How fraud­sters tar­geted Barry

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

Barry Atkins with his lat­est batch of junk mail A VETERAN sol­dier lost £2,000 to the mail scam­mers..

Barry Atkins looks for­ward to get­ting Christ­mas post from his fam­ily and friends.

But it comes swamped in junk mail by the dozen, with en­tic­ing of­fers to win mil­lions of pounds, or prom­ises of a fat cheque wait­ing for him – so long as he sends back some money.

Barry, 77, is one of Buck­ing­hamshire’s hun­dreds of mail scam vic­tims.

The bar­rage of junk mail has be­seiged Barry for the past seven years, but it wasn’t un­til just a few months ago – when life was at a low ebb – that he suc­cumbed to one of the en­tic­ing of­fers.

He had won £1.5 mil­lion in a Span­ish lot­tery and a cheque awaited his re­sponse, so long as he sent them £2,000 ur­gently. So he did. He waited, but no cheque ar­rived. Then he re­ceived a let­ter from the real Span­ish lot­tery, and the aw­ful truth dawned. He’d been scammed.

“I sud­denly cot­toned on,” said Barry. “It was a stom­ach-turn­ing re­al­i­sa­tion. There was no lot­tery win, and I’d just given away £2,000 I could ill-af­ford.”

For­mer Army Med­i­cal Corps tech­ni­cian Barry’s daily junk mail jour­ney is all the more painful be­cause half the post that ar­rives is ad­dressed to his late wife, In­grid. She died in 2006.

“It’s all very dis­tress­ing for me,” said Barry wist­fully. “I wish it would all stop. I’ve no idea how they got hold of In­grid’s name but they keep on mail­ing, even though I’ve sent it back count­less times.”

Buck­ing­hamshire County Coun­cil Trad­ing Stan­dards of­fi­cer Chris Holden, who has taken up Barry’s case, said his was one of more than 250 cases on their in­ves­ti­ga­tion list.

Chris has put Barry in touch with Trad­ing Stan­dards Com­mu­nity Cham­pion Tina Ste­wart, who helps him sift through his post ev­ery day and re­moves scam mail for stor­age in County Hall’s ev­i­dence vault.

Barry, a keen Royal Bri­tish Le­gion vol­un­teer and stew­ard at his lo­cal parish church, treats Tina as his guardian an­gel. He ac­knowl­edges he is more sus­cep­ti­ble to mail scams as a re­sult of head in­juries sus­tained in a motorcycle crash nearly 20 years ago, which still af­fect his mem­ory.

“If it wasn’t for Tina I’m sure I’d be much worse off,” says Barry. “Who knows, by now I could have spent my life sav­ings!”


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