In 2010, the number of letters promising instant fortunes, prizes, services and the like intercepted before hitting local mail boxes was just 30,000.
But in the past six months alone, a joint operation between Consumer Protection and Australia Post has resulted in close to 350,000 items being intercepted.
Commerce Minister and North Metropolitan MLC Michael Mischin, speaking from Bibra Lake last week where more than 250,000 letters were shredded, said the risks were enormous to anyone responding to the |letters.
‘The purpose of these scams is to encourage people to respond generally by way of paying some small fee, often under $100, in order to obtain contact details, including credit card details and personal details which can then be used for identity theft,’ he said. ‘The mailing list for these people are exchanged among the fraudsters with a view to, hopefully, bombarding people and tempting them.’
An Ellenbrook pensioner found that out first-hand after responding to a crossword competition which asked for a $30 processing fee.
Instead of receiving the $1000 prize, the 85-year-old was bombarded with more letters.
‘I had an accident and I was in hospital for a couple of weeks and one of my friends brought me the mail,’ she said.
‘I was almost embarrassed because of the bundle she brought. I’m talking hundreds of letters.’
Mr Mischin said the message was obvious: If the offer seems too good to be true, it is too good to be true.
‘Be wary, don’t engage with those that send this rubbish out to you, put it in the bin where it belongs and report it to the Department of Commerce so they can build up their intelligence network to protect not only WA citizens but others,’ he said.