Ex-police officer, 91, swindled out of almost £15k by fraudsters

Staff writer

A 91-year-old ex-police officer has been left "devastated" after being swindled out of almost £15k by fraudsters - pretending to be from his bank.

Great-grandfather John Thompson had earmarked the hard-earned cash for his two grandchildren to help them get on to the property ladder.

But the pensioner had a life-times work undone in the space of a few minutes after being conned by a group of convincing scammers.

The father-of-one had a call blocking software installed on his landline phone two years ago to screen unwanted calls.

John, who has been married to second wife Pat, 86, for 26 years, initially put the phone down on the fraudsters because he was suspicious and they didn't sound genuine.

But the scammers had used sophisticated methods to match the same emergency number on the back of John's bank card and called back 20 minutes later posing as a local branch manager from Nationwide Building Society.

John, who served as an assistant inspector in the Kenya Police Reserve for four years, was told there had been a security breach on his account and he needed to transfer his funds into a new safer account.

He was tricked into transferring three payments of £4,900 each, which were taken out of his account in quick succession on May 23 this year.

【ギャラリー】 91-year-old ex-police officer was swindled5

John, who lives in Sprotbrough, Doncaster, South Yorks., has been left unable to sleep at night and is convinced his personal details have been sold to fraudsters.

He said: "Of course, I was devastated and I thought I was rather foolish and gullible to be taken in by such sweet talk.

"You wake up in the middle of the night and all you can think about is the fact you have been so gullible and you've lost your money.

"It's a scam, they are fraudsters and they are living on other people's money. They pick on vulnerable people and take a chance. They were extremely convincing.

"They purported to be the Doncaster branch manager and he had all my personal details, he knew about my transactions, he knew what I normally paid out, he even knew my mother's maiden name.

"I was not scared at the time because I thought I was in good hands. I could not sleep at night afterwards, I had to take tablets.

"It's a lesson to anyone else who is likely to be a similar position. If my experience prevents a similar fraud occurring to anyone else then I have succeeded."

John had spent the last 50 years putting together the pot for his two inherited grandchildren from his second marriage.

He even sold a 20ft by 10ft model railway set in February this year to a society for around £7k - which had taken 15 years to build - to bolster his savings total.

John planned to give his two grandchildren Rosie and Anna half of his life savings each to put towards a deposit for a house.

"It's them that have been deprived, my life is nearly over," he added. "They are in their mid-twenties and have their lives in front of them, and they need a house.

"You put so much away every week and occasionally you have a winning on premium bonds but it mounts up.

"You also get a little bit of interest from your savings account, over the years it gathers. If you are careful and don't spend a lot, you can put money away."

John has been unable to get a refund from Nationwide 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.

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.

"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."

John was seconded to East Africa where he served for four years as a part-time assistant inspector in the Kenya Police Reserve while based in Nairobi.

After returning to the UK, he joined the auxiliary fire service and served from 1958 to 1968 as a company commander.

He then worked as an electromechanical engineer until he retired aged 60.

A JustGiving page has been set up by a local newspaper to help raise the funds which were stolen by fraudsters.

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/YorkshirePost-JonathanThompson

Nationwide have been contacted for comment.