Jersey woman describes 'terrible anxiety' after being scammed out of £90,000

  • Deidre Bates explains how it felt when she realised her bank account had been emptied

A woman from Jersey who was scammed out of more than £90,000 says the ordeal has left her traumatised and too scared to answer the phone.

Deirdre Bates was targeted in August 2023 by fraudsters over the phone who pretended to be from her bank enquiring about a large fashion purchase.

She reported the incident but then received another call from someone claiming to be from her bank's fraud team. In fact, it was just another part of the scam.

Deirdre explained: "He said, 'if you look at your balance, if you page forward and look at the available balance', and it was nil and I said, 'oh my goodness me'.

"He said, 'this money is ready, it's pending to be moved from your account. You need to transfer it into a safe account'. So I transferred £10,000 from my personal account to my check account. He said, 'that's keeping some of it safe'.

"At that point, my personal banking stopped. He said, 'we've suspended your accounts now. Someone will phone you this evening to get you back on your internet banking'."

Deidre says because of the money lost, she will probably continue working until she's 80-years-old. Credit: ITV News

The next day Deirdre and her husband went into the bank branch and were met with a nasty shock.

She added: "I went to the cashier and asked to check my balance. She said there was £0.63 in my account and I burst into tears.

"I said ,'I need to see someone, we have lost a lot of money'. Eventually someone came down from the branch. She gave us the bad news and said the first £50,000 has gone and you won't get that back. At that stage, I went into more tears, more stress and crying."

Investigations are ongoing into how the fraudsters accessed Deirdre's two bank accounts.

It comes as police in both Jersey and Guernsey recently warned islanders to be aware of a scam involving text messages pretending to be from high street bank HSBC.

Since the start of 2023, the Joint Financial Crimes Unit say just under £1 million has been lost to scams in the Channel Islands, with around a fifth happening since the start of 2024.

Paul Otter is a Detective Constable with Jersey Police and says the newest tactic fraudsters are using is called 'social engineering'.

It works by scammers using small pieces of genuine personal information they have already obtained to create trust with their targets, with the eventual goal of gaining access to personal bank accounts.

He said: "The bank should not be contacting the customer if they believe there's been a fraud. So my advice would be if you get anything like that and you are unsure, do not respond to the text and do not respond to the person who may call you.

"Just hang up, take a few minutes to think about it and then contact the bank via the official channels.

"Don't click any links. Just search online for the bank you're with and use their official numbers. Or use the number on the back of your card."

DC Otter also warned that it is no longer older and more vulnerable members of the community who are being targeted.

He added: "I'm seeing everyone falling for these scams. This is how good they are. People don't have time to check. They are going to look at that message, it's going to activate the panic receptors in your brain and that's what it's about.

"It's about your decision-making. If you're under pressure then you may make a decision that may or may not be incorrect and the scammers use that side of you."

Detective Constable Paul Otter says anyone can become a victim to these sort of sophisticated scams. Credit: ITV News

Since August, Deirdre has managed to get back approximately £18,000 but last month her bank informed her that they have not been able to trace the remaining funds.

Deirdre says the impact of what has happened has been huge.

She explained: "It's so many sleepless nights. I've spent so much time on the phone to the bank, to the fraud teams, back and forward. Wracking my brains. 'What have I done wrong?' Punishing myself. It's just been the most horrendous experience of my life if I'm honest."

She now wants to warn others about the dangers of scam calls.

Deirdre added: "Just be so careful. I am such a trustworthy person. I take people as I find them but I would just be so careful of everything.

"I won't pick up a phone if I don't know the telephone number, I won't if it's a withheld number. I won't answer calls. I'm nervous picking up the phone. Terribly anxiety. It's just not fair. So I just say to everyone, please be careful."