National Crime Agency
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Cash returned to victims of mail scam
Nearly 22,000 victims of a mass marketing fraud will have their lost cash returned to them today by the Serious Organised Crime Agency.
Letters responding to international lottery scams and bogus offers were intercepted by SOCA during a raid in Somerset last June, before they could reach their final destinations overseas. They typically contained £20 cash, with an estimated total value from the single haul of nearly half a million pounds. SOCA believes the fraud could have yielded over £35m in a year had it continued.
Every individual will receive a letter from SOCA returning their money and explaining that they have been victim of an attempted crime.
Trevor Pearce, SOCA's Director of Enforcement, said;
"Mass market frauds are often sophisticated and convincing - criminals know just which buttons to press to make people part with money, especially in an economic downturn when we are more susceptible to believing good news. Unfortunately those who respond to a scam can find themselves on a list which is sold to other fraudsters. In the worst cases people lose substantial amounts of money, even their life savings.
"In this case we've been able to return people's money, and although the perpetrators are abroad and outside our jurisdiction, a substantial blow has been dealt to their operation by cutting off this particular channel.
"The most powerful way to defeat the fraudsters though is to ignore them. Quite simply, be on your guard. Don't be a willing victim for their crime - if something seems too good to be true, it probably is".
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:
"I congratulate SOCA for the success of this operation, which sends a very powerful message to criminal networks that we are working hard to stop them preying upon innocent people. It also serves as a reminder that people should be on their guard when being asked to part with their money in this way.
"We will continue to invest in agencies like SOCA to enable them to tackle these criminals effectively. The public can be very confident that we are doing everything in our power to make it as difficult as possible for these groups to continue to operate."
If you think you or someone you know may have been the victim of a mass marketing fraud, advice and support is available from:
Notes to Editors
1. The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is an intelligence-led agency formed in April 2006 to tackle Class A drugs and organised immigration crime as top priorities. Other priorities are fraud against individuals and the private sector, hi tech crime, counterfeiting, firearms, serious robbery and recovery of the proceeds of crime.
2. SOCA's work to tackle fraud and illegal scams complements a range of Government measures to safeguard a fairer deal for consumers (announced by the Prime Minister on 17 March) [http://nds.coi.gov.uk/environment/fullDetail.asp?ReleaseID=395627&NewsAreaID=2&NavigatedFromDepartment=True]. These measures provide real help, protection and support to individual consumers and businesses and makes clear that there are fair rules which apply to all, with clear consequences for those who break them. In combination with these consumer protection measures, SOCA's ongoing work to crackdown on scams and get rich quick schemes will help protect consumers and businesses from the harm caused by organised criminals' mass marketing frauds.
3. SOCA is an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body sponsored by, but operationally independent from, the Home Office.
SOCA press office contact number: 0870 280 8100