Stevenage pensioner conned out of �17,500 life savings

AN 80-year-old woman from Stevenage who thought she had won a windfall on an Australian lottery has lost her life savings of �17,500, in what turned out to be a scam.

The victim, who has not been named, was contacted by conmen through a letter that claimed to offer her the chance to take part in an Australian lottery for a �10 stake.

She sent off the money along with her telephone number, and received a letter in August claiming that she was to be awarded �140,000. She was later told the winnings would go up to �390,000, if she sent a cheque for �2,100 to offset a tax bill for the sum.

The pensioner and her husband were then contacted five further times, sending off six cheques totalling �17,500.

“The carrot just kept getting bigger and bigger,” said the victim’s 85-year-old husband.

“Once they hooked you in, they just kept upping the stakes.

The couple have not received a penny of their ‘winnings’, and police are currently investigating the fraud, which they believe has originated from overseas.

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“I feel so foolish. That money was my life savings and they have practically wiped us out financially,” said the victim.

“They were so believable and polite on the phone. They couldn’t have been more charming.”

The victim has now issued a warning to try and stop people facing a similar fate. She is still receiving up to ten letters a week, claiming to come from various lotteries across the world.

“These scams can, on the surface, appear very genuine, but don’t be taken in,” said Herts Constabulary crime prevention officer Mark Montgomery.

“The very stark message is that if a company you’ve had no dealings with gets in touch out of the blue, never give out any money or divulge bank or personal details to them,

“If you receive one of these letters, put it in a plastic bag and hand it in at your nearest police station. And if you have received a suspicious telephone call, please report it.

“If it sounds too good to be true, then it more than likely is.”