You have won £6 million in the Spanish lottery (despite never having entered)They come through the post too:
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.
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.