A PENSIONER has been conned out of £15,000 after receiving letters claiming he'd won hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The 80-year-old man, who lives in Farnborough, has been receiving nearly 50 letters a day for weeks telling him that he had been selected to win huge sums of money.

All he had to do, these letters claimed, was to send off £15 for administration fees to the address provided and he would win anything from £20,000 up to £170,000.

"The letters don't look like typical junk mail," explained Pc Sarah Hill, at Farnborough police.

"They look like official documents telling you you've won £38,000 for example."

The first the police heard of the nationwide scam was when the man's son came forward, after his father was moved to a residential home.

When he went to pick up his father's post from the old address he found 47 of these letters and £15,000 missing from his father's bank statement.

Pc Hill says: "The gentleman kept giving out money each time to the company, hoping he would win. He was addicted."

The company who sent out the letters is untraceable through the directory services and has addresses all over the world, including Britain, Canada and the Netherlands.

"There are lots of people already looking for this company," said Pc Hill. "They have PO boxes all over England.

"It's a huge scam and it seems to be affecting the elderly.

"Just before the son told us what was happening, he spoke to a friend who said the same thing had been happening to his mother.

"This poor man has really been sucked in."

Rod Goldup, head of fair trading, Hampshire County Council Trading Standards, said: "These letters can be convincing and the prizes offered very tempting, but more often than not people who respond end up losing their money and gaining nothing, or at least nothing of any value,"

"We would advise people to treat letters like this with extreme caution and to think carefully before sending money, and to never send their bank details, to any unknown person or company.

"If it appears too good to be true, then it probably is. The best place for these letters is in the bin.

"These scams are of national concern and, as part of a campaign to combat them, the Department of Trade and Industry has produced an information leaflet Prize Winner or Prize Fool.

"For further help or advice I suggest Hampshire residents contact Trading Standards on 0845 6030081."

Pc Hill warns anyone who receives these letters to ignore them and not to send any money to the company.