Strangers raise £15,000 for 91-year-old man after phone scammers tricked him out of his life savings

Joe Gamp
Contributor, Yahoo News UK
The 91-year-old ex-police officer was “devastated” after being swindled out of almost £15,000 (SWNS)

An elderly man who was ruthlessly conned out of his life savings by telephone fraudsters has had £15,000 raised for him by strangers donating to a crowdfunding page.

John Thompson, 91, was cruelly tricked into transferring three payments of £4,900 from an account he had saved into for more than 50 years.

Mr Thompson had earmarked the money to help his inherited grandchildren Rosie and Anna - from his second marriage - get on the property ladder.

(SWNS)

The former police officer, who lives in Sprotbrough, Doncaster, was contacted by a man posing as a member of staff working at the security department of his bank, Nationwide.

Mr Thompson uses free call blocking software on his landline which can be used to screen out unwanted telephone calls.

But fraudsters used sophisticated methods to make it look like they were calling from his bank's local branch number.

The pensioner had a life-times work undone in the space of a few minutes (SWNS)

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."

Since the fraud took place, Mr Thompson has been unable to get a refund from Nationwide.

This is because the transaction was made using an ‘Authorised Push Payment', meaning he had moved the money himself rather than it being stolen out of his account.

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Now, The Yorkshire Post have sponsored a crowdfunding page on JustGiving.com, to help Mr Thompson raise the £14,700 he lost and help him “have the retirement he planned”.

And since the page was set up on Wednesday, the target has been smashed, with an extra £300 being donated to the pensioner.

One person who identified herself as a “family member” thanked the public for their generosity.

John Thompson, pictured when in the Fire Service during the 1950's. A 91-year-old was conned by a fraudster who convincingly posed as a bank branch manager (SWNS)

Lucie Curry said: I’m a family member of John and this is just incredible we can’t thank you all enough for all your support and generosity!! All your kind words are just so beautiful.

“We live in such a world of state but with people’s kindness it really does show we can work together in times of need. Thank you all again. Xxx.”

Speaking of Mr Thompson’s case, South Yorkshire Police's Fraud Protect Officer Andy Foster said: "Sadly, Mr Thompson's story is all too familiar and I have met countless victims of similar telephone scams.

Married Mr Thompson, from Doncaster, had earmarked the hard-earned cash for his grandchildren to help them get on to the property ladder (SWNS)

"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."