'She now flinches whenever her phone rings'

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL A woman showing signs of depression.

Phone scammers take more than money from their victims - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

A local resident was the victim of a recent spate of telephone scams. She is still reeling from the experience.

The scammer, who told her he was calling from her bank, said her account had been hacked and he was going to help her protect her money. After asking a few (seemingly innocuous) questions the scammer established his latest victim was a people pleaser, keen to be seen as helpful, capable of opening an online account and alone at the time of the call.

This scammer knew exactly what he was doing. He scared her enough to ensure she complied with his demands. He kept her on the phone for over two hours, bombarding her with step by step instructions on how to empty out her savings account and transfer the funds to a ‘safe’ account that he asked her to open.

Shelley-Anne Salisbury

Shelley-Anne Salisbury has met a victim of phone scamming left with a form of PTSD - Credit: 1000words.co.za

The local resident has asked me to keep her identity anonymous, she feels so ashamed and stupid at falling for the scam . She is not stupid and even suspected a possible scam at the start of the call but the scammer was a practised operator and knew exactly what to say. She describes the experience as totally exhausting and says she felt bullied and coerced. She has not only lost her savings but has been left with a form of PTSD. She now flinches whenever her phone rings and can’t talk about the experience without tearing up. She’s lost weight because she simply can’t eat and a gut condition has flared up.

She says: “The shame I carry for being taken in like that is humiliating. The strain of it has affected both my physical and mental health and I don’t know if or when I shall ever gain trust for people again.”

Perhaps we should look at the bigger picture here. These scammers don’t just take their victims’ money, they also take their self-confidence, self-belief, ability to trust, and dignity. Their mental and physical health is also affected. We should consider the impact of the fraud perpetrated by these telephone scammers beyond the financial loss suffered.

Shelley-Anne Salisbury is a mediator, writer and the co-editor of Suburb News, themediationpod.net