Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Phone bank scam: Ex-police officer tricked out of £15,000

John Thompson Image copyright South Yorkshire Police
Image caption John Thompson is working with fraud officers to raise awareness of scams

A 91-year-old man was tricked out of £15,000 of his life savings by phone scammers claiming to be from his bank.

Former police officer John Thompson was told there had been a security breach on his account and he needed to move his cash into a new one.

The fraudsters used sophisticated methods to bypass his call blocking software to make it look like they were calling from his local branch.

"I do feel rather foolish... but they were so convincing," he said.

Mr Thompson, from Sprotbrough, Doncaster, said when the scammers first contacted him he put the telephone down because he was suspicious.

"Then about 20 minutes later the phone rang again and the chap said he was the bank manager at the Doncaster branch," he said.

On the second call, the person posing as the bank manager was able to give Mr Thompson personal information, including his account balance, most recent payments and his late mother's maiden name.

South Yorkshire Police said he been unable to receive a refund for his loss from the bank as it is seen as an "authorised push payment", meaning he had moved the money himself rather than it being stolen from his account.

New protection was brought in earlier this year for individuals tricked into transferring money to fraudsters in this way but not all banks banks are signed up to the scheme.

Under the voluntary code, anyone who has taken reasonable care, or has an element of vulnerability, is much more likely to receive a refund of the lost money.

Andy Foster, South Yorkshire Police's fraud protection officer, said: "The fact [scammers] are now able to make it look like they are calling from a local number, or the number of your bank, makes their devious schemes even more convincing.

"A legitimate bank would never contact you to ask you to transfer your money into another account."

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