Financial scams are big business

Financial scams are on the increase and they are already a billion pound business in the UK

Anyone who uses email will be inundated with financial scam emails slithering into their inbox on a daily basis. For those who use email and ‘snail mail’ the problem is even worse because then both post-boxes and email in-boxes will be subjected to a steady flow of scam mail.

Scams are really big business. It is estimated that each adult in the UK is scammed out of around 70 pounds each year. This comes to a grand total of 3.5 billion pounds per year! Is there any surprise, then, that scams are big business?

Scammers have to be innovative and they must constantly come up with new ways to target innocent people. They can scam by SMS, email and post. They have only one objective in mind and that is to relieve you of your money. Any promises they make are completely untrue.

There is a general perception that only the elderly or naïve are taken in by scammers but the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has debunked this myth; the age group that most commonly gets taken in is in the 35 to 44 age bracket. The elderly are certainly targeted and they usually end up being defrauded of the most cash.

Scams can deeply affect people and families and sometimes lead to depression, debt and suicide. Even a scam involving a small amount of money can leave us feeling vulnerable, cheated and frustrated because it is impossible to fight an invisible enemy.

Be alert for financial scams

If something seems to be too good to be true, it probably is not true. Perhaps this is the first clue. In your writer’s experience these are the things to watch for:

  • Does the offer sound too good to be true?
  • If it is an email, what is the return address? .gmail or .yahoo or some other free email address? If so, be aware. Most legitimate companies will have their own company email address.
  • Is the spelling and grammar perfect or are there mistakes? This is also a sign that should alert you.
  • Do they ask for any money as ‘administration fee’ or some other fee? Note that scammers do not always ask for money in the beginning, their modus operandi may be to groom the victim.

The OFT is fighting back. They have made tackling scams a top priority. The OFT has also commissioned extensive research into who falls for financial scams and why they fall for them.

Scammers trade names and addresses so if you have been scammed once prepare yourself for more scam mail.

Here are the most tried and tested scams that net the biggest cash bonuses from the nasties:

  • Competitions, prize draws and sweepstake scams
  • Bogus holiday clubs
  • Miracle slimming and health cure scams
  • Foreign lotteries which are fake
  • Clairvoyant mailings

There are many more scams and they are growing by the day. Be aware, be very cynical and don’t believe everything you read. It could very easily be a financial scam. Guard your hard earned money, you have worked hard for it.