- Written by Shari Var & Alex Moss
- Reporter, you and yours
A retired couple were ensnared by a fraudster who lied to their bank and stole £86,000.
Anne and James were so “brainwashed” with the promise of giving their children money that they lied when the bank tried to stop them from paying the scammer.
The couple, both retired nurses, were scammed into taking out loans and handing over their life savings.
The financial industry said fraud schemes known as “spells” were the biggest challenge facing them.
Anne and James, who have prostate cancer, were lured into putting money into a fake cryptocurrency platform after spotting an ad on social media that appeared to be endorsed by political journalist Andrew Marr.
After sharing his phone number, he was contacted by a woman named Gisele Thomas who posed as a financial advisor for a company called ISA Investments.com.
Anne, 65, said: “We felt immediately at ease with her. She encouraged us to ask questions and at one point I remember asking what it would be for her. I am.”
“She said, ‘Well, it’s like this: If you make money, I get money, and we can be rich together.'” She said, “We’re going to celebrate with lots of champagne and bubbles. “Sho,” I said.
The couple from West Yorkshire thought they could buy cryptocurrencies with their own money and were encouraged to open a Revolut account, an online banking platform, to be able to carry out the transactions.
They made their first £100 payment and transferred the cash from their Virgin Money account to their Revolut account. Within days, false information appeared on the app that the amount of his investment had grown to more than £600.
“We were buzzing.”
By this stage the couple said Gisele was constantly on the phone, calling them multiple times a day.
“Obviously we thought this was great. Gisele said, ‘Look at the profits you’ve made,'” Anne said.
“So the next step worked out. I made £600 on £100, so imagine how much I could make on £5,000.”
However, when the couple attempted to make a second large payment, both Virgin and Revolt suspended the transaction and sent messages warning of possible fraud, but Gisele assured them that it was not the case. I persuaded you.
“She was very angry and tried to encourage me to get angry. She was pacifying me about what I had to say to them.” [the banks] And I felt the need to take a firm stand against them.
“I did. I called Virgin and got all sorts of questions about what the money was used for. I literally just said exactly what she told me. The money was used for vacations. It was for.”
Anne said Virgin staff even asked if the money was invested in cryptocurrencies, but Gisele had warned her that such a thing could happen, so she lied and said no. He said he answered.
The pair’s funds continued to grow with the fake app, with their £5,000 snowballing to £23,000.
“I was beside myself and so excited. We were busy thinking about how much money we were going to give the kids and if we were going to have a nice vacation.
“I saw the numbers on the app, so I had no reason not to believe her.”
Despite warnings from banks and Revolt asking Anne to send a photo of herself holding a placard, which she was warned was likely fraudulent, they continued to send more money. Eventually, the amount was shown to have risen to her £45,000 via a fake app.
Meanwhile, Gisele had convinced the couple to download software, which was actually a remote access tool that allowed scammers to take control of their devices, emails, and security codes. This allowed the fraudsters to use James’ details to make three loan applications totaling £50,000 for him.
When a company called James and asked what the money was used for, James lied and said it was for home improvements.
“Disappeared from the face of the earth”
When the apparent profits reached more than £80,000, the couple decided to withdraw the money and Gisele announced that she would be released.
But after several hours of waiting, Anne said, “The penny finally dropped.”
“I was so hurt by the fact that someone I thought I had a trusting relationship with called me dear, sweet child. That’s not something a scammer would do.
“This was a future friend, someone I would love to meet someday and hug and have coffee with.”
James added: “I never thought she would disappear from the face of the earth and leave me with £50,000 in debt with no way of paying it back.”
Jim Winters, head of fraud at Nationwide, said victims of this type of fraud were under the “curse” of the scammers.
“They are very professionally led by very sophisticated fraudsters who spend an enormous amount of time social engineering and coaching their victims.
“We’re finding that spells are becoming more and more powerful and effective, and our customers are also finding it increasingly difficult to break them.”
A spokesperson for Revolt said it was disappointed to hear that the couple was being “targeted by ruthless and highly sophisticated criminals” and that the company “invests significantly to protect and support our customers.” Stated.
Virgin said: “We have identified vulnerabilities and have strict controls in place to ensure our customers do not become victims of fraud.”
Meanwhile, Andrew Marr said he was “very sorry” to hear what happened to the couple and said the fact that his name was mistakenly used to support a fake money-making scheme was “a violation”. ”.
“We all rely on our reputations in different ways, but I have never endorsed a commercial product of any kind.”
For more on this story, listen to Radio 4 You and Yours on Thursday 26 October at noon.