Join live police web chat on how to beat the scammers

The mountain of scam mail collected by Sussex Police
The mountain of scam mail collected by Sussex Police

A LIVE web chat will be held on Tuesday by Sussex Police as part of a campaign to stop vulnerable people handing over millions of pounds through scam mail.

Operation Signature was launched last month after police discovering more than 400 elderly people had been duped out of more than £2 million.

On Tuesday (APR 29) from 12pm to 1pm, PC Bernadette Lawrie, will answer questions on scam mail and the campaign.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of scam mail fraud, publicise the recognition that victims of scam mail are victims of crime and encourage reporting on 101 or by email.

Since the launch there has been huge increase in the volume of scam related incidents being reported to police.

An 82-year-old woman from St Leonards was duped out of £1,500 through scam mail.

The victim contacted Sussex Police after hearing about Operation Signature and fearing she had become a victim.

Police community support officer Nigel Ball visited the victim and discovered she had received a total of 285 scam letters in a six month period.

Chronic victims of scam mail are often hounded by numerous criminal organisations after replying to the first ‘tempter’ letter, victim’s names and addresses are put on a target list.

“These lists are then sold to other criminals all over the world.”

Over the past six months local officers have spoken to more than 900 people across Sussex, who had been named on a list they had seized.

PC Lawrie said: “The majority of the identified victims were between the ages of 80 and 90 and almost all of these had not recognised that they were victims of fraud.

“Some elderly victims have lost their entire life savings and others that are sending the majority of their pensions to the scammers rather than buying food and heating their homes.

“Sadly we have seen victims with declining health, suffering from anxiety, depression and some cases even attempted suicide. Signs to look out for include receiving large quantities of mail or catalogue products, sending money to claim prizes, being secretive about finances and post.

“Neighbourhood Policing Teams have been proactively seeking out these vulnerable members of the community to protect and prevent them from becoming subject to further financial loss.”

To join in the live chat visit or through Twitter @sussex_police