Public urged to help combat scam mail

Scamnesty launched to turn the tables on criminals

A new offensive to combat the scourge of scam mail is being launched today. Members of the public are being urged to send the National Trading Standards Scams Team examples of scam mail they receive in the post as part of a new ‘Scamnesty’. The Scamnesty will help trading standards officers build intelligence about the criminals behind the latest scam being sent to Brits this winter.

Organised criminals try to con the public by sending scam mail through the post such as:

  • fake lottery draws
  • romance scams
  • unclaimed inheritance scams
  • and clairvoyant scams

However, fraudsters are continually adapting their criminal techniques. To disrupt the criminals, the public are being urged to join Friends Against Scams and send in examples of scam mail.

How to spot scam mail

The criminals use a wide range of measures to create an illusion of legitimacy and give people false hope of a big payout or a better life. Scam mail often includes a competition question to hook recipients into the scam. Consumers are advised that some of the tricks the scammers use include:
  • Personalising mail using the recipient’s name throughout as well as on images such as certificates and cheques
  • Artwork that purports to be genuine, for instance, the use of a seal or crest and fonts that suggest they come from a financial institution or official body
  • Words like’ guaranteed’ or ‘100% genuine’ as well as precise amounts of money
  • Signatures from officials with senior ranking titles and identification numbers that suggest legitimacy

Louise Baxter, Head of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, said:

“It’s not just vulnerable people who fall prey to scam mail. The criminals take great care to ensure their mailings look genuine. Many of us have felt anxious and lonely during the pandemic, and fraudsters will not hesitate to prey on our emotions by sending us fake stories of hope. Consumers need to be extra vigilant. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Send us the scam mail and help us prevent more people being conned.”

Scam mail should be sent to: NTSST, FREEPOST, MAIL MARSHALS. More information on the Scamnesty – including the privacy policy – is available here:

A new report published today on how trading standards officers disrupt criminals’ behaviour, confirms what householders know: this illegal activity is big business. Since 2016 the National Trading Standards Scams Team, with the help of more than 600,000 Friends Against Scams, has prevented over 10 million pieces of fraudulent mail from reaching consumers.

Effective disruption techniques have resulted in more than £100 million in financial savings and estimated healthcare & health related quality of life savings for UK consumers and the UK economy. The scale of the problem is significant: the NTS Scams Team has identified nearly 1 million potential victims through its investigative work and is working to refer these to local trading standards for support and advice.

The Scams Team use so-called ‘disruptive techniques’ to prevent scam mail reaching people’s homes. In 2019 the Team prevented 40,000 mailings a month about an Australian fake lottery reaching consumers. Also in 2019, an American criminal was prevented by trading standards officers from using a mail provider in the South West to send up to 80,000 items of scam mail a month to addresses in the UK and abroad.

Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said:

“The Scamnesty is a new approach to ensure trading standards officers are a step ahead of the criminals. Fraudsters are constantly innovating and so must we if we are to continue to disrupt their techniques and protect consumers. The intelligence we gather from the Scamnesty will be used by trading standards officers to help nullify the criminals’ threat and prevent more scam mail reaching people’s homes.” 

Notes to Editors

For media enquiries, please contact the National Trading Standards press office by emailing or calling 020 7101 5013

National Trading Standards

  • National Trading Standards delivers national and regional consumer protection enforcement. Its Board is made up of senior and experienced heads of local government trading standards from around England and Wales with an independent Chair. Its purpose is to protect consumers and safeguard legitimate businesses by tackling serious national and regional consumer protection issues and organised criminality.

About the Scamnesty

  • Scam mail should be sent to: NTSST, FREEPOST, MAIL MARSHALS
  • Interviews with a Scam Marshal can be arranged. Scam Marshals can talk about the scam mail they have received and the work they do to warn others.
  • Examples of scam mail can be provided to journalists on request.
  • More than 500,000 people have joined Friends Against Scams to learn more about preventing scams and build community resilience. To join Friends Against Scams go to:

About Friends Against Scams

  • Friends Against Scams aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering people to take a stand against scams. Anyone can join the Friends Against Scams campaign by attending a Friends Against Scams awareness session or completing the online learning. With increased knowledge and awareness, people can make scams part of everyday conversation with their family, friends and neighbours which will enable them to protect themselves and others.
  • Other Friends Against Scams partners include Bournemouth University, Neighbourhood Watch and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. For more information visit: