A woman is backing a campaign highlighting postal scams after an elderly relative spent thousands of pounds on fake competitions.
Claire Wilson, of Ketton, is working with the charity Think Jessica in a bid to stop other people falling victim to bogus deals.
She has seen first-hand how people can become addicted to postal competitions and waste hundreds of pounds responding to junk mail.
Mrs Wilson said: “Victims are usually older people who think they are going to win huge amounts of money and do great good with it for their relatives, but they are just throwing money down the drain. They have worked hard all of their lives for their money. It’s heartbreaking to see them just give it away to these criminals.”
Mrs Wilson believes her relative has spent up to £40,000 on scams during the last six years after receiving dozens of letters each day.
Her family have registered her for the Mail Preference Service to cut down on junk mail, but because the letters are directly addressed to the woman, the Royal Mail has a legal responsibility to deliver them.
Mrs Wilson said: “At 5pm each day she will go down to the post office to reply to all this mail. She is spending up to £17 a week just on postage.
“Often she sends off cheques to enter a competition. We’ve told her that no genuine competition would ever ask for money through the post but she just will not believe it.”
Mrs Wilson’s relative, who lives independently, is not alone. In 2007 the charity Think Jessica was launched following the death of an 87-year-old who fell victim to similar scams. More than 30,000 scam letters were removed from her home.
The charity works to raise awareness of scam mail and support people who fall victim to it. It is launching a new poster campaign next month supported by Lincolnshire trading standards department.
Trading Standards officer Lisa Foster, said: “The consequences of scam mail can be devastating. The people behind this type of crime are ruthless, making their living by targeting and exploiting some of the most vulnerable and needy people in our society.”
Trading Standards and police are running free workshops to combat the problem. They are open to businesses or people who work with the elderly. Details from firstname.lastname@example.org or 01529 301966.