Dementia scam victim gave thousands away

  • Published
Thea Khamis and MaryImage source, Khamis family
Image caption,
Thea Kamis said her mother Mary was very intelligent but scammers took advantage of her dementia and generosity

A woman with dementia gave thousands of pounds away to dozens of scam causes after being targeted by fraudsters, her daughter has warned.

Mary Khamis had Alzheimer's for the last three years of her life and her final record shows she was sending money to 101 different organisations.

Her daughter, Thea Khamis, said she hoped her mother's story would help ensure others did not fall prey.

She has joined a Durham County Council campaign to raise awareness of scams.

Mary was diagnosed with dementia in 2016 and died three years later aged 89.

The scams were revealed when she needed a new boiler and her savings, which had amounted to more than £10,000, were found to be spent.

Image source, Khamis family
Image caption,
Mary was diagnosed with dementia in 2016 and died three years later

They came in various forms including via post, phone or on the doorstep and covered people claiming to be charities, running prize draws or selling medication.

Thea said she left a script next to the phone so that her mother would tell callers she wouldn't commit to paying for anything without speaking to her children.

Call blockers were also installed, Mary was signed up to the Telephone Preference Service and scam mail returned.

But, as Mary's details had been shared by scammers, she continued to be contacted and even received calls from scammers offering to block such calls for a fee.

'Unscrupulous scammers'

Thea, from Stanley in County Durham, said: "My mum was a very intelligent lady but it was her kind-heartedness and generosity that meant she would offer to help anyone, especially those she saw as less fortunate than herself.

"Unfortunately, this extended to criminals orchestrating the scams that she fell victim to.

"It was very hard to convince her not to be scammed, especially when she was developing Alzheimer's."

Joanne Waller, the council's head of community protection, said: "It is truly awful that unscrupulous scammers seek to exploit kind and trusting, and in some cases vulnerable, people like Mary for financial gain.

"It is crucial that we raise awareness of scams to help people avoid falling victim to them."

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