Karen, from South Wales, was on the lookout for a camper van and watched the Gumtree listings hoping to find a suitable one.

This is Karen’s story of how she was scammed.

I first saw a camper van on Gumtree one Friday evening in September. The advert had full colour photos of the inside and outside of the vehicle and looked good.

I contacted the number on the advert but it was a wrong number, so I contacted the email address and started an email conversation.   I was asked if the transaction could be carried out in eBay rather than Gumtree as it offered more protection.   I was happy about this as it sounded like a good idea for both parties. 

On the Saturday morning I received an email telling me I was the winner of the auction.  I was in town shopping,  I got swept away with it all as I had told the seller about my family circumstances,  including depression and recent operations in the family. The purchase of a camper van could change our life much for the better.  

The Scam

When I got home from town I was again contacted, by the seller by email and was told that I would be contacted by eBay vehicle department.  I was given the bank account and name of the person who would make the arrangements of sale and delivery.   The email from eBay looked genuine and had instructions which I followed 

I transferred the money as instructed.  

A Big Mistake

However, I realised very quickly that there was something terribly wrong.   Within 30 minutes I contacted eBay,  my bank and the police.   I was also told I should log the case with Action Fraud.   I was absolutely distraught I had put my whole family life in jeopardy.   I was treated well the police,  by telephone and an officer came in Sunday night I was given a case number and his mobile number along with some advice about any suspicious activities or people.  The officer told me that there was no rush for a statement as the was little hope that any money would be recovered or the scammers caught.

I contacted Lloyds bank, Police HQ, Action Fraud, Gumtree, EBay, TSB Bank and TSB Fraud., making a case with each.

I was given a contact for victim support. I found very little comfort in this but was grateful for it anyway.

On Monday I contacted my bank again and when I tell her what the lady had said. She said I would now go top of the list as it was going to be a formal complaint she would handle everything, liaising with TSB and everything.

I contacted TSB anyway myself again and was told they could not help.

The Impact

For about a week I could not stop shaking and crying.   It was like a dream but a nightmare.  My whole confidence was completely gone; in myself, my ability to keep us all safe and in any money matters at all.  

I received a letter from the Police advising of arrests.   The letter had no telephone number, so it felt very suspicious.   I contacted my local police, but was told I was lucky that I had closure, someone had been caught and now I didn't need to now give a formal statement.   I felt no closure.  The letter turned out to be genuine.

I couldn't believe that the police must have been aware of the scammers and the scams that were being carried out.   I was told later that The Met Police were carrying out an operation called Fireball. There were about 250 victims.   I think there were a group of about 5 scammers that were caught and convicted.  

At the time when this happened I contacted anyone who would listen to send out advice on scams and the type of scams that were being carried out.  

Since the scam I went to the FSA who looked into my case with TSB and Lloyds bank.   The outcome of this was that the banks had followed procedure.

I feel very foolish at what I did. I know there are others, I am in 2 minds about the banks.   I did intentionally set up and transfer the money, but I also contacted them very quickly.   I was told last March by TSB that the money had gone when I contacted them then,  when I contacted them again a few days later the money had not all gone but it was been allocated to companies that the scammers had used to spend the money.   But I feel that I had already asked to put a stop on the account within 40 minutes, the majority of the money was still in the bank.  And not allocated. Why wasn't my call on the money upheld or logged as I don't know what?  But I feel it should.

Conclusion

Karen didn’t do anything wrong but has been caught out by professional fraudsters. She lost a significant sum of money and had her confidence crushed and there is a lot of distress for her and her family.

These criminals think it doesn’t matter when they steal from you. BUT IT DOES. It ruins lives.

Thankfully, in this case the Police caught the perpetrators although Karen didn’t get her money back. 

Be Aware- these criminals are practiced at what they do and they will do anything they can to steal your money.

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