I have dementia and I was targeted by scammers

Pete Middleton, in Northamptonshire, tells us how he was targeted by scammers to help stop it from happening to others.

Earlier this year, scammers cleaned out my current account. They tried to clean out my savings account too. 

I’ve been in IT for 40 years and also in the police force. So, I am pretty switched on when it comes to scams. But even I was conned. 

I had a phone call from a gentleman who claimed to be from the Barclays Bank fraud department. 

He told me he was investigating fraud by members of the fraud team. 

Building trust

He said he needed my help to catch them, so immediately I wanted to help. But my suspicions were aroused. 

I said to him, ‘How do I know you are who you say you are?’ He told me he knew that I’d received a new bank card a few days before. 

I decided to hang up and ring the number on the back of my card, using my landline this time. 

I was transferred to the same person, and I honestly believed I was talking to the real McCoy.

Pete Middleton

Sophisticated scam

He asked me to transfer £2,500. I said I didn’t have that much, but I did have about £1,800. 

He told me that if Barclays’ fraud team rang me, I should tell them it was for my aunt. So that’s what I did. 

I thought I was helping somebody catch a thief, but I was helping the thief. 

They shouldn’t have asked me to transfer money. But I wasn’t thinking. 

I was only thinking, ‘How can I help?’. They got me through my altruism.

Help to get money back

After about an hour, it occurred to me that there was something fishy. 

I phoned Action Fraud and they urged me to phone the Barclays fraud line. The bank confirmed that I’d been the victim of a scam and put a block on it.

Action Fraud were great. They explained the next steps to me and how I might get my money back. 

Barclays reimbursed me in full and as soon as I told them that I was living with dementia, they put a flag on my account and took extra care to look after me. 

Feeling vulnerable with dementia

I felt vulnerable again, especially with my dementia. 

Things were going well, and I was doing things independently. Then suddenly I had to tell my wife I had cleared out the bank account. It was an awful feeling. 

My advice to people would be, you’re only human. If you get scammed it’s because the scammers are preying on your goodwill. 

Don’t be ashamed – learn from it and pass the word around so that other people don’t fall for it. 

Just mentioning scams every now and then keeps it on people’s minds. The next time they open an email or answer the phone, they’ll be on their guard.

For help in spotting a scam or to report a fraud, contact Action Fraud.

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