A Northampton pensioner who almost fell victim to a sophisticated phone scam has shared her story to help prevent others from falling foul to fraudsters.
Eighty-year-old Ann almost lost £4,500 to fraudsters when she was contacted by a man claiming to be a sergeant from the Metropolitan Police. He told Ann they were investigating a bank fraud involving card cloning and counterfeit money being committed by staff employed by her bank, and went on to explain how she could help catch those responsible by withdrawing a large amount of money from her account.
Thankfully, Ann realised what was happening and was able to report the fraud to the police.
Here, Ann explains what happened when she took the call:
“A voice said I'm Sergeant Liam Rogers from the Metropolitan Police Hammersmith division. We've arrested a man this morning and he has being trying to get money from your card.
“He wanted me to get my card, which I did. He said to turn it over and you'll see a telephone number and I would like you to ring that number.
“I was wondering what was happening but I called the number and a voice said it was Lloyds Bank. I explained I’d been told some money had been taken out of my account. He asked for my full name and then said £4,000 had been taken out of my account. He told me it had been put back again, but as counterfeit money. He also said I should go to the bank to make sure my account was safe."
When Ann called 'Sergeant Rogers' again he made her give him her mobile number and told her if she went to the bank and withdrew the 'counterfeit' thousands they could catch whoever was 'stealing people's money'.
Ann agreed because she hoped to help the police, but on the way there she knew something was wrong.
She said: "On the way I started to feel a little bit uneasy, but I still kept on going. When I got there I called them on my mobile, as they'd asked me to, to let them know I was there.
“The cashier obviously suspected something when I asked for a lot of money. Perhaps I looked frightened, I don't know, but certainly she suspected. She gave me a leaflet about fraud in the banks and talked to me for quite a long time and finally she said ‘I can't let you have that money, it’s too much. You'll have to see the manager’.
"I was shown into the manager's office and he was wonderful, so kind and he tried to dissuade me from withdrawing the money. But by that time, although part of me felt things weren’t quite right, I felt a bit like a rabbit in the headlights and I kept thinking I’ve got to get the money. So the manager got me the money.
"My mobile phone kept going off, but I didn't answer it – I think it must have been the man claiming to be Sergeant Rogers."
But when she put the money in her handbag, something told Ann it was her last chance to back out of what was happening.
She said: "When I got the money, I put it into my handbag, put it under my arm and I knew I must not go back home. They hadn’t indicated how they would get the money but I felt sure I must not go back home. So I went straight to the nearest supermarket and rang my cousin who arrived in about 20 minutes. I told him what had happened and he said of course, it's a scam!
"I knew I needed to get the money straight back to the bank so he came with me and the manager called the police.
"Thankfully, I eventually trusted my gut instinct and didn’t part with any cash.
“These people are very believable and I would urge others to be suspicious of any such call. My advice would be simply to put the phone down. It doesn’t matter who they say they are. Always, always check with someone you trust and don’t take any action based on one person and one random telephone call.”
Investigating officer DC Jamie Lindley praised Ann’s common sense and courage during a worrying and unnerving experience.
He said: “Thankfully Ann listened to her inner voice telling her something was wrong and didn’t hand any money over to the fraudsters. But sadly, all too often, people do fall victim to criminals.
“I’m really grateful to her for sharing her experience with others and I hope it helps to highlight the issue and gives people the confidence to be suspicious of anyone cold-calling about a financial matter."
Northamptonshire Police has issued a list of top tips to keep in mind to not be caught out by scam telephone calls:
- Never assume a phone call is genuine. even if the caller knows basic details about you such as your name and address.
- Criminals can make any telephone number appear on your phone handset, so even if the number shown seems authentic, never trust this.
- Under no circumstances would the police or banks ask you to withdraw money from your account, or transfer funds into another account for fraud reasons, nor would they ever ask you to become part of an undercover investigation.
- Have the confidence to end a call if it does not sit right with you
- Fraudsters can keep telephone lines open for a while. If you have to make subsequent phone calls use a different available phone. If you must use the same phone, wait at least five minutes after replacing the handset and call someone you know first to make sure the line is free.
- If you have vulnerable or elderly family members, please talk to them and share this advice so they understand how to protect themselves
Anyone receiving a suspicious phone call should report it either the police on 101 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk. For more information about how to avoid becoming a victim of fraud visit the Take Five To Stop Fraud website at www.takefive-stopfraud.org.uk.