Bolton council is urging residents to fight back against the fraudsters who send out scam mailings as part of a ‘Scamnesty’ campaign running throughout the borough in February.
The nationwide ‘Scamnesty’ campaign by Trading Standards and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), aims to help end mass marketed scam mailings by urging people to collect any scam mailings they receive and drop them into designated ‘Scamnesty’ bins located around Bolton.
The ‘Scamnesty’ bins will be located at all libraries across the borough, as well as Age Concern on Ashburner St in Bolton.
The letters will then be collected by the council’s trading standards staff and used by them to uncover local scams. Trading Standards will also be working with the National Fraud Authority and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau who will review and analyse the materials collected to determine whether preventative measures can be taken against the scammers, or if they can be stopped from operating.
Officers from Bolton Trading Standards estimate that nearly half of Bolton’s adult population has been targeted by a scam. Every year, around 13,500 adults in Bolton fall victim to a scam involving deceptive unsolicited mailings, phone calls, or emails, which are designed to con victims out of their cash. It is estimated Bolton consumers lose a staggering £14.2 million to scams every year.
In 2010, the top five mass-marketed scam mailings in the UK were advance fee and money transfer scams, bogus sweepstakes and misleading prize draws, fraudulent ticket websites, bogus foreign lotteries and bogus career opportunities. Other major scams to watch out for are clairvoyants, miracle health cures, weight loss products and claims to enhance sexual performance!
Councillor Nick Peel, Executive Member for Housing, Neighbourhoods and Regulations commented: “This is a really worthwhile campaign. Every day, people across Bolton are at risk from unscrupulous fraudsters who want to con them out of their cash. The victims of these scams can be elderly or confused and once they respond they become the victim of repeat scams. Some can even receive hundreds of scam letters every week, using up life savings to pay the demands and trying to hide what is happening from family or friends.
“In Bolton we estimate that 13,500 people fall victim to scams every year losing an incredible £14 million!
“We would urge everyone to drop your scam mailings into one of the Scamnesty bins. You will be helping protect the most vulnerable in our communities. The Scamnesty bins will provide valuable new intelligence to the OFT and our trading standards officers and will help inform future investigations, which will prevent others from being scammed.”
As well as the Scamnesty bins, residents can also post scam mailings to Trading Standards, Castle Hill Centre, Castleton St, Bolton BL2 2JW. When depositing or posting scam mailings, Bolton Trading Standards request that residents include all contents of the mailing, including any return envelope, together with the original envelope that contained the mailing.
Scamnesty bins will be located at the following addresses throughout February:
Central Library, Le Mans Crescent BL1 1SE
Astley Bridge Library, Moss Bank Way BL1 8NP
Blackrod Library, Church Street BL6 5EQ
Bromley Cross Library, The Crescent BL7 9JR
Castle Hill Library, Castle Hill Centre, Castleton Street, Tonge Moor BL2 2JW
Farnworth Central Library, Market Street BL4 7PG
Harwood Library, Gate Fold BL2 3HN
Heaton Library, New Hall Lane BL1 5LF
High Street Library, High Street, Bolton BL3 6SZ
Highfield Library, Orchards (Lower Site), Highfield Road, Farnworth BL4 0NS
Horwich Library, Jones Street BL6 7AJ
Little Lever Library, Coronation Square BL3 1LP
Oxford Grove Library, 105 Shepherd Cross Street, Bolton BL1 3EJ
Westhoughton Library, Library Street BL5 3AT
Withins Neighbourhood Library, Bolton St Catherine's Academy, Newby Road, Bolton BL2 5JB
Age Concern, 72-74 Ashburner Street, Bolton BL1 1TN