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Press releases 2006 -

Surprise results from scams research

31/06    16 February 2006

Younger, more affluent consumers are just as likely as older consumer to be targeted by scammers, new research by the OFT has revealed.

Early results from a major research project commissioned by the OFT show that nearly half of the UK population – or 20 million consumers over the age of 15 – have been targeted by a scam. The proportion targeted is highest in the middle age ranges, with 54 per cent of those in the range 35 to 44 years and 58 per cent of those in the range 45 to 54 years having been targeted by a mass-marketed scam in the last two to three years. Working people were more likely to have been targeted than those who were not working. Nearly one in ten of those targeted in these age groups had actually fallen victim to the scammer, and parted with money.

The results run counter to expectations that the main focus for scammers would be the most obviously vulnerable consumer groups – older people, or those isolated from social networks such as the work place. The proportion of older people (defined as those aged 65 and over) targeted was 41 per cent.

Colin Brown, OFT Director, Market Transformation, said: 'These results confirm that there is a scam for everyone, not just those whom we would normally consider the most obvious and vulnerable targets. They emphasise that we should all be vigilant, because no matter what your personality type, age or social circumstances, there is a scam marketed for you.'

The OFT is today publishing a guide to identifying different scams, the most common marketing methods that scammers use, and the steps consumers can take to protect themselves from either being targeted or falling victim to an approach.  This is the latest initiative in the OFT's month-long campaign to raise public awareness of scams.


1. Tackling the consumer detriment caused by mass-marketed scams is one of the OFT's five priority areas identified in its Annual Plan. As part of its commitment to reducing consumer detriment caused by scams, the OFT has commissioned a programme of research to establish the prevalence of scams, the demographics of those who fall victim to scams, and the level of financial loss incurred. The full results will be available at the end of the research programme which will be completed in the late spring.

2. Download Scambuster: your guide to beating the scammers or order a copy by calling 0800 389 3159.

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