A DOTING uncle has fallen victim to a cruel mobile phone scam as he tried to help a “hospitalised” relative.
Alan Methven received a text message signed from his niece Sarah, which said she was in hospital with a broken elbow and urgently needed a £20 phone top-up.
I genuinely thought it was my niece Sarah that had texted to tell me she had a broken elbow and needed her phone topped up.Alan Methven
Thinking he was coming to her rescue, Mr Methven, 65, raced to a nearby shop and bought a voucher.
He then texted the top-up code back to the number “Sarah” had been using and received a reply reading “thank you”.
A short while later, he got a second message from the number asking for another £20, which he duly supplied.
It was only later when he tried to phone the number and got no answer that Mr Methven became suspicious.
He then called the number he had saved for Sarah – who told him she hadn’t been in hospital and had no idea what he was talking about.
Alan, from Drumbrae, was on holiday with his wife at their caravan in Lundin Links, Fife, when the scammers struck – leaving him £40 out of pocket.
He said: “I genuinely thought it was my niece Sarah that had texted to tell me she had a broken elbow and needed her phone topped up.
“When one of your family members is in hospital, the last thing you think about is whether you are being scammed. The texts seemed so genuine – the thief put a kiss and everything at the end just how she would text.
“I have her name in my phonebook but I just assumed she was messaging me from someone else’s phone, or perhaps she was abroad because I knew she was going away on holiday.
“I just wanted to help. I told her to send me her network so I could buy her a voucher.”
He added: “I did think it was a bit weird at the time, but she said she was about to go for an X-Ray and I was worried she was trying to get in touch with her parents and couldn’t.
“I went to get her another voucher and then when I contacted her later that night on the same number to ask how she was, alarm bells started ringing when there was no reply.”
Police are now investigating the incident and Mr Methven said he wanted to raise awareness to prevent others from falling victim.
He said: “I’m thankful it was only £40 but imagine if these people strike again and someone gets more money than me stolen. I just want to raise awareness because it’s so easy to associate a name with someone without thinking. My advice is to make sure people know exactly who it is they are texting.”
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland, said: “Police in Edinburgh are investigating after a report of a telephone scam from a resident in Drumbrae on Monday, May 16.
“Inquiries into the full circumstances are ongoing. People can keep themselves safe from bogus phone callers by following the recommendations on our website.”