DYFED-Powys Police have issued a warning about scams after an elderly woman almost lost £24,000 to scammers – just two years after being conned out of around £90,000.
Fraud prevention officers said the woman was a victim of a fake investment scheme in 2018, and believed some of the money would now be returned to her if she made three payments to individual bank accounts.
She made two transfers totalling £9,000, and was asked for a further £15,000 before her funds would be released.
However, under Operation Signature, which sees banks and police work together to identify potential victims of fraud, Dyfed-Powys Police was alerted to the third payment and intervened.
Fraud safeguarding officer Rebecca Jones said: “Sadly, in 2018 this lady was convinced to invest a huge amount of money into a fake scheme. She was led to believe a significant proportion of this would be returned to her if she made two payments – but was then asked for a third.
“Thankfully, at this point we were made aware, and could begin to investigate where the money was going. After providing the victim with advice and support, she decided against making the payment.
“We have prevented the loss of a significant amount of money, and will continue to engage with the victim to ensure she is not at risk of falling foul of further scams.”
The offences have been referred to Action Fraud for dissemination to the Met Police for investigation.
The force’s Economic Crime Team is now urging people to be on high alert when contacted out of the blue from anyone asking for a bank transfer to be made – with particular concern that people might be more vulnerable to fraudsters while isolating.
Rebecca said: “Criminals will use any opportunity they can to take money from innocent people. As more people stay at home, there is more opportunity for criminals to try and trick people into parting with their money at a time when they are anxious and uncertain.
“This is especially relevant as older, more vulnerable people self-isolate and may be targeted over the phone, or even in person. Not being able to see family members might make vulnerable people feel more alone, and not be able to get advice quickly on whether an opportunity is genuine or a scam.
“We are asking people to stay on their guard, be alert, and always question the motives of someone who contacts them out of the blue over the phone, by email or in person with a questionable good deal.”
Police give the following advice to avoid becoming a victim of fraud:
* If you’re purchasing goods or services from a person or company you don’t know, do your research before parting with any money.
* Never respond to an email asking for your personal or financial information.
* Avoid paying for goods and services by bank transfer as that offers little protection if you become a victim of fraud. Instead, use a credit card or service such as PayPal if you can.
* If you’re contacted by someone asking you to make an investment, seek advice and check the Financial Conduct Authority’s register to check if the company is regulated. No legitimate organisation with pressure you into making a decision on the spot.