Sutton Council is warning borough residents to be careful and not to become the victim of mail scams.

The warning was made by Trading Standards officers from Kingston and Sutton Shared Environment Service after the National Trading Standards Scams Team (NTS Scams Team) prevented almost 750,000 pieces of scam mail from entering the UK postal system in the last three months.

Although criminals behind the scams continually redesign their products to try to avoid raising suspicions, Sutton residents should look out for signs such as:

A foreign return address
An offer of a big pay out in return for a small purchase or administration fee
Requests for personal details in order to claim a prize
A letter claiming you have won a lottery that you did not enter
Letters from a psychic or clairvoyant offering their services for a fee
An offer that seems too good to be true.

Sutton Council Trading Standards recently came across a 90-year-old woman in the borough who had been conned out of £60,000 by unscrupulous people over the past decade. The pensioner received and responded to thousands of unsolicited letters and phone calls from the UK, France, The Netherlands, Canada and Australia.

Kingston and Sutton Shared Environment Service is urging people to look out for their neighbours, relatives and friends and to contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline if they suspect that someone they know may be responding to scam mail.

Jan Gransden, Group Manager of Enforcement at Kingston & Sutton Shared Environment Service, said:

“We are asking Sutton residents to be vigilant if they receive unsolicited letters with an offer that sounds too good to be true – as this will in fact be the case. We helped a pensioner who ordered some make-up advertised in a mail-order catalogue, and a decade and thousands of letters later had spent £60,000 on worthless goods and lottery scams promising riches.

“The key message about any such letters is do not respond! We ask friends, neighbours and relatives to look out for scam mail in their parents’, children’s or friends’ houses and for banks to be on the lookout for suspicious transactions and uncharacteristic behaviour.”

Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards, said:

“National Trading Standards and our partners are working hard to stop scam mail reaching the hands of vulnerable people in our communities. However these new figures show that we are facing an uphill struggle.

“I would urge anyone who receives potentially fraudulent mail or who knows someone who might be receiving it to report it to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”