A family has issued a warning after a dementia sufferer replied to EVERY piece of junk mail – leaving him with a 3FT pile of post and a home filled with unwanted products.
The 84-year-old spent thousands of pounds entering fake competitions and responding to spam letters from all over the world.
He ended up on a junk mail ‘list’ and received post from companies in France, Belgium and Switzerland which asked him to buy their goods to be entered into a prize draw.
The unnamed victim fell for them all – and by the time his family found out he had a huge pile of post and boxes of products he did not need.
It included 69 pedicure scissors, more than 50 false teeth holders and brushes, 96 bottles of collar stain remover, a large amount of bath sponges and 100 bars of soap.
He also had 153 bottles of shower gel, a large quantity of lip balm, batteries, torches, scouring pads, sewing kits, thermometers, nutcrackers and a large number of knives.
His mail and goods were discovered following the death of poppy seller Olive Cooke – who jumped to her death after she was hounded by charities she supported.
It is unclear how long the scam was going on but by the time it was discovered the elderly man had obtained hundreds of unwanted items and a pile of post a metre high.
The situation was discovered when the victim’s brother went to check on his house while he was in hospital, and discovered the masses of unwanted goods.
He contacted trading standards, who are working with the family to investigate the extent of the scam.
During their search at the home in Plymouth in Devon officers were shocked to discover that every cupboard seemed to be filled with unwanted goods.
The family say the victim is not being identified to stop him being targeted by further junk mail.
His brother said: “We’re still quite shocked and don’t know where to start. There was a pile of post about a metre high.
“Every cupboard seems to hide more goods that he’s paid for, things he did not need. We had no idea he was doing this.
“He is on some list, there’s envelopes from France, Belgium, Ireland and Switzerland, many of them indicating he’s won a prize, so sadly he responded to them.
“We’ve had to throw away about 20kg of sweets and chocolates and have already packaged up four boxes of one product to send back to one of the companies.”
Tina Powell, trading standards enforcement officer, said: “The family kindly agreed to share their experience so that others might be more aware of what can happen.
“Sadly, elderly people and particularly those with dementia can fall prey to scammers.
“We are still looking in detail at the extent of this case, but it appears the gentleman has been targeted by two types.
“Those that bombard people with letters to say they have won a prize, providing they send an administration fee and those that are catalogue-based and sell very expensive products, but lure people in with prize draws.
“Often they are told that they have won something and all they have to do is buy a product from the company.
“Clearly this gentleman has responded many, many times to them. As long as people carry on responding to them, they will keep going.”
Plymouth City Councillor Brian Vincent said: “This is a really sad story – not just for the victim but for the family, who are now trying to sort the mess that has been created by unscrupulous companies.
“If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. We would particularly like cares and neighbours of more vulnerable people to keep an eye out for scam mail and contact Trading Standards if they are concerned.”
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