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Fraudsters con Sussex OAPs
International fraudsters are targeting people in Sussex claiming to be Government officials.
A 79-year-old lost his life-savings to one gang who conned him into handing over £5,000.
Roy Watkins said he is “stupid” for believing the callers claiming to be from the Ministry of Justice who said they would “refund” him thousands of pounds he had overpaid.
He is one of three known victims in Sussex who have lost more than £5,000 each.
One 84-year-old victim in Hassocks gave up a staggering £20,000 before realising he was being conned.
Police say the scam is “huge” and that potentially millions of pounds have been conned out of people – mainly the elderly – across the country.
They believe the perpetrators are Indian and the scam may originate or be based in New Delhi.
Mr Watkins, who lives in Chichester, started receiving calls a year ago and transferred £1,500 via Western Union or Ukash vouchers.
The scammers said he had to pay the cash in order to receive far greater sums they claimed would be couriered to his address.
When the fictional cheques did not arrive, the con artists said there had been a problem with payment and asked him to send more money over.
Despite Western Union staff in Chichester telling Mr Watkins it was a scam he still paid the money through a different branch.
Speaking to The Argus the father-of-three said: “They are very convincing. I am gullible.
“I was stupid.
"The first half of my life I trusted people and got away with it. I am penniless now.”
PC Jayne Sharpe, who is investigating the scam, said she had received calls from forces across the country whose residents have been affected.
She said the callers use the identity of their previous victims to provide real addresses for the transfers to be written out to.
PC Sharpe said there are potentially dozens of other victims in Sussex that have been too embarrassed to come forward or who did not want to contact police.
A woman from Telscombe Cliffs said she was rung by people claiming she had been mis-sold PPI insurance and that for a fee of £99 she could get £7,000.
PC Sharpe said: “They give them details on how to transfer the money and by the time we get information they have gone.
“It makes me very angry.
“If someone tells you are owed money then tell them to send it to you but don’t pay out any money.
“Hang up and call the police.”
Anyone who has been affected should contact Sussex Police on 101.