Q&A: Groomed for Money

Q One of my family members was groomed and had a LOT of money stolen. The person responsible was jailed last year. Is there any way of getting the money back or who to speak to about this?

A Thank you for giving CAAGe permission to use your question to help others. I want to put this in context for readers.

The victim, who is elderly and has medical issues, had a large sum wheedled out of him by someone in a position of trust. (The victim lives in England.)

According to family, he says he wasn’t offered support after the loss, but he “has a terrible memory and will just answer a question to what suits at that time”.

Please note: this advice is simply signposting places and schemes that might help and doesn’t attempt to assess the facts of the case or pretend to be a replacement for legal advice.

CAAGe says…

From the information I have, this is a clear case of grooming: for instance, the fraud started with smaller, less noticeable amounts before escalating. A considerable amount of trust was developed before the scamming for money started taking place. The emotional side must be as painful, if not more so, as the loss of money for the relative who has been scammed. This person was here to help, to offer support, What a breach of trust!

According to the BBC, reporting Action Fraud statistics:

  • There were 40,487 frauds reported affecting people aged over 60 in 2016-17, 48,981 last year (nearly six crimes every hour) The were 25,659 reports in 2015-16
  • In 2017, 1,140 victims were aged over 90
  • In 2017, 13 victims were over 100
  • Under-reporting: experts in this piece suggest that only around 5% of crimes in this age group are reported. Age UK are bolder and suggest that at least half of the over 65s have fallen foul to some kind of theft and fraud.

Reasons for not reporting include shame at having been duped, not discovering the crime and the politeness of this generation. But there is no need to feel silly: Age UK’s research points to indications that the more sophisticated the victims are are financially, often the more vulnerable they become.

Suggestions for sources of help:

Citizens Advice Bureau

The Citizens Advice Bureau does an amazing job. They are incredibly busy, but as a way of accessing and understanding the legal system and financial system, I have found them brilliant.

Victim Support

Victim Support is a charity based in England and Wales. Unfortunately, their advice (website) is: “….it’s unlikely that you will be able to recover anything stolen by the offender, unless a fraudulent transaction qualifies for a refund from your bank or credit card company.”

I don’t think this should stop you contacting them. They may be able to offer support in other ways.

Action on Elder Abuse

Action on Elder Abuse is a charity which works towards the protection of older people. Its website indicates that its possibly more aimed at prevention, and training staff to spot the signs, but I’d still give them a call and see if they can put you in the right direction.

Their helpline number is: 080 8808 8141.

Other thoughts

  1. If the service your relative was using was provided by a council or organisation, contact them to see what they can do to help.
  2. If all else fails, and the money matters to him, why not try a ‘Go Fund Me’ for him: GoFundMe is a crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money for events including challenging circumstances like this You’ll need to balance the desire to get his money back with throwing him into a spotlight.
  3. Go to the media. If you go via an agency you can be paid for this. As it’s where my day job and this project coincide I’ll blog about this separately – you have a lot of groundwork to do through legal channels anyway. This is not an option to take lightly, especially if your relative is already confused.

I also found this article in The Telegraph Money: We placed our trust in a carer.

I realise it wasn’t a carer who defrauded your relative, but the article is interesting – it suggests that the level of financial transaction should have triggered an alert with the bank, who might bear some responsibility for allowing the money to leave.

I also found this article in The Telegraph Money: We placed our trust in a carer. I realise it wasn’t a carer who defrauded your relative, but the article is interesting – it suggests that the level of financial transaction should have triggered an alert with the bank, who might bear some responsibility for allowing the money to leave.

Good luck!!

Things I thought might help but won’t – in THIS case

I added this section in case someone else with a similar problem is looking for sources of advice. 

Court compensation

My first thought was compensation: if someone is convicted of a crime against you, the court often orders compensation. The case would appear to fall within the remit. he suffered from “losses from theft or damage to property”. However, the courts don’t do this if the if they fraudster is being sent to prison.

If anyone else is in the position of going through the courts, it would seem wise to raise it with the police, solicitors as soon as possible in proceedings.

Criminal Injuries Compensation

Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme? Sorry, not this one either. You need to have been a victim of a violent crime to qualify.

Relationship fraud

If the perpetrator has used a relationship as cover for the fraud, this video by our own Wendy Gregory, a video called So Your Partner Took Your Money, offers further advice.

Just a bit of money?

The OFT in a report by Age UK note: “The personal impact on them and on their families is often devastating in terms of future peace of mind and health. Victims can be left with damaged self-esteem and a reduced sense of self-worth. Victims suffer stress, anxiety and depression. Lives can be ruined.”

This is such a recurrent grooming theme: the establishment and breach of trust, fraudsters who seem to check out, who have plausible back stories. And victims left falling through the cracks in the system.

Can you add to this advice?

If you have suggestions for any other sources of support for this victim and his family, please do add them in the comment box and I’ll pass them back to the family. Thank you!

Get Involved! There are a million small ways to get involved with the Campaign Against Adult Grooming – and none of them want your money! Ways to Get Involved

Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash

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