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Don't Fall for the Sob Story 29 April 2004

Members of the public are being asked by the Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading and the Financial Crime Unit of the Police, to be wary of anyone contacting them from Africa or other parts of the third world asking for money to help them overcome problems with education, health or other living costs.

A local person has received a letter purporting to be from a young girl in the Philippines who has been abandoned by her parents and who needs money to allow her to continue with her education. The lengthy letter opens "My dear Christian friend" and goes on to list the problems which have resulted in her having to ask for help. Other letters circulating around the UK claim to come from worried parents whose children need lifesaving treatment or from young people who without your support will be forced into crime and prostitution.

Undoubtedly there are families and individual children who are experiencing great difficulties and distress but the two agencies are satisfied that these letters are purely scams and anyone receiving one should not comply with their requests.

The Chairman of the Office of Fair Trading Mr John Houghton MHK is very concerned about the public receiving letters like these, he said:

"I am very disturbed by this type of correspondence being sent to local people. It is intended to prey on peoples better nature and if anyone receives such a letter they should put it in the bin. There are numerous charities who provide aid to people in the third world to which people can contribute. It is far better to support people with genuine problems through these charities than to line the pockets of unscrupulous conmen."

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