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Â‘Get-rich-quick' schemes are costing UK victims as much as Â£70m a year, a figure that is set to rise as the recession wears on.
TOM TAINTON investigates the rise in business scams.
The Office of Fair Trading has announced that conmen advertising Â‘get-rich-quick' schemes are costing UK victims as much as Â£70m a year, a figure that is set to rise as the recession wears on. The dastardly fraudsters are targeting people who are desperate to get their hands on some easy cash, perhaps feeling the effects of the economic downturn more than most. The government has been trying to encourage businesses to use the credit crunch to their advantage, so in a way, they've succeeded. It's smart thinking by those cooking up the scams, but less of a wise move for the naÃ¯ve souls parting with their hard-earned pounds.
The news comes at part of Scam Awareness month which seeks to stop people being conned by criminals. Traditionally, the methods of advertising scams were amateurish, seedy procedures. Think grimy cards in phone boxes, notices on lampposts and junk mail in your inbox. Today, however, they also appear alongside genuine job opportunities in newspapers and in the online environment. Common schemes include envelope stuffing to put-together kits which are then rejected for Â‘poor quality' and subsequently payment is never received. There are many more examples, all just as painstakingly tedious.
A bigger concern is that hardly any of the victims ever bother to report the scam. Possibly out of sheer laziness, more likely due to embarrassment. In fact of the 300,000 people affected per year, only 2% tell the Office of Fair Trading. Consumer Direct suggests that anyone looking for home working opportunities should contact their local job centre. Slightly patronizing, but the good intention is there. A Consumer Direct spokesman pointed out that a "genuine job is highly unlikely to ask you to pay any money or an upfront registration fee".
So the golden rule people - if it sounds too good, then it probably is.