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Age UK chief brands phone scam which lost 92-year-old Grantham woman £23,000 ‘sickening’

By Judith Hawkins

Be wary of suspicious phone calls
Be wary of suspicious phone calls

Callous fraudsters have conned a vulnerable 92-year-old woman out of £23,000, in a crime that has “sickened” charity Age UK.

The elderly victim, from Grantham, is the latest to have been preyed upon by a bogus bank scam currently operating across the county.

The scammer claimed to be from Barclays bank, before convincing his victim that the bank was carrying out an internal investigation into activity on her account.

He told her that she should transfer her money into another account to protect her assets, and provided new account details. Fooled into believing the lies, she was reluctant to discuss this with anyone else after being persuaded that the whole investigation was highly confidential.

Then, not content with the thousands of pounds already stolen, the 92-year-old has been persistently called since Thursday, in a merciless effort to extort more funds.

This latest telephone scam against the elderly has been condemned by the area’s Age UK chief executive Michele Seddon, who said: “We are absolutely outraged. Vulnerable people are being abused by these criminals. It is just that – abuse. It is infuriating and it sickens me and the organisation.

“We are aware from police that Lincolnshire is being targeted at the moment.

“We are raising awareness of these scams and the problems of loneliness and isolation. For some elderly people, this is the only communication they will have with anyone, a criminal.”

The matter has been referred to Action Fraud and an investigation is under way.

Dick Holmes, of Lincolnshire Police, said: “This type of offence is becoming increasingly common. Fraudsters make multiple calls, often claiming to be from a bank or that they are police officers, until they latch on to an elderly or vulnerable potential victim. They work from a script and can be very plausible and persuasive.

“No bank, building society, financial organisation, public body or the police will ever contact you in this way, or ask you to transfer funds or reveal account numbers, passwords or PIN numbers.

“Please try to look after elderly or vulnerable family members, neighbours or friends. Try to ensure that they do not fall prey to these despicable criminals who will take all their life savings without a second thought.”

According to Financial Fraud Action UK, nearly £24 million was lost to phone scams in 2014.

A spokesman for Action Fraud said: “People should be wary about any calls, texts or emails purporting to be from your bank, the police, a Government body or other organisation asking for personal or financial details, or for you to transfer money. If you receive a suspicious call, hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line, or where possible use a different phone line, then call your bank or card issuer on their advertised number to report the fraud.”

Information: call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040


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