HSBC issues alert as widow scammed out of £100,000

For Love or Money: Woman convinced to sell home by scammer

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Sadly, romance scams are a tried and tested method by fraudsters looking for a way to rake in cash. Often scammers will play on the emotions and heartstrings of innocent individuals to rid them of their hard-earned money.

This was the case for one woman named Majorie who found herself inadvertently entangled with a person claiming to be someone they are not.

After being a widow for two years, the woman decided she would use an over 50s dating website to help find companionship.

Sadly, these websites can sometimes serve as hunting grounds for unscrupulous scammers searching for their next victim.

It was here she struck up a conversation with a man claiming to be called Gerald, and they soon moved off the website to communicate via the phone.

The man said he was from Milton Keynes and owned his own electrical business, but he claimed he was currently in Dubai working on a major project.

This is another common technique used by scammers, who often claim they are out of the country on business to avoid having to meet face-to-face with their victim.

Soon enough, ‘Gerald’ claimed he had run into money problems with his business and needed help with funds which he promised to later repay.

The man sent a link to his website showing a company called ‘Gerald Symonds Electrical’ as well as a copy of his passport, and shipping documents.

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Majorie added: “He also sent an image of a cheque for £2million which was due to him on completion of the project.”

However, just like in this case, official documents can often be faked for scammers to add legitimacy to their claims.

Marjorie first started to make payments from an account she held with another bank, totalling £54,000.

She then turned to her HSBC UK account, intending to make a transfer of £42,000 for Gerald’s supposed project in Dubai.

He told her if she was asked what the payment was for, she should say it was for building work.

This is yet another scam technique to avoid the security and scam prevention questions often asked by banking providers.

After her well-rehearsed explanation was accepted, Majorie made a second transfer as Gerald said he needed money for health and safety inspections on his project.

But it was only when Majorie attempted to make another payment that the bank became suspicious and called the police.

It was here the scam unravelled, revealing Gerald Symonds to be a fake identity created by criminals to defraud unsuspecting victims.

In total, Majorie was conned out of a staggering £100,000 and was left heartbroken – never to meet the man who claimed to love her.

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HSBC explained: “The scammer will go to great lengths to build a rapport and form an emotional bond, then they’ll appeal to you for money, perhaps for travel, or some kind of emergency. 

“To avoid falling victim to one of these scams, never send money to someone you’ve only met online. 

“Don’t agree to send money on their behalf, as it could be the proceeds of crime.”

Those who think they have been targeted should contact their bank as soon as possible, and are encouraged to reach out to Action Fraud or Police Scotland. 

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