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Con artist fleeces pensioner

Friday, 31st May, 2013

By Erica Visser

A woman who cares for her elderly husband has been left penniless by a phone scammer.

Raelene Kerr (59) said she felt “sickened” after she realised that the professional-sounding caller had cleaned out her bank account.

The scammer pretended he was from Microsoft and needed to access her bank account to give a $199 refund.   

Mrs Kerr has already experienced her fair share of hardship this year after a broken hand left her unable to properly care for 80-year-old husband, Bert. 

She said that the crook had caught her “off guard” on a day when she was busy and feeling unwell.

“Normally I just hang up on them but for some reason of another, when they said they were going to give me $199 back, I didn’t.

“I’m short on money and have to go on a carers’ trip next week so I thought it could help me.

“I wasn’t as alert as I’d normally be.”

Mrs Kerr said that she had $365 in her account which she discovered had been withdrawn in one transaction after the call.

“I felt sickened, very sick, after I rang the bank and realised,” she said. 

 

“They just caught me at a bad moment. I’m just lucky it wasn’t pay week.”

The pensioner still hopes to go on her carers’ conference trip early next week, however she now does not have enough money to even cover her lunches.

Mrs Kerr said that the scammer sounded legitimate and gave her his name and details.

She is now worried that if she was fooled, other pensioners will be too.

“I’d hate to think anyone else will get caught out.”

The scam is the latest in dozens of similar phone cons, where callers are lured into giving out their details.

Another woman also contacted the BDT yesterday after scammers had called her claiming to be from the Australian Federal Government and, later that day, the Australian Reclaim Finance Department.

The caller, “Kevin Smith”, promised to give her a cheque for over $5000 if she paid $199 in solicitors fees.

She said that the man was highly convincing and somehow knew her personal details.

Police have warned residents to never provide personal information or bank details over the phone.

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