Hong Kong sick letter scam
PUBLISHED: 04:55 07 September 2006 | UPDATED: 09:49 24 May 2010
DOZENS of people in North Somerset have been conned out of thousands of pounds through a sick letter claiming a relative has been killed. The letters, which have been tailored to the recipient's surname, says a family member has died in a car crash and th
DOZENS of people in North Somerset have been conned out of thousands of pounds through a sick letter claiming a relative has been killed.The letters, which have been tailored to the recipient's surname, says a family member has died in a car crash and they are set to inherit the deceased's estate.Trading standards officers have received numerous calls about the sick letter that asks people to send £150 to release funds of up to £5million.Victims have given out their bank details to the fraudsters and had money taken out of their accounts.Officers have tracked the scam to fraudsters operating out of Hong Kong. Experts believe they are targeting neighbourhoods in Weston and villages by using phone books and postal information. One elderly lady in Weston was particularly upset when she received the letter after recently losing a relative in a car accident.The pensioner, who wished not to be named, said: "I was stunned when I saw the letter and rang my son to see if everyone in the family was alright."I didn't understand why they wanted money from me and can see why some people would be fooled and give out their bank details."Officers say one man, living in North Somerset, was conned out of thousands of pounds and is too embarrassed to talk about it.Council bosses believe door-to-door salesman have been recruited by the criminals to scope out homes with vulnerable people to target.Trading Standards officer Julian Feltwell said this was a disturbing letter and other smaller scams were also taking place.He said: "We're hearing of lots of people receiving this sick letter and we've received dozens of copies of the scam."We would like to think that people see them for what they are, but some vulnerable people have been upset by them and others caught out after misreading the letters and sending money."Lots of other people have sent money off after receiving telephone calls and letters saying they have won prizes or need help in a foreign country. If anything requires you to release funds in order to receive money then it's generally a scam.