Eastbourne grandmother’s heartbreak after losing £12,000 life savings in scam

An Eastbourne grandmother says she now cannot retire after she was cleaned out of her life savings by scammers.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 3:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th January 2020, 3:56 pm
Maria Viveros was the victim of a scam and lost twelve thousand pounds (Photo by Jon Rigby)

Maria Vivieros has been left utterly devastated after losing almost £12,000 – and says the bank will not help.

The 68-year-old, who has worked as a cleaner at Didac school for 20 years, said, “I can’t sleep, I feel distraught. I can’t believe it.

“It’s like someone stripped me of everything. I have never felt that way in my life.”

(Photo by Jon Rigby)

The scammers used two phone calls to trick her out of her money. The first was from a woman, claiming to be from Sky, who told her she had earned a discount.

The second was from a man claiming to be from Lloyds Bank, who said the previous call was a scam and she had to transfer all her money into a new account or lose it.

Both callers knew in depth details about Maria, such as how long she had been with the company, her children’s names.

Maria, who is originally from Portugal and English is not her first language, said, “I was shaking. I asked ‘what do you want me to do?’ He talked me through it, I was in tears.”

She was persuaded to move £11,700 in three transactions. The scammer said she would receive a new card in three days’ time and not to use her card again.

Two days later, after a conversation with a friend, Maria realised she was the victim of fraud and rushed to Lloyds.

“I was in tears,” she said, “I was there all morning, they put me on the phone to someone. I asked if anyone could help me in person. A man said he didn’t realise I was still there.”

But the bank eventually said there was nothing they could do.

“I feel so angry,” she said, “I worked hard for that money and someone came along and took it. I had savings for my grandchildren and my children, and for an emergency.

“I can’t sleep. I have high blood pressure now. I have suffered. I don’t know what to do.

“I keep thinking ‘what made me do that?’ At night I lie awake and can’t stop thinking about what went wrong.”

Staff at Didac in Trinity Trees have rallied around Maria.

The language school’s headteacher Brent Dyer said, “It’s hit her quite badly. She’s a vulnerable person. She was an easy victim.

“She had hope that the bank would help, and everybody kind of expected that.

“As time has gone on she’s realised she’s in this situation. It’s hit her harder and harder.”

Sherrel Dirico, school secretary, said, “She’s one of the kindest and nicest people you can come across. It breaks all of our hearts.”

Lloyds responds

Lloyds said it has agreed to review the information of the case.

A spokesperson said, “Helping keep our customers’ money safe is our priority and we have a great deal of sympathy for our customer who was a victim of a scam.

“This case was fully investigated when first reported to us but we have agreed to review the information.”