A new service to help stop scam mail in Jersey has received 480 letters in its first three weeks.
Jersey Consumer Council and Jersey Post set up PO Box 500 as a way of getting scam mail away from people being targeted by it, by redirecting it to the police.
Since the launch of the service on 14 July, anyone receiving scam letters in Jersey can simply write PO Box 500 on the envelope, pop it in any post box, and Jersey Post will pass them on to the police for investigation.
Anne King, Executive Officer at Jersey Consumer Council, said: “I'm not surprised at the number of letters received so far. It's probably just the tip of the iceberg as many more people in Jersey will be getting letters and just putting them in the bin.
“None of us know the volume of scam mail out there. Individuals come to us saying they are getting six to 10 letters a day, but we don't know how many people are getting this sort of volume of letters.”
Jersey Post is legally obliged to deliver all letters to marked addresses so can't withhold letters, even if they appear to be spam. This scheme is designed to be easier for consumers to use than a previous scheme where 'spam bins' were set up in town.
Anne said: “We set this up in conjunction with Jersey Post because we needed a good mechanism to help people deal with scam letters. We wanted an easy, unobtrusive way to help people get rid of the scam letters, and get them to the police so that they could investigate them and collaborate with other police forces to stop major scams.
“We originally tried a project using special bins to collect the scam letters, but realised that some people were not comfortable walking into a public place to post them, and it also involved having to go into town.”
Scam letters cover a wide range of subjects with recipients typically being asked for money to secure inheritances, or for psychic readings, or to claim prizes for competitions the person has not entered. By replying to any such letter, the responder will be placed on a list and they are then likely to be bombarded with scams.
A spokesperson for Jersey Police said: “The police are going to be investigating where the letters are coming from and get to the bottom of who is sending them. This involves looking at the countries the mail is coming from, then looking at the organisations registered to the various addresses.
“We can never completely eradicate the problem because as you close one down, another may start up. However, the majority are from organisations rather than from individuals, and a lot of letters come from the same places so stopping them should stop large numbers of letters.”
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