JESSICA'S STORY... by her daughter, Marilyn Baldwin
About five years before Jessica died, she received a very exciting letter, a letter that was the start of a scam that would cost her £50,000.
This letter was made to look like a very important document and it told her that she had won a large sum of money.
She was asked to send a release fee of around £9.99, in the pre-addressed envelope, and it promised that her winnings would be sent to her immediately.
When mum was in her seventies she decided to continue her late husbands subscription to Readers Digest. She got heavily involved in a competition that was run by someone who called himself Tom Champagne. She was convinced that she was on the cusp of winning a large cash prize and to stay in with a chance, she bought hundreds of pounds worth of books, tapes, CD's and various other things she didn't have any use for.
She never did receive a prize, but Tom Champagne did send her many cheques made out in her name, once she tried to pay one of them into the bank, but unfortunately for Jessica she hadn't spotted the small wording that said the cheque was only a sample. She did however receive something for her loyalty; Tom Champagne sent her a plastic champagne glass, for her to use to celebrate her win. Needless to say it never did get used.
Even though her family continually explained that some companies use very clever sales techniques, She was still really disappointed, as she had wanted to financially help the ones that she loved and donate money to the childrens charities she cared about so much. Jessica always enjoyed giving and had never been in a position to have much surplus cash.
As time passed Jessica received a very exciting letter, the letter looked like an important document and told her that if she sent a small fee it would release a large cheque that she had won in a competition. Jessica thought this was the big win that she had been waiting for from Tom Champagne and quickly sent off the fee, on the claim form she put down all her personal details.
This was her first scam letter. When family members realised what she had done they tried to explain that she had fallen for a scam. But Jessica had never heard about scam mail and refused to believe what they said. Of course no money ever arrived but the amount of, what appeared to Jessica to be fantastic mail started to increase.
Unbeknown to her, the scammers who sent that first scam letter had put her name on a suckers list and were selling her details to other criminals all over the world. Jessica still refused to believe that her good news/excellent news mail was only worthless pieces of paper designed by criminals, to make her part with her cash.
As the weeks turned into months the amount of scam mail her Royal Mail postman was delivering was getting ridiculous. Around 30 letters a day, from all over the world that had things like guaranteed winner, time sensitive document, reply immediately to release your award and various other slogans and logos plastered all over them.
Jessica was soon sending nearly all of her pension each week to keep up with the scammer's demands. So-called clairvoyants had also jumped on the bandwagon and were pretending to be her friends. The more the family tried to make her see the truth about what happening, the more the arguments erupted.
The "clairvoyants" convinced her that her family were jealous of her forth coming wealth and said they were concerned for her welfare. She befriended a certain clairvoyant from Holland and she would send him personal letters along with his payment. Others told her that they could see disaster and harm heading towards her or her family and if she sent them a fee so they could keep bad luck away.
She would often sit up till 3am trying to keep up with the scammers demands. She had put so much cash into what she thought was the run up to a huge pay out, she just couldn't focus her mind on any thing else.
We could see every trick that the criminals were playing on her and the way they were all battling for her cash, but Jessica was under the spell and refused any outside help and even threatened to disown family members if they tried to interfere.
She was hording the scam mail all over her house, it was in cupboards, drawers, wardrobes and even the shed was full of knotted carrier bags bulging with scam mail. She continually gave out her phone number and the scammers were even making calls to her late at night.
Nothing seemed to matter to Jessica, her life revolved around the hundreds of letters her postman delivered each week. She would go without buying food, rather than miss a payment to a scam.
Some family members gave up trying to make her see sense and formed the opinion... if she is stupid enough to respond she deserves to be scammed.
Mum's obsession made it appear as if she was sending her money willingly but I could see that mum had been brainwashed by the volume and content of the scam mail. (See Marilyn's story)
Over some five years, my mother had sent around £50,000 to the scammers and had even suggested releasing some equity from her house. Fortunately the house was in the name of her three children so she couldn't sell it.
Mum started to panic when she couldn't find enough money to fill all the pre-addressed envelopes that had PO Box addresses all over the world. So she stopped paying her domestic bills. Ofcourse she told no one about the financial mess she was in, except her favourite clairvoyant from Holland.
She started having panic attacks and palpitations, one of the clairvoyants who used fear as a way of extracting money, told her that there was an evil force on a higher plain. Mum had not been able to cover his "fee" to keep the evil away and thought that the evil was upstairs.
She became breathless and fearful every time she tried to climb up the stairs. Her body and mind were at breaking point with the continual torment that the scammers had inflicted on her over the years.
Jessica died on October 24 2007. S she was 83 years old. On her death certificate it says cause of death pneumonia.
Read Marilyn's story at www.thinkjessica.com and you might be able to save an elderly relative from the same fate.
If anyone knows a victim that is not on the internet and they want to help, you can ring thinkjessica's recorded message line on 0871 200 3796. It is a minimum rate BT landline charge 10p/minute and the call lasts no longer than four minutes.