Scamnesty, a national campaign against scam mail takes place this month, and I helped Sarah MacDermott, responsible for Trading Standards on Wandsworth, launch it yesterday.
Part of the campaign involves collecting any example of scam mail during February to help build a profile of activity and spread.
Most people find it hard to believe that people are taken in by scams: who would think they’ve won a lottery they never entered, or have been chosen by some dying African they’ve never met to help distribute their estate?
Sadly, enough people do to make it an incredibly lucrative business.
One of the most heart-breaking presentations I have ever seen was by Marilyn Baldwin, who set up Think Jessica after her mother was targeted by scammers, who not only took her money, but turned her against the family trying to protect her. The Think Jessica website is full of such stories.
Some years ago I used to do a bit of scam baiting – essentially engaging with the scammers to waste their time and, hopefully, save someone from being a genuine victim. While fun, it was illustrative of how professional and organised the gangs were – it was disturbing to be given UK numbers to call to help ‘sort things out’ and realise that they were very English accents on the other end. These aren’t a few Nigerians on a different continent, but part of an international network.
The council will have bins dotted around the borough, so if you get and scam mail or email, instead of just binning it, keep it and pop it in one of our bins.