As if there wasn’t already enough controversy surrounding the World Cup, now there’s more. The fraudsters are on the loose once more, this time tricking people into a World Cup lottery.
People are receiving mail from a company claiming to be in affiliation with the event. They feature official logos and information, and then state that the receiver has won big. All they have to do is transfer a small amount of money and the huge win will be theirs. Of course, those rewards are not real and are never seen by the recipient of the letter.
Instead, whoever sends the letters keeps the person’s information for themselves. National Trading Standards (NTS) spoke out about the letters. It noted that a surge of these have been common in previous big sports events. Authorities then said that they wanted help from the public on the scam. This way, they can gather more information about it. Anyone receiving scam mail about winning a lottery over the next month should send it to the NTS. It highlighted the campaign as a “Scamnesty”.
Head of the Scams team at NTS, Louise Baxter spoke of wanting to stay ahead of the criminals. She requested that as well as sending in their letters, people should talk about the scam with others. This, she said, is especially helpful when it comes to older friends and family. “They are likely to be at the sharp end of the mailings”, she commented. The insight and information they can provide will be crucial to the NTS.
Anyone who does receive such a scam letter can send it to the following address:
NTSST, Freepost, Mail Marshals.
An International Scam Team Could Be Responsible
It is not uncommon for teams behind such scams to be operating on an international level. Organised crime gangs get together and focus on the hot trending topic or issue of the moment. During the panic over COVID-19 and receiving vaccines, fraudsters scammed £1.6 million. Targeting the vulnerable, they sent text messages out under the guise of being the NHS. This asked them to pay for their next vaccine or appointment.
Of course, the hot topic around the world right now is the World Cup in Qatar. The event features football teams from countries around the world. With this being the case, it is a lot easier for organised criminals to operate globally with it. Some of the false letters already seen claim that a lottery came about to promote the World Cup. While the words written on the letters can vary, the aim of them is exactly the same. They’re set up to trick those who are most vulnerable into sending money.
Officers say that the average amount requested in postal scams is around £48. This is usually asked for in cash, rather than anything else. In most cases, those who respond to the letters are often re-targeted. Victims have lost thousands of pounds as a result of this criminal activity.
The biggest type of postal scam for 2022 has been clairvoyant scams. Over 80% of these have fallen into this category. This sees recipients receive promises for detailed readings should they send money on. Other often seen postal scams include investment opportunities and fake health cures.
“Horrific Cases” of Postal Scams Taking Place in Britain
Speaking of postal scams, John Herriman, CEO of Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) said:
“The criminals behind these letters prey on the most vulnerable in our society, and at this time of year those that feel isolated and lonely are more inclined to respond to scam mail arriving out of the blue”.
He went on to state that professionals in CTSI have been witness to some “horrific cases”. These have seen victims lose over £100,000 to scam mailouts of this type. “It is a terrible cycle that some find it hard to get out of as the scammers often befriend their victims”.
Yet, some officers have visited the homes of those in danger of falling victim to such scams. This has prevented them from either starting or continuing to send money to fraudsters.
Earlier on in 2022, an announcement said that 3,500 victims would receive a scam refund. This came about from an international scam, which saw £530,000 stolen. It took four years of investigation for the refund result to occur. Through much research, officers found that fraudsters in the US were responsible. They tricked elderly and sick people into paying upfront fees for cash prizes. Those rewards were “guaranteed” in the scam but weren’t paid out in the end.
You can spot a scam letter with ease if you know what to look out for. This includes the recent mail doing the rounds focusing on the World Cup. Be sure to check through a letter you’re unsure of for the following information:
- It is common for scam mail to be very personalised. This means that your name will be present throughout the letter. It could also appear on images of certificates and cheques.
- Artwork utilised on such letters will often use seals or crests. Fonts that suggest they come from a financial institution, or an official company, are common too.
- It is common to see words like “guaranteed” and “100% genuine” in the mail. They also describe very precise amounts of money as well.
- If a signature is present, it will claim to be from officials with senior titles. Identification numbers can also appear alongside the signature.
- You will often see language that suggests there is a sense of urgency for you to claim your winnings. Look for phrases like “before the deadline” and similar.