A retired teacher was conned out of her £120,000 life savings after falling victim to a Bitcoin scam on Instagram.
Teresa Jackson, 63, from Portishead, says she’s been left claiming Universal Credit after being tricked into handing over her cash.
The retiree spotted the bogus Bitcoin investment scheme – which claimed it had been endorsed by survival expert Bear Grylls – being advertised on social media.
Ms Jackson says she was then contacted by someone claiming to be a financial advisor who appeared to be “really knowledgeable” and persuaded her to invest her money.
But instead of buying and trading what she thought was Bitcoin, the former teacher was instead sending her money straight to fraudsters.
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By the time she realised she had been duped, she had lost her pension pot along with money she had borrowed from a friend.
Speaking to ITV News, Ms Jackson said “everything seemed genuine” and she had checked the terms and conditions of the website, which were “very well worded”.
She said: “He just knew everything there was to know about Bitcoin and investments.
“I used to go and check everything he said.”
Ms Jackson has since received half of her funds back from her bank – but says she couldn’t get the full amount back as she had knowingly made the decision to transfer her money.
She now has to claim Universal Credit as a result of the loss.
Ms Jackson continued: “I felt embarrassed and stupid… my family trusted me to know what I was doing.”
Sadly, Ms Jackson isn’t alone in being scammed out of her cash – Citizens Advice says 36 million adults to have been targeted by scammers since January.
Over-55s are most likely to be targeted, although those aged 34 and under are nearly five times more likely to fall victim to a scam, the charity found.
Younger people were most likely to be targeted by text or messaging service (61%), while those over-55 were most likely to be targeted over the phone (73%).
Citizens Advice and the Consumer Protection Partnership have this week launched their annual Scams Awareness campaign to help raise awareness of the tactics fraudsters are using to dupe people out of their cash.
Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Our research shows that when it comes to scams anyone can be targeted, and anyone can be tricked.
“It’s more important than ever we all do our bit to report scams when we see them to help protect ourselves and others. By learning how scammers operate, and helping each other understand what to look out for, we can all work together to stop fraudsters in their tracks.”
A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said: “We don’t want fraudulent activity on our platform and have built technology to finds and reject scam ads and block scam advertisers so that people don’t come across them.
“This is an industry-wide issue and while no enforcement is perfect, we will continue to invest in new ways to protect people from this activity on our platforms .
“We have also donated £3million to Citizens Advice to raise awareness of online scams and help victims.”
What to do if you’ve been scammed
If you’ve fallen victim to a scam, report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Its phone lines are open Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm.
You should also tell your bank immediately – the sooner you tell them, the more chance they have of stopping the fraudster in their tracks.
Finally, report fraudsters to the platform they used to contact you.