A MAN from Ireland has revealed how his elderly mother was left without enough money for food or heating after being targeted repeatedly by scammers.
Raymond Hamilton’s mother Audrey died 18 months ago at the age of 88, having been the victim of scammers for over a decade, who would send her up to eight letters a day.
The Belfast man estimates his mother handed over around £14,000 and believes the stress caused by the constant demands for money impacted upon her.
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He said: “Without any doubt I would say that the worry – because she couldn’t eat, she couldn’t heat, she was getting all this mail, she couldn’t stop it – it caused her great concern towards the end.”
Mr Hamilton says his mother was enticed with the lure of free gifts, which he described as tat.
Once the scammers – which included clairvoyants and sham companies – got his mother’s bank details, they either made repeated demands for money or cleaned out her account.
Despite helping his mother change banks several times, the scammers continued to target her.
“It wasn’t a vast amount, it was a small £20 here and £10 there, but they all added up,” said Mr Hamilton.
“Towards the end my mum sent that much money that she couldn’t really afford to eat or heat the house.
“There was a constant drip, drip, drip.
“Then other ones would get your account details, clear the lot and you’d never hear of them again.
“There was a vast array of people willing to take advantage of a vulnerable person.”
Mr Hamilton revealed his mother’s ordeal for the launch of a campaign to highlight postal scams.
The campaign is organised by the ScamwiseNI Partnership and Royal Mail.
At today’s launch at Stormont, the PSNI’s Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: “I would encourage any victims of a scam to report it and pay tribute to those victims who spoke at today’s launch.
“Hopefully the courage shown by them in discussing this will help to prevent it happening to others in future."
For more information and advice on scams visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni