I have not had anything to say in a blog before but I have recently been helping a relative who has been subject to all sorts of scams, from lottery scams to telephone scams. Now there is lots of information on the web about scams but not much on how to stop the deluge of letters coming through the door. If anyone knows different please tell me.
The first thing I think is, for all concerned not to think that “falling for a scam” is some sort of weakness. Yes some victims may be old and easily led but I can see how someone on their own could easily be led into parting with say £20 on the first scam and then that’s it, the deluge and tricks start. But more on that later.
It was a chance comment which led the family to know that this relative was spending money on what sounded like scams and a visit the next day to the relative confirmed it, indeed they were on the telephone agreeing to send £600 from their home in England to someone in Kingston Jamaica ! Surrounding them were piles of letters and lottery and other scams and notes in their own handwriting of names and telephone numbers and amounts of money etc. This brings us to the first issue. How do you know if an elderly relative, yes anyone 60 plus is a target, is getting and responding to scams. One thing I’m getting to know is the Postman does, he delivers it and it is likely the Post Office counter clerk suspects as he or she will accept “Money Grams” Other than being watchful when you visit or talk to a relative or friend I’m not sure how else you find out. Any thoughts on this I would welcome.
The first thing I did was to convince them is was all scams. That was not difficult, there is plenty on the web to show about scams and to be honest some I made up ! Having said that it wasn’t that easy as when leaving their house with all the post, in a box they were still saying “I think that one on top is genuine”
My course of action was to remove all the post. That I did and within two days as I had convinced them they were scams BUT I had to reassure them I would check them all out on the web in case any were genuine. Then I made arrangements to take their phone out of action and change the number, making it “number withheld” and ex directory. I was lucky here but if your are following this as way of helping someone then remember when telling the close family your relative new telephone number tell any member of the family with the same surname not to let any callers they don’t know have the relative new number. As I said I was lucky as the scammers rang the relatives brother some 100 miles away, but they thought they were speaking to the victim at his new address !
After the telephone I made arrangements to redirect their post to my home. In the meantime I would collect the post daily.
Whilst this was going on I searched on the web for any help I could find and I have not found a lot. Yes plenty of advice, like don’t fall for these scams, but not much on how to stop them. A call to the Office of Fair Trading and a lodge of a complaint only brought a telephone call from the local trading standard officer asking if I wanted to take part in a survey.
In the next bit I’m going to put on this blog is some of the research and findings so far and if anyone lives in Radstock, UK you could play a part. I will also discuss the so called “Federal Bureau of Consumers Affairs for the US Government, maam” or that is how they answer the phone in Manchester UK
Perhaps before I go into detail I ought to outline the nature of these scams. I suppose I have to say that they may be legal but I’m not a lawyer, but if they are they must operate on the fringe of legality however, I think all would agree the way they sell is totally wrong and without scruples. They all carry the same message “Congratulation you may have won and a £xx million prize may await you” and then go on to ask for an administration fee or release fee of anything from £10 to £30. What most of them don’t tell you is probably you won a piece of jewellery worth only pennies or indeed won nothing at all. In reality you will properly get nothing but as you would have been bombarded with so many letters in totally different envelopes, return address’s and company names, you will not recall to whom you sent money and how much, so will have no idea if you got a prize. That’s where the second tool in their armoury comes in “Confusion” You will quickly get fifty of these letters a day with up so six from the same source but all in totally different envelopes, in design and layout and it would take a computer and dedication to keep track of them. Trust me I’ve been doing it!
So fifty letters a day just ignore them you say. That’s easier said than done as you will see. But it gets worse by replying to the first letter you quickly begin to get fifty letters and your name progresses to end up on the “Mugs” list. This “list” the various companies sell to other companies and in turn buy theirs. Once you are on these lists you are open to the totally illegal scams and here were talking telephone calls and requests for large sums of money to be sent to various “agents” around the world. Theses guys operate by phone and fax and therefore little evidence of their operation, but they are clever. Now you may recall in the case I’m dealing with I changed the number so the old number is no longer valid. You think that would be the end of it but no the scammers desperate to continue their scam, rang a relative with the same surname some 100 miles away trying to make contact. So take care if you are following this and have changed say a relative number warn other family members not to reveal it to unknown enquires on the phone
So how does this all start? It could be a random first lottery letter (let continue to call them scam letters). The scammer’s (the organization behind this) probably use such things as the Acorn code for the postcode. Acorn codes (or there are similar codes) are used by most marketing companies to target their direct mail to the right “social economic group” Marketing companies know that there is not point directing marketing mail or door mail drops, say about nappies to a postcode area which is predominantly middle aged. Likewise a lottery scam letter would be wasted sent to an housing area populated in the main, by newly married couples with young families for obvious reasons (they will not have the time or money to spare) far better to target an area which is mainly older people who have the time, in deed perhaps like reading the post, most of us don’t have time to read and perhaps they have the odd few pounds to spare. So you see even random scams are not !
Now consider you have an office in the UK (or an Agent and we will look at this later) and an office in say the united states. The office in the states sends random letters to various selective postcodes using Acorn codes and the reply envelopes uses the UK address, very convenient to process UK cheques. But in the office is say someone who is scanning the newspapers looking for any articles or notices that could indicate an older person is vulnerable it could be an article celebrating a golden wedding, coming out of hospital after a fall or perhaps the best one to find a bereavement of a spouse. Anything that shows the age or vulnerability will be useful and sadly older people on their own are more vulnerable. We all, at times need a “Critical friend” to keep us on the path !
So you reply to the so called random letter and now they have got you and the switch is turned-on for you to get the full might of their printing presses. Now each day, different coloured envelopes arrive all in different styles, different names etc as I outlined earlier. You are caught!
The arrival of the post is relentless. One or two scams start are complemented by a letter from a Physic which starts by saying “I know you and your family have problems and I see a light at the end of the tunnel for you and you will soon get good fortune” They have the check to add at the bottom a request for a financial contribution to allow them to keep up their good work!
Then there are the letters which start “I’m worried about you as you have not cashed our cheque for £750 but don’t give up “ and then those that you have not replied to, you get “Notice of Withdrawal” to teach you a lesson for not replying. The final tool I suspect is if you go quit and don’t reply to any of the company letters is a cheque for 60p arrives not only does it tempt you, but when you cash it they know you are still there.
The vast number of letters makes it very confusing to work out what letter comes from where and hence whom to write to get names taken off the database. Now I’m not yet certain the way I have sorted them has not got flaws but it has so far linked mailing together extremely well. What I have done is to sort them and match them using the mailing licence number. This number is shown on the right hand top corner of the envelope where you would normally put the stamp. In the UK it shows usually a big “2” for second class and in the box a number like “HQ 16320” this is the licence number given to the sender under which they are authorised to send the letter without a stamp. It’s like “franking” but for bigger organization that operate large mail shots. The USA, Canada and Hong Kong operate a similar system however Australia and others do not they don’t seem to insist of the Licence number being shown.
UK Address, Agents in UK and Postcodes
The other check I have performed is to look at the return envelopes i.e. where they want you to send your money, which are in the main UK address. The envelope start with much higher percentage of “Suite No” an expression we don’t use much is this country but that is just a casual observation but does give an indication avoid scam which use “Suite No”.
I had thought the UK address given would be a small office for the scammers but alas after looking at many I believe they are all (so far) addresses of mailing Agents. I have used the Post code to search the Post Office web site to find who the Post code is linked to. One needs to understand that not all post codes point to a “group” of address’s like our own domestic postcodes do. If you are a large company or a company with a large incoming post you can apply to the post office for a unique postcode. This of course the Post Office welcome because it makes sorting and delivery much easier
So far I have identified the following companies in the UK which are acting as agents and have indexed them to the sender Licence Number
According to the Trading Standards office who would not give me any details this company is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Squad. It uses licences:-
5707 1 5696 7249463 5713 4129
Mail boxes Ltd
JEM Marketing Ltd
Now listed below are the various licences number and details I have come across and the various addresses’ they use.
This organizations has the following address
In the UK
4 Old Down, Emborough, BA3 4FG (note this address in preceded by Suite No 3 and the various companies names)
In the USA
North American Headquarters, PO box 11046, Fort Lauderdale FL 33339,
PO Box 98857 Las Vegas, NV 89193-8857
PO Box 219958, Kansas City Missouri 64121 9958
Po Box 169009 Kansas City, MO 64116-9009
PO Box 2904, Kansas City, KS 6610-2904
The address operate the following names
EBPR or European Prize Draw Agency
PAWE or Prize Agency of Western Europe
National Awards Commission
Awards Notification Commission
United Kingdom Prize Draw Registry
The company directs some of the replies to the US and some to the UK address
Note this is Agent as 5707 and 1 below and 7249463 and 5713.
In the UK
16 Coombend, Radstock, BA3 3BN (Preceded by Suite 132 Unit 6) Note Goggle Earth can’t find a 3BN but this could be because it has been allocated to a large mail user and this is confirmed by the Post Office who shows the address as 16 Coombend and the company as Care4Mail Ltd
In the USA
PO Box 521750, Miami, FL33512-1750
The address operates the following names:-
WWW or Worldwide Awards Authority
Global Cash Registry
UPU or United Prize Union
Riches Registry (This is a newsletter listing on the draws you can apply to on the Web!)
Don’t have the envelope (So for record purpose I have allocated this number 1)
Suite 50 Unit 4 Old Down Business Park, Emborough Radstock, BA3 4FG (This postcode has been allocated to Care4Mail Ltd and therefore links all 5707 5696 and 1 as probably acting as agent
US Address unknown only have Reply Envelopes to Radstock
Overstock Prize Enter
PGN Delivery Directive
This number is suspiciously close to 5707
Unknown but all bears a US posted mark form Las Vegas
Postbus 490, 2000 AL Haarlem, Netherlands
International Prize Agency
Global Monetary Resource
Inerter national Prize Authority
Intercontinental Prize Agency
International Prize Authority
Suite 35 Silk House, Park Green, Macclesfield, SK11 7QJ (sometimes addressed Davenport @ Associates) This Postcode belongs to Mail Boxes Etc Ltd.
PO Box 9823, Brentwood, CM14 9DT (also Box 922)
Po Box 336, Sevenoaks, TN13 9FJ (This postcode belongs to Admail 4 International Ltd)
Box 3300, Fort Langley, BC VIM 4E8 Canada
PO Box 305, 5010 48th Avenue, Delta, BC Canada, V4K 3Y3
PO Box 2500 Fort Langley BC Canada V1M 4E8
Posted from Canada
Operates under the following:-
EPS or European Prize Syndicate
Michael Huntington Premium Prizes
Enigma Promotions Ltd
Prize Mastery Contest
Life of Luxury
Royal Mail HQ16320
PO Box 386, Horley, RH6 9YG. (No trace of this postcode on Royal Mail search)
Po Box 385, Horley RH6 9YD. (No trace of this postcode on Royal Mail search)
PO Box 248 Ashford, TW15 1XF. Registered to Kamino Ltd
Posted in the UK
Operates under the following:-
Global Award Centre
The Prize Consortium
Burges & Partners
Freemantle O’Connor and Associates
4 Old Down Business Park, Emborough, Radstock, BA3 4FG (see 5696 and other above)
Posted in Canada
Operates under the following:-
Financial Claims Division
Premium Claims Division
Bureau Reporting Services
PO Box 3980, Las Vegas, NV 89127-3980, USA
IPN or International Prize Network
Howard Barrett and Young
Verified Information Services
Bureau of Financial Services
Bureau of Records
Research and Notification Bureau
Document Data Services
Bureau of Audited Claims
First Class Transmittal
16 Coombend, Radstock, BA3 3BN
Does not appear on any documents but this must be the same as 5707 see names below
Posted in the USA
United Prize Compendium
Prize Distribution Authority
World Wealth carries the logo WWW as used by 5707
This an interesting one as there is two scam in one operation. You get a letter from Tony Carr, Psychic. And surprise he tells you in a long physic way that “opportunities may open and then CLOSE very quickly, with astounding power” and offers you to pay him a fee £9.95 for one month to, in his words “to keep the bond between us activated and allow me time to devote to seeing each possible wonderful channel” Good of him to offer to return the fee “if such wonderful opportunities don’t come” but he need not worry as surprise surprise, the next envelope is also stamped under licence 4129 from Hong Kong and it is that wonderful Lottery chance at only £29.97 but if you did not see it in the post that don’t worry as the next few letters also offer similar opportunities, all different prize funds but from the same place.
Here is the UK Address for Mr Carr
Anthony Carr, J.E.M House, Cranleigh, Surrey, GU6 8TT (note this postcode is allocated to JEM Marketing, JEM House, Little Mead Industrial Estate, Cranleigh GU6 8TT, how did I know, I’m Physic !
For the lottery they use this UK address
3 Westfield Court, Westfield, Midsomer Norton, BA3 4AG, (and this postcode is allocated to Care4Mail Ltd, I think we have heard this name before see 5707 above) Unit 3, Third Avenue, Westfield Industrial Estate, Midsomer Norton, Radstock, BA3 4AG
Box 4, 60 Westbury Hill, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, BS9 3UJ (not investigated this address yet)
Hong Kong address
PO Box 5697 GPO Hong Kong
And they use:-
Internal Awards Treasury
Awards Determination Tribunal
Regal Jewellry Sweepstakes
On this one you can accept the benefit of a Genuine Diamond Necklace for £19.97 as well!
Suite 32 Silk House, Park Green, Macclesfield, SK11 7QJ (Addressed Davenport @ Associates) This Postcode belongs to Mail Boxes Etc Ltd.
725 River Road, Suite 32-166 Edgewater, NJ 07020, USA
Post Office HQ11781
No UK Address
1054 Centre. St Suite 147, Thornhill ON, L4J 8EF, Canada
1-7357 Woodbine Ave, Suite 475, Markham ON, L3R 6L3 Canada.
5863 Leslie St, Suite 1217, Toronto ON, M2H 1J8, Canada
720 King Street, W, Suite 514, Toronto OM, M5V 3S5
Posted in the UK
Award Verification Bureau
Global Escrow Services
Capital Distribution Group
How to stop the letters
Well one thing that does not work is writing and asking them to remove the name and address from the database. This does not work. Neither did what I first thought was a cunning plan, and that was to mark the letters “Deceased” and put them back in the post again. The ones I tested with this idea were redelivered and it could have been a difficult situation for my relative !
I finally hit on what I think is the best idea. Look for an empty house in another town. It has to be one where the house is going to be empty for a long time i.e. a house in need of major repairs or renovation. I found such a house which I was able to confirm with the estate agents was empty and needed a builder to buy it. Double checking on this is vital as you will see later.
I got my relative to make out in their own hand a “Change of Address” card to inform the receiver that the relative had moved to the empty house. A supply of photocopies of these cards to hand I was to send one to each of the companies as I received their letters. You can now see why the house needs to be empty. I figure that the post would just be destroyed by builder and would dry up by the time a new occupier moved in. The other trick would be to find a missing house number in a street but this proved more difficult.
My second idea was for any letters subsequently received to be returned them as “Gone away” This was really more of a protest against the Post Office in accepting this letter into their system; however they were all redelivered again. Perhaps I did not delete the address clearly enough so I’m still working on this. However, even If they are redelivered it would be my recommendation for everyone to do this as a protest to the Post Office as it would really make a point to them and pushes them to not accepting these letters from the companies.