In my blog last Month I set a small challenge – can you recognise a scam or phishing emails?
I trust that those of you who took the online quiz achieved a satisfactorily high score. If you did, Well Done – but you probably weren’t the target anyway.
Did you know that these scammers in their initial emails are deliberately using poor grammar and bad spelling? This is a cynical ploy to ensure that better educated recipients will immediately delete the emails.
You are too much trouble, you are not the target – the target is the poorly educated, the gullible, the vulnerable and, usually, the elderly recipient.
Also of course scammers are not limited to computer users.
There is, according to various police websites a relatively little known industry of scamming which is targeted at elderly people using post or telephone calls. In October there were news reports of ten people arrested who netted over two million pounds from pensioners in Bristol alone. This is a multi-million pound operation annually.
An alarming aspect of this seems to be that the elderly victims are being brainwashed into an attitude of denial.
I include below a link to a website of a registered charity called “Think Jessica” and one and two other useful links. Think Jessica says – People with JSS [Jessica Scam Syndrome] have been “brainwashed” by criminals who are having an easy and assisted passage into their homes, minds and bank accounts.
The definition of brainwashing:-
“To make someone believe a falsehood by repeatedly telling them that it’s true and preventing any other information from reaching them”
They do this by posing as various characters e.g. lottery officials, bankers, solicitors, presidents of companies, clairvoyants or Police agents, some send out catalogues and repeatedly promise the victim a large cash prize if they place an order.
Some vulnerable people have spent thousands of pounds chasing non-existent prizes.
Scammers are ruthless, calculating and clever. They use the voice of authority to swear victims to secrecy and scammers posing as clairvoyants say things like “your family are against you” and “those pretending to help you, wish you harm”.
The idea is to constantly fill the victims’ heads with the “voices” of these characters until they become unable/unwilling to listen to anyone else.
Once snared JSS victims do not have the mental capacity to understand they are being scammed, even if they are told time and time again by family or professionals (read Jessica’s story)
Think Jessica is continually contacted by relatives of people with JSS, thousands of these have emptied their bank accounts and some have gone on to suffer disturbed mental health and have even been sectioned after years of trying to keep up with the criminals’ constant demands for cash.
JSS sufferers have attempted suicide and committed suicide. There are shocking DVDs on the “Stories & DVDs” page.
If you have an elderly relative with or without a computer who is a victim, the first obvious warning sign is often surprisingly large amounts of junk mail being sent to them every day. The reason for this of course that once a scammer has received a reply then your relative’s name and address is likely to become very quickly distributed [sold] to other scammers.
Perhaps you notice unexplained items of junk jewellery or delicatessen food – perhaps coffee beans or sausage – which your parent would not usually have ordered [scammers sometimes provide cheap services for large payment in the belief that this will not be viewed as theft since they provide some minimum kind of value for money].
A further clue to look for – has your parent/s become secretive about showing you their bank books and statements to let you know what they are spending?
The alarming fact is that the criminals actively try to brainwash their victims and often with significant success.
Think Jessica believes that Jessica Scam Syndrome is a recognizable mental health condition.
The criminals “create a delusional world which becomes the vulnerable person’s reality so that victims refuse any intervention”. The vulnerable person is unable to recognize that a scam is going on and indeed chooses to prefer the lies that the criminal tells, to the warnings of their family and friends.
Nobody wants to believe that they have been fooled and this is a very significant reason as to why the criminals can succeed.
Notarization services are of course rooted in the human and commercial need to distinguish between the fraudulent and the genuine. Please do navigate through to our website for more information about the services we can give – or contact us by phone or email, we are very happy to help: at www.atkinsonnotary.com or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116) and email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
In March 2014 the National Scams Team estimated £10 Billion a year was being sent to postal scams alone, however Think Jessica believes this is only the tip of the iceberg as in one week the charity can be alerted to silent victims who have collectively lost over much more. (but not reported to the Police since they will not believe they have been tricked.)
Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) said it had seen a £36m increase over the past year in crimes involving online and phone banking, purchases made online and over the phone, and criminals filling out fraudulent applications.
The body, which works to prevent fraud on behalf of the financial services industry, said at least £7m of this has been put down to vishing, the telephone equivalent of email scam phishing.