Cammy Day: Mail marshals are ready to fight fraudsters

Mail marshal Lynda Simpson. Picture: Wullie Marr
Mail marshal Lynda Simpson. Picture: Wullie Marr
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As con artists target residents with fake letters, Cammy Day says no-one should feel too embarrassed to report a crime

WE all moan when junk mail arrives in the post, but when it leads to residents falling victim to crime, we have to take action. This week I was delighted to unveil the council’s team of mail marshals. This growing team of volunteers is helping to fight the fraudsters who target vulnerable Edinburgh residents through clever mail scams.

Individuals are targeted with official-looking documents and promises of lottery wins, psychic messages or health claims, often asking for an admin fee to be paid to release the money. Once someone has responded, their details are shared, resulting in them being bombarded with huge amounts of mail. This repetitive targeted spamming is harassment. And our Trading Standards team is leading the way in combating these criminals.

Interestingly, we have not heard of any instances when someone has been given their promised “winnings” after sending money through these swindles.

Embarrassment is stopping us from hearing from everyone who is a victim – but no-one should ever feel embarrassed that it’s happened to them. Be assured that it can happen to anyone, of any age or circumstance. If someone asked you for £1000 you’d say no – if they ask you to enter in £20 lots over the course of time, you might not notice how much is being sent away.

It was great to meet with one of our marshals earlier this week. Great gran Lynda Simpson, from Broomhall, collects the letters she receives and sends them on to Trading Standards (TS), who then pass it on to the national TS team for further scrutiny.

Mrs Simpson was referred to Trading Standards via the National Scams Hub, who had become aware that she was being targeted by scammers. The Edinburgh officers then got in touch to raise their concerns and provide the necessary intervention and support. The work that Edinburgh Trading Standards is doing is crucial to the work of the national team, and the marshals are a vital part of this.

Whilst it’s difficult to prosecute the perpetrators, the scheme aims to protect victims from further crime by disrupting the system, and providing vital intelligence to help officers keep up to date with current scams. Those taking part have found that once they stop replying, the letters gradually stop arriving.

Our Trading Standards’ officers are very pro-active, and work hard to protect consumers from falling victim to crimes. They work closely with agencies like Police Scotland to target doorstep crime and rogue traders, and encourage people to choose traders from the Edinburgh Trusted Trader website.

The residents of Edinburgh deserve to feel safe in their own homes. Please get in touch with Trading Standards for a chat if you’re worried about being targeted – you could even join Mrs Simpson and become a marshal.

• Cammy Day is Labour councillor for Forth Ward