Santander issues urgent warning as pensioner loses £112,000 in scam

A pensioner has lost £112,000 to a cryptocurrency scam and does not think she will ever get her money back. The former shopkeeper from London explained she felt foolish and scared after losing the money she had set aside for her retirement.

Cybercriminals take advantage of the low understanding surrounding this type of digital asset vulnerable investors and make off with their money.

75-year-old Sarah Evans – whose name has been changed for anonymity – was promised high returns on her pension investments, with little-to-no risk.

She told the Financial Times: “I had built up all these pockets of money which could act as a safety net, if I suddenly had a huge dental bill to pay or something like that — now it’s gone.

“I do not want pity. I have lost the money, but my spirit is not broken.

“What I don’t understand is why the bank could not have done something earlier.

“If it can freeze my account over a trivial amount surely it could have called or texted me to make sure I wanted to go ahead with transferring my savings, but there was nothing.”

Over about two weeks Evans transferred her savings into the hands of fraudsters who claimed to be from a cryptocurrency company.

Between the end of November and mid-December she transferred a total of £93,000 from her RBS accounts, moving as much as £20,000 in a single day — the maximum her bank allowed. She took an additional £19,000 out of a Santander account.

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Last year about £343.9 million of crypto-related losses were brought to the attention of the national crime reporting centre Action Fraud, up from £190.6 million in 2021.

Crypto assets remain unregulated in the UK, which means that investors like Evans have little chance of getting compensation in the event something goes wrong

On their website, Santander urges people to do their own research and be cautious with sending money to people they don’t know.

They said: “It’s always a good idea to study the accuracy of the information at hand, on the authenticity of websites and platforms, and even on the celebrity or individual supposedly endorsing the investment.

“This way, you create your own criteria to help you make decisions. There’s no better way to safeguard your money than taking all the time you need to find the answers you’re looking for.

“It’s vital that you don’t download anything without first checking that it really is a legitimate investment opportunity.”

They explain that as obvious as this recommendation might seem, swindlers invent all sorts of guises to ask people to transfer their funds.

They contact the vulnerable by SMS or social media channels to convince victims they’re a friend or a family member who needs urgent help.

People should always check and compare the information to make sure that the name of the profile or user is actually who they claim they are.

Santander’s research revealed that on average, Britons aged 55 and over report being contacted at least once a week by what they believe to be financial scammers, with the most common approach being by email (71 percent), followed by 40 percent who receive unsolicited phone calls.

Over half (54 percent) of Scottish adults say they would rely on researching an investment firm online to confirm their validity, which scam artists take advantage of by creating professional-looking websites and even cloning the webpages of legitimate companies.

For more information, people can visit the Santander website.

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