Pensioner Carole Pearson, a former wages clerk, had spent years putting aside money to see her and her husband through retirement.
There was £14,000 saved up for the odd weekend trip, for treats in the holidays. To pay for funerals.
Within the space of a few days a conman, who hacked into her computer and took pictures of the pensioner through her own webcam, had cleared them out.
“It was all the money that was to last us,” the 64-year-old said. “We’ve got a state pension, but we’re just living day to day. It’s been nearly two years, I keep being reminded about it. It was my fault really, for giving him my bank details. I didn’t know, he seemed so genuine.”
Mrs Pearson, of Cleckheaton, was targeted by a professional conman. He had called her up, pretending to be from Microsoft, and asked for access to her computer. She had explicit content on the system, he said, and to fix it, she must pay him large sums of money.
And Mrs Pearson, reeling from the revelation earlier that week that her husband of 43 years was suffering from dementia, did as she was told.
“He told me to go to different Post Offices, and I was to send the money to Thailand,” she said. “He kept ringing me up. I was to call him back and say it was there. My husband was very poorly at the time. I was all over the place. I just automatically did it.”
Mrs Pearson made three cash deposits totalling £14,108 through different Post Offices, not knowing this was a ploy to avoid rousing suspicion.
“I genuinely thought he was from Microsoft,” she said. “His name was Harry. He sent me his picture, he gave me his reference cards - his email was a Microsoft address.”
‘Harry’ had been calling her every morning for a week, at 8.30am. He was putting enormous pressure on her to speed up with deposits.
“I was supposed to go to the bank and give him another £5,000,” said Mrs Pearson. “He was photographing me on the webcam - saying ‘why haven’t you done it yet?’. Then he asked for another £10,000. He said I had to put money in another bank account, for his wife Elizabeth. It was my husband that realised it was a scam.”
Mrs Pearson is resigned now, to what happened. And she blames herself, for not realising sooner what was happening.
“I shouldn’t have done it,” she said. “I’ve lost £14,000 which was my pension. That was our savings, for funerals and things like that. I thought that money would cover us.
“The police tried their hardest, they traced his email but it was abroad. They couldn’t do any more.”