For five years Jessica was hounded by criminals who worked in organised gangs. They contacted her via the post and phone- The Royal Mail delivered approx 30,000 criminal letters to her during that period. She spent most of her time reading, sorting and responding to criminals and became trapped in a delusional world the criminals created. Because Jessica was not diagnosed as having a mental health condition her family were powerless to intervene, they tried every avenue to find help but none was available. Her daughter believes the torment the scammers inflicted on her contributed to her death. Think Jessica is campaigning for Jessica’s Scam Syndrome to be recognised as a mental health condition treated by “forced” separation from criminal mail and phone calls.
While we’ve had some excellent media coverage, Jessica’s story has been inaccurately reported many times. For instance the Sunday Mirror printed an untrue version that caused Jessica’s family an immense amount of distress. They have since printed a small correction, but here’s the full correct version…
When Jessica was in her seventies she decided to continue her late husband’s subscription to Readers Digest. She got heavily involved in a competition run by ”Tom Champagne” who convinced her she was on the cusp of winning a large cash prize. To stay in with a chance she bought hundreds of pounds worth of books, tapes, CDs and various other things she neither needed nor could afford.
She never did receive a prize but Tom Champagne sent her many cheques made out in her name, once she tried to pay one into the bank but Jessica hadn’t spotted the small wording that said the cheque was only a sample. She did however receive something for her loyalty Tom Champagne sent her a plastic champagne glass to celebrate her win. Needless to say it never did get used.
Even though her family continually tried to explain that some companies use very devious sales techniques Jessica was really disappointed. She wanted to financially help the ones she loved and donate money to the children’s charities she cared about so much.
As time passed Jessica received a very exciting letter, the letter looked like an important document, it stated she had won a competition and promised if she sent a small fee she would recieve a big cheque. Jessica thought this was the big win that she had been waiting for from Tom Champagne and quickly sent off the fee. On the claim form she put down all her personal details.
Fact; Readers Digest sell mailing lists.
Unfortunately the letter wasn’t from Tom Champagne or Readers Digest it was her first scam letter. When family members realised what she had done they tried to explain that she had fallen for a scam but Jessica had never heard about scam mail and refused to believe what they said. Of course no money ever arrived, but the amount of what appeared to Jessica to be fantastic mail started to increase.
Unbeknown to her, the scammers who sent that first scam letter had put her name on a suckers list and were selling her details to other criminals all over the world.
Jessica still refused to believe that her good news/excellent news mail was only worthless pieces of paper designed by criminals, to make her part with her cash.
As the weeks turned into months the amount of scam mail she was receiving continued to increase, soon her postman was delivering around 30 letters a day from all over the world. Most of them had Guaranteed Winner, Time Sensitive Document, Reply Immediately to Release Your Award and various other slogans and logos plastered all over them.
Jessica was sending nearly all of her pension each week to keep up with the scammer’s demands. So-called clairvoyants had also jumped on the bandwagon and were pretending to be her friends. The more the family tried to make her see the truth about what happening, the more the arguments erupted.
The “clairvoyants” convinced her that her family were jealous of her forthcoming wealth and said they were concerned for her welfare. She befriended a certain clairvoyant from Holland and she would send personal letters along with his payment, others told her that they could see disaster and harm heading towards her or her family and if she sent them a fee they could keep bad luck away.
She would often sit up until 3am trying to keep up with the scammer’s demands. She had put so much cash into what she thought was the run up to a huge pay out and had promised to gift money to so many people, she just couldn’t focus her mind on anything else.
Jessica had never broken a promise and insisted she never would.
Her family could see every trick that the criminals were playing on her and the way they were all battling for her cash, but Jessica was under the spell and refused any outside help and even threatened to disown family members if they tried to interfere.
She was hording the scam mail all over her house it was in cupboards, drawers, wardrobes, the shed was full of knotted carrier bags bulging with scam mail. She continually gave out her phone number and the scammers would phone her late at night.
Nothing seemed to matter to Jessica, her life revolved around the hundreds of letters her postman delivered each week. She would go without buying food, rather than miss a payment to a scam.
Some family members gave up trying to make her see sense and formed the opinion that if she is stupid enough to respond she deserves to be scammed.
Jessica’s obsession made it appear as if she was sending her money willingly but her youngest daughter Marilyn could see her mum had been brainwashed by the volume and content of the scam mail.
Over some 5 years Jessica sent thousands of pounds to criminals and had also suggested releasing some equity from her house. Fortunately the house was in the name of her three children so she couldn’t sell it.
She started to panic when she couldn’t find enough money to fill all the pre-addressed envelopes that had PO Box addresses all over the world. So she stopped paying her domestic bills. She told no one about the financial mess she was in…(Except her favourite clairvoyant from Holland)
She started having panic attacks and palpitations, one of the clairvoyants who used fear as a way of extracting money told her that there was an evil force on a higher plain, Jessica had not been able to cover his “fee” to keep the evil away and thought that the evil was upstairs.
She became breathless and fearful every time she tried to climb up the stairs. Her body and mind were at breaking point with the continual torment that the scammers had inflicted on her over the years.
Jessica died on October 24 2007 she was 83 years old. On her death certificate it says cause of death pneumonia.
To read Jessica’s daughter, Marilyn’s Story click HERE you can read more stories of JSS sufferers and watch videos of victims on “Your Stories” page.