About three million Britons lose around £3.5 billion every year due to fraudulent direct mail, new research shows.

According to the Office of Fair Trading, millions fall prey to con artists who fraudulently solicit money by letter, email, telephone and text, yet less than one in 20 reports these incidents.

Fake prize draws, sweepstakes and foreign lotteries along with bogus clairvoyants and ‘miracle’ health cures were among more than 15,000 mailings alerted to the attention of 50 of the 200 local authority trading standards offices in England, Wales and Scotland this year.

The OFT warned that people who receive fraudulent direct mail should think before they send money off to people they don’t know and if in doubt, they should seek advice from family or friends.

A nationwide campaign launched by the OFT in February asking the public to send in examples of con mailings they had received showed a wide range of fraudulent mail.

Mike Haley, the OFT’s director of consumer protection, said: “The huge range of mailings uncovered by the Scamnesty campaign illustrate there really is a scam for everyone.”

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Related Topics: Direct Mail