Santander scam warning as pensioner loses life savings

Fraud victim finds it hard to trust anyone after falling for scam

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Having clicked an online advertisement and invested some money in what she thought was Bitcoin years ago, a woman had forgotten about her so called investment until she received a call from scammers a few months ago. Mrs Chappell, 81, lost all of her savings – just over £2,500 – which was everything she had.

The criminals claimed she had made a significant return, and said they needed her personal details in order to transfer the earnings to her bank account.

The fraudsters also convinced her to download software which allowed them to access her laptop remotely.

The scammers set up a new bank account using her identity with an online banking provider.

Fiona Chappell, her granddaughter, explained what had happened to The Echo Live.

She said: “She sees the money in her local credit union, she gets this official legitimate credit card through the post, then they really have her trust.

“The scammer used all the financial institutions to fool her. We were all really angry and upset.

“She’s lucky in that she has some family members [to support her] but would hate to think what would happen to an elderly person who didn’t.”

The scammers also attempted to take out a credit union loan using Mrs Chappell’s identity and used her identity when attempting to con money from other people.

Ms Chappell explained that the experience has left her grandmother “ungrounded and very upset”, and afraid to use her own laptop.

She started a Gofundme to support her grandmother who lost her life savings in an elaborate scam that began with a Bitcoin investment.

“Instead of her getting ripped off by random strangers, I want her to experience people being generous and being kind,” she said.

Santander suggests how individuals can spot cryptocurrency scams to make sure they avoid them.

Their website explains that cryptocurrency is accessible to everyone and with any budget, meaning anyone can fall victim.

Most firms advertising and selling investments in cryptoassets are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

This means that if people invest in certain cryptoassets, they will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong.

On their wesbite, Santander suggests how to protect oneself from investment and cryptocurrency scams

They said: “How to protect yourself from investment and cryptocurrency scams:

  • Make the right checks – firms providing regulated financial services must be authorised by the FCA. You can check whether they are authorised on the FCA’s register
  • Avoid clones (fake companies that look genuine) – use the contact details on the FCA Register, not the contact details you’ve found on an online advert, or that the firm gives you when they make contact.
  • Don’t assume it’s real – professional-looking websites, adverts or social media posts don’t always mean that an investment opportunity is genuine. Criminals can use the names of well-known brands or individuals to make their scams appear legitimate.
  • Stay in control – avoid uninvited investment offers whether made on social media or over the phone. If you’re thinking about making an investment, thoroughly research the company first and consider getting independent advice.
  • Never download software or apps that allow someone remote access to any of your devices, including your computer, laptop, tablet or phone.
  • Don’t allow anyone to set up a cryptocurrency wallet, upload ID documents or manage investments on your behalf remotely.”

Fraudsters are very clever and convincing. There are warning signs to look for that can help people spot a possible investment fraud such as an unsolicited email, private message or cold call offering any form of investment.

Cold calling to sell people shares or investments is illegal.

Additionally, if something offers a ‘Limited time only’ to make a decision and doesn’t give enough time to consider the investment, it is likely a scam.

A company that encourages keeping people’s investment secret to ensure maximum returns is also a warning sign.

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