A retired couple from West Yorkshire, Ann and James, have lost £86,000 after falling victim to a sophisticated scam. The couple, who were enticed by the promise of giving money to their children, lied to their banks when the institutions tried to prevent their payments to the fraudsters. Ann and James, both retired nurses, were scammed into taking out loans and surrendering their life savings.
The scam began when the couple spotted an advert on social media, supposedly endorsed by political journalist Andrew Marr, promoting a bogus cryptocurrency platform. After sharing their phone number, they were contacted by a woman claiming to be a financial adviser from a company called ISA Investments.com. The woman, known as Giselle Thomas, managed to gain their trust by encouraging them to ask questions and promising that they would all benefit financially. She told them, “If you make money, I get money and we get rich together.”
Ann and James believed their investment was going towards cryptocurrency and were instructed to open a Revolut account for the transactions. The couple made a small initial payment of £100, which quickly appeared to grow to over £600. Encouraged by Giselle, they attempted to make a larger payment, but both Virgin Money and Revolut paused the transaction, warning that it could be a scam. However, Giselle convinced them to lie to the banks about the purpose of the funds, and they were able to continue investing.
The scam escalated when Giselle convinced Ann and James to download software that allowed the scammers to gain control of their devices, emails, and security codes. Using James’s personal information, the fraudsters made three loan applications totaling £50,000. Even when contacted by one of the loan companies and questioned about the purpose of the money, James lied and claimed it was for home improvements.
Ultimately, the couple lost their life savings and found themselves in debt. They realized they had been deceived when Giselle failed to deliver on her promise to release their funds. The experience left them hurt and betrayed, as they had built a rapport with Giselle and considered her a potential friend.
This case is a reminder of the ongoing danger posed by sophisticated scammers who employ psychological manipulation to exploit victims. The financial industry acknowledges that this tactic, known as ‘The Spell,’ is a significant challenge. It is crucial for individuals to be vigilant and to seek advice from trusted sources before making any financial decisions or sharing personal information online.
What was the scam?
The retired couple, Ann and James, were scammed out of £86,000 by fraudsters who manipulated and deceived them into making payments and loans. The scam involved a fake cryptocurrency platform and a person pretending to be a financial adviser.
How were the couple manipulated?
The scammers gained the couple’s trust by promising financial benefits and encouraging them to ask questions. They used tactics such as showing fake investment growth, pressuring the couple to make larger payments, and convincing them to lie to the banks when alerted about the potential scam.
What actions did the scammers take?
The scammers convinced the couple to download software that allowed them to gain control over their devices and personal information. They made loan applications using the couple’s personal details and disappeared after promising to release their funds.
What can individuals do to protect themselves from scams?
To protect themselves from scams, individuals should be cautious when encountering offers that seem too good to be true. It is important to research and verify the legitimacy of any investment or financial opportunity before getting involved. Additionally, individuals should never share personal or financial information with unknown parties or download software from untrusted sources.