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Too good to be true? It's probably a scam

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Guy Smith | 17:02 UK time, Tuesday, 1 June 2010

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Please excuse the cliché but if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

Even so thousands of Londoners are conned every year by mass marketing scams. And it's not just the elderly and vulnerable, who've been tricked.

I've just talked to a senior detective with the Met's Economic and Specialist Crime Command. He says solicitors, accountants and lawyers have all been fooled.

Criminal gangs defraud people in the UK out of an estimated £3.5 billion each year.

There are dozens of scams, many originating from abroad, currently doing the rounds and they all seem perfectly plausible.

There's an inheritance scam, where fraudsters impersonate lawyers and charge the victim a fee for securing money supposedly left by a distant relative.

Then there's the missed call scam. That's when people are tricked into calling a premium rate number after receiving a missed call from an unknown person.

And if that wasn't enough. Many people have also been caught out by the romance scam. That works when the victim meets a stranger online, and is enticed into sending them money for bogus medical treatment or plane fares.

These types of fraud are hugely under-reported.

Many people feel too embarrassed to tell the police and so remain silent. But the detective I spoke to says there's nothing to be ashamed of and failing to reporting it just allows the fraudsters to rip someone else off.

So have you been a victim? Or do you know someone who has? Watch my TV report above and see if you think police awareness campaigns make any difference.

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