DESPICABLE fraudsters who cheated a pensioner out of £8,000 and left her penniless need to be stopped, city leaders have today demanded.
Horrified Mary Bartlett was duped into taking out an £8,000 loan by cold-callers to pay for ‘legal fees’ to end her timeshare agreement.
The cheats said they were from a firm called RSB and insisted they wanted to help.
But their call was nothing more than a rouse to cheat the vulnerable 69-year-old out of her money.
Now the devastated mother-of-three – whose real name is being withheld – has spoken out to warn others of the crime.
She said: ‘These people are the scum of the earth, they really are.
This is a despicable and shameful crimeCouncillor Donna Jones, Portsmouth City Council leader
‘I should have known better but I’m just too trusting. I feel so ashamed by it all. I haven’t even told my family.’
Portsmouth council leader Donna Jones was appalled by the crime and urged the city’s community to pull together.
She said: ‘This is a despicable and shameful crime.
‘It’s terribly sad to hear of a pensioner being conned out of her life savings by conmen who prey on vulnerable people like this poor lady.
‘If this had happened to one of my grandparents I would be horrified. The impact this has, not just on the victim but their wider family and friends, can be huge.
‘I would urge anyone with information about this despicable crime to contact the police. Fraudsters like this need to be stopped.’
Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, was so sickened by the crime she is offering the victim the full weight of her office to help.
The international development secretary said: ‘This is appalling and I would urge her to report this to the police if she has not already done so.
‘In similar cases we have worked with law enforcement and legal bodies to pursue the perpetrators of fraud and recover funds.
‘Often these scams are part of a major operation. We also discovered that some vulnerable people are targeted several times over if they have been a victim of fraud.
‘My office would be happy to help this lady if she needs it.’
Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, added: ‘I was horrified to hear this story – that people who have worked their entire lives to provide for their retirement should be exploited by these fraudsters is simply unacceptable.’
Action Fraud said scams like this can be common and can suck thousands of pounds out of victims’ bank accounts.
The organisation, which monitors frauds across the UK, is now urging people to be cautious when answering the phone to cold callers.
A spokeswoman said: ‘This type of contact is designed to convince you to hand over valuable personal details or your money.
‘Don’t assume anyone who has contacted you is who they say they are. If an email, phone call or text message asks you to make a payment, log in to an online account or offers you a deal, be cautious and report it to Action Fraud online or call 0300 123 2040.’