After Juliet* complained to her telecommunications provider, an ‘engineer’ from the company called to assure her that her case was in hand. He said that he would fix the ‘computer virus’ and an engineer would even visit her the next day to repair her laptop. For her trouble, she was due £200.
Unfortunately, Juliet, a university lecturer, had been targeted by professional scammers, who had got hold of her personal details and information on her complaints after a data breach.
Under the pretence of assisting her, the scammers hacked into Juliet’s computer and as she logged into her online banking they were able to manipulate her accounts. Instead of the expected £200, they ‘accidentally’ transferred £5,200 into her account and tricked her into refunding them the ‘overpayment’ of £5,000. This money was in fact a transfer from her own savings account.
The scammer gave a very convincing performance of a distraught employee who’d never made a mistake before, and who would be fired for this error. He put me on hold, then came back and said: ‘I have a colleague in a branch in Bangkok and if you can take the money out and send it to him to replace in the system, it won’t be traced back to me and I will keep my job.’
The next day, the scammer called to inform her that the technician was unable to attend due to an accident and said he would transfer a further £5,000 into her account. Realising that something was wrong, Juliet hung up. She felt ‘mortified, distressed and humiliated by what was in effect a mugging in my own home’.
I requested a face-to-face meeting and had the chance to talk through my experience without any kind of judgement on the part of the listener or the need to downplay how upset I was, as I had done with family and friends.
It took me a couple of months to feel ready to talk about it, but when I did, Victim Support was brilliant.
Juliet’s caseworker also gave her practical information and guidance on following through a complaint. She called several times after their meeting to see how she was doing and to offer non-judgmental emotional support.
The support I received played a considerable part in my healing process, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone in a similar situation.
I found it extremely healing to have a person to talk to — it helped me get things into perspective. Hannah** allowed me to accept that I had been a victim rather than a fool, to stop blaming myself for being so badly deceived, and to recognise that I had been the target of a serious crime.
* / ** Names changed to maintain anonymity