The practice was exposed on BBC One’s Inside Out show last night, which highlighted the plight of Gerry Penn, a pensioner from Thame, in Oxfordshire. The programme showed that Penn was swamped by prize draw lottery mailings, although he did concede he was “gullible”.
Inside Out managed to get hold of a “suckers” list from a Canadian firm; it contained more than 300,000 names of UK consumers.
An UK list broker, whose identity was hidden to the camera, was interviewed for the show. He said: “This indespicable practice gives list brokers a bad name. But because they operate from outside the UK, there is nothing the authorities can do.”
The vast majority of those on the list were pensioners, who are seen as easy targets, according to the show. Many have reportedly lost their life savings after sending money to the prize-draw firms after being promised large cash prizes.
Earlier this year, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) revealed it had found the biggest ever “suckers” list of potential targets for share fraudsters.
The regulator wrote to more than 38,000 people whose names, addresses and telephone numbers were on the list. The information was bought and sold by “boiler rooms”, teams of bogus dealers who to sell worthless shares.
The FSA believes UK investors lose hundreds of millions of pounds a year to boiler rooms, with the average loss per investor being put at £20,000.
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