If you have gotten any of the letters in this post TOSS THEM IN THE GARBAGE!! They will bring nothing but heartache and an empty wallet. If you get a lot of this type of mail I am going to show you how to stop it.
Everyone of these letters is called a 419 scam. It is named after the law code in Nigeria where the scam is prevalent. It is also called advanced fee fraud. The scam is they promise you something (money, a mystery box, I have an example with a car) But in order for you to get the whatever it is you must give them some money first. It usually hovers around $20. It is a lie, you won’t be getting whatever it is they have promised you. This mail will be the most beautiful, look the most official, and scream OPEN ME!
DON’T! If you give money to one of them in hopes of getting the prize, you will be put on a mailing list of the worst kind, and you will get a blizzard of scam junk mail.
Every week I receive about 30 scam letters. Well not me, my family has redirected a relative’s mail to me. She has dementia and can no longer care for herself. While going through her papers we found that about 3 years ago she started sending money to these people. She would very carefully photocopy the letter, send it off with a check, and then file the photocopy away, all in hopes of getting the prize. Now I get 30 scam letters a week, and her phone gets upwards of 20 calls a day from Jamaica and other far off lands, all asking for money.
Let’s tune into a special report from KTVN channel 2 Reno/Tahoe. See the National Consumers League doesn’t want you to send them in either. The only problem with that report is that they don’t tell you how to make the scam mail go away. Today I am going to teach you how.
First sign up for DMA Choice (If you want to do more you can Opt-out of Big Data). Then wait, the junk mail should stop in about 90 days (It didn’t for me, but that is why I am writing a blog isn’t it). If you are still getting scam junk mail after that, it is time to bring out the big guns: USPS From 1500. It’s original purpose was to stop pornography, but now it can be used to stop any mail that is selling something. Good thing that asking for $20 to get $10 million is considered selling something. It only works on mail based in the USA. Scammers share their “suckers list” often. Word will spread across the pond quickly enough. It does not work on 501c(3) charities or 501c(4) PACs unless they are selling something, just asking for a donation or giving away free tote bags don’t count. But having a sweepstakes does.
For this project you will need: A pen, a stapler, envelopes, stamps, cheap copy paper, a printer, and scam junk mail. Optional: The free return address labels that came in other junk mail, and Avery address labels.
I would also recommend picking the smallest mailpiece a scammer sends to you, it will cost the least postage. But if they only send a full sized newspapers as ads, break out a giant manila envelope and send away.
Next download USPS form 1500 (PDF) also called a Prohibitory Order. This is an excellent walk through of the process from Knowmore.org (the web site seems to be down, so I am linking to the Wayback Machine version)
I bought the cheapest copy paper I could find, and set my printer to the lightest setting. I didn’t want to waste good paper and toner on these scammers. I have highlighted all the boxes you need to fill in.
This is where all that other junk mail comes in handy. It seems like every other charity has sent me return address labels. This sheet is from the National Park Foundation. It had about 40 labels. For most people that should be enough for a year. For me? 2 weeks. Good thing other charities sent me more.
If you fill it out right, you will get a conformation letter that they have stopped the mail from coming to your house. The Prohibitory Order will last 5 years, and will take effect 30 days after the scammer gets the order from the post office.
With this batch I also got the letter that goes to the scammer. They are ordered to:
1. To refrain from any mailing to the addressee, effective on the 30th calendar day after the receipt of this order.
2. To delete immediately the addressee from all mailing lists controlled by you or your agents or assigns.
3. To abstain immediately from the sale, rental, exchange, or other transaction mailing lists bearing the name of the addressee.
If you fill it wrong, you will get the entire letter back, and a copy of form 1500 highlighted with the pink highlighter of doom. It is OK, just fill it out again (check your work this time) and send it back.
One week I messed up an entire batch and they all came back 😦 But the next day free stamps came with the junk mail. I love when the junk mail pays me to stop it. 🙂
The next step is, if they send another piece of junk mail I am supposed to write “I received this mailpiece on (date)” with a copy of the Prohibitory Order and the order number and sent it to the New York office. It hasn’t gotten to that point yet. It will be fun when it does.
Update: Going to Step 2
It had to happen, after sending out over 70 form 1500’s someone had to slip-up and ignore me. On the Prohibitory Order is the date they sent it to you. The scammer has 30 days from that date to stop sending you mail. On the 31st day you can go to step 2.
This is what it looks like when you go to Step 2. I wrote “I received this on (date)” and signed it, on the on the outside of the mailpiece and again on the return envelope. I photocopied the letters that the postoffice sent to me, put it all into an envelope and sent it off.
This is what I got back a couple of weeks later:
This letter is for me:
Based on the evidence you furnished us regarding a possible violation of Prohibitory Order 2080212, we have issued a Complaint (PS form 2153) against the mailer involed. A copy of the Complaint is enclosed for your records.
It has been our experiance that most mailers abide by the provisions of a Prohibitory Order issued against them under 39 USC 3008. However, in some cases, additional steps are necessary. Issuing a Complaint is the first step in the process designed to end violation of a Prohibitory Order.
Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
This letter is for the scammer:
This concerns violation of Prohibitory Order number 2080212 issued against you and your agents or assigns on behalf of [name]
On 06/30/2014, you received a Prohibitory Order (see copy attached) issued under USC 3008 upon request of the above-named addressee. I have received evidence that the Prohibitory Order has been violated as follows:
BY FAILING TO DELETE IMMEDIATELY THE NAME OF THE ADDRESSEE (AND OF EACH CHILD) LISTED IN THE ORDER FROM MAILING LISTS OWNED OR CONTROLLED BY YOU OR YOUR AGENTS OR ASSIGNS.
A copy of the face of the mailpiece is attached.
Any response to the Complaint or petition for a hearing with respect to it must be filed with me, in writing within 15 days after receipt of this Complaint. Attached is a copy of the rules of practice for hearings on such matters. Any petition for a hearing must comply fully with §963.3(a) of these rules.
For those of you that like to read postal law: Title 39 Code OF Federal Regulations Part 963 Rules of Practice in Proceedings Relative to Violations of The Pandering Advertisements Statue, 39 U.S.C. 3008