Scams and fraud in-house resources

Stories and quizzes

Story 1 – Telephone scam: Deborah’s story

Deborah is an independent 75-year-old living in her own house. One day she received a phone call from her bank. The caller was very professional and said he worked for the fraud team and that he had spotted a suspicious payment on her account. He asked whether she has made the payment and if not, he would block it.

In reality, there was no such payment. This call was just an easy way to win Deborah’s trust. The number the caller was calling from looked like a genuine number. Deborah didn’t make the payment, so it was easy for the caller to say they had blocked it. The caller didn’t ask any further questions.

A week later Deborah received a second call from the same person. The caller said that he had spotted another suspicious transaction on Deborah’s account, which worried Deborah. The caller told her that he could stop the payment, but this time he needed Deborah’s bank account details and her security code to stop the suspicious transaction.

As this was the person who had apparently helped Deborah avoid being scammed previously, and the phone number looked genuine, she trusted him and quickly shared her bank details.

Unfortunately, the caller managed to get access to Deborah’s account and took out her savings.

For more information and tips on how to spot telephone scams, and how to avoid them, please check the telephone scams section.

Story 2 – Doorstep scam: Bob’s story

Bob, 85, lives alone in his own house. He is generally well and manages his house and garden with some help from a gardener, cleaner and window cleaner who visit him regularly. However, scammers have been able to trick him into paying a sum of £20 on two different occasions.

The first time, an unknown man knocked on his door. Bob opened the door and the man said that his window cleaner had sent him to collect the money he owed to him from a previous job. Bob was almost certain that he had paid his window cleaner already. But the stranger was insistent and wanted payment immediately. Bob got confused and didn’t know what to do, so handed over the money, thinking he might've forgotten to pay last time.

A few days later, Bob had a knock on the door from somebody else who claimed he’d done some gardening work for him. Bob told him that he didn’t ask for any work to be done. But the stranger insisted that the work had been done and that he wanted his money. Bob began to feel like he was being pressured and handed over the money again.

These two incidents made Bob worried. Fortunately, he spoke to his family who then helped get the police involved. The police launched an investigation. A couple of weeks later, a 30-year-old man was found guilty of four counts of fraud by false representation. He was sentenced to four months' imprisonment.

Now Bob openly speaks about this experience with other older people living in his community to help others avoid the same experience he went through.

For more information and tips on how to spot doorstep scams, and how to avoid them, please check the doorstep scams section.

Story 3 – postal scams: Barbara’s story

Barbara, 80, received a letter saying she won £50,000 in a lottery. She was delighted and immediately started planning how she would spend the money. She decided to take all her family on holiday so she could spend time with her children and grandchildren and create memories for everyone. The letter looked genuine and included her name, address and a barcode. It was written in a very professional but friendly tone, too. She was asked to ring the number that was underlined in the letter to claim her prize.

She rang the number and a friendly voice congratulated her and started explaining the procedure. Barbara was asked to make a £500 upfront payment to the account she was given. She was told that when payment was received, she would be sent a cheque for £50,000.

The next day Barbara went to the bank. She made the payment and when she got home she rang the number again and the friendly voice confirmed the receipt of the £500. Barbara was told she would receive the cheque in the post in the next five working days.

A week passed and she received nothing. She waited a few more days and then rang the same number, which no longer existed. She tried a few times during the week, thinking perhaps there was a problem with the phone lines. With no other ways to get in touch, she had to wait. It was bothering her that she could not contact anyone. One day, when her next-door neighbour, Jill, came for a coffee and chat, Barbara told her about the letter. Jill immediately realised that Barbara had fallen victim to a scam so suggested she contact Action Fraud or the police.

Barbara felt horrible. Her dreams were shattered, and she had lost £500. But she decided to report it, hoping that the scammers would be caught and that she might get her money back as a result.

You can also watch Jessica’s story, which is based on a true story: Think Jessica.

For more information and tips on how to spot postal scams, and how to avoid them, please check the postal scams section.

Story 4 – digital scams: Peter’s story

Peter is 79 years old. His wife passed away 5 years ago. It took a few years for Peter to adjust himself to his new life. His daughter Angie lives several hours away from him. Although she’s in constant contact with him through telephone and video calls, she can’t visit him as often as she would like to. Peter knows how to use the internet and that helps to fill most of his time.

Through an online dating site, Peter met Julie. After a few online conversations, Julie quickly began pouring her heart out to Peter, despite never meeting him in person. Peter was very happy that he’d found love again and would do anything to make Julie happy. After a while, Julie started requesting money to support herself and her daughter. Then she asked for gift cards to buy stuff for herself and occasionally requested expensive gifts. The relationship continued for a couple of years.

Angie was unaware of Peter’s online relationship until Peter had a stroke and handed over his finances to Angie. It was then that Angie found out that her father was in a relationship with a scammer. Over two years, Julie had scammed Peter out of all his savings.

It was hard for Angie to persuade Peter to report this to the police. Peter couldn’t believe that Julie could be a scammer. But finally, Angie helped Peter understand that he should report it to the police. The police explained that sadly, this is a very common type of scam that can affect anyone, regardless of their age, and that Peter had done the right thing to report it.

For more information and tips on how to spot digital scams, and how to avoid them, please check the digital scams section.


Here are links to some quizzes that you can ask the older people you support to take with you to open conversations about scams and fraud:

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