More than 50 people in Lancashire have received money back thanks to a new crackdown on 'prize draw' postal scams.
In June 2014 the National Trading Standards Scams Team and Royal Mail launched an initiative to seize responses to mail scams before the cash reaches the criminals behind them.
So far over 6,000 items of mail have been intercepted across the UK with more than £108,000 returned to victims. A further 4,000 replies to suspected scam mail are currently being examined.
Crucially, victims receive their money back from a Trading Standards officer who visits to make sure the person understands they have been scammed, and to check on their welfare.
Prize draw scams are notorious for targeting the elderly and other vulnerable people, who are less likely to realise that the mail is a scam.
County Councillor Janice Hanson, cabinet member for public protection services, said: "It can be very difficult to persuade vulnerable, often elderly, people that letters telling them they have won large sums of money are scams.
"The fact that we are able to contact them directly with the money they sent, along with very clear advice, should really help to break the cycle in many cases. Every cheque or money returned is another person helped and another blow to the criminals.
"I'm very pleased with the progress so far and we look forward to continuing this important work."
The National Trading Standards Scams Team has also obtained a list of 160,000 people across the UK who have been identified by scammers as repeat victims.
The list of names, compiled by criminals to focus their scams, is being passed to local Trading Standards officers who can then contact people to make them aware they are being targeted.
Trading Standards officers in Lancashire are working closely with safeguarding staff to ensure that victims who are identified as vulnerable receive appropriate support and referral.
County Councillor Hanson added: "Often those targeted by scammers are some of the most vulnerable people in Lancashire, and this information means we're able to check that they're receiving the support they need in terms of social care and other services."
If you think you, or someone you know, may be a victim of prize draw scams, please get in touch with Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.
You can report suspected fraudulent mail scams to Royal Mail by writing to Royal Mail at Freepost Scam Mail, call 03456 113 413, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit Lancashire County Council Trading Standards website