Thousands of scam letters aimed at luring potential British victims into handing over cash to fraudsters, have been seized by police.
The letters are reportedly designed to encourage people to invest in fraudulent schemes linked to lotteries, shares and inheritance claims. Victims are asked to send money overseas in exchange for valuable goods and big payouts which, of course never appear.
It is the first time police have moved to intercept fraudulent mail before it reached the letter boxes of potential victims. They also shut down five rented post-boxes, based in London which were being used to dupe victims into believing the companies are reliable.
The people behind the scheme target those who are easily persuaded, including the elderly and those suffering with illnesses such as dementia. If the first “tempter” letter is replied to, then that person would be placed on the “sucker” list which would be circulated amongst those who run the scam.
Up to £3.5 billion each year is stolen from British citizens, with £2.5 million of that coming from mail scams.
Detective Superintendent Mark Ponting, of the Metropolitan Police, said: “The individuals behind this type of crime are cynical and pernicious, making their living by targeting and exploiting some of the most vulnerable and needy people in our society.”
The seizure of letters was the result of an ongoing investigation, which began when detectives contacted 11 scam mail victims who had been repeatedly targeted.
The police traced their mail back to its source and asked Royal Mail to notify them if another shipment appeared in Britain.