STACKS of scam letters sent to the vulnerable by fraudsters are now being investigated.
As part of May’s National Scam Awareness Month anyone who had a suspicious leaflet drop through their letterbox was urged to leave it in one of 85 boxes across the county.
Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards team set up the scheme in an effort to find out more about the scams rogue traders were trying on.
Anu Prashar, from trading standards, said the letters, dropped off in the boxes at libraries, citizens’ advice bureau, health and wellbeing centres and other buildings, would be important evidence for investigators.
She said: “There are unfortunately many ways con artists try to dupe people out of money, and one of the methods used is to try and dupe cash via letters and leaflets offering seemingly fantastic offers or deals.
“Some people are obviously taken in by these frauds as the letters and leaflets keep being sent — the aim of the ‘scamnesty’ boxes was to encourage residents to hand in what is in fact evidence, so we are able to analyse it and learn from it.’’ The junk mail will also now be shared with other trading standards teams across the country.
The move comes after the Oxford Mail revealed in April doorstep criminals scamming Oxfordshire residents had hit a seven-year high.
Fraudsters conned people out of at least £864,000 in 627 incidents between April last year and March this year.
The scheme, which also saw information stalls set up around Oxfordshire, was run with the help of Oxfordshire's Consumer Empowerment Partnership.
Coordinator David Soward, who is based at Oxford Citizens’ Advice Bureau, said: “We have been out and about this month talking to shoppers in Abingdon, Banbury, Thame and Witney and to various other locations spreading the word about tactics scammers can use.
“Everyone has experienced con artists in one way or another, via the post, on the doorstep or through nuisance calls.
“The message for all is simple though – if something comes out of the blue or seems too good to be true, then it is probably a scam.
“Our advice is bin it, hang up and tell someone and don't be taken in.”
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