Royal Mail stops more than one million scam letters targeting the vulnerable and elderly from reaching their homes since the scandal was exposed by the Daily Mail
The Royal Mail has stopped one million postal frauds reaching homes since the scandal was exposed by a Daily Mail investigation.The scam letters, which seek to convince the elderly and vulnerable to send cash to foreign conmen, are being seized almost every day before being destroyed. Postmen are also intercepting letters that they suspect have been sent to fraudsters, so they can return money to victims.The crackdown is a major victory for the Daily Mail, which revealed nine months ago how Royal Mail was making millions delivering postal frauds. After we published the investigation, Theresa May warned postal bosses that they must ‘do more’ to protect victims and ministers summoned them to an urgent meeting. Last night, consumer minister Margot James said: ‘Since [then] Royal Mail has been ramping up its efforts to protect vulnerable consumers from receiving scam mail. Stopping a million items since November is a significant milestone and I’d like to thank the Daily Mail for … highlighting this issue.’In October, the Mail Investigations Unit revealed how conmen were using the Royal Mail’s lucrative bulk mail contracts to target the elderly.Their letters persuaded victims to buy unlicensed medicines, or claimed to be from clairvoyants saying the recipient would be terrorised by evil spirits if they did not send cash. Others conned vulnerable people, including dementia patients, into thinking they had won a prize that they could claim by sending money.
Victims’ families told how they had lost as much as £100,000 or even their homes. Officials believe up to £10 billion is lost to such scams each year.The Mail’s reporters tracked down the scammers to a ski resort in Canada, where they met to trade ‘suckers lists’ with names and addresses of people susceptible to the letter frauds.They boasted of ‘ripping off’ ‘suggestible’ victims and of using Royal Mail’s discounted bulk postage rates to send letters to the UK. This also allowed them to have Royal Mail branding on envelopes, which they said helped them gain the trust of their victims. MPs, campaigners and charities accused Royal Mail of ‘knowingly profiting from fraud’. For years, Royal Mail told victims’ families that it was legally required to deliver any addressed letter, stopping them intercepting frauds.But after our investigation, it signed deals with suppliers forcing them to agree that staff could open post believed to be scams. Letter frauds are now collected at its major distribution centres before being destroyed. Suppliers have to agree with Royal Mail that they will share information about suspected scammers.
Royal Mail also contacts homes it suspects are being targeted and sends warnings.
Marilyn Baldwin OBE founded anti-scam charity Think Jessica after her mother, Jessica Looke, lost more than £50,000. In the last five years of her life, Royal Mail delivered 30,000 criminal letters to her.
Mrs Baldwin said: ‘The Royal Mail’s work is a major leap forward. But I was reporting this to them ten years ago and nothing was done. If it hadn’t been for the Daily Mail’s articles this would never have happened.’
Louise Baxter, of National Trading Standards, said: ‘As well as leaving people out of pocket, victims are often left feeling a sense of shame and social isolation. That’s why we’re working so hard with Royal Mail to [stop fraudulent mail] reaching households in the first place.’
Royal Mail’s Stephen Agar said: ‘We’re grateful to the Daily Mail for highlighting the way in which these fraudsters were operating. We are working hard to try to stop this terrible material reaching UK households.’