No, spam is not isolated to email, or the internet for that matter. Traditional phones numbers get spammed too, and the spammers are subject to the same consequences.
Phone spammers use automated dialing equipment to notify folks that they have won a great prize. They call it ACE (for Automated Calling Equipment) across the pond, but over here we sometimes use the term “demon dialers.” The dialers leave the wonderful news, along with a number to call to get directions on how to retrieve the bounty. When the recipient dials, they get a long winded message talking all about that great prize, and a huge phone bill for pay-per-call services.
It doesn’t work very well in the US anymore (at least not that I know of), primarily because service costs for pay-per-call are so high, along with chargeback rates. But it seems the nasty practice is still going on in the UK.
Read 16 scammers fined 1.3m from The Register, if you still don’t get the idea.
Next time you come home to a phone message saying you just won a trip to Tahiti, just erase it. What sounds too good to be true usually is. Also, make a point of not giving out any personal information over the phone to someone who calls you first. I don’t even give out my name, as my phone number is narrowly distributed and in my pocket most of the time. If someone calls you asking for information, and you have the time and inclination to check the situation out, ask who they work for and what their return number is. You can check the number against reverse-lookup databases like the one at AnyWho.com.
Think before you speak.