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Friday 20th September 2019

Helen Skelton opens up about losing £70k through phone scam

The TV presenter's life savings were wiped out

Helen Skelton has opened up about being scammed out of £70,000 after receiving a fake call from her bank.

The former Blue Peter presenter has described the scam in detail in a new documentary for ITV called Fraud: The Public Threat in order to warn others about how easy it can be to be tricked out of thousands.

The TV star said it took just a few questions over the phone for her entire life savings to vanish in the next few days.

I felt sick when I realised that I’d been speaking to the bloke robbing me. It felt like a total violation.
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She says she was convinced by the caller because they seemed so "nice and genuine".

"I cried buckets when I realised. That money was meant to be for my children’s future. I was thinking of my kids, and about how I would have to work even more and not see them to try to get it back.

"But it wasn’t just about money. I felt sick when I realised that I’d been speaking to the bloke robbing me. It felt like a total violation."

The mum-of-two went on: "I decided to speak out because I realised how many people who have gone through the same thing feel ashamed.

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"The police told me people don’t report cyber fraud because, like me, they’re embarrassed.

"We tend to think of the victims as little old ladies, but it happens all the time: I’ve been contacted by famous, clever people to say it has happened to them, too.

"And as technology evolves, it is probably going to get worse."

Helen explained the scam began with an email saying her TV licence was up for renewal. Helen didn't usually pay online, but she wanted to be "organised".

She provided her card details and bank account number and sort code. After that, Helen received what she thought was a call from her bank.

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"The guy on the other end said there had been suspicious activity on my account and that someone had got through my telephone banking security.

"At that point he asked if I’d had any emails that could be bogus and had I done anything unusual like renew my TV licence. When I said I had, he said that must have been it."

Helen continued: "I can’t believe how clever they were. He didn’t make me feel like I was giving him any other information - so it made me feel like I was in control.

"I was saying, 'Oh my days, I’m so embarrassed,' and he was reassuring me, saying this was happening a lot, it was foxing their top security guys."

After realising her life savings had been wiped out, she went into her bank where they told her she wouldn't be able to get the money back.

"My fraud fell under what is known as a 'push payment', which means I unwittingly authorised the scammer to access my bank account and left my bank under no legal obligation to refund me."

Fortunately for Helen, her bank did eventually refund around 90 per cent of the money as a gesture of good will.

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