After hearing success stories from cryptocurrency investors, retired Financial Advisor, Simon Hoadley, attempted to test the waters by investing a relatively small amount with a company he found online. Disguised as a legitimate crypto investment firm, the company went on to scam Mr Hoadley out of around £80,000 over the course of several months while his bank sat by and failed to help.
Mr Hoadley (aged 66) came across the investment opportunity online after hearing of the amazing returns on offer through crypto investing.
At the time of the scam Mr Hoadley was in an incredibly vulnerable place. His father was dying of cancer, and his wife several hours drive away in a care facility. He was left living alone, worring about his future.
With a lifetime of experience working as a financial advisor, Mr Hoadley was no stranger to investing and managing money, having done so for himself and his clients for decades. After discovering this promising cryptocurrency company, he was initially cautious – investing the relatively small amount of £250.
Finding that the advice given was of a very good quality, over several months Mr Hoadley was drawn in by the friendliness of his account manager during their weekly conversations. As far as he was concerned, there was no reason to suspect that he was actually speaking with a team of professional fraudsters.
“I spoke to them weekly on the phone […] they shared good advice, they were very personable and professional.
“People’s strengths can be their weaknesses, and I’m an open person, which means I trusted these scammers.”
Despite the good advice, unbeknownst to Mr Hoadley, the money handed over wasn’t actually being invested at all and was instead being pocketed by the scammers.
A well laid scam
According to his account manager, Mr Hoadley’s money immediately began gaining interest, and after a time, it was advised that investing more money would grant access to a wider range of high interest opportunities.
After gaining his trust through seemingly genuine weekly communication, Mr Hoadley was happy to steadily pour more and more money into his account with the promise of lifechanging returns thanks to his crypto investing.
Even with his decades of experience working as a financial advisor, the level of detail the scammers went to was so high that he was totally blindsided by their deception – only made more difficult by his ongoing worry about his father and his wife.
After taking him for as much money as they could, Mr Hoadley was eventually told that, unfortunately, his investments had plummeted and that his account was now all but worthless. His account manager also became unreachable – no longer accepting his calls, disappearing along with the investment.
“I spoke to a friend who also works in finance. He said I’d been scammed, and it wasn’t my fault.
“I went to my local bank and they told me I needed to tell my family because the police would now be involved. I just broke down in front of them.”
Despite taking him for tens of thousands of pounds, the scammers didn’t stop there. Even while Mr Hoadley was stood in his bank speaking with the staff members and explaining the situation, more money was being withdrawn from his account.
“The crooks were even taking £5,000 out of my account while I was there.”
The aftermath of the scam
After informing his bank of what had happened, Mr Hoadley felt, in his words, “fobbed off”. He felt that his bank had failed in their duty to protect his money and were again failing to help him in the aftermath of the scam.
“I’ve got four grown up children who were devastated when they found out.
“They had always looked up to me but over a year I just completely changed. It was really tough for them to see.
“When you get scammed you feel angry, a victim, like you’ve let your family down. You’re just in a really bad place.”
His son, a solicitor, told him that there may be a solution. That by complaining to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) he may be able to get his money back. From here Mr Hoadley and his son decided that his best option was to speak with a solicitor firm experienced in regaining money lost to fraud and scams.
He heard an advert for CEL Solicitors on the radio and decided to reach out and speak with a member of the fraud team.
“I’ve always thought in life, if you want to get something done you go to the experts – and CEL are the experts, that’s what they do. They deal with the Financial Ombudsman on a daily basis. They know what they’re doing, they know what they’re looking for.”
Due to Mr Hoadley’s vulnerabilities, combined with the lack of protection and help provided by his bank, the CEL Solicitors fraud team were able to recover more than £75,000 of his lost money.
“When you get scammed you feel angry, a victim, like you’ve let your family down. You’re just in a really bad place.
“With the money I got back I’ve bought a mobile home 20 minutes away from my wife which has made a huge difference to my marriage and my family. Words can’t explain.”
Paul Hampson, CEO at CEL Solicitors, said:
“The sophistication in some scams is terrifying. Criminals are putting a lot of time and effort into deceiving people out of their hard-earned money. To build a relationship and trust with their victims makes the con all the more distressing when the target uncovers the truth.
“It’s a difficult lesson to learn, especially when the reaction from banks and other authorities can be slow. When you have fallen victim to a scam, legal support is often advised. We believe there needs to be more regulation from the Financial Conduct Authority against Crypto exchanges so they adopt the same policies and procedures as banks in the UK to prevent people like Mr Hoadley becoming victims.”