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Scammers draw up 'suckers' list

ORGANISED criminal gangs are targeting "suckers lists" of Irish people thought likely to fall for fraud.

The top 10 scams operating here including being told in an email that you have won an international lottery, the European Consumer Centre in Ireland said.

Others used by organised "scammers" include being contacted by the relative of a deceased international politican who informs you that "a large amount of money is available in his bank account and you can help to access it."

"Cheap methods of mass communication, such as telephone, direct mail, email and the internet can be used as tools to perpetrate fraud and mass marketed consumer fraud now operates on a global scale," it said.

"In Ireland, the National Consumer Agency has identified the top 10 scams operating here, which include the above scams, as well as others, including pyramid schemes, work at home scams and bogus holiday clubs."

If you have been "scammed" once, you are more likely to be targeted again, with 30pc of victims falling for another scam within the following 12 months, the Consumer Centre said.

"This is because organised criminal gangs trade 'suckers lists' with the personal details of individuals considered susceptive to fraud," it said.

In Ireland, recent scams include "free trials" for diet supplements "which really lead to the charging of consumers credit cards by multiple companies for sums that can often mount up to hundreds of euro," it warned.

"Perpetually popular too is the vehicle matching scam where a consumer with a car for sale is phoned by a company that 'guarantees' him a buyer in return for a fee."

In the UK, consumers lose £3.5bn (e3.8bn) a year to scams or about £70 (e77) per year for each adult living in Britain.

ECC Ireland said it receives complaints from consumers on a weekly basis, "however, as scams are by definition fraud, we are unable to offer more than advice as fraudulent companies will not respect the law and recognise their legal obligations to their customers."