01/12/2015 Spotlight


01/12/2015

Hard-hitting investigations on the major stories affecting life in Northern Ireland. Chris Moore reports on how scammers conned a pensioner out of her life savings.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 01/12/2015. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Tonight on Spotlight...

0:00:020:00:04

A pensioner scammed out of £180,000.

0:00:040:00:08

I just felt devastated, completely,

0:00:090:00:12

because I knew all the money was gone.

0:00:120:00:15

Scams cost Northern Ireland an estimated £100 million every year.

0:00:160:00:22

I think that is a major epidemic in the United Kingdom.

0:00:220:00:26

Yet the authorities don't seem capable of stopping it.

0:00:260:00:30

Money is moved, and it is dissipated and dispersed many times over

0:00:300:00:35

through multiple bank accounts which eventually become untraceable.

0:00:350:00:39

'We follow the letters trail to Holland.'

0:00:390:00:42

Hi. I'm from the BBC.

0:00:420:00:44

This is Elizabeth. She's a 75-year-old widow,

0:01:120:01:16

and she's lost her life savings.

0:01:160:01:18

She's been conned out of £180,000 by scammers.

0:01:200:01:25

These letters started to come, you know, from different places,

0:01:270:01:32

the Netherlands...

0:01:320:01:34

I thought, "Well, it's international, and it must be OK."

0:01:340:01:37

Elizabeth - we're not using her full name -

0:01:430:01:46

first fell victim to a mail scam.

0:01:460:01:49

Here's how it works.

0:01:510:01:53

You receive a letter like this one

0:01:530:01:55

which appears to guarantee you a cash sum of £20,000.

0:01:550:01:59

It could be as much as a quarter of a million pounds

0:01:590:02:02

or, in this one, £3 million.

0:02:020:02:05

It's all yours for £25,

0:02:050:02:06

which you're invited to send in a pre-addressed envelope provided.

0:02:060:02:11

This envelope's addressed to a PO box in Holland.

0:02:110:02:14

So, of course...

0:02:170:02:20

temptation got in the way.

0:02:200:02:21

-And were you paying money to these people?

-Yes, I was.

0:02:210:02:23

-At every stage?

-I couldn't afford to.

0:02:230:02:27

But I did do quite a few now, to tell you the truth.

0:02:270:02:29

How much money were they asking you to give them?

0:02:290:02:32

Some was £20, some was £25.

0:02:320:02:36

In return for these payments,

0:02:360:02:38

she was led to believe she had already won large cash prizes.

0:02:380:02:43

Police call this an advance-payment fraud,

0:02:430:02:46

and anyone who pays it is being scammed.

0:02:460:02:49

How much do you think you were spending in a week?

0:02:510:02:56

How much were you sending away?

0:02:560:02:58

Well, I keep enough for the petrol for the car

0:02:580:03:01

and some for my food for myself, but the rest I spent on...

0:03:010:03:07

..on that there.

0:03:090:03:11

Well, it's just like being hypnotised.

0:03:110:03:13

You're going to win and you're going to win this big amount of money

0:03:130:03:17

and you'll be able to buy what you want when you get it.

0:03:170:03:20

And what Elizabeth wanted to buy was a new house.

0:03:210:03:25

The letter scams began after her husband died.

0:03:250:03:29

She felt isolated and depressed,

0:03:290:03:31

both factors that can make people vulnerable to scams.

0:03:310:03:35

Anyone can fall victim to a scam.

0:03:390:03:43

If you've got something to lose,

0:03:430:03:45

there is someone out there who's trying to take it off you.

0:03:450:03:49

Professor Stephen Lea from Exeter University has never met

0:03:490:03:53

Elizabeth, but he has studied the psychology of scam victims

0:03:530:03:58

and scammers.

0:03:580:04:00

Certainly, they detect that someone's kind of lonely

0:04:000:04:04

and looking for activity, then they'll play on that.

0:04:040:04:08

Often, the excitement is financial.

0:04:080:04:11

You know, they're dangling a very large financial reward out there.

0:04:110:04:16

The volume of letters grew rapidly.

0:04:170:04:20

Elizabeth was becoming busier and busier, filling in forms

0:04:200:04:25

and posting off cash.

0:04:250:04:27

When she exhausted her pension, she started to use her savings.

0:04:270:04:32

I'd bring an envelope in,

0:04:380:04:39

and one by one, she'd do the cheques for me.

0:04:390:04:44

-So did she write the cheques?

-No, no.

0:04:450:04:49

It was printed out on the printing machine or the computer thing.

0:04:490:04:53

She got my book and then she printed out the cheque.

0:04:530:04:57

And then you put them into the envelopes?

0:04:590:05:01

Yes, and went and posted them.

0:05:010:05:02

Elizabeth's books from the Progressive Building Society

0:05:090:05:12

tell their own story. You can see how the scams took over her life.

0:05:120:05:17

In the years before, there were virtually no

0:05:170:05:20

withdrawals from her account.

0:05:200:05:22

But that would soon change.

0:05:220:05:24

On one day in March last year, her building society issued 24 cheques.

0:05:260:05:32

Two days later, 21 cheques.

0:05:340:05:37

The next day, another 21 cheques.

0:05:380:05:41

In just a few months, she'd spent £42,000.

0:05:430:05:48

And she's far from being the only victim.

0:05:480:05:51

Now it's time for Money Box, with Paul Lewis.

0:05:530:05:56

Hello. In today's programme, beware of this man.

0:05:560:05:59

On the BBC's personal finance programme,

0:06:060:06:08

the lead story is on the latest scam.

0:06:080:06:11

Like most scammers, he's very convincing.

0:06:110:06:15

Presenter Paul Lewis says they are hearing about ever-increasing

0:06:200:06:24

numbers of scams.

0:06:240:06:26

It's one of the fastest-growing crimes,

0:06:260:06:28

and I suspect one reason is people realise they can make far

0:06:280:06:32

more money far more safely sitting in their bedroom defrauding

0:06:320:06:36

people than going out committing violent or burglary-type offences,

0:06:360:06:42

and I think that is a major epidemic in the United Kingdom.

0:06:420:06:47

Scams cost the UK economy £3.5 billion a year,

0:06:470:06:53

and in Northern Ireland they're growing all the time.

0:06:530:06:56

The estimated cost here is £100 million every year.

0:06:560:07:01

We discovered a scam operating within Northern Ireland

0:07:030:07:07

and we went in and we seized the post.

0:07:070:07:10

Now, there was over 22,000 letters.

0:07:100:07:12

When we opened those letters, there was over £300,000.

0:07:120:07:16

Now, that was just a couple of weeks' post gone off to one scam.

0:07:160:07:20

'Trading Standards is the body responsible

0:07:210:07:24

'for helping local scam victims.

0:07:240:07:27

'Beverley Burns has the job of trying to keep on top of the problem.

0:07:270:07:31

'It's not just the elderly and the vulnerable who are taken in.'

0:07:310:07:35

Retired teachers, university professors, accountants, nurses.

0:07:350:07:40

I have to say, it's people from every single walk of life.

0:07:400:07:43

And the amounts lost by people in Northern Ireland

0:07:450:07:47

to scammers are astonishing.

0:07:470:07:51

We know of four people who've lost even more than Elizabeth.

0:07:510:07:55

One person was conned out of £1 million,

0:07:550:07:58

two others half a million pounds each.

0:07:580:08:00

The criminal gangs share details of their victims,

0:08:010:08:04

putting them on what they call a "suckers list".

0:08:040:08:07

As soon as you've been defrauded, you go on the suckers list,

0:08:090:08:12

because they think once you've been defrauded, you might think, "Well,

0:08:120:08:16

"I'll go with this, because I might get some money back," and, secondly,

0:08:160:08:20

having been conned once,

0:08:200:08:21

you're probably gullible enough to be conned again.

0:08:210:08:25

A consequence of being on the suckers list is that criminals will

0:08:250:08:29

keep targeting victims,

0:08:290:08:31

and they have an imaginative range of scams.

0:08:310:08:35

And that's what happened to Elizabeth.

0:08:350:08:37

Only this time, it was in a relentless campaign of phone calls.

0:08:370:08:42

Hello?

0:08:420:08:43

And in the second scam, the amounts she was giving them got higher

0:08:430:08:47

and higher.

0:08:470:08:49

£5,000?

0:08:490:08:51

The criminals had convinced her she was owed a large

0:08:510:08:54

sum of money from an old mortgage.

0:08:540:08:56

I'm owed how much?

0:08:560:08:58

But first, they asked her to send them money to release the cash.

0:08:580:09:03

Erm, well, what mortgage are you talking about?

0:09:030:09:06

The phone-call scam started last September.

0:09:060:09:10

The scammer said he was called David and used the name of a real lawyer.

0:09:100:09:15

He said he was a judge working on behalf of what

0:09:150:09:17

he described as the Ministry of Justice.

0:09:170:09:21

One of the very well-known persuasive techniques

0:09:210:09:25

that legitimate and illegitimate marketers -

0:09:250:09:28

if we can put it that way -

0:09:280:09:30

use is to try and surround themselves with authority.

0:09:300:09:34

The man, it was a sort of an Indian, sort of Pakistani accent,

0:09:340:09:40

but the English was quite good.

0:09:400:09:41

'I thought, "Well, £5,000 would be great."'

0:09:410:09:44

The man calling himself David was persistent

0:09:440:09:47

and demanding on the phone.

0:09:470:09:50

Elizabeth was soon wrapped up in his world.

0:09:520:09:56

This is one of the persuasive techniques

0:09:560:09:59

that we know that scammers use,

0:09:590:10:01

of trying to get you committed to a project,

0:10:010:10:04

and when you look at the kinds of language they use,

0:10:040:10:08

they start talking about "our joint project" to try

0:10:080:10:11

and give you ownership of it

0:10:110:10:15

so that you'll feel responsible for it and feel you ought to keep it up.

0:10:150:10:21

She was persuaded to withdraw large sums of cash

0:10:230:10:28

and sent it to David, the man she believed to be a judge.

0:10:280:10:32

She sent it using money transfer systems

0:10:340:10:36

that operate anywhere in the world.

0:10:360:10:39

I went to the money shop, filled in the form,

0:10:400:10:45

and it went through on the computer, whatever they do.

0:10:450:10:48

Soon, she was sending as much as £2,000 in a morning.

0:10:520:10:56

Her scammer would ring her with instructions.

0:10:570:11:00

She followed them all in the belief that he would one day

0:11:000:11:04

pay up the money he'd told her she was owed.

0:11:040:11:06

PHONE RINGS

0:11:060:11:08

Hello? David?

0:11:080:11:09

'He would phone me on a mobile number...'

0:11:110:11:15

to ask me had I done the transaction, and I would say I had.

0:11:150:11:18

Then he would want the number on the bottom of the form.

0:11:180:11:22

Once they had the serial number,

0:11:220:11:24

criminals on the other side of the world could retrieve the money.

0:11:240:11:29

'That's the number I would tell him.'

0:11:290:11:31

And he said, "That's OK."

0:11:310:11:34

So that money went through to them.

0:11:340:11:37

OK, thanks very much. Bye.

0:11:370:11:39

'But there was no end to his determination

0:11:400:11:43

'to extract every penny he could.

0:11:430:11:47

'He kept her interest by promising to visit

0:11:470:11:49

'and personally deliver £90,000.

0:11:490:11:52

'But on the day he was due, he said she first had to send £4,000 to

0:11:520:11:58

'cover the costs for him and an assistant.'

0:11:580:12:01

I says, "Well, why not leave your assistant at home

0:12:010:12:04

"and come yourself, cos it'd be cheaper for me?"

0:12:040:12:06

He says he couldn't do that, seeing the amount of money was so big.

0:12:060:12:11

'But that, too, was a lie.'

0:12:110:12:13

-So you paid the money.

-Yes.

-And what happened after that, that day?

0:12:130:12:17

-He didn't turn up.

-He didn't turn up.

-No. No, didn't turn up.

0:12:170:12:20

The situation becomes a sort of enclosed world which people

0:12:220:12:28

then believe in, and when you stand outside it,

0:12:280:12:33

when you come to stand outside it and you realise what happened,

0:12:330:12:36

you almost wonder, "How could I have believed that?"

0:12:360:12:40

But when you're inside it, it seems entirely persuasive.

0:12:400:12:45

And, of course, that's what the scammers are trying to do.

0:12:450:12:49

Why do you need to deliver it?

0:12:510:12:52

Elizabeth's pursuit of the money she had been told was hers by right

0:12:520:12:57

had left her broke and exhausted.

0:12:570:13:00

You owe me a lot of money. I need that money.

0:13:010:13:03

'The guy says, "Look,'

0:13:050:13:07

"there's no more money left. I can't send you any more."

0:13:070:13:12

Well, I thought to myself, "Well, you've had it,

0:13:120:13:15

"the money's all done, and that's it."

0:13:150:13:18

In just seven weeks, Elizabeth paid out £103,000

0:13:210:13:27

from her bank account to a man she believed was her friend.

0:13:270:13:31

All she had left was £440.

0:13:330:13:37

It must have come as a bit of a shock, then,

0:13:390:13:42

when you learnt what was happening.

0:13:420:13:45

It did. A big shock. And I felt I'd been so stupid, as well...

0:13:450:13:50

..that I should have cottoned on, like, that...

0:13:520:13:54

..that the whole thing was a fraud, really,

0:13:560:13:58

because I had said to that first man there, I says,

0:13:580:14:04

"That there's a fraud that you're doing to me."

0:14:040:14:08

"That's a scam." He says, "It's not, it's real."

0:14:080:14:11

When did you first realise that...

0:14:110:14:15

that you'd been involved in scams?

0:14:150:14:18

Well...

0:14:190:14:20

..when the police came to the house

0:14:220:14:24

and told me that this is all a scam, you know,

0:14:240:14:26

different things like that, and...

0:14:260:14:28

I just felt devastated, completely, because...

0:14:280:14:32

I knew all the money was gone.

0:14:320:14:34

But even when she was broke, there was no end to the scammers' greed

0:14:370:14:42

and cruelty. They persuaded Elizabeth to borrow £14,000.

0:14:420:14:48

A year on, and she's still paying that off.

0:14:480:14:51

But there was worse to come.

0:14:520:14:54

They then made her part of their criminal enterprise by getting

0:14:540:14:58

Elizabeth to open a new bank account.

0:14:580:15:01

And this time, they did lodge some money.

0:15:030:15:07

They paid £5,000 directly into the account.

0:15:070:15:10

He convinced me they could help me,

0:15:130:15:16

so he said he'd lodge money into my account

0:15:160:15:19

and then I could withdraw it.

0:15:190:15:21

But they had an ulterior motive.

0:15:210:15:23

It looked as if I had a healthy enough balance.

0:15:240:15:27

At one time, you get the statement, it said you had £5,000 in it.

0:15:270:15:32

No sooner had she got some money in her account

0:15:320:15:36

than she was asked to move it on again.

0:15:360:15:38

Then he'd ask me to draw maybe out of that 5,000,

0:15:400:15:43

he asked me to withdraw 2,000 maybe today

0:15:430:15:46

and another 2,000 maybe tomorrow.

0:15:460:15:49

So that's the way it went.

0:15:490:15:51

She didn't know it, but Elizabeth had started working for the criminals.

0:15:520:15:58

The money lodged in her account had been scammed from other people,

0:15:580:16:03

and a police force in England

0:16:030:16:05

started to investigate her for money laundering.

0:16:050:16:08

You'd never...even thought you were involved in anything like that?

0:16:100:16:13

No, no, sure, I never...

0:16:130:16:15

I hear tell of it, but you never thought, y'know, that they

0:16:150:16:19

used you for laundering money, of all things.

0:16:190:16:22

-I didn't know it.

-A bit of a shock?

0:16:230:16:25

It was, that I'd been used, connected with crime. But...

0:16:250:16:31

It was a shock...

0:16:310:16:33

to tell you the truth.

0:16:330:16:35

The scams lasted for nearly a year.

0:16:370:16:40

When she finally stopped talking to the scammers,

0:16:400:16:43

on one day alone she had 26 missed calls.

0:16:430:16:47

Elizabeth kept notes on her callers and their telephone numbers.

0:16:470:16:52

We searched for the numbers online

0:16:520:16:54

and discovered they'd been used in identical scams,

0:16:540:16:59

even down to the same detail about a man called

0:16:590:17:01

David at the Ministry of Justice.

0:17:010:17:04

Meanwhile, at Elizabeth's branch of the Ulster Bank,

0:17:050:17:09

her spending had started to cause concern.

0:17:090:17:13

'Well, there was a lady.'

0:17:130:17:16

She asked me into her office one day.

0:17:160:17:18

And she said,

0:17:190:17:21

"You're coming in here very often to withdraw large amounts of money."

0:17:210:17:26

I said, "Yes."

0:17:260:17:28

And I told her I was doing repairs to the house, which I wasn't.

0:17:300:17:36

In all, bank staff took Elizabeth aside on five occasions.

0:17:360:17:40

The Ulster Bank would say that they did intervene

0:17:430:17:47

and that they did ask you about what you were doing with your money

0:17:470:17:50

and that you basically said it was your money,

0:17:500:17:53

you could do with it as you pleased.

0:17:530:17:55

Do you accept that you did tell the bank...?

0:17:550:17:59

Well, I just can't remember for sure, but I must have had.

0:17:590:18:03

I must have had when they say so.

0:18:030:18:05

You said you were going to get house repairs,

0:18:050:18:07

-but that wasn't strictly true.

-No, it wasn't.

0:18:070:18:09

-It wasn't strictly true.

-What do you think the bank should have done?

0:18:090:18:13

Well, I think they could've froze my account and just said,

0:18:150:18:18

"Look, we know that you're not telling the truth."

0:18:180:18:20

So I feel that they could have stopped me earlier.

0:18:200:18:23

'Elizabeth's money had gone by the time her family found out

0:18:250:18:29

'what had been going on.

0:18:290:18:31

'According to the rules, where someone has given away their money

0:18:330:18:36

'voluntarily, the banks don't have to pay compensation.'

0:18:360:18:40

If the customer says, "Look, leave me alone, it's my money,

0:18:400:18:43

"I can do what I like with it,"

0:18:430:18:45

then really the bank is in a very difficult position.

0:18:450:18:48

Even if the customer's elderly, in their 70s,

0:18:480:18:50

they still have a perfect right to make decisions

0:18:500:18:53

and to spend it as they see fit!

0:18:530:18:55

'But for the people who have lost out to scammers,

0:19:010:19:05

'there's little hope of any type of investigation.

0:19:050:19:09

'To cope with the growth in fraud crime,

0:19:090:19:11

'the Government has established ActionFraud in the City of London.

0:19:110:19:16

'If a scam is reported,

0:19:160:19:17

'the details will go to ActionFraud to be analysed.

0:19:170:19:21

'But the harsh reality for Elizabeth

0:19:260:19:28

'is ActionFraud told her in writing there was nothing they could do.

0:19:280:19:33

'And that's not unusual.'

0:19:440:19:47

When you look around to try and find someone to take

0:19:470:19:49

responsibility as to how you fight fraud,

0:19:490:19:53

it's difficult to find someone who'll put their hands up

0:19:530:19:55

and say, "Yes, we're the people to come to."

0:19:550:19:57

I do think - and it's one of the most common complaints that I get -

0:19:570:20:02

that people who have been defrauded or potentially defrauded say,

0:20:020:20:06

"Well, we reported all this, and no-one seems interested."

0:20:060:20:09

And that is the position we have.

0:20:090:20:11

We have this huge crime, two million people defrauded every year,

0:20:110:20:15

and it is not really being tackled effectively at a national level.

0:20:150:20:19

'Successful prosecutions into this sort of crime are rare.

0:20:210:20:25

'And here's why.

0:20:250:20:27

'Scamming is a global business.

0:20:270:20:29

'The criminals behind marketing scams

0:20:290:20:32

'spread their work across the world,

0:20:320:20:34

'so no-one police force is responsible.'

0:20:340:20:37

The plan will be devised in one country,

0:20:380:20:42

the scam letters printed in another.

0:20:420:20:45

The victims are picked off the suckers list and targeted elsewhere.

0:20:450:20:50

They send off cash to yet another country.

0:20:500:20:53

It's delivered to PO boxes, where mail companies process the letters.

0:20:530:20:59

But the big question is, once it's delivered,

0:21:020:21:05

where then does the money finally end up?

0:21:050:21:07

'We understand that most of Elizabeth's money

0:21:090:21:12

'from the phone scams ended up in the hands

0:21:120:21:15

'of organised criminals in Thailand.

0:21:150:21:18

'But it's clear once your money leaves Northern Ireland,

0:21:180:21:21

'there's little the police can do.'

0:21:210:21:24

We will follow the money trail, but very often, nearly invariably,

0:21:240:21:29

that money is moved and it is dissipated and dispersed

0:21:290:21:32

many times over, through multiple bank accounts,

0:21:320:21:35

which eventually become untraceable.

0:21:350:21:38

And they do find themselves very often

0:21:380:21:41

certainly at least across Europe, and into Asia and the Middle East.

0:21:410:21:47

The PSNI investigation into Elizabeth's case is now closed.

0:21:470:21:51

So the banks, ActionFraud and the PSNI weren't able to help her.

0:21:560:22:01

The Financial Ombudsman investigated her case

0:22:010:22:04

and ruled that the Ulster Bank was under no obligation to refund her.

0:22:040:22:09

But the Progressive Building Society was told to refund the 96 cheques.

0:22:090:22:15

So out of the £180,000 she's lost,

0:22:150:22:19

she's recovered just a few thousand pounds in compensation.

0:22:190:22:23

'Elizabeth's money is all gone,

0:22:280:22:31

'but a year on, the scammers haven't gone away.

0:22:310:22:34

'They still keep in touch.

0:22:410:22:43

'We asked Elizabeth to keep hold of some of the scam letters

0:22:450:22:49

'she's still getting.

0:22:490:22:51

'The scale of the deliveries is startling...

0:22:510:22:53

'..and most of this in just a few weeks.

0:22:550:22:58

'We asked Royal Mail

0:23:030:23:04

'why they don't simply stop delivering unsolicited mail.'

0:23:040:23:08

One thing that Royal Mail cannot do under any circumstances

0:23:100:23:13

is open people's mail.

0:23:130:23:15

The outside of an envelope may give us some concern.

0:23:150:23:17

It's the content that will actually tell us

0:23:170:23:20

whether there's a scam taking place or not.

0:23:200:23:21

So mail has to be delivered.

0:23:210:23:23

Now, we've sorted out all of these letters into the countries

0:23:260:23:31

of origin, and we find that there are 15 countries where scamming letters

0:23:310:23:35

are being sent into Northern Ireland.

0:23:350:23:37

Philippines, Samoa, the United States, Romania, Fiji -

0:23:380:23:42

but the biggest number originate in Holland.

0:23:420:23:46

We know every single one of these letters

0:23:480:23:50

requesting an advance payment fee is an attempt to defraud.

0:23:500:23:54

MUSIC: Eye Level by the Simon Park Orchestra

0:23:560:23:59

'With no organisation appearing to investigate the scams,

0:24:110:24:15

'we wanted to see where Elizabeth was being asked in recent months

0:24:150:24:18

'to send her money.

0:24:180:24:20

'I'm getting help from a former detective.

0:24:240:24:28

'Cees Schep spent 35 years in fraud investigation

0:24:280:24:32

'and now works for a fraud help desk that promotes prevention.

0:24:320:24:36

'We want to visit the PO box addresses on the envelopes.

0:24:420:24:46

'We eventually track one down to a retail

0:24:500:24:53

'park on the outskirts of Utrecht.'

0:24:530:24:55

Yeah.

0:24:590:25:01

This is Postbox 1225.

0:25:010:25:03

It's on the white envelope here.

0:25:050:25:08

'We found out this PO box is registered to a company

0:25:080:25:11

'called Trend Services, owned by this man.'

0:25:110:25:15

Mijn naam is Erik Dekker.

0:25:150:25:17

Erik Dekker's company, Trends, does printing and packaging.

0:25:170:25:21

It also provides mail delivery and collection services for people

0:25:210:25:25

who prefer the convenience or secrecy of this type of service.

0:25:250:25:28

This is one of the postbox numbers

0:25:300:25:33

that's registered to Mr Erik Dekker's company, Trends.

0:25:330:25:37

He's got a number of others at different post offices in this area,

0:25:380:25:42

but this is number 1225.

0:25:420:25:44

It's one of an estimated 114 PO boxes registered to his company.

0:25:460:25:52

When we opened the recent mail sent to Elizabeth,

0:25:520:25:55

we found that 59 of the letters

0:25:550:25:57

had return envelopes addressed to his postboxes.

0:25:570:26:01

There's no evidence that Mr Dekker knows anything about the content

0:26:020:26:06

of the envelopes that are being delivered to his postboxes -

0:26:060:26:09

but he does presumably know who he's collecting this mail for.

0:26:090:26:14

We wanted to ask Mr Dekker what happens to the envelopes

0:26:140:26:17

after he's taken delivery of them.

0:26:170:26:20

'We e-mailed him to say we'd like to talk about direct mail from Ireland.

0:26:200:26:24

'He replied to say he didn't want to speak to us,

0:26:240:26:26

'so we decided to visit his offices

0:26:260:26:29

'to see if that provided any clues

0:26:290:26:31

'and to see if we could change his mind.'

0:26:310:26:34

Hi. I'm from the BBC.

0:26:350:26:37

Erm, well, it's about mail that comes through his company from Ireland.

0:26:400:26:45

Yes, he doesn't want to speak to me, I understand that,

0:26:500:26:52

but I'm explaining to you that I have information about mail

0:26:520:26:55

that comes through these post office box numbers

0:26:550:26:58

that are registered to this company and it comes from Ireland.

0:26:580:27:01

I wanted to ask him a few words about that.

0:27:010:27:03

-All right?

-HE SIGHS

0:27:070:27:09

-Goodbye.

-OK. Thank you.

0:27:090:27:11

So...

0:27:120:27:13

clearly...

0:27:130:27:15

the people inside this company don't want to talk.

0:27:150:27:18

And in fact, that lady has underlined the fact that the director

0:27:180:27:21

we've tried to get in touch with, Mr Erik Dekker,

0:27:210:27:24

doesn't want to talk to us, either.

0:27:240:27:26

It was clear our presence was no longer welcome.

0:27:300:27:33

We don't know what happens to the money posted in the scam letters

0:27:370:27:41

or what Mr Dekker knows about the people whose mail

0:27:410:27:45

his company is collecting, but he wasn't interested in helping us.

0:27:450:27:49

In a statement, Mr Dekker said,

0:27:500:27:52

"It's a mystery to me why you approached me in this matter."

0:27:520:27:56

But the question remains, once it's delivered,

0:27:580:28:01

where does the money finally end up?

0:28:010:28:04

It seems the Dutch police aren't investigating that question,

0:28:050:28:09

as there have been no complaints from police in the UK.

0:28:090:28:13

For now, what happened to her money remains a mystery.

0:28:170:28:21

For Elizabeth, life goes on.

0:28:210:28:24

I was used as if I was hypnotised,

0:28:240:28:27

thinking I was going to get money back along with the money I'd spent

0:28:270:28:31

and didn't get anything, not even a penny.

0:28:310:28:35

She's paid a high price for her involvement with scammers.

0:28:350:28:39

I'd just like to warn others, anybody else that's elderly and...

0:28:400:28:45

..you think you know it all, but you don't,

0:28:480:28:51

just to warn them, and not to happen to them,

0:28:510:28:54

because it's happened to me.

0:28:540:28:56

And it's completely devastating.

0:28:560:28:59

It does affect your health, as well.

0:28:590:29:01

How do you plan to get over this, then? How will you recover from it?

0:29:030:29:06

Well, I just plan to live one day at a time,

0:29:060:29:10

be active and take an interest in outside stuff rather than...

0:29:100:29:15

..the money.

0:29:180:29:20

Presumably you've got friends and family to help you.

0:29:220:29:25

You need good friends and family to help you, yes.

0:29:250:29:29

But you feel you've let everybody down.

0:29:290:29:32

The shocking story of how scammers conned a pensioner out of her life savings. Chris Moore reports.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS