using a permanent marker would be preferred as there is less chance of other information from being removed.

If you want to find out more about scams and how they operate contact Consumer Direct 08454 04 05 06 or visit www.kent.gov.uk/tradingstandards