George Summerson, a 41-year-old civil servant from Huntington, fell victim to an investment scam when a too-good-to-miss opportunity cropped up, allegedly backed by This Morning’s Holly and Phil.
After learning that he was going to be a father for a second time, George Summerson decided that he needed a way to way to make money to support his growing family. While browsing social media, Mr Summerson was targeted with an advert for an investment company touting itself as being backed by Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield.
After following the link and completing an online form, Mr Summerson was called by an “account manager” called Marcus. Marcus guided him through the registration process and convinced him to invest £250 into the platform to test the waters. When this began to slowly grow, Marcus convinced Mr Summerson to invest more, claiming that the gains would be far higher, the more money invested.
“I invested another £2,000 and I was happy making a bit of money slowly. I then put in £5,000 and straight away I was making up to £50 within minutes.
“I know when something seems too good to be true it probably is, but it seemed so genuine. He kept saying how it’s my money, he can’t touch it and he doesn’t make money unless I do.”
By this point, his investment had grown substantially, and he was eager to make use of his rapidly growing account balance. It was only when Mr Summerson attempted to make a withdrawal that he realised something was wrong.
He was told that to withdraw his money – including his own investment of £12,250 – he would first need to pay 50% back into the platform.
By this point, Mr Summerson’s bank had become suspicious of the irregular transfers and reached out to get more information.
“My bank had questioned one of the transfers, but Marcus told me banks will do this because they don’t want people buying crypto currency. I just relayed everything he told me.
“When I alerted them that I’d been scammed, they advised me there was nothing they could do as they believed they had done everything possible to prevent it in the first place.”
Contacting CEL Solicitors
After being told that there was nothing his bank could or would do, Mr Summerson contacted CEL Solicitors.
After speaking with and taking on his case, we were able to prove that his bank had the power and knowledge to stop the scam but failed to do so, helping Mr Summerson to recoup £10,500 of his lost money.
Asked about his experience, he said: “Everyone needs to be careful online; some scams are so detailed that anyone can be a victim.
“I think celebs and well-known faces should keep an eye out too, and make it clear on their platforms what they do and don’t endorse.”
Unfortunately, scams like this are common and using the face of trustworthy celebrities is a go-to tactic for fraudsters. According to a “scam super league” put together by NatWest, Holly Willoughby is the celebrity most often used by fraudsters to trick victims in the UK. The Money Saving Expert himself, Martin Lewis, who also ranks highly on that list, has been banging the drum for years asking for more stringent checks to stop misleading or dangerous online adverts.
Paul Hampson, an expert Fraud Solicitor and Managing Director at CEL Solicitors said: “The level of sophistication in some scams is startling. Criminals are making defrauding people a full-time job, putting hours in a day to deceive people out of their hard-earned money.
“Fraudsters are building relationships and trust with their victims, which makes the con all the more distressing when the target learns the truth.
“It’s a difficult lesson to learn, especially when banks and other authorities don’t jump in to help right away, which is why legal support is often advised when you have fallen victim to a scam.
“In this particular case, we were able to recover money from Mr Summerson’s Bank on his behalf. We are seeing more and more money lost by victims using crypto currencies.
“It is like the wild west. We believe that the Crypto exchanges and platforms should be more heavily regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.”