Video: Warning after Essex grandmother, 81, falls foul of mail-order scam

Letters sent to Coggeshall grandmother who spent £3,000 on them

Letters sent to Coggeshall grandmother who spent £3,000 on them - Credit: Archant

A grandmother who spent more than £3,000 on “devilish” mail-order scams is warning others not to fall foul of fraudsters.

Letters sent to Coggeshall grandmother who spent £3,000 on them

Letters sent to Coggeshall grandmother who spent £3,000 on them - Credit: Archant

The woman, 81, realised after five months she was being scammed by the prize draw organisers and contacted Trading Standards officers at Essex County Council.

It started when the victim, from Coggeshall ordered biscuits from one catalogue and was then bombarded with post from three other companies.

They invited her to enter prize draws for up to £148,000, and enticed her with free gifts which she ultimately paid for.

She was made to pay for orders before they were dispatched. She realised something was wrong when money was taken from her account for a watch and other goods that she had not ordered.

The victim, who does not want to be named, said: “I just feel so ridiculous and so stupid and I’ve lost a lot of money I couldn’t afford.

“I think: ‘How and why did I do it? How did I get caught in it?’

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“It’s like a spider’s web. It’s like a one-way track. It’s devilish.

“I would like to warn other people not to fall into the same trap that I did.”

The woman received several letters each day and numerous parcels including both items she had paid for and many she had not.

Essex Trading Standards and the victim’s bank are working to help her recover some of the money she spent and have advised her not to respond to any more letters or calls from the scam companies.

Roger Walters, county councillor for Trading Standards, said: “These mail scams typically sell over-priced goods such as confectionery and skin products.

“They send numerous letters, often telling you you’ve won a big prize in a draw which you can claim by buying something else. They claim to offer free gifts, but often use your bank details to get payments before dispatching any items.

“Our advice is never to enter these prize draws or pay to receive ‘free’ gifts. If you think you are a victim of a scam, then contact Trading Standards. We will be able to help you.”

Officers are still working their way through a list of about 3,000 names they were given in the summer of people on a so-called “suckers list” held by scammers, visiting the most vulnerable.

Anyone who thinks they may have responded to a scam or is worried about a friend or relative can call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506.