How this former Doncaster police officer was scammed out of £15, 000

A great-grandfather who lost almost £15,000 to telephone fraudsters has spoken out to prevent other people falling victim to the same scam.

By Lee Peace
Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 4:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 4:14 pm

Doncaster man John Thompson lost his life savings after being tricked into transferring three payments of £4,900 out of the account he had held for more than 50 years.

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The former firefighter and police officer said: "I do feel rather foolish to think I did this and it was a scam - but they were so convincing.

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Doncaster man John Thompson.

"I'm not a young man any more - I turned 91 last week. If speaking out helps one other person from falling for the same thing then I'll be pleased I've done it."

Mr Thompson, from Sprotbrough, was first contacted one Friday evening in May this year by a man who claimed to be from the security department of his bank.

He uses free call blocking software on his landline, which can be used to screen out unwanted telephone calls, but the scammers used sophisticated methods to make it look like they were calling from his bank's local branch number.

He said: "First of all I put the phone down because I thought it could be a scam. Then about 20 minutes later the phone rang again and the chap said he was the bank manager at the Doncaster branch."

On this call, the ‘bank manager’ told Mr Thompson there had been a security breach on his account and he needed to transfer his funds into a new, safer account.

The man was able to give him personal information including his account balance, most recent payments and even his late mother's maiden name.

Mr Thompson, who was an assistant inspector with Kenya Police in the 1950s, went on to transfer a total of £14,700.

He added: “I called in to my local branch the following day and sure enough, they informed me it was a scam."

Unfortunately, despite a number of meetings, letters and phone calls, Mr Thompson has been unable to get a refund for his loss from the bank as it is seen as an 'Authorised Push Payment', meaning he had moved the money himself rather than it being stolen out of his account.

He has since received support from Action Fraud and South Yorkshire Police's Fraud Protect Officer Andy Foster, who said: “Sadly, Mr Thompson's story is all too familiar and I have met countless victims of similar telephone scams.

"These fraudsters are professionals, using increasingly sophisticated methods to trick people out of their hard-earned money and life savings. The fact they are now able to make it look like they are calling from a local number, or the number of your bank, makes their devious schemes even more convincing.

"A legitimate bank would never contact you to ask you to transfer your money into another account. If you are in doubt, hang up the phone, leave it for a few minutes and then call your bank for advice."