A PENSIONER told today how he and his wife fell for a con which has left them £19,000 out of pocket.
The couple used money from their current account, as well as an endowment policy, in the belief it would be returned to them two-fold.
The victims were drawn into the con when they received a phone call at their home in Carrville, Durham, from a company calling itself Ministry of Justice.
The heartless thief claimed they could recover bank and credit card charges and cash associated with mobile phone contracts.
The couple were asked to send money to fund to an address in New Delhi, India, with the amounts requested starting small, but gradually increasing.
The grandparents, who have asked not to be named, sent the money over a five-month period after the 69-year-old woman began discussions with the scamsters.
They called in police when they realised they had been tricked.
Detectives from Durham Constabulary are investigating the case and say people in Easington and Durham have recently received similar calls.
The 83-year-old husband said: “I feel so ashamed that I’ve been conned by these very plausible people.
“I believed my wife. Sshe’s the most honest person and believes everybody.
“I feel shattered that I’ve lost all this money and I won’t be able to replace it because I’m retired and don’t work.
“My wife’s upset because she let me fund it.
“We thought we were going to get it back and this would help us in our retirement.”
He added that the couple faced the disruption of closing down the back accounts in question and opening new ones, as well as replacing their mobile phone numbers, because the con artists have their details.
Detective Sergeant Cliff Down, of Seaham CID, said: “People must not send these people money, and if they have any doubts they can get in touch with us or Trading Standards.
“It has left this elderly couple seriously out of pocket and extremely distressed. Some of the calls were quite intimidating.
“We must advise in the strongest possible terms never to hand over any money in this way as a result of phone calls, and never pass on your bank details over the phone.”
Anyone with information should contact Durham Constabulary on 101 Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.