OFT stops Swiss 'clairvoyant'OFT put an end to Clairvoyant con.

26 January 2006

Conmen have promised to stop preying on UK consumers with 'frightening' letters claiming to be from a clairvoyant and threatening danger - unless they hand over cash.

The letters, purportedly from a 'clairvoyant-medium' and 'Grand Master of Occultism' named 'Morgan T', were sent by a Swiss company. Although they were mailed out in bulk, each letter was personalised to make it more convincing and threatening.

Morgan T had foreseen a 'silent threat' to the consumer and predicted bad luck, imminent danger and severe abuse for those who failed to respond. The letter went on to offer protection from this threat if the recipient ordered a product costing GBP 17.

'Win a cash prize'

The letter also claimed the consumer would be shown how to win more than GBP 100,000 and implied they could claim a prize of GBP 7,000 by responding. However, a response only led to an entry in a prize draw.

After receiving more than 30 complaints from consumers, the Office of Fair Trading's (OFT's) Scambusters team wrote to Swiss company ETLA SA over the threatening and misleading content of the letters. ETLA has now assured the OFT that it has stopped mailing UK consumers, and won't do so again.

In this month's Which?, we expose some of the most common scams, including 'clairvoyant' letters such as this. Our investigation found that 28 million people in Britain have been targeted by scams, and around five million have responded to an offer that was a scam.

'Be sceptical'

Cassie Smith, who researched the Which? investigation, said: 'Clairvoyant scams are becoming more widespread. They prey on the superstitious and vulnerable - our advice is to throw them away. If they're asking for money upfront, asking for you to keep it a secret or asking for a reply within a certain time then it's likely to be a scam. Stop, think and be sceptical.'

Since the start of last year, the OFT has received 166 complaints about so-called clairvoyant letters. John Fingleton, OFT Chief Executive, said: 'This letter was designed to take money from vulnerable consumers by distressing, frightening and misleading them. The OFT will continue to take vigorous action against those who target vulnerable consumers.'

The OFT says that anyone receiving a similar letter shouldn't be intimidated into sending off money, but should warn their friends and family.

If you're unsure whether an offer is genuine you can contact the government's consumer advice service, Consumer Direct, on 08454 04 05 06.

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