Oldbury woman conned out of more than £50,000 over 30 years warns others to be aware of scammers

A woman who was tricked into sending an estimated £50,000 to scammers over the course of 30 years has urged people to be aware in the run-up to Christmas.

The victim, who lives in Oldbury and is now a pensioner, said she felt "stupid, ashamed and embarrassed" for having sent scammers her money since the 1980s.

It all started with £20 but continued over the years and grew to a point where the victim, who wished to remain anonymous, couldn't bring herself to tell her children.

But she has now come forward – after speaking with trading standards officers in Sandwell – to help stop others from falling foul of scams offering life-changing amounts of money.

She said: “The letters were really personal and very convincing. They had example stories where people had won life-changing amounts of money and were living a very comfortable life. I thought it could be me, with a large amount of money I could go on nice holidays, buy nice cars and help out my family and friends.

“It started with just £20 but over the course of thirty-plus years, I realised that I had sent more than £50,000 to different postal scams. Looking back, I feel stupid, ashamed and embarrassed, so much so that I could not tell my children. I am a pensioner and can’t afford to lose any money, especially with the cost of living as it is now.

“My message to others is to stay strong and don’t send any money to these terrible people, they are scammers and thieves.”

Officers initially contacted the victim after the National Trading Standards Scams Team had recovered £40 of her cash while investigating a mail scam originating in Australia. When they first visited her to advise her about the scam, she was confident she had only sent money – forty, and then fifty pounds – on two previous occasions.

But on the second visit to return the cash she said she was "over the moon" and said it was the first time she had won anything. Officers explained to her that she hadn't won anything but was having her own money – recovered from the scammer – returned to her.

And it was then she admitted she had been sending money to postal scammers since the 1980s and although she didn't know the exact amount, she estimated she had sent more than £50,000 to scammers over a period of more than 30 years.

Councillor Danny Millard, Sandwell’s cabinet member for communities, said: “I would really like to thank this resident for the courage she has shown in confiding her heart-rending story to our trading standards team, and for allowing us to share the details in a bid to warn others not to be taken in like she was, with devastating results.

“Sadly, we are seeing a surge in all types of scams, whether they be door-to-door, telephone, postal, online or even people knocking at your door. There are many opportunists out there, at home and abroad, always on the lookout for potentially vulnerable people.

“With Christmas approaching, and many people struggling financially, it can be all too easy to be tempted, and taken in by what these criminals promise. If it looks and sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.”

People can report scams using the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline by calling 0808 223 1133 or using the online reporting form at citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/reporting-a-scam/

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