Fraudster cons £22k from elderly victims in south Wales

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Media caption"I've worked hard all my life and for him to come and take all my money. It's not fair"

Margaret Andrews had worked hard to build up a pot of money for her old age - but it took just one call for a fraudster to take it all away.

The 84-year-old from Penarth had been targeted by fake police gang and handed her life-savings to Kye Harwood.

She was among three elderly people in south Wales to have been conned out of a total of more than £22,000.

Now police are urging the public, banks and business to be vigilant of scams targeting the elderly and vulnerable.

The victims, all in their 80s and 90s, were contacted by phone by someone posing as a police officer claiming there had been fraudulent activity on their bank accounts.

They were then urged to withdraw their money and hand it over to Harwood, 19, from London, for "safe-keeping".

Image copyright South Wales Police
Image caption Harwood was caught in Cardiff following a tip off from a local taxi company

Mrs Andrews was also threatened with imprisonment if she told anyone. So when she withdrew her savings of £4,600 from the bank, she told the cashier it was to buy a new car.

"I was really scared because it was a secret and you're not supposed to tell secrets and he was going to put me in jail," she said.

"I didn't know that he wasn't a real copper.

"I've worked hard all my life and for him to come and take all my money. It's not fair."

Despite Harwood being caught in Cardiff with £10,000 cash stolen from another 96-year-old woman, Mrs Andrews has not had any of her money back.

Her bank - Barclays - said they acted in accordance with her instructions because she had provided a plausible explanation for the withdrawal.

Image copyright South Wales Police
Image caption Kye Harwood is serving two years in a young offender institution

Police are appealing for for the public to protect vulnerable people who are being targeted.

"We can put out information on social media and the internet but vulnerable members of the community may not use those platforms," said Det Con Amy Evans.

"We also need the banks to get involved. If vulnerable people come into the bank to withdraw large sums of money we need them to be asking if there's anything suspicious."

Harwood is serving two years in a young offender institution after admitting three charges of fraud by false representation.

Image caption Det Con Amy Evans said the public are "our eyes and ears"

Barclays said it has "invested significantly" in anti-scam initiatives, including a national TV advertising campaign.

"No bank or the Police would proactively contact a customer to make a cash withdrawal," said a spokesperson.

"While our branch colleagues' experience and questions can often sense when there is something untoward, in this instance we were provided with a plausible explanation."

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