Wednesday, April 30, 2014
A pensioner in her 90s who was duped out of more than £20,000 by fraudsters promising cash prizes was hoping to win big so she could gift the money to her family, her daughter has said.
The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous to protect her mother, has spoken out after she read in the Herald the story of a family who had suffered a similar experience.
She said her mum, a Sidmouth resident, has lost thousands of pounds to post and phone scams over the past five years, and was receiving hundreds of pieces of scam mail every month.
One of the most common cons promises the victim they have won a large cash prize, and that a small fee is required to cover administration costs before the winnings can be paid.
The daughter said: “Every time I visited her there were piles of this tat mail, which I removed, but I’m not there all the time.
“I explained it was a scam but she kept saying ‘it’s my money, it’s up to me and I know I’m going to win something’.
“She’s just a trusting person - if someone posts her something saying she’s a winner, she believes it.”
“And when I asked her why she kept wasting her money chasing these prizes, she said ‘I want to win it for you or the grandchildren’. It was heartbreaking really.”
After half a decade of sending money to fraudsters from all over the globe, she agreed to let her daughter take control of some of her finances.
“I think she has now stopped but she still can’t believe that these people are not going to send her a fat winning cheque,” the daughter added. “It is really terrible the way that these elderly people are targeted and there seems to be no way to stop it.”
The national ‘Think Jessica’ campaign aims to raise awareness about scam mail to help protect elderly and vulnerable people from fraudsters.
Its founder, Marilyn Baldwin OBE, set up the campaign after her mother lost thousands of pounds to scammers. She said that last year in the UK £3.5billion was reported lost to mass marketing fraud - but the actual figure was likely much higher than that because many people do not report it.
“If people don’t report it, less can be done about it,” added Mrs Baldwin. “And if we can raise more awareness of these scams, the less people are likely to fall foul of them.”
“And if people contact Think Jessica, we can put them in touch with their local trading standards officer.”
Anyone who receives scam mail can report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.