Officers were contacted by an elderly man who had been offered the possibility of investing Bitcoins. Wanting to pay off his mortgage quicker, he decided to invest as the promised profit was a very significant amount.
The victim invested £50,000 made up of his own savings and a bank loan. He initially used his overdraft, however was advised by the company to invest more. The company told him his Bitcoin balance was 106,613 Euros.
When the victim contacted the company to withdraw the funds, he was told he would have to pay a tax charge first of around £18,000. The victim and his wife took out another loan to pay this, but the company then asked for a further £3,000 claiming there was an error and the previous amount hadn’t been correct.
The victim became suspicious and contacted police. In total, the man and his wife paid £70,000 to the company, which has been lost.
Sergeant Jo Seabridge, of the Hastings Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “The elderly victims in this case lost a devastating amount of money but sadly, this is not unusual.
“If you are thinking about making an investment, always take the time to do some research before making your decision.
“It is important to make sure people are who they say they are and remember that if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is.”
In two other cases in the district, elderly women were targeted by fraudsters but fortunately did not lose any money.
In one instance, the woman received a call from a man purporting to be a banking officer saying £2,000 had been taken from her bank account. He said he would come and collect her and take her to the bank to sort out the problem.
The woman was concerned so called her daughter, who then confirmed with her bank that no money had been taken and it was a scam.
In the second instance, the elderly victim received a call from a man saying he worked for HMRC. He said she owed £2,500 and needed to withdraw cash immediately and send it to the details provided.
The woman went to her local branch to withdraw the money but fortunately, staff became suspicious of her request as it was unusual to her normal pattern of behaviour. They refused to withdraw the money and contacted police instead.
Sgt Seabridge added: “We are urging people to be wary of unexpected phone calls, emails or letters that mention large sums of money.
“Never send or give money to anyone you don’t know or trust, and don’t share your personal information. If you are in doubt, please phone a relative or friend for advice.
“Under no circumstances would the bank or police request a card PIN or security details over the telephone, or arrange collection of bank cards from a home address.”
To report a fraud, call police on 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.