Investment scam warning after Christchurch pensioner loses £250,000
AN 86-year-old Christchurch resident was conned out of a quarter-of-a-million pounds in a year-long scam that preyed on their loneliness.
The victim, who is the sole carer of their spouse who has Alzheimer’s Disease, was “of sound mind”, said Dorset Police, but had been fooled into a fake investment.
The force said the offenders had preyed on their target's loneliness during the Covid-19 lockdown.
A Facebook post by local neighbourhood officers said: “During the lockdown the individual wanted some excitement because of the isolation.
“The loneliness led them to make a bad decision answering a fake investment advert on their mobile phone.
“A bond and connection was built over the last year. This relationship became their only contact with the outside world.”
Officers visited the pensioner last Wednesday and spent an hour discussing the matter and proving those they had been dealing with were criminals.
Phone numbers, addresses, banks and companies were found to be linked to dating apps, while others had completely inaccurate information.
“It was only at this point the victim allowed us to block the scammer's numbers from their phone,” police continued.
“They didn’t want to believe it was a scam but finally started to see is was all a lie. This type of crime is devastating for everyone involved.”
Investigations are continuing, but a force spokesperson told the A&T no arrests had yet been made.
The latest incident comes after a retired Milford woman lost £610,000 in a similar fake investment scam.
Speaking to the A&T to warn others, on condition of anonymity, she said she fell victim after seeing a genuine-looking website while researching financial schemes online for money she had to invest following a recent house sale.
The woman told how the scam left her partner, who also invested money, traumatised and “very depressed”.
Their distress was compounded by the fact the scammers obtained all their personal details, including their address, passport numbers and national insurance numbers.
Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre run by the City of London Police, confirmed investment fraud rose in 2020 compared to the previous year.
Reports of ‘clone’ firm investment scams increased by 29% in April 2020 compared to March, when the UK went into its first lockdown, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
To avoid falling victim people are urged to double-check all firm details on the FCA register, not just the firm reference number, and only use the phone number listed on the register.
Investors should reject unsolicited offers and even be wary if they have initiated contact themselves.
Those considering an investment but are unable to visit financial advisors in person due to lockdown should call the FCA’s consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768 or go to www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart
To report a scam call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk