How scam letter victims are targeted
The charity Think Jessica fights scammers by raising awareness of the way criminals target and control their victims.
It describes how the heartless conmen will use powerful psychological techniques that can even turn victims against their families and anyone who tries to help them.
The National Trading Standards specialist anti-scam team estimates that criminals globally make around £10 billion a year from targeting their victims.
Networks of criminals compile and exchange lists of vulnerable and elderly people they believe they can target successfully.
Those living alone with no access or much understanding of the internet and no knowledge of these scamming techniques are most at risk, the charity says.
Victims are contacted and through a variety of offers are urged to part with money.
The approach varies, but the endgame is always the same – send money.
Once on a list, victims can receive 100 or more scam letters a day and find themselves hounded by constant international phone calls.
The charity says that millions of victims have a condition that it is trying to get recognised; it calls it Jessica Scam Syndrome (JSS).
“People with JSS have been “brainwashed” by criminals who are having an easy and assisted passage into their homes, minds and bank accounts,” the charity says.
The definition of brainwashing is “To make someone believe something by repeatedly telling them that it’s true and preventing any other information from reaching them.
“They do this by posing as various characters e.g. lottery officials, bankers, solicitors, presidents of companies, clairvoyants & FBI agents, some send out catalogues and repeatedly promise the victim a large cash prize if they place an order.
“Some vulnerable people have spent thousands of pounds chasing non-existent prizes. Scammers are ruthless, calculating and clever. They use the voice of authority to swear victims to secrecy and scammers posing as clairvoyants say things like “your family are against you” and “those pretending to help you, wish you harm”.”
The aim is to fill the victim’s head with the “voices” of these characters until they become unable/unwilling to listen to anyone else.
“Once snared JSS victims do not have the mental capacity to understand they are being scammed, even if they are told time and time again by family or professionals,” the charity says.
“Think Jessica is continually contacted by relatives of people with JSS, thousands of these have emptied their bank accounts and some have gone on to suffer disturbed mental health and been sectioned after years of trying to keep up with the criminals constant demands for cash.”
Scam post - what to look our for…
If someone in your family or circle of friends falls into the category of being elderly or vulnerable, it is worth warning them of these common scams.
Here are some of the scams favoured by these criminals:
* You have won a lottery, sweepstake or competition… BUT YOU HAVE TO SEND MONEY
* Money you have won is being held in a holding company… BUT YOU HAVE TO SEND MONEY
* Somebody has left you an inheritance… BUT YOU HAVE TO SEND MONEY
* A clairvoyant can stop bad luck or direct good luck towards you… BUT YOU HAVE TO SEND MONEY
* There is a “secret” deal which will make you rich… BUT YOU HAVE TO SEND MONEY
Scammers send out catalogues selling food, pills, potions, jewellery, clothes, items for home and garden.
They guarantee a prize if you order and make it seem like you are the only one to be getting this amazing offer.
The promised prize never arrives, of course (though some do send cheap goods to keep the victim hooked). Instead they’ll send out more promises to get more orders.
If you've spotted any cunning scams, warn others by posting on A Spokesman Said.