Fraudster targets Cadbury Heath pensioner
A FRAUDSTER has tried to con an elderly woman from Cadbury Heath out of £10,000 after phoning her claiming to be a government official.
Luckily, the woman alerted her friend who realised the call was part of an elaborate ploy to take money from her account.
The 82-year-old victim, who does not want to be identified, has been left upset over the incident and has since changed her telephone number.
Her friend Steven Williams contacted the Voice in a bid to warn other people about the heartless scam.
“My friend called me in an obvious state of distress,” he said.
“She managed to explain that she’d just had a phone call from a very professional sounding woman who claimed to be calling from Santander to tell her that £400 had been fraudulently taken from her account.
“The caller then asked for her help in catching the thief, explaining that she would like her to go to the Kingswood branch of Santander within the hour, where a member of 'Fraud Squad' would meet her.
“She asked my friend to describe what she would be wearing so the officer would recognise her. On meeting her, he would also give her a password which, conveniently, would be my friend's initials and date of birth.
“The caller then said that my friend should enter the branch and proceed to transfer £10,000 to a savings account, the number of which would be given to her by the 'Fraud Squad' officer.
“The caller stressed that my friend was not, under any circumstances, to call anyone else as this might jeopardise the operation. Thankfully, although my friend half believed the story, she was sufficiently in doubt to break the order and phoned me, whereupon I told her that it was undoubtedly a confidence trick.”
Mr Williams rushed straight to his friend's home and devised a plan to try to get the meeting at Santander extended so they could call the police.
But when the woman rang again she became suspicious.
“Our idea had been to play for a time delay in the hope that we could then get the real police there. Sadly, the con-woman smelt a rat and continued to insist the rendezvous must be within the following hour. We didn't think this was enough time to arrange our trap so I had to be content in telling her, in forthright terms, that she should go away and try conning some other poor soul as we had rumbled her.”
A trip to Santander later that day confirmed that there had been no £400 fraudulent withdrawal from her account and that the phone call had not been genuine.
The incident was reported to Action Fraud, a national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, by the victim's granddaughter.
Steven said: “My friend, understandably, doesn't want to be identified. Our motivation in seeking publicity is to try and do the wider public a favour by warning them to be vigilant against similar con attempts.”
A spokesman from Action Fraud said: “I can confirm that Action Fraud received this report in September 2019 and it is in the process of being assessed by our National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.”