Seoul, North Korea (PressExposure) March 16, 2011 -- A large number of people in the UK who lost money to a scam in 2010 were the victims of a money transfer or advance fee scam, research has found. New research commissioned by the Office of Fair Trading shows that 39% of people were duped into handing over their bank details or paying an up front fee by mass market scams.
These were scams arriving by post, email, text, phone and on the internet that led them to believe they were entitled to an inheritance, donating to charity or even helping release funds from a corrupt country. Nearly one in every twenty people, some 4% lost money to a scam last year alone. Amongst these, the realistic nature of scams was the top reason for falling for them. Some 61% confessed that the scams looked real. Of those who reported being scammed in the last 12 months, some 7% lost more than £4,000 and 39% of respondents who had been scammed in the last 12 months said they did not report it to the authorities.
The extent of the problem with money transfer and advance fee scams is also exposed by the latest Consumer Direct figures, which show more complaints about these scams than any others.
Consumer campaigner Esther Rantzen, who herself has spent over 40 years exposing scammers and con-men, said they can have a devastating impact on people's lives. 'The conmen often deliberately target older people or people who are especially vulnerable,' she said.
'Stigma or embarrassment can wrongly make victims think they are to blame, and discourage them from reporting these crimes or seeking help. No one should feel like this. I want people to feel able to speak to their friends, family and neighbours so that we can put these con artists out of business,' she added.
She is backing the OFT's Scams Awareness Month which recommends that people bin and scam material that they receive. It has set up 'Scamnesty' bins around the country at local libraries and public areas.
'Scammers are using ever more sophisticated and cunning tactics to dupe people out of their cash. We want people to recognise the warning signs, and feel confident enough to seek advice from friends and family or from Consumer Direct,' said Michele Shambrook, operations manager for the OFT-managed advice service Consumer Direct.
Its tips include; be sceptical and 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; and ask yourself how likely it is that you have been especially chosen for this offer as thousands of other people will probably have received the same offer.
It also says that if you are unsure of an offer, speak to family or friends and seek advice from Consumer Direct before sending any money or giving out any banking or credit card details.
After advance fee and money transfers the most popular scam involved prize draws and sweepstakes, ticketing, foreign lotteries, career opportunities, miracle health.
Written by Ray ClancyWednesday, 02 February 2011 10:57