Page last updated at 12:07 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Campaign targets junk mail scams

Junk mail
Last year fake winnings totalled more than 78m

A campaign to stamp out fake postal and internet competitions will be carried out by Darlington Council.

The Trading Standards team is launching a "Scamnesty" initiative as part of national Scams Awareness Month, which runs throughout February.

According to Trading Standards five million UK consumers fall victim to mail, email, text and internet scams but less than 5% report the crime.

Residents can drop any unsolicited mail into special bins across the town.

At the end of the month, all the evidence will be collected and action will be taken to help prevent other people being targeted.

Fake winnings

During last year's campaign, 139 mailings were dropped off by Darlington residents with the most common being "psychic" scams, bogus letters claiming the recipient had won the Spanish lottery and fake health cures.

The total amount of fake winnings which residents were asked to claim was more than 78m.

Andy Scott, from Darlington Council said: "People across the town are regularly targeted by scams and, sadly, many residents fall for these cons.

"Hopefully, the Scamnesty will help people recognise these scams and not feel pressurised into responding.

"Many people are suffering during the credit crunch and it can be tempting to respond to a chance to get rich quick, however it is important to remember if something looks too good to be true, it probably is."

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