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Woman, 91, conned out of £25,000 life savings by bogus police officer
A 91-year-old woman from South Oxhey was repeatedly conned by a man posing as a police officer, until she had handed over all £25,000 of her life savings in cash.
The woman, who has asked to remain anonymous for fears of her own safety, was telephoned on Friday, August 24, by a man claiming to be Detective Sergeant Reynolds from Watford police station.
He told the woman there was a problem with her bank account, and that in order for her money to be safe, she would need to withdraw £7,000 in cash, and give it to someone who would collect it from her home.
The woman was sworn to secrecy by the fraudster, who told her that an employee at the bank was possibly stealing money and that it would put the investigation in jeopardy if she told anyone about the arrangement.
This happened on three occasions before the woman started to become suspicious, but by then, her account was all but empty with no hope of recovering the money.
She said: "I thought it was all totally genuine. He took my life savings, which I was keeping for when I die, to take care of my funeral and inheritance. I haven't got any family left.
"They must have thought I was old and crotchety and an easy target. It has left me scared to answer the door or the telephone."
The woman survives on a state and small private pension, which has to pay for everything including rent, bills and food.
She said: "DS Reynolds said if the bank asked why I needed the money for, to tell them my grandson was getting married and it was a present. He even asked me what I'd be wearing when I visited the bank."
The man gave the elderly woman, who lives alone with no family nearby, a false crime reference number and told her someone would be round to pick up the money.
She said: "A man came to the door and told me the crime reference number which made me think it was all above board. I gave him the money and he walked off."
Finally, on Friday August 31, DS Reynolds called again and said to come to the police station where they were having a meeting with others who'd been affected by the same problem.
The woman said: "I decided to ring Watford police station and ask for him directly, the woman who answered the phone said she wasn't sure who he was and went to see if anyone else knew.
"She came back and told me "I'm afraid there is no DS Reynolds" and I nearly dropped through the floor. I was totally speechless. I couldn't answer any of the police's questions."
Close friend and carer Sharon Frolich said: "I want their hands chopped off. It's diabolical."