Hartlepool pensioner cheated out of £40,000 in 'sophisticated' banking scam

A Hartlepool woman has been cheated out of 40,000 by a banking scam which started with a phone call.
A Hartlepool woman has been cheated out of 40,000 by a banking scam which started with a phone call.

Conmen cheated a pensioner out of nearly £40,000 by telling her a thief was working in her local bank.

The Hartlepool woman did not realise she had fallen victim to the “sophisticated and manipulative” scam until she learned how a friend had only just escaped a similar fate.

Detective Constable Ian Turnbull,from Cleveland Police’s cyber crime unit, said: “It is horrendous and heartbreaking to see such victims wondering how they are going to cope with the

massive financial hardship.

“They think they are foolish but they are not.

“They are falling foul of a sophisticated and manipulative gang who do this on a daily basis.”

Both incidents form part of a wider National Crime Agency (NCA) inquiry into the activities of a Hungarian gang.

Details have emerged publicly for the first time as part of an investigation by this paper and our parent company, Johnston Press, into the growing menace of cyber crime.

Fraud, which costs the United Kingdom £193billion annually, is proving an increasingly lucrative avenue for digital criminals, with 70 per cent of all such offences now including a cyber

element.

The gang gained the town woman’s confidence over several weeks by pretending over the phone to be from her bank’s fraud investigation team and claiming her money was under threat from an

employee.

They told her to remain silent as other people ’s money was also in jeopardy and eventually persuaded her to transfer the sum to another account.

Det Con Turnbull added: “They seemed caring, considerate and concerned and gained her trust over a period of time.”

Latest figures reveal that the number of all reported fraud offences rose by 20 per cent across Cleveland with about 71 per cent of the 1,625 cases estimated to have an online link.

Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger, who has supported several cyber crime awareness campaigns, said: “Today’s criminals are as likely to have a laptop as a

crowbar.”

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