Thursday 25 May 2017

Thief posing as garda tricks pensioner out of life savings

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A PENSIONER who was robbed of €20,000 by a thief posing as a garda has told neighbours he fears he won't be able to make it through the winter without his savings.

Gardai are probing whether the 70-year-old man was spotted making the €20,000 withdrawal and then followed home so he could be targeted for the scam.

It sparked concerns that gangs are watching banks and other financial institutions to pick on those who make large cash withdrawals.

The €20,000 theft happened as the pensioner -- a retired drinks industry worker who lives alone off Sun Valley Drive, Gurranabraher in Cork city -- was making preparations to go to Medjugorje on pilgrimage.

He told neighbours he was "terrified over what happened" and was "mad with himself for allowing himself to be tricked".

"He is mostly terrified over what the future now holds," one neighbour said, adding that the man was now worried about making it through winter without his savings.

The theft was described by gardai as "particularly cruel" and Superintendent Con Cadogan appealed for public help in tracing the two men responsible.

The pensioner withdrew the cash from his savings account just last week.

At 7am on Sunday, a man called to the pensioner's home and identified himself as an undercover garda.

Counterfeits

The thief -- who was in his 20s or 30s -- was of stocky build and was wearing jeans and a green jacket.

He told the pensioner he was checking bank notes amid concerns that counterfeits were in circulation locally.

He also said that gardai were specially marking high denomination euro notes so that, if they were stolen, they could be identified and returned.

The pensioner admitted to having cash in the house -- and agreed to present it so it could be verified as genuine and then specially marked.

When he showed the man the bag of money, it was immediately snatched and the man ran off.

He then made his escape with an accomplice in a waiting car.

The pensioner raised the alarm but was so distraught he later required hospital treatment, although he was not injured.

Age Action last night urged pensioners to keep their savings in banks, post offices or credit unions -- and to only have a minimum amount of cash in their home.

"Make sure you have a chain on your front door, always ask for photo identification from callers and never, ever allow anyone into your home unless you are certain about who they are and why they are calling to your house," Age Action's Eamon Timmins said.

"We don't want to frighten old people because they are actually less likely to be the victims of crime than other sections of society. But, unfortunately, there are very ingenious people out there targeting householders for cash."

Irish Independent

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