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North-east pensioner and son scammed out of life savings by phone fraudsters

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A devastated postie had to tell his mother that scammers had emptied their savings account – on her 83rd birthday.

The pair were targeted in an elaborate phone scam, which resulted in the man being tricked into handing over almost £80,000 to the culprits.

As he has power of attorney for his mother, the perpetrators also managed to access his mum’s savings through his RBS account.

Last night, the man – who wants to remain anonymous – said that by the time he realised what had happened it was too late and his account had been drained.

Police have confirmed they are investigating, but RBS said it was unable to pay the victim back because he had sanctioned the transfers.

His mum said she was “appalled” by how “callous and calculated” the fraudsters were.

“It was absolutely disgusting” she said.

“I think it’s absolutely despicable that someone can be so disgusting and so sleekit.

“It’s not as if we’re people who have had lots of money left to us by aunts and uncles, everything we have we’ve had to work hard for.”

Her son added: “Everyone I know has said I’ve been remarkably calm about the whole thing.

“But that’s just on the surface, it’s eating me up inside.”

An RBS spokesman said: “We sympathise with our customer and appreciate that this has been a very distressing experience for them.

“We take our responsibilities to preventing scams very seriously and would remind customers to remain vigilant against any type of scam.

“On this occasion, we have been unable to refund our customer for their loss as they explicitly authorised the payments from their account.

“At RBS, we will always try to recover funds from the receiving bank on a best endeavours basis. In this case only partial funds remained for recovery and these have been returned to our customer.

“Should any further funds remain for recovery, we will keep our customer informed of this.”

The fraud just months after scammers ripped off a small group of vulnerable north-east residents of £1.2million.

The technique, known as vishing, involves stealing a large sum of money and then almost immediately spreading it out between scores of different accounts in a money-laundering process police call “starbursting”.

Detective Inspector Ian Whittle, of the police’s economic crime and financial investigation unit, said there were “several variations” on scam calls but warned people to never give out their bank details over the phone in any circumstance.

He said: “Scams which prey on people’s good nature and use scare tactics are cruel and callous – the criminal on the other end of the phone has no regard for their victim and the devastation their actions will cause. Pension pots and retirement funds can be stolen within a matter of minutes, with hard-earned savings wiped out without warning.

“Sadly the victims deliberately targeted in these cases are often older or perceived to be more vulnerable.

“In saying this, people who think it will never happen to them can also fall victim as scammers are getting increasingly professional and know what tactics to use to force their victims into acting in a way they never imagined they could.

“They can use local accents and conjure up elaborate cover stories to draw people in. In some cases they have daily contact with their victims for a period of weeks to enhance their credibility and encourage them to carry out transactions.”

Anyone with concerns about scam calls should call police on 101.

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