Friday 20 July 2018

Elderly widow (69) claims phone scammer conned her out of €48k savings

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Kyle Ewald

An elderly widow has claimed she lost €48,000 after a phone scammer allegedly posed as a member from the fraud department of her bank.

A woman named Marie (69) told RTÉ's Liveline that she lost all her savings in the scam.

Marie’s daughter Ciara told Joe Duffy that her mother had been left distraught.

“She’s just getting over the death of my father and trying to come to terms with a sense of the new norm and then this, she hasn’t really slept since this happened.”

Marie told Joe Duffy that she received a phone call from the ‘fraud’ department of her PTSB bank saying someone had tried to transfer €2000 to Hong Kong.

When Marie called the number on the back of her bank card to confirm the suspicious activity was not her, the original number that had called her appeared, so she did not question the validity of the call.

Marie told Joe Duffy that the caller phoned again the next day from the same 24-hour number saying he suspected the fraud was occurring in branch.

He allegedly told Marie to move money from her savings account to her current account and then transfer the entire sum to another account of which he provided the BIC and IBAN number. She was also allegedly advised not to tell anybody in the bank as this would compromise the internal investigation.

After following the provided instructions on Friday afternoon, Marie claims she was contacted again on Monday and asked for passwords and PIN number to “secure her online banking”.

“He asked me to go in and reset my password, which I didn’t do because I was like no this isn’t right, alarm bells were ringing at this stage,” Marie explained.

Marie and her daughter then reported the calls to the garda fraud squad who then contacted the bank fraud team. Since the transfer was only made on Friday and the caller was still contacting her on Monday, Marie had hope that the money had not yet reached his account.

Both mother and daughter expressed frustration with the lack of information they have received from PTSB since reporting the scam.

Speaking on Liveline, Ciara said: “We have contacted our solicitor and have gone through all the details with her and she’s going to work on Mam’s behalf to contact the bank because they haven’t been forthcoming with information at all.”

Marie said she wonders if more action had been taken by the bank if she would still have her money.

“We knew it was fraud and he was still phoning us, so that was an indication that he hadn’t gotten his hands on the money yet, so we were quite hopeful we’d get it back. The sequence of non-events since then, has that resulted in the money being gone because they failed to act?

“I’m coming up to one of those big birthdays, so [the €48,000] was to do me for the rest of whatever I have left.”

In a statement to Independent.ie. Permanent TSB said that they do not comment on individual customer cases.

"However, the bank never contacts customers in this manner. We urge customers to be vigilant whenever they receive unsolicited phone calls or emails purporting to come from their bank," the statement read.

"They should never act on any instruction received from a suspicious phone call or email.

"If a customer is in any way suspicious of any activity or communication relating to their account they should bring their concerns to the bank’s attention immediately.

"Customers should also report the matter to the Gardaí; the Bank would engage fully with any Criminal Investigation."

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