Three mortgage brokers from Wales sparked a terrorist scare last week after receiving a mailshot from The Mortgage Operation.
TMO's mailing, which contained a sachet of stomach-settler Resolve, was designed to promote secured loans as a cure for Christmas cash hangovers.
But Nanette Mantle, a mortgage adviser at Neath-based Celtic Independent Financial Consultants, called the police after ripping the envelope open and spilling the powder over her hands.
Mantle told Mortgage Strategy: “All this yellow powder flew everywhere. My immediate reaction was to get away from it quickly and I rang the police who told us to vacate the premises.”
Police sealed off the area for nearly four hours after the incident last Thursday morning. Mantle was decontaminated in a mobile unit while two colleagues were isolated.
The alert came in the same week that traces of the deadly poison ricin were found in a London flat.
Mantle says: “Not knowing what ricin or anthrax look like I just panicked. It was a pretty stupid thing to put in the mail, especially in the current climate.”
But TMO managing director Mark Charlesworth is unrepentant about the mailing, which reached the offices of 1,000 brokers last week.
He told Mortgage Strategy: “We don't want to cause anyone distress, but a simple phone call to us could have prevented the hysteria. The envelopes went to businesses that are our members, so they recognise the name. If she knew it was from TMO why didn't she phone us? Does she think TMO are terrorists or something?”