VULNERABLE AND ELDERLY residents of Moray are the most popular targets for mail scams, according to Moray’s Trading Standards office.
As part of Scams Awareness Month running throughout July, warnings are being issued over the most common practices being used against unwary members of the public.
Mail scams commonly seen in Moray are foreign lotteries or prize draws, promising a cheque for a large sum is on the way – all the ‘winner’ need do is purchase something from a catalogue or pay and ‘administrative fee’. Those who pay invariably never see the promised cheque.
Another common scam in recent months has been the ‘clairvoyant’ scam, where promises are made to help the recipient become rich – but n return, the victim must not discuss the matter with friends or family.
A spokesman said: “You can help safeguard the wellbeing of your friends and family members – do you know someone who receives large amounts of scam mail? Do they appear to be hoarding the mail?
“Do they frequently send catalogue orders to foreign addresses? Are they receiving lots of packages, usually in plain boxes or jiffy bags?
“If they appear to be purchasing large amounts of household items that they do not need, this may be a sign that they are placing orders from a catalogue to secure their prize winnings.
“Previous scam victims assisted by trading standards in Moray have lost thousands of pounds to scams, resulting in severe financial difficulty. If you suspect that you, or a friend, have been the victim of a scam, please contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06 for advice or assistance.”
Moray Trading Standards have also pointed out that scams are not limited to consumers – businesses are often the targets, such as one by a company that produces educational pamphlets.
The caller says that the business has already agreed to sponsor a series of leaflets on issues such as bullying and drugs, which will be distributed to local schools. This is a variation of a well-known publishing scam.
Following the call, the scammer will send the business an invoice in the hope that it will be paid. In doing so, the business may unwittingly sign up to a long-term contract for goods or services that they do not want, at significant cost.
Advice from trading standards to businesses is to remain vigilant and only pay invoices for goods and services that have actually been ordered. Businesses can contact Moray Council trading standards for further advice if they have received such an invoice.