‘It was my grandfather’s!’ Woman ‘in hysterics’ after losing £20,000 inheritance in scam

Dirty Rotten Scammers: Woman reveals how she fell victim

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On BBC’s Dirty Rotten Scammers, a woman named Erin from West Sussex shared her story. She had recently purchased clothes online, when she received an unexpected text which claimed to be from Royal Mail.

The text message told her a parcel was waiting for delivery, but that she would need to pay import fees of £2.99.

Expecting her clothes to be delivered, Erin thought nothing of the text message and clicked the link contained within.

It asked her to provide bank details so that the payment of the supposed import fees could be made. 

Erin explained: “Logically, to me, I thought of course there must be fees because the clothes were coming from abroad. I was at work, and I thought nothing of it. I put my details in.”

However, the text message had not been from Royal Mail at all, and was all part of a devious scam.

Later, Erin received a phone call from a person claiming to be from her bank and telling her that her account had been compromised.

In fact, it was the same scammers who were armed with the knowledge of the supposed Royal Mail text to lead her into a false sense of security.

She recalled: “They said, you have a recent charge there to Netflix – and lo and behold that was there in my pending transactions.

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“So, it made me believe my card had been used. 

“I immediately started panicking. I knew I had £50,000 in my savings account as my mortgage deposit and that they were about to take that from me.”

Erin, a newlywed, was excited to purchase her first home with her new husband, so the potential scam put her on edge.

The scammers had used the details they had garnered from the original text to make the charge to Netflix.

Erin continued: “The hook is they tell you you are being scammed, so you think ‘Why would a scammer tell me I’m being scammed?’ That’s the genius of it.

“They told me they believed scammers were in my bank account now, and that I needed to transfer my money to a safe account.

“It was a race against time. I was shaking with tears, the energy was going wild in my head.”

Erin decided to double check the number she was being called from, and cross-referenced this on the back of her debit card.

With the number a spot on match, Erin felt confident she was actually speaking to her bank – but this is a cruel technique known as number spoofing to add legitimacy to scams.

As Erin began transferring her money out of her account, her work colleague looked further into the matter and came across a shocking conclusion.

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Search engines told her the number was being spoofed, and those who came into contact with it were being scammed.

Recalling her horror, Erin said: “I felt sick. I was in hysterics.

“I lost £20,000, weeks before I was meant to buy a house and put a mortgage deposit down.

“It was my grandfather’s inheritance, and it is distressing. I couldn’t stop thinking the money was just gone.

“It makes me feel terrible. You play it back in your head and think of course it was a scam, but they don’t give you time to think. You’re in a black hole of panic.”

Those who believe they are being scammed are encouraged to put the phone down immediately.

They should also report the matter to their bank to see if transactions or cards can be stopped, and Action Fraud to investigate the issue further.

Dirty Rotten Scammers returns weekdays at 10am on BBC One. 

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