St Albans pensioner conned out of £8,000 by phone scammers

Marion Foster speaks out after being conned out of a large sum of money by phone scam artists

Marion Foster speaks out after being conned out of a large sum of money by phone scam artists - Credit: Archant

A St Albans pensioner has echoed police warnings about phone scam fraudsters after falling victim to con artists.

Marion Foster, 65, of Arundel Grove, has issued a plea to all residents to be wary of cold-callers after being lured into transferring £8,000 to an address in India.

She said: “Over Christmas I received a call from someone saying they were John Smith and from the Fraud Helpline who told me people had been trying to get into my account and they had stopped it.

“He gave me two names of people and told me to send over £2,000 to an address in India.

“I was told a scam was being committed in my area and that a police officer would get in touch.”

Marion was undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer at the time and said that she was so focussed on getting through it she couldn’t think straight.

She said that she received repeated calls over a few days from different people, all pretending to be from the fraud department.

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In total, she was persuaded to send £8,000 to the scam artists.

“When you’re having chemotherapy, it kills the cancer but it kills the brain. It turned my brain to mush.

“It really hit me hard. When you hear Fraud Helpline, you do as you’re told.”

She said she became suspicious after realising her account with the Post Office, through whom she posted the £8,000 through the Moneygram service, had not been frozen – something the fraudsters told her would happen.

She said: “I thought, hang on a second, this isn’t right. I checked in with the Post Office on December 22 and reported it to the police on the same day.

“I have no hope of getting my money back and I’m living hand to mouth now.

“My advice to other people would be if they get this kind of call to get on to the police straight away and they can block the number.”

DC Stuart Alexander, from St Albans Local Crime Unit, said: “Unfortunately, these fraudsters are very convincing and anyone could be taken in by them. They prey on the trusting nature of people and often deliberately target the elderly and vulnerable.

“I would like to make it absolutely clear that there will never be any circumstance in which the police or banks would ask anyone to withdraw any amount of money and send it to them via courier or any other means.

“If someone asks you to do this and claim they work for the police or bank, they are lying and you should end the call straight away.”

Herts Police have also issued the following advice to residents:

Your bank and the police would:

• NEVER ask for your bank account details or PIN number over the phone.

• NEVER ask you to withdraw money and send it to them.

• NEVER ask you to send them your bank cards or any other personal property.

If you are not happy with a phone call and are suspicious of the conversation call non-emergency number 101.