Police probe porn by post

Posted: August 8, 2013

News of a ‘scam’ involving locked porn DVDs being sent out to seemingly random addresses has broken on the MoneySavingExpert.com website. According to the site and its associated forum, PIN-locked films have been posted out, requiring a premium call to 0844 0961055 to be taken off the mailing database or to unlock the movies at a cost of £10. It appears the lock is easily bypassed though, with one MSE forum user (MisterPedantic) stating: “The discs can be watched without a PIN, you just have to navigate manually to the track number you wish to watch.”

Children as young as three have been allegedly exposed to explicit DVD covers as their parents have opened the unmarked envelopes in front of them. Each envelope typically includes two or three films. Breast Strokers is one title felt tame enough to be reported on the MSE website, but forum users also mentioned College Virgins 2 and others.

First reported by user Nilrem on July 29th, well over 70 people have now said they’ve also received unsolicited hardcore films and both the police and Royal Mail are investigating. It’s believed the number of DVDs sent out could be in the thousands, with many people just binning them rather than reporting the unwanted films to authorities. Trading Standards have advised recipients to contact Action Fraud too.

Reported by MSE, a Metropolitan Police spokesman said the DVDs are being investigated. He cautioned people not to play the discs, adding: “We’d advise people to use the 101 non-emergency police service to report this matter.”

A spokesman for the Royal Mail commented: “Royal Mail is urgently investigating reports of offensive material being delivered to customers. We understand the upset and disquiet offensive mail can cause. We do what we can to stop offensive mail entering our network.”

MoneySavingExpert.com head of editorial, Dan Plant, commented: “As scams go, this is up there with the most shocking we’ve heard of. Just reading our forum shows that when these highly restricted DVDs hit the nation’s doormats at random, it led to parents desperately trying to hide these surprise packages from innocent kids and potential marital spats. While the method’s outrageous, the lesson’s the same as ever – if you receive anything you didn’t ask for, whether an email, a text message or in this case X-rated DVDs, question everything. And never hand over your details unless, you’re 100% sure who they’re going to.”

While it is illegal to send obscene publications and unlawful indecent images via the Royal Mail, these R18 DVDs – passed as non-obscene by the BBFC – can be posted. However, since they can only be sold legally in-person in the UK in a licensed sex shop, this is usually done from overseas; mail order of R18 DVDs being illegal from within the UK.

Another key issue is where were the names and addresses of the recipients obtained from, as most householders who’ve received the DVDs claim no association with, or past contact with, adult businesses – including online – where they might have shared their details. According to forum user geronimo82, the database is badly out of date though as the DVDs were addressed to them at their parent’s home, where they’ve not lived for at least seven years. A number of firms were suggested by MSE forum users as a likely source for their details, while others stated their middle initial – used on the envelope sent to them – was only used with their bank.

Consumers from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have all received the films. In response, MSE attempted to track down the source of the DVDs, following the ‘NL0002, Greenford, UB18 7NL’ return address given on the envelopes to a business in West London.

However, the business is a skin care company which told MSE ‘hundreds’ of people had mistakenly called it to ask about the DVDs as their number comes up high on a search of the industrial site, which contains many different businesses, listed for the postcode. The skin care company insisted it was not the source of the DVDs, and nor did anyone at the business know where they came from.

More investigative work was done by MSE forum user Hank Spencer, who posted: “I examined the disc structure on my computer the discs were labelled july_19_2013. So these discs were all mass produced very recently (even though the pornography itself was made a few years ago).”

Other comments on the MSE forum included: “I’ve just opened my envelope and out popped 2 graphic porno DVDs! I was sitting with my three-year old who caught a glimpse” (Missy1980); “The DVDs arrived addressed in my name on Monday morning. After seeing the extremely graphic images on the cover, I contacted my local police. Two officers arrived the next day and took the material away for investigation” (Nigel Brooks); and “I too have received these porn discs this morning. More embarrassingly, I opened them in front of my mum!” (barrington1128).

The MSE forum discussion can be read here.

 

* Note: image used for illustrative purposes only.

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