CEL Solicitors has helped a fifty-nine-year-old widow, Helen, from Glasgow, recover over £120,000 after she fell victim to an elaborate romance scam.
Helen, 59, started a relationship with a man during the pandemic after meeting on a site called OurTime, a dating platform designed for people over 50.
After speaking over the course of nine months, the scammer convinced Helen that he was in desperate need of money after losing his bank card, and needed funds to travel home from North Korea, where he claimed to have been working abroad.
Helen trusted the man and wanted to help, so she gave him money on the understanding that it would be returned. The victim took out a secured loan on her house to support the scammer, resulting in her being £123,000 out of pocket.
In November 2020, Helen realised that the man she trusted had deceived her.
“He was supposed to be flying from North Korea to Glasgow. He confirmed his flight times with me and even showed me photographs of his plane tickets saying how excited he was to come over, but he never arrived.”
Helen reported the man to the police as a missing person. The police eventually confirmed that he was a well-known online scammer with previous victims.
Getting money back from a scam
Devastated at the events that had unfolded, Helen contacted her bank, Halifax, in the hope that they would help her. Unfortunately, Halifax informed Helen that there was nothing that they could do, and the money was lost.
“Despite the police saying I am a victim of a crime; the bank was still refusing to treat me as such. Halifax is supposed to support the victims of crime, but they were offering me no support at all. I felt completely abandoned by them.”
Helen experienced such financial loss that she was at risk of becoming homeless.
“I was completely shattered and was financially broke for a long time. I had lost my life savings, took out a secured loan on my home and even had to sign up to a debt advisory scheme so I could stay afloat. I am stuck with that debt now for six years and the interest means I will have had to pay back even more than I initially lost. I would never have been in this position if this hadn’t happened.”
It was only when Helen sought legal advice from CEL Solicitors that she was able to recover her money. She was assisted by CEL Solicitors’ specialist fraud and scam team who are experienced in helping victims of fraud and scams.
CEL Solicitors were able to successfully recover over £120,000 for Helen.
As reported in the SomersetLive, a CEL Solicitors case involving one victim who lost £150,000 to a romance scam was awarded £179,000 – the full amount lost, plus interest.
“From day one, CEL understood my situation and were extremely supportive. They pursued my case with the bank and kept me regularly updated. So far, they have managed to get me back over half of the money I lost, which has been an absolute life-saver.”
CEL Solicitors is still pursuing the outstanding amount Helen lost.
Chloe Roche, Fraud Team Leader at CEL Solicitors, said: “Banks have a commitment to help protect and support customers like Helem, but we are starting to see worrying examples of banks trying to find ways out of honouring these pledges. More needs to be done to ensure they are following through with the promises they have made to their customers, which is exactly where CEL can help.”