In the last issue I reported on Anne Everton's tiny store on an estate in Battle, East Sussex, being targeted by some 'nice old gent' who wrote to her claiming to have fallen over in her doorway and asking for £75 to replace a broken walking stick. His address was 14 Octavian Way, Gateshead, NE11 0HZ. A Google search reveals the closest match as 'Unit 14', suggesting a trading estate.
This gent is obviously getting around a bit despite his broken cane. He seems to fall over in a lot of doorways (he should watch it, he'll get a reputation) .
Rajesh Patel, who runs a PO in Northampton, got the same letter. His brother has written back, asking for more details.
Carl Williams, a Londis retailer in the Bootle area of Liverpool, also received the same letter, which he has forwarded to me. Carl had already written back to the fellow saying he was seeking legal advice, and got a reply saying, 'Oh dear, I sent several letters that day' (I bet he did) 'and must have mixed up the envelopes, so please disregard - it wasn't your shop at all'.
Carl is due to visit that part of the country soon, so he may try to look the old chap up.
I wonder how many letters have been sent out so far? Say 200. This would cost about £60 in stamps. Say 10 hit lucky with bigger stores who think such a claim is not worth fighting. The result is our 'nice old gent' being over £700 better off. His name, by the way, is D. Johnson. Or so he says.
PS As I am about to send this copy in, I hear from Colin Cranness who runs a post office in South Wales. He passed the letter on to his local Trading Standards, who passed it on to Gateshead, and they are watching activity on the trading estate. If they get him, I'll let you know.