Distraught Walsall pensioner conned out of thousands of pounds in text message scam

A distraught Walsall pensioner has been conned out of thousands of pounds in a text message scam which duped her into thinking she was helping her son.

The woman aged in her 70s, who does not wish to be named, said she felt like she had been kicked in the stomach when she realised the total of £2,728.10 she had paid for ‘two invoices’ into two different bank accounts was going into the hands of crooks.

Fortunately, she realised it was a con before she paid a further payment request of £1,800 and now wants to warn others not to fall into the trap.

Lloyds Bank, whom she has held accounts with for 30 years, repaid £695 of the first invoice as compensation but added she had failed to heed a warning ahead of making the second payment.

The scam involved her receiving a text from her ‘son’ who said he had damaged his phone by dropping it down the toilet and was using a temporary number until it was fixed.

But he then sent a distressed text saying he couldn’t access his online banking app on his damaged phone and was ‘really worried’ about two invoices he had to pay.

The scammers then asked her to pay invoices of £1,399.82 and £1,388.28, promising to pay her back in two days, which she did.

The victim said she didn’t ring him as her son was abroad and she didn’t want to disturb him and add to the stress she thought he was under with the urgent invoices.

It was only when her actual son text her from his usual number a couple of days later and when she received another message from the scam phone she realised she had been stung.

She said: “They made it sound so believable. I am on the ball but this was so real. They just got me good and proper.

“It coincided with my son being away and not texting me for those couple of days when I was being scammed.

“It made me feel sick and gutted because I thought I was helping my son out. It was just the context of the texts they were sending me. It’s similar to the way my son usually texts me. He doesn’t beat around the bush.

“I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach and I felt like an idiot and kept calling myself stupid.

“Obviously, I know now it was an expensive mistake to make but I shall know in future and ever fall for that again.

“I’m so glad the alarm bells rang and I didn’t send the £1,800-odd for the third invoice.

“I have to keep telling myself I’m not the first and I won’t be the last – some have been scammed out of their entire life savings. This is the number one scam apparently at the moment.

“I hope my case warns others and stop others being scammed. I just want to put everyone wise to it.

“The scammers have no morals and are just scum bags. I wish the police could find them but they are so cunning.”

Criminals either set up accounts with the required documentation or use ‘money mules’ – other people’s accounts who get to keep a portion of the scammed cash for agreeing to receive it – to perform such cons.

Lloyds Bank said there are a number of hints and tips on spotting impersonation scams:

  • Be wary of any messages you receive from numbers which aren’t already stored in your contacts, even if it appears to be from someone you know.

  • Don’t be rushed into anything – first of all contact the person on the number you already have stored in your contacts to check if the story is true.

  • If you can’t get hold of them, you can verify the identity of the person sending the message by insisting you speak to them before transferring any money.

  • Remember if it is a genuine family member or friend, they won’t mind you taking these steps to stay safe

A Lloyds Bank spokesperson said: “We have a great deal of sympathy for (the woman) as a victim of a crime and have made a partial refund of the money she sent to the fraudster.

“We encourage people to always be wary of messages from unknown numbers, being sure to carry out independent checks before transferring any money, and to closely note any warnings from your bank when making payments.”

Councillor Garry Perry, Walsall Council deputy leader, resilient communities, said: “This is a callous crime. To deceive vulnerable people in this way has unspeakable impact and there is never a justifiable excuse for it.

“People should always be on their guard and if in any doubt never give out passwords or bank details and report suspicious activity to the police.

“In this case using the pretence they were the son of the victim is beyond belief and says more about the gutter type character of the perpetrator as it does anything else.”

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