Shameful tale of lady conned out of her savings

A cruel trick has been played on a local lady. As a result she has lost a substantial sum of money which had been set aside to cover the funeral expenses of both her and her husband.

The lady, in some distress, called the Review to say that it was only when she read page 10 of last week’s issue that she realised that she had been the victim of a well-known scam, which Angus Council had issued a warning about.

She had received a ‘phone call from a well-spoken man who claimed to be from her bank, and said he was checking on an unusually large sum debited from her account.

The lady said that she had not done this, and the man told her to call the number written on the back of her bank card.

She put the ‘phone down and dialled but, as described in Angus Council’s warning, the man did not put his receiver down. As a result, while she dialled the bank’s number she was still connected to the previous call and when the ‘phone was answered she was speaking to another member of the gang.

This was a woman, again well-spoken, “like Janet in the original Doctor Finlay series”.

She said she would send a Police Sergeant, but in the meantime suggested that as a short-term security measure she should transfer all her funds to a new account. The gang-member even said to keep the reason secret at her bank because a member of staff was “suspect”.

The crook kept the lady talking for a significant time to wear down her resistance, and she then made the transfer.

Then the so-called Police Sergeant telephoned and offered to bring her a bottle of wine. It was this that triggered the lady’s suspicions, but alas it was too late. A substantial sum of money had already been taken from the account.

She called the real police who visited her and took details.

The lady told the Review: “I want to warn people of the terrible things that can happen and how plausible these criminals can be, One of the men had a Northern Irish lilt.

“I’ve felt I was living in some sort of dream, not reality. We’ll never make up the sum that was taken, not off our pensions.

“I’ve been so shaken that when my husband went shopping I made him lock me inside the house for safety.”

The Review spoke to the head office of the bank concerned, and a spokeswoman regretted that on the basis of what we had told her, there could not be a refund.

She continued: “We are very concerned with this type of scam and its apparent rise in popularity amongst fraudsters. Over the last year, we’ve been using our commercial relationships and links with FFA UK (Financial Fraud Action UK) to compel the telephone network operators to address the ‘open line’ issue. British Telecom are reducing the amount of time that telephone calls are ‘kept alive’ when one party has hung up. At the moment, it is two minutes but they are looking to reduce this to 10-30 seconds to make this type of fraud less feasible.

“In addition to this, we’ve been working closely with Crimestoppers and Get Safe Online, who, as part of Lloyds Banking Group, we are a sponsor of, to raise the profile of this type of scam and explain how it works.”

• Police have told us that two people in the Montrose area have been duped in separate incidents, losing approximately £40,000 in total. They say this type of fraud is known as ‘vishing’ and are urging people to ensure elderly or vulnerable family and friends are aware of such scams.