Borders victim warns others to beware phone fraudsters

Frederick Carter, a near-victim of phone scammers, at his home in Ednam.
Frederick Carter, a near-victim of phone scammers, at his home in Ednam.

A pensioner targeted by telephone fraudsters is issuing a plea to others to remain vigilant as more and more elderly people fall victim to such crooks.

Frederick Carter, of Ednam, had his bank account accessed by fraudsters, and now he’s warning others how easy some scams are to fall for.

He’s also appealing to police to make such crimes easier to report.

The 71-year-old said: “I thought I was aware of most scams, but obviously not.

“About two weeks ago, I received a call about 8am and the gentleman said he was calling from my bank.

“They told me they were calling from the Royal Bank of Scotland or Bank of Scotland and that they had received a large cheque from my account.

“They asked for my bank name and I refused and put the phone down.

“Two minutes later, the man called again, insisting money was coming out of my account.

“I think this was a ploy to try to get me to call my bank immediately.

“I called my bank, but it didn’t sound too kosher.

“I asked to speak to the supervisor, and someone with a Scottish accent came on the phone.

“He said if I was really worried about the call to ring 1471 and check this was a number for First Direct bank, so I did just that.”

But Mr Carter believes he was instead kept on the line and put through to a fake version of the BT-run service which tells you the number of the last person to call you.

“It checked out as the number of my bank. It sounded like it normally would when you call 1471, so when the man, going by the name of Tony from the bank, called again I started giving him quite a bit of information because I had done the 1471 check.

“Then he started to ask questions like you see on the television.

“I told him I was not going any further with the call and put the phone down. I don’t know how they did it but I knew I had been scammed.”

Mr Carter then called his bank from a different phone and it confirmed he had been scammed.

Mr Carter has since had to change his account passwords but admits the outcome could quite easily have been worse.

“It all sounded so professional,” he added.

“All the time I was dealing with scammers thinking I was talking to my bank.

“I have spoken to a lot of people about it since, and my neighbours and friends all say they would have done the same thing.”

The man had attempted to access his account 11 times, and eight of those efforts were successful. However, no money was taken out.

Mr Carter says more must also be done to help victims in reporting the crimes.

“I want to stop other people being scammed,” he said.

“I thought I was quite with it. I never thought they would be able to scam me, but it just shows you.”

Before retiring to Kelso in 2010, Mr Carter ran the Royal Hotel in Jedburgh and a restaurant on the Isle of Skye.

He says its no wonder that many of these crimes will go unreported.

“I really am a bit disgusted by the police,” he added. “They listened to my story when I called up and they put me through to the right departments, but then they wouldn’t accept a call. They wanted it all put in an email.

“A lot of old people might not report it because of that.

“It’s a complicated story. It’s difficult to put into words as you get older.

“I am sure a lot of people think they just can’t be bothered to try to explain it.”

Last week, a Peebles woman who believed she was being given a council tax refund was conned out of money over the phone.

The woman, in her seventies, received bogus calls from a man claiming to be from Scottish Borders Council.

He told her she was due a council tax refund and asked for her bankcard details.

These were shared, and the woman later discovered a low three-figure-sum of money had been taken from her account.

Earlier this month, a 72-year-old woman from Kelso was conned out of £12,000 by a telephone fraudster after receiving a call from a woman claiming to be from HM Revenue and Customs.

And in February, an 80-year-old man from Kelso was conned out of £80,000 in a telephone scam after a male caller claimed to be from the Bank of Scotland fraud team.