Trading Standards Information and Advice: Scamnesty, May 2012

The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is urging scam victims to speak out to help stop the ever-growing wave of con artists.

A tide of mass marketed scams such as fake lottery wins is having a devastating effect on the lives of millions of people in the UK, warns TSI.

It wants people to ‘turn them in and turn the tide’ during the Scams Awareness Month in May.

Unscrupulous scammers often target elderly or vulnerable adults, tricking them into revealing their bank details or paying upfront fees with the lure of huge rewards. Victims can find themselves on the receiving end of wave after wave of letters, emails and phone calls aimed at parting them from their cash.

And even after they realise they have been cheated out of their life savings, many people do not report the crime as they are too embarrassed to tell anyone.

The scammers are left free to carry on duping more and more victims, getting away with an estimated total of more than £73 billion* a year.

The clear message from TSI as it launches Scams Awareness Month is ‘Turn them in and turn the tide’.

People are also being encouraged to remember the following tips:

• Stop, think and be sceptical. If something sounds too good to be true it probably is.

• Do not be rushed into sending off money to someone you do not know, however plausible they might sound and even where an approach is personalised.

• Ask yourself how likely it is that you have been especially chosen for this offer - thousands of other people will probably have received the same offer.

• Think about how much money you could lose from replying to a potential scam - it’s not a gamble worth taking.

• If you are unsure of an offer, speak to family or friends and seek advice before sending any money or giving out any banking or credit card details.

Scams can be reported to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at or to the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 040506. During May, any suspicious letters can also be handed in at libraries in many areas.