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Hoax mail warning: 'Just bin it'

PUBLISHED: 21:23 29 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:38 03 March 2010

HOAX mail is continuing to circulate in the area promising its recipients untold fortune and financial gain in return for a small fee.

Hidden among the jargon in the letters finding their way through letter boxes around the region are vague references to the named person being eligible for cash rewards.

By Jo Macdonald

HOAX mail is continuing to circulate in the area promising its recipients untold fortune and financial gain in return for a small fee.

Hidden among the jargon in the letters finding their way through letter boxes around the region are vague references to the named person being eligible for cash rewards.

But each time, in the small print is a message to say return mail will only be accepted if accompanied by a fee and there is no guarantee the cash amount will be awarded.

In one letter, which was brought to the Evening Star's attention by two readers, it says: "You are receiving this notice advising you of an 'OPEN & UNPAID' cash value award from the prize draw sweepstakes in the outstanding amount of £1,486.14.

"It is my pleasure to inform you that you have officially been deemed eligible to receive the open & unpaid cash award."

However, the letter goes on to say that in return for returning the claim voucher the recipient will only be place in a draw. And it goes as far as trying to convince the person to who it has been sent that it is an official prize draw and should therefore not be dismissed.

It reads: "It has been the experience of this office that some recipients fail to respond to this notification because they think it is some kind of mistake or a hoax. Rest assured that this is absolutely not the case."

Yet the letter bears no contact number or address to obtain validation of this, simply a post box in Canada.

Ipswich resident Betty Paternoster, who received this letter, wanted to warn people not to be fooled by the letter, which asks for £15 to be sent to cover priority handling for the cheque to be sent to the winner.

She said: "I always bin everything like this but this is slightly different.

"There are people out there who can be very vulnerable, especially if they are pensioners like me. It seems a lot of money.

"And I wonder if they got your credit card number what would happen."

In a more bizarre mailing, a Rushmere resident was told she had "exclusively" been chosen to receive a 'Special Grand Celestial File of fortune and luck' after her name "shone out" from millions of others.

It claims clairvoyant-medium Sofia Dora had a vision to contact this Suffolk resident and offer her a "supreme gift" bequeathed to her by a late casino baron.

In three pages of text it outlines the gift as enabling the recipient to enjoy his or her life "inundated with luck, happiness, money, success, love and good health" and "allow you to win 14 days from now thousands of pounds on the lottery". And if all that were not enough it also says £3550 can be claimed immediately.

However, like the other letter it requires a payment –between £22 and £37 – to be sent to a post box in Switzerland to guarantee delivery.

Mailings like these latest two are not uncommon and Trading Standards advise people not to part with any money, but simply bin the letters.

Viv Wilkinson, of Suffolk County Council trading standards, said: "Unfortunately it seems to fall in the usual play of getting people to pop money into the post but there's no guarantee where that money is going or whether there will be any return. It is very difficult to trace these companies and they are usually based abroad.

"We are giving the usual advice. Just put it in the bin."

Weblink: www.suffolkcc.gov.uk/trading_standards


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