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Harlow residents warned as scams still happening

Communities / Wed 28th May 2014 am31 07:28am

A 90-year-old woman is warning people not to become victims of a prize draw scam after she reported one to Essex Trading Standards.

The woman, from Colchester, received a letter claiming she had won one of 6,000 cash prizes, ranging from £25 to £20,000. All she had to do was to ring a premium-rate number and listen out for her ID code to find out how much she had won and how to claim it.

Although she suspected the letter was a scam, she rang the claim number, only to find that her “winning” ID code was not listed.

She then rang Essex Trading Standards to report the scam.

“I knew it was a scam, but I wanted to sort it out for my peace of mind. The claim line went through a long rigmarole – and I was paying for their spiel – only to be told that I was unsuccessful,” said the woman.

“I rang Trading Standards to warn them about the scam. They were very helpful and said if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.”

Since reporting the scam, she has received another letter from the same company, but she tore it up and threw it away straightaway.

“I want to warn other people not to fall victim to these scams. There are so many about and some people end up losing so much money. You’ve got to be so wary of everything.”

Trading Standards deals with many similar scams all year round, including fraudsters trying to pass themselves off as the National Lottery.

Cllr Roger Walters, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Waste, Recycling and Trading Standards, said: “Residents should never respond to mailings relating to prize draws, lotteries, or other products or services which requests personal information, or money for administration fees.

“Unfortunately we have dealt with cases where elderly people have lost money by repeatedly replying to such scams. I would ask neighbours, friends and families to watch out for neighbours or relatives who are receiving large amounts of this scam mail.”

If any resident is concerned that they may have responded to a scam or is worried about a friend or relative they can call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506.

May is National Scams Awareness Month. Check #ScamsAwarenessMonth for tips on avoiding scams on Essex County Council’s Twitter @Essex_CC.

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