|This is a true story of how a Cheshire lady lost her life savings as a result of a cruel scam that she had been specifically targeted for.
The lady was an elderly widow living alone. She had a comfortable standard of living and received regular visits from friends and relatives. She was a keen quiz player and began entering competitions in magazines to see if she could win something.
The competitions typically involved completing a crossword or answering a multiple choice question. To enter there was a requirement to fill in the form with name, address, age, telephone and email details and then post the form to a PO Box somewhere in the UK.
Within a month or so, she received a letter claiming that she had won a cash prize after her details had been entered into a lottery linked to a competition she had entered. She completed the form, sent it off and awaited her winnings.
A short time later she received a call from a man with an American accent claiming that she had won £25,000 and that he just needed a payment from her to cover federal taxes so that the money could be released.
The man was very chatty, polite and asked her about the weather, recent holidays she had been on and family members. After a number of calls over the next few weeks, she was asked to send £2,500 using an established money transfer service to a person in Canada. Due to the story provided, she had no reason to disbelieve the story.
Over the next 4 months there were many more calls, changes to the story and requests for more money; in total the lady made over 20 money transfers exceeding £70,000
The police were alerted by the staff at the travel agents who were operating the money transfer service with concerns that the lady may be being defrauded.
When police spoke to the lady it took her a while to come to terms with the fact she had been defrauded. She was not aware collectively of how much she had sent and was still in contact with the fraudsters. She even said she was looking forward to the call from the fraudsters but eventually she came to accept what had happened.
The lady had been specifically targeted for this scam. When she entered the competitions, her personal details were processed by a direct marketing company in the UK and sold on; she will have been categorised as a quiz/game player and ultimately her details will have been bought by criminals intending to use it to defraud her.
Having purchased her details, the fraudsters then made contact with the lady, knowing she was trying to win some money and targeted her with this scam.
This sort of scam can happen to anybody. There is no victim profile. Fraudsters can purchase specific lists of information and target you with personal scams.
It is important to remember that just because they have your details, they are not necessarily legitimate.
Always keep your guard up. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is and if you haven′t bought a ticket − you can′t win it. You should never have to pay anything to get a prize and if you are ever in doubt, don′t reply. Bin it, delete it or hang up.
If you feel that you have been a victim of fraud, you should always report it. Action Fraud, the UK′s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre, is the place for you to report fraud and scams, or to getadvice if you′re not sure what to do. You can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online atwww.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud
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Alternatively contact by phone Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040