Lancashire

Warning after man, 83, lost £800k to fraudsters

A woman whose father lost £800,000 to fraudsters is urging other people to be aware of telephone scams.

Alfred Mason, from Ormskirk in west Lancashire, was targeted by scammers over a 10-year period, claiming they were offering him investment deals.

The 83-year-old could not afford to heat his home in the months before he died and sat in his car to keep warm.

His daughter, Lorna Rapley, 59, of Grantham in Lincolnshire, did not know about the scams until after his death.

"I suppose when he started making these mistakes he felt very very foolish," she said.

"He knew the extent of what he had lost. I wasn't aware of it at that time but he knew."

Mrs Rapley, a former teacher, said her father had built up a successful market gardening business, with the help of his family.

He then invested successfully in shares for about 40 years and was expecting to leave a considerable inheritance to his children and grandchildren.

Mr Rapley, who died last year, received a call from someone offering him the chance to invest in a property deal with excellent returns.

He then started to get calls from other hoax companies, which had professional looking websites and glossy brochures.

He made regular payments of up to £40,000 from his account to bank accounts all over the world, including Spain, China, Panama and Australia.

Image caption By the time he died, Alfred Mason could not afford to heat his home

"Somebody else was living off his back. Apparently, according to the police, one of the people... was living the life of riley - holidays abroad, flash cars," Mrs Rapley said.

"They don't seem to care about what damage they have caused to somebody.

"It is just a faceless person at the end of phone."

She urged people not to respond to cold callers.

"Once you have got in their clutches you part with money and you don't realise you are doing something really stupid," she said.

Helena Herklots, of Age UK, said: "The evidence shows that scamming is rife in the North West, as in all areas of the country.

"We are working to raise awareness of the issue and provide information and advice to help older people avoid being conned.

"Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is."

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