Woman loses her life savings to text scam
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Victims are sent a message asking them to click a link to pay delivery fees for a package that they have missed. Once clicking the link, they are directed to a highly convincing Royal Mail website to put in their bank details to pay their debt.
Viewers of Rip-off Britain saw retiree Christine Graves, 72 lose over £5000 and all her life savings because of the scam.
She said: “I have £15 in my purse, and half a tank of petrol – that’s all I had in the whole world.
“Since this scam, I just cannot sleep. The worry of the whole thing keeps me awake.”
Ms Graves suffered a stroke in May 2020, and ever since has needed regular lifesaving medication that’s delivered to her door every month by Royal Mail.
The fraudsters had taken out a £5,500 loan in Christines name, leaving her with nothing but debt (Image: BBC)
Royal Mail users have been warned to look out for a new scam texts asking for personal details (Image: GETTY)
So, when she received a ‘missed delivery’ text from apparently Royal Mail, there was no reason for her to think the message was suspicious.
The text message was as follows:
“Hello Christine, you missed your parcel. Please approve the settlement of 2.99 GBP on the following URL.”
After clicking the link Christine was taken to a highly convincing looking Royal Mail website that asked for personal details such as her address, date of birth, and her bank details.
It wasn’t until a couple of days later that Christine knew something wasn’t right.
She received a text from Halifax asking her to confirm if she has intended the payment of £2495.00 for something she was buying online.
When she replied saying it wasn’t her, a supposed representative from Halifax called her and told her that her bank account was not safe and that she should transfer her money to another, safer account.
Christine then transferred £5,600 to this safer account.
The fraudster on the phone seemed genuine as he had access to all of Ms Graves account information however as soon as the transfer of money had taken place, she knew something was wrong.
As a Royal Mail user, there was no reason for Christine to believe the text was suspicious (Image: BBC)
She said: “Suddenly on the screen, it said ‘there has been a problem’. The fraudster had gone off the phone and I realised that all my money had gone’.
“But worse still, I feel like such a fool. I just thought ‘I’m a complete idiot’. How could I do this? But everything seemed so terribly plausible.”
When Christine contacted the real Halifax fraud team, they had more bad news.
As well as the £5,600 she transferred to the fake account, the fraudsters had taken out a £5,500 loan in her name, leaving her with nothing but piles of debt.
Halifax have now wiped the fraudulent loan and refunded some of her money. She did not retrieve all of it as they said she had ignored clear warnings when making the original transfer.
Christine is still £5000 out of pocket.
“I’ve always believed in Royal Mail so when I saw the logo, I really thought this was it and I believed in it.
“It never occurred to me that this was just a big scam and that I would end up losing not only the contents of my current account, but all my life savings to the extent I’m unable to pay my bills.”
In a bid to stamp out these scams, Royal Mail has dedicated hubs for Britons to forward on suspicious text messages.
On its website, the delivery service explains: “If you receive a suspicious email, text message, telephone call or discover a Royal Mail branded website which you think is fraudulent, please report it to firstname.lastname@example.org. “For suspicious text messages, please send us a screenshot of the message to email@example.com.”