An elderly carer is being deluged by more than 500 pieces of junk mail every month after falling for just ONE letter scam.
Raymond Rose was forced to stop working as a landscape gardener to look after his disabled wife after she fell ill.
But one day the 67-year-old received a letter telling him he had won some money in the lottery.
The keen lottery player responded with his address, bank details and a cheque for £25.
But it turned out to be a scam and his details were sold on to thousands of other companies.
He soon started receiving post through his door telling him to update his bank details or that he had won cash.
Desperate to make ends meet he started replying hoping he would receive some kind of windfall to go towards the climbing medical costs.
But despite him spending £3,000 none was ever forthcoming.
Most of the letters were convincing, using headed paper and signed by ‘legitimate bosses’.
Some even claimed to be charities – the letters were ‘signed off’ by chief executives and contained charity numbers – telling him he had to update his debit details.
Because he gave donations to charities, he would regularly reply to these letters with those details.
Finances soon took a hit, with Raymond spending more than £3,000 replying to those letters.
The scam letters got worse and he soon was receiving more than 500 letters a month.
Earlier this year, police and trading standards raided an apartment and found huge amounts of paperwork – all containing victims’ names and addresses.
Among them was Mr Rose’s Bristol address which had been sent out to thousands of places.
Trading Standards met up with Mr Rose, and they found out he had responded to a letter claiming he had won a car, and needed just £5 as an admin fee.
Despite the raid, he continued to receive all sorts of letters – from charities, foreign ‘lottery companies’, clairvoyants – and some even claiming to increase his pension.
The problem with the number of scam letters is he now doesn’t know which is legitimate.
Raymond said: “I didn’t think it was a scam at that time. It seemed real, and the money would have been handy seeing I stopped work to take care of my wife.
“But soon they just kept coming, and I couldn’t keep track which was real and which wasn’t.
“They would come from everywhere – Switzerland, Holland, the United States – but they all look real.
“I’ve got bags of them, still get bags of them, every month. It is very worrying. I’ve spent all this money replying to some of them, but you never know.
“I’ve heard of other people getting scammed, and I wouldn’t have known until trading standards came to my home.”
After the raid, he found out a direct debit had been set up to take £141 out of his bank account every month for a bogus subscription.
“I feel sick they would do this to someone,” he said. “It is a big worry, as there are many people who wouldn’t know whether it was real or not.”
Bristol Citizens Advice Bureau has teamed up with Trading Standards to set up a Scam Aware campaign this month.
Ines Lage from Citizens Advice Bristol said: “If you think something’s too good to be true it probably is.
“We want people to take a moment and trust their gut instinct so that they get advice, report scams and tell others about their experiences.”
Sarah Davey, team leader at Bristol Trading Standards, said: “Working with Citizens Advice Bristol is important to ensure that we continue to disrupt all types of scams, support victims and take appropriate enforcement action where we can.
“This joint campaign will help protect the most vulnerable and reduce the number of people becoming victims of scams.”