Cwmbran woman 'horrified' after losing retirement money after being scammed on Instagram

  • Video report by ITV Wales' Gwennan Campbell

A retired woman who lost £10,500 after being scammed on Instagram whilst buying garden furniture fears she'll never get her savings back.

66-year-old Sian Brooker from Cwmbran was scrolling through the social media channel when she spotted what she thought was a good offer online.

Little did she know at the time that that £22 purchase would end up costing her over £10,000.

Initially, Sian couldn't bring herself to tell her family, she told ITV Wales "I was horrified" at what had happened.

Sian says it was her worst nightmare when she realised she had fallen victim to scammers and had lost her retirement money. 

She told ITV Wales the whole experience has been "really upsetting".

Sian said: "I was on Instagram, I saw this sun lounger and I thought oh that looks good and it was a reasonable price. I thought I'll order that.

"I filled my details in and then at the bottom it said Apple Pay, I don't have that so I came off the site. I then had a text message off the Co-Op asking have you authorised Apple Pay.

"I thought, oh, they must know a way of doing it, so I authorised the payment and it stemmed from there."

Initially, Sian couldn't bring herself to tell her family. She said: "I was horrified. I thought how am I going to tell Ryan? (her son) What do I say to him? Because I hadn't told him for a couple of days. 

A tearful Sian said: "It upsets me because it is my pension money. I lost my husband the year before, so I was still grieving over that. And I look and I think he'd be thinking 'you stupid woman', you know."

She added how it has affected her saying she hasn't been able to sleep. She said: "Normally I go to bed about half past ten and I don't have any problem sleeping whatsoever but it was getting later and later. 

She said: "It was even getting to the stage that I was having to have a drink to get me off to sleep and then I would wake up just thinking about it and crying about it. Thinking there is nothing I can do about it."

Sian left her job in 2023 and says she is "getting by" on her state pension and her late husband's pension. But says the money that was taken was set aside for her to buy a new car. She says that's now "on hold" and she doesn't think she'll ever be able to change her car.

Her son Ryan has been dealing with her case on her behalf and he says he’s frustrated by the lack of communication from the Co-op bank.

Sian became tearful as she explained how she wasn't able to sleep at night after losing her retirement savings. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

He said: "It’s heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking. For me, I can’t understand how all these separate amounts for the same values - you’ve got nine lots of £508 and 7 lots of £682, and they all appear to be abroad where they’ve got the transaction cost, surely that should’ve flagged up somewhere. They’ve just got no care or compassion at all."

Sian hopes her story will raise awareness so other people won't go through what she has. 

She said: "You hear of people being scammed but I didn't think for one minute I would get scammed and I can't believe people can do that. How would they feel if it was their mother? or their grandmother, being scammed? It's not a very nice feeling."

A spokesperson for the Co-op bank said: “At The Co-operative Bank, protecting our customers against fraud is of the utmost importance.

"Fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated and this particular case highlights the importance of staying vigilant and why you should never share key account or security information or approve transactions you have not made.

"We want to reassure our customers that we have robust security controls in place to protect them from fraud. We do ask that customers remain vigilant when it comes to suspicious activity on their accounts and never confirm any transactions as genuine unless they are completely sure.

"We are extremely sorry that Mrs Brooker has fallen victim to this kind of scam and sympathise with the distress caused. We can confirm we are revisiting this particular complaint and will be in touch with her to discuss this in more detail in the coming days.”

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