‘Get rich’ schemes make people poorer

Online and postal scams, such as fake lottery wins, bogus inheritances and get rich quick schemes, are increasingly landing in local residents’ email accounts and post boxes.

Trading standards officers say the scammers deliberately target elderly and vulnerable people in mass marketing campaigns that typically guarantee a non-existent prize if an order is placed for various goods.

The trading standard services for Merton and Richmond, which is led by Merton Council, dealt with 47 cases in Merton and 60 in Richmond.

Cllr Ross Garrod, Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Street Cleanliness and Parking, said: “These companies are totally unscrupulous and, once they get a response, will bombard people with future correspondence.

“We had one local resident who had been doling out money for six years until officers intervened, while another was contacted by a clairvoyant who had simply found out information about the resident from public records. It’s unpleasant and manipulative  but scammers conned people out of more than £3.5 billion in the UK last year.”

For more advice, ring the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06 who will, if necessary, notify the council’s trading standards team.