Almost 3,000 people's confidential details have been discovered on a list used by fraudsters running a prize draw and special offers scam.

Essex Trading Standards recieved 2,700 names and addresses after the forms were found in a PO Box used by known criminals.

They were also provided with 200 completed forms with cheques, cash, postal orders, stamps and credit card details – including security codes. 

Thousands of Essex residents have fallen for the scams that were disgused as prize draw applications and special offer orders.

The list is said to be passed between scammers who use the names and addresses to con people out of money.

Essex County Council cabinet member for trading standards, Cllr Roger Walters, said: "Residents should never respond to mailings relating to prize draws, lotteries, or other products or services which requests personal information.

"Unfortunately we know that this list is just the tip of the iceberg. Residents who respond to scams often will not tell family, friends or neighbours. This is partly because it almost becomes an obsession."

Essex Trading Standards will return all of the money to the people who sent it, with advice about how to avoid scams.

They will also contact people on the list to warn them.

Anyone concerned regarding the scams can call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0845 404 0506.