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Scammers, Fraudsters and the like

The OFT is wading in to protect the Great British public from its cupidity and folly: "As part of its Scams Awareness Month, the OFT is warning consumers not to fall for bogus clairvoyant mailings sent out to thousands of people in the UK every year".

Why insert 'bogus'? It is not as though there are 'genuine' clairvoyants.

And so, "The OFT's Scambusters team has written to the following 'clairvoyants' about the potentially misleading content of their mailings: Chris, Esmeralda, Gabriel d'Angelo, Lisa and Rose, Maria Rosa, Marie Desperance, Pia Anderson, Rachel, Serena". I do not think that 'Chris' exactly pushed the boat out with his choice of nom de clairvoyance. I am enjoying picturing buff envelopes landing on doormats with those names in the envelope window.


Earlier research by the OFT into the sheer idiocy of the public makes for rather depressing reading, although naturally the emphasis is on the wickedness of the con artists rather than the folly of those who fell for the scams.

"On the basis of the research, we estimate that UK consumers lose about £3.5 billion to scams each year. This includes estimated annual losses of £1.17 billion to holiday club scams, £490 million to high risk investment scams, £420 million to pyramid and get-rich-quick schemes and £260 million to foreign lottery scams. To put this into perspective, the total annual direct financial loss to the economy of £3.5 billion equates to about £70 per annum for each adult living in the UK".

The sociodemographic breakdown is fairly tellling:

"Men and women are equally likely to be victims of scams although the incidence does vary by specific scam. Women were worst affected by miracle health scams (71 per cent of victims), clairvoyant mailing scams (70 per cent of victims) and career opportunity scams (63 per cent of victims). Men were much more affected by high risk investment scams (72 per cent of victims), property investor scams (68 per cent of victims), African advance fee scams (65 per cent of victims) and Internet dialer scams (63 per cent of victims). 2.9 The social class of targets and victims was spread fairly evenly although the incidence varies by specific scam. The DE social groups were particularly affected by loan scams, foreign lottery scams, career opportunity scams and clairvoyant mailing scams. Those in the AB categories were particularly affected by African advance fee scams, property investor and high risk investment scams".

The reasons for fallilng for a scam are nicely euphemised - it has 'Unexpected / off guard / unaware' as the chief reason, rather than 'Stupid / greedy'.

Being a drop-forged cynic, I have always taken the view that if something seems too good to be true, it is. I would counsel the public to bear that in mind.

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Anonymous IanCroydon said... 12:12 pm

"African advanced fee scams", isn't that a bit of a racist terminology for a government organisation, like "Islamic terrorism" would be ?  



Blogger Croydonian said... 12:14 pm

Ian - Good point. I get them from all over these days.  



Blogger Peter Hitchens said... 12:51 pm

the Hitch was thrown out of a clairvoyants. No doubt she read my mind and new what I was really thinking , that being "this is bullshit but I would love to fuck you"
So maybe there is something to it  



Blogger Croydonian said... 12:59 pm

I do not appear to have told this anecdote, but Kelvin McKenzie once sacked a Sun astrologer with a letter that started thus: "As you will already now...."  



Blogger Doctor Syn said... 1:17 pm

Think of the money that could be saved if the OFT responded to every complaint with a standard response saying, "A fool and his money are soon parted."

For little extra cost they could even give the illusion of a personalised reply by employing a variety of apophthegms to the same effect. My grandmother, who had a gift for gnomic nostrums, could contribute, "Free - take. Buy - ask questions."

Doubtless it is my patriotic duty to submit this idea to Gordon Brown, since his promised reduction in government costs appears to have failed so dismally.  



Blogger Newmania said... 1:54 pm

Very good C although not to good to be true Mrs. N often expresses the wish that I were less dismissive of the "Spiritual" the alternative and the frankly magical.
In my crystal ball I foresee no alteration to this state of disbelief  



Anonymous verity said... 1:55 pm

What is the government doing wasting money writing up reports like this? There are scam artists in the world, some of them very plausible. There are a lot of gullible people in the world. So? This is worth a report?

I once kept an African scam artist going for over two months. It was Miriam Abacha or something. Anyway, I pretended to be a Hollywood star - an actress and singer- very credulous and stupid, and led her to believe she'd struck lucky.

She once asked me who I was and I wrote back: "How could you write to me if you didn't know who I am? You have a great sense of humour!"

Then I wouldn't write for a few days and then apologise because I had had to visit my banana plantation in Arizona for a board meeting. I said I wished my manager wouldn't make me go everywhere by private jet as I really enjoy chatting to other people. I also had a pause in correspondence where I had to go to a board meeting about my coal mine in Hawaii. I said I hated going to these meetings because of all the coal dust that got under my nails.

I said

I had a couple of Chanel cocktail dresses I'd worn a couple of times and would she like them? They're size 2. Would that be OK for you? If not, they might do for some African child.

I would write that I had had a terrible tragedy. My nail extension came off and guess what! - my manicurist was in hospital!! I hate to try new help!

Oh, and I told her to always address me as, My Dear Cousin because my manager reads all my mail and he only lets mail from my family through. So all these weeks she was emailing me as My Dear Cousin. I affected great interest in her scam but kept getting distracted by my life. Then I wrote telling her I had a new manicurist, a gay guy who was really, really good with extensions, so I could relax a little from all the stress.

I finally agreed to deposit some huge sum of money in a bank in Britain, but asked her to ask the British Government who I would have to pay off to bring my five Afghan hounds into the country with me.

I kept throwing in bits of information about my new gay manicurist and what a good business mind he had. This alarmed her mightily. Then I said the airline didn't want to let my five Afghan hounds into the cabin with me, so I might have to hire a plane.

She wrote, in some exasperation, "Couldn't you leave your five Afghan hounds at home?" and I affected shock, because they go everywhere with me. "Have you ever seen a photo of me in any publication where I am not accompanied by my Afghan hounds? I am known for this!"

She kept suggesting that I wire the money,but I said no,I wanted to go personally because I thought English accents were so cute.

Eventually, I tired of this, as I'm sure you have too ... and wrote telling her the good news that I had married my gay manicurist ("You probably read about it in all the papers!") and he had taken over management of my business affairs and did not consider her offer a good investment. But good luck, Miriam! Stay in touch!

I have to say about Miriam. She hung in there.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 1:56 pm

Bravo Mr N. And don't get me started on 'essential' oils - I've coped without them for years.

(Yes, I know it is a different meaning of 'essential')  



Blogger Peter Hitchens said... 3:43 pm

The only essential oil the hitch requires is wine (beer will do)
Great story verity , I have been tempted to send one of them an economy air ticket , meet them at Heathrow , then kill them , who would know?  



Blogger Croydonian said... 3:48 pm

A high quality tale Verity. Thank you.  



Blogger CityUnslicker said... 4:07 pm

A very close relative of mine once advertised 'the ultimate insect killer' in The Sun for a few weeks.

For £2 (this was a while ago....) the buying recipient would recieve two small blocks of wood. The instructions said 'Place insect on block A, strike smartly with block b.'

No one ever complained and he bought a diamond mine in rhodesia with the proceeds, but that is a story for another day..  



Blogger Newmania said... 9:54 pm

Insufficient praise for Verity I feel ,that really is marvellous. I went to a course in writing short stories before I had admitted to myself that I had not a creative cell in me,and do not recall anything as good .

What a great radio play it would make ..or one of those Bob Newhart monologues.

Bravo ..oh that poor women ..of all people to try that on with!  



Anonymous verity said... 10:58 pm

It was tremendous fun. I loved it when I booted up the computer in the morning in France and there was a hopeful email from Africa. And I batted out a reply from Hollywood.

I asked her what she thought of my new album, just out, and Miriam, ever game, said it wasn't in the shops in Africa yet, but she'd buy it the minute it came out. I built up the suspense about the gay manicurist little by little so she could suspect he was getting my ear to a dangerous extent, but she couldn't say anything. Oh! At one point, she warned me to be careful of him because "he may be an opportunist and you are a star". Ha ha ha ha ha!

Ah, the innocent merriment.  



Blogger Newmania said... 5:19 pm

...fantastic ...  



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