An elderly single lady of 82 was recently the victim of a scam whereby she lost £25,000 after receiving notification that she had won a Spanish Lottery and afterwards was treated appallingly by her bank.
Over a period of a year Betty* received phone calls and correspondence suggesting that she should subscribe large amounts of money to Spanish bank accounts in order to receive the alleged lottery win. Eventually when Betty told them she thought that she was being defrauded and planned to report the matter to the police, their tactics changed. Betty was then informed that they would send her money. They duly sent four cheques for £2,500 each, which she paid into her bank account.
Shortly afterwards, to her astonishment, Betty’s bank account was frozen (despite the fact she had some £18k credit) and she received a bailiff’s letter stating her bank book and credit cards must be returned to the well known high street bank.
Betty tried to speak to her bank manager, with whom she had been a customer for over 50 years, and was told he would not answer any questions as the matter was being dealt with by the fraud department. The bank stopped paying her direct debits and, when she tried to open an account with another bank, it was refused. Betty had to resort to borrowing money from friends to live on and became distressed and ill.
Following our assistance, the bank was informed of the lottery fraud and the matter was reported to the police. It emerged the cheques paid to her by the alleged lottery were either forged or stolen from British Telecom. Finally, Betty’s account was re-opened and she received £250 as compensation and a bunch of flowers. It is a shame they had not taken the trouble to spend five minutes talking to her from the outset – ‘helpful banking’ indeed.
The police are still investigating the fraud.
For information on common lottery scams see the link below.
*Name changed to protect identity of client