Can you believe it?

I'm sure that the majority of people with an e-mail address have received financial scam spam at some time or another:

You have won £6 million in the Spanish lottery (despite never having entered)

Hello, I am the former chancellor of a country where an illegal coup has happened. I secreted millions of pounds before the coup and you can have half if you send me your bank details so that I can process the funds through your bank.

Family History research has suggested that you are the heir to millions, send us your personal details so that we can process your claim and pass the cash onto you.
They come through the post too:
Send me a thousand pounds and I'll show you how to beat the bookies.

Phone this number at £10 a minute to see if you have won a prize worth 10p

and so on.

I would have thought that 99.9% of people would recognize such posts as what they are - the posts of liars and thieves trying to con people out of their hard earned cash.

But if reports in some of today's newspapers are to believed I am wrong. Hundreds of people fall for these scams every day:

The OFT estimates that three million people every year lose around £3.5bn to scam mailshots, telephone calls or e-mails.

I find these figures hard to believe. The cynic in me suggests that the OFT is over egging the pudding and exaggerating the figures. If the figures are true everybody in Britain is going to fall for a thousand pound scam at least once in a lifetime. I just don't believe that the majority of us are quite that gullible.

I don't wish to underestimate the dangers of falling for scam spam, or the ways in which it ruins the lives of those who are tempted by it.

But if my cynicism is correct then the OFT is doing a disservice by publishing these exaggerated figures. The economy depends on people making investments based on proper research and expert advice. There is a danger that these sorts of "scare stories" will put people off genuine investment opportunities out of fear.

Fear of crime is possibly a greater social problem in these islands than actual crime is. By publishing figures that suggest that we are all doomed, that all of us will be ripped off, the OFT is increasing the levels of the fear of crime.

It is important that we are all aware of the dangers of being ripped off by scams, but exaggerating the risk doesn't do anybody any favours.

If my cynicism is misplaced, I apologise, but by the OFT's averages I should be able to con at least three regular readers of this blog out of £10,000 each.

I am willing to be proved wrong and it's worth a try!

So, dear reader if you would like me to make your wildest dream come true, please send your cheque for ten grand to Miserable Old Fart c/o Barclays Bank, Llandudno.


  1. Prof.Charles Soludo09/09/2008, 02:44

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Prof Solodu has not tried to influence this blog - some prat has just pasted a spam mail.

    Very funny, I'm sure!

    0 out of 10 for trying!

  3. I just want to comment about the fear of crime thing .... you hear politicians and policemen going on about this all the time ... as if the public are a bunch of berks worrying about nothing.

    Here's an example of fear of crime ... a disabled young woman I know lives in a ground floor flat on a roughish estate. There are always a gang of louts hanging around the corner and one night they put a bottle through her window. That's a crime. No-one could prove who did it of course so no arrests, no punishment.

    Most nights the same gang of louts continue to hang around the corner while the girl in the flat waits for another bottle to come through the window. The dark nights are coming and she's scared. That's fear of crime.

    Which do you think is the most soul destroying?