Darlington woman, 75, conned out of £400,000 in letter scam

An elderly widow has been conned out of her £400,000 life savings after falling victim to an inheritance scam, police have said.

The 75-year-old, from Darlington, received a letter in March claiming she was entitled to a £10m inheritance payment from a bank in Hong Kong.

In order to release the money, she was asked to transfer funds to a separate account to cover the cost of fees.

Durham Police said it was unlikely the woman would get her money back.

'No cash windfall'

The pensioner, who lives in Mowden, told police she had ongoing contact with various people claiming to be either solicitors or bank managers, who talked her into transferring further cash sums.

By the time the woman alerted police, she had already handed over a total of £400,000 - including savings, investments and the inheritance from her husband who died several years ago.

Det Con Vikki Cooper, of the Durham force, said: "People should on no account hand over any money or personal details if they receive a letter of this sort.

"It is a scam, pure and simple and there is no inheritance or cash windfall waiting to be claimed.

"In this instance those responsible have managed to target a vulnerable widow and persuade her to part with huge sums of cash.

"We are making enquiries through our economic crime unit but sadly, as this fraud originated overseas and had already taken place over several months before the police became involved, there is little realistic prospect of the money being recovered."

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