A rather persistent hoax has been floating around blogs, Facebook, and Twitter recently.
The “warning” alleges that a company put a flier through your letterbox claiming that they were unable to deliver a parcel – and that you need to contact them on 0906 6611911. Apparently this will immediately charge your phone £315.
Before we go any further, this “warning” is a hoax. The original scam was closed in 2005!
So, why is this propagating now? One reason that I can find is that this misinformation is being spread by Surrey Police.
When people normally receive a chain email they – I hope – do a little bit of research before spreading it to their address book or social network. But when it comes from a highly trusted source like the police, most people would assume that it’s a legitimate source of information.
That said, there are a few “howlers” in this email that should cause anyone to think twice (and I don’t mean the use of Comic Sans!).
Firstly, the CrimeStoppers URL – http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org/crime-prevention/helping-prevent-crime/scams/postal-delivery-scam – doesn’t work! Clicking on it redirects you to the front page of the website. There’s a tiny box on there about the scam.
That redirects to http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org/fraud/types-of-fraud/common-scams/postal-scam-email-from-parcel-delivery-service-65455465 – which confirms it’s a hoax.
It would be really good if CrimeStoppers could make the hoax warning more prominent on that page.
Secondly, if the police, Trading Standards, and the Post Office all know about this scam – why haven’t they simply shut the number down?
From the perspective of memetics, it’s interesting to see how a highly reputable source can be used for spreading the “infection” of a false meme.
Hopefully, Surrey Police will publish a retraction.