CONMEN may have stolen thousands of pounds from Prestwich residents after tricking them into believing they had won a lottery jackpot.

One man who was targeted has spoken to The Guide — and he believes there could be scores of others who have fallen for the scam.

Dennis O'Connell, aged 63, of Albert Street, Heaton Park, received a letter informing him that he had won £850,000 on the People's Postcode Lottery (PPL).

Mr O'Connell said: "It wasn't particularly good English, there were inaccuracies and spelling mistakes.

"It told me to keep quiet about my win. I would have to pay a processing fee and give my account details and they would send a certified cheque.

"I am not vulnerable and didn't fall for it, but when I mentioned to my newsagents, he said there had been two or three in the area.

"Someone living in sheltered housing had sent some money and the next thing they had cleared out her account.

"I have heard other horror stories about people in this area being duped as well.

"Someone paid £120, then had £300 and then £400 taken."

Mr O'Connell added: "It is horrible. I do not know who these people are and they are embarrassed about what has happened but I want to stop it happening to anyone else."

The main problem with the scam is that there is a genuine PPL, so when victims of the scam receive the letters, they think they are authentic after checking the real PPL website.

A PPL spokesman said: "If you receive one of these letters, phone calls, SMS messages or emails, then we strongly advise the public to treat these communications as scams and they should be ignored.

"Legitimate lotteries, such as PPL, will not under any circumstances request a payment in order to receive a prize.

"If you are at all suspicious, then contact our customer service team on 0808 1098765.

"Thankfully incidences where the public is affected by an illegal lottery using the PPL brand are rare, but we would encourage anyone who has encountered a scam to report it to the national fraud reporting centre"

A Prestwich Police spokesman said: "We have not received reports of this kind of scam happening in the Prestwich area, but understand that some victims might feel embarrassed.

"We would strongly encourage them to call us on 101 and can assure them that every report will be thoroughly investigated with confidentiality and sensitivity."