A scam is a type of fraud. Mass marketing scams are the most common. A mass marketing scam is a 'misleading or deceptive business practice where the person receives an unsolicited or uninvited contact (eg by letter, email, phone or advertisement) and false promises are made to con the victim out of money'.
What to look out for
Common scams include claims that you have won money and it is being held in a holding company; somebody has left you an inheritance that you need to claim; or clairvoyants claiming they can stop bad luck and direct good luck your way.
They will appear official (that is their intention). For example, claiming to be solicitors or from the government and will use a legal and formal jargon. Letters will be addressed to you personally to make you feel special
Once you have replied to one scam letter you will receive more. If you are receiving 3 letters a day offering superb prizes it is likely your details have been added to a 'suckers list' being shared between scammers
For further advice on Scams contact the Citizens Adviceon 03454040506or if you know money has been paid to a scam, report it on the Action Fraud websiteor call them on 03001232040.
You can view videos about scams and victim stories on the Think Jessica website.
How to spot a victim of a scam
People find it hard to believe they are being conned. Scammers are full of promises that they never fulfil. Victims will become secretive (through embarrassment or scammers telling them not to talk to anyone).
Common tell-tale signs amongst victims are large numbers of letters being received daily. They will also be sending lots of cheques or postal orders or telephone bills may be unusually high due to the dialing of premium rate numbers.
What to do if you have concerns about somebody
If you have concerns that somebody you know is responding to scams, talk to them about it. If they would like for the scams to be investigated, they can send the letters free of charge to Royal Mail .
If they just want the letters to stop, they need to 'return them to sender' saying 'not known at this address' and the scam letters should stop quite quickly.
If gentle persuasion does not prove successful in stopping them from responding to the letters, we are able to contact them for you to give them advice. Please contact us via Citizens Advice and we will discuss the individual's circumstances.
Often people who have become trapped in a cycle of responding to scams have additional support needs and if you think this is the case, you can also contact Rutland Adult Social Care, Prevention and Safeguarding Team on
01572758341 or by filling in our e-form concerned for a young person or adult to see what additional support could be put in place.