A WIDOWED Clacton grandfather revealed his mental health was left in tatters by scammers who conned him out of £17,000.

In the middle of a move from Clacton to North Yorkshire, John Fillingham, 80, was contacted by someone claiming to be from his bank. 

Armed with security questions to gain his trust, the caller told John he had to move his money as someone else was trying to access it. 

After the call, John felt uneasy and tried to ring the number back with no avail.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Scammed - John FillinghamScammed - John Fillingham (Image: CEL Solicitors)

John said: "I didn’t have time to think so I did it, it was when I hung up and tried calling them back that I grew suspicious.

“I didn’t think I was a soft touch, but turns out I am. I spent my life as an engineering designer and this knocked my confidence. It was absolutely awful mentally.”

John, who lives alone, transferred £17,000 to another account via online banking in two separate payments. 

After he went to his local Santander for help, they said there was nothing they could do except give him a free overdraft. 

He said: “I was told I’m not covered, it’s my fault because I used my own computer to move the money.

“I went home and just accepted it was their policy.  I sat and resented it for a while but then Covid hit and I just had to move on."

Throughout lockdowns and a bowel cancer diagnosis, John lost hope of ever recovering the money, until he heard a radio advertisement for CEL Solicitors. 

Three years after he was initially scammed, all of John's money was recovered with interest.

He said: “It felt good to get it back and I am financially secure again, it feels like justice has been done."

John believes he was targeted again by scammers using a similar technique but he and his daughter were firm in saying no and putting the phone down. 

Paul Hampson, chief executive of CEL Solicitors said: “What happened to Mr Fillingham happens far too often. Scammers are very convincing and use sophisticated tactics to earn trust and swindle people out of their money. 

“If a number calls you claiming to be your bank, stop and think. Tell the caller you will call them back on the number on the back of your card or on the bank’s website."

For more information on CEL Solicitors, visit www.celsolicitors.co.uk