Two Edinburgh OAPs conned out of thousands in phone scam

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Two elderly women have lost more than £50,000 between them after cruel con artists tricked them out of their cash over the phone.

Police are now urging the public to be on their guard after the victims were targeted by “vishing” scammers just weeks apart in virtually identical attacks.

One of the victims, a woman in her 80s from Comely Bank, was contacted by a man claiming to be from her bank. He said he was from the fraud department and was working with the police, before persuading the victim to transfer several large sums of money into other accounts.

The fraudulent activity was reported to the police last week after the woman’s bank noticed the transaction and contacted her. The money had, however, been lost by that stage.

The second victim, a woman in her 90s from Drumbrae, also lost tens of thousands in a similar scam reported to the police around three weeks ago.

Police are now warning residents to be on their guard against such fraudsters in light of the recent incidents.

Detective Constable Barry Mercer, of the economic crime unit, said: “These criminals have a blatant disregard for their victims, deliberately targeting vulnerable people and preying on their good nature.

“They use scare tactics by claiming that they are investigating fraudulent activity by bank staff so their victims don’t report it for fear of ruining the investigation and even go as far as to give them a cover story for why they are moving such large sums of money.

“We work closely with banks to help them spot this kind of fraud but we need everyone to be vigilant and look out for family, friends and neighbours, particularly if they are elderly or vulnerable.

“Banks will never make phone calls like this and ask you to move money – if you do receive such a call, hang up and call police.”

It is not the first time Comely Bank has been targeted by so-called ‘vishers’, although it is not known if the most recent cases are linked to any previously.

Last year, arrests were made after vulnerable pensioners living in the area were tricked out of more than £300,000 in a period of just ten days in June.

The four scams – as well as a further failed attempt – all happened within a quarter-mile radius of Comely Bank and involved Royal Bank of Scotland accounts.

One of the victims, a 73-year-old, was stripped of £122,000 when the gang called him and pretended to be from the bank’s fraud department.

The devastated victim, who did not want to be identified, told the News at the time that he felt “absolutely stupid about the whole thing”.

He added: “I’ve heard so much about people that commit frauds one way or the other. But he was just so insistent and seemed to be genuine.”

More information and advice can be found: http://www.scotland.police.uk/keep-safe/personal-safety/identity-theft-fraud-and-scams