Plymouth gran, 75, scammed out of £11,000 in Bitcoin fraud
Jan. 22, 2020
Frances Foster lost her life savings in an online scam
A ward clerk at Derriford Hospital has been scammed out of thousands of pounds in an online Bitcoin scam.
Frances Foster is now warning others to stop people making the same mistake which cost her £11,000.
The 75-year-old gran clicked on a fraudulent online advert last year, claiming to be a company based in Switzerland, trading under the name LTC Markets.
Initially, Frances paid £250 in September and then went on to send thousands of pounds in further payments.
She told the BBC that someone from the bogus firm even called her in December to wish her a "happy Christmas", which encouraged her to be taken in by the scam.
Ms Foster said she was telling the story to "help someone not do what I did".
She has since contacted her bank, the police and ActionFraud, but is not hopeful that the money will be returned to her.
She said: "It's been awful. I sent my first amount of money to them in September and now £11,000 is all gone.
"I can't do anything about it but maybe I can help someone else not to do what I've done.
"As everybody has told me: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
A decentralised virtual currency, or bitcoin, can be produced or "mined" by computers solving complex algorithms.
The Financial Conduct Authority said Bitcoin was an "unregulated product" in the UK.
MSN owner Microsoft, whose MSN News site the advert was allegedly seen on, said it was "working internally and with our partners and agencies to address the techniques scammers use to deceive people so that we can detect, block and remove fraudulent advertisements more effectively".
It added: "In the meantime, we urge customers to remain vigilant and only engage with brands they trust and recognise."
In September last year, Frances decided to complete her first tandem skydive to celebrate three–quarters of a century on Earth and raise money for a charity close to her heart.
Frances raised £1,600 for Devon Air Ambulance, as she works in Derriford, she often sees the Devon Air Ambulance fly over and felt it was a fitting charity to choose.
Research suggests most people are over-confident and risk becoming victims of fraud - and getting conned out of their cash.
Four-fifths (80%) of over 2,300 people surveyed for the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign said they could confidently identify a fraudulent approach for their money or personal information
One text, purporting to be from a bank, asks the recipient to transfer money to a "safe" account - something which banks would never ask their customers to do.
The email contains grammatical errors - another warning sign that it is fraudulent.
Take Five to Stop Fraud Week, which runs from January 22 to 26, is urging people to remember the mantra: My money? My info? I don't think so!
Figures from trade association UK Finance show £366.4 million was lost to financial fraud in the first half of 2017 - with a further £101.2 million lost through authorised bank transfer scams.
Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: "Criminals are using very sophisticated methods, so it's more important than ever that people are aware of how to protect themselves from fraud.
"During Take Five to Stop Fraud Week we want to spread the message that you should always question any calls, texts or emails asking for your details out of the blue.
"Stop and think before you give away any information, no matter how legitimate the person sounds - and remember - it's My Money? My Info? I don't think so.
"If you are unsure, then hang up and don't reply and contact the organisation directly on a number you trust."
Here are tips from the Take Five campaign to spotting fraud
A genuine bank or organisation will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your Pin, full password or to move money to another account.
Only give out your personal or financial details to use a service that you have given your consent to, that you trust and that you are expecting to be contacted by.
If you're approached with a request for personal information, do not provide it. Instead, contact the company directly using a known email or phone number.
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