LOUGHRAN: How one email response cost couple their life savings - Daily Nation

How one fatal email response cost hapless couple all their life savings

Sunday January 13 2019

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When Jerry Tack received an email saying his TV licence was due for renewal, he entered his bank details. PHOTO | AFP 

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When Jerry Tack received an email saying his TV licence was due for renewal, he entered his bank details. Two days later, he received a call, apparently from Nationwide, his building society, advising him to move his money into a “safe account.”

Fatally, he did so. Fatally, because the caller was not Nationwide but a scammer who proceeded to empty two savings accounts belonging to Mr Tack and his wife Carol containing £4,000 each, plus £1,900 from a current account.

“We were left penniless, our life savings gone,” said Carol.

Nationwide said their funds could not be reimbursed because Jerry had authorised the payments despite warnings not to share security information.

TV Licensing, which runs the business of issuing licences for television sets, said, “We will never email customers to ask for bank details or personal information or tell you that you are entitled to a refund.”

Thousands are believed to have fallen victim to what the police called a “particularly nasty” fraud.

Laura Hodson, 27, received an email saying the payment details for her TV licence needed to be updated. Since the licence was due for renewal, she assumed this was normal.

Twenty-four hours later, she received a “gut-wrenching” call from the Royal Bank of Scotland saying that more than £2,500 had been taken from her account.

The payment was traced to a Barclays Bank account and after about a month of wrangling, Laura was told that only £2.21 could be recovered.

Laura, a nurse from Dumfries, Scotland, said the theft left her and her partner, Scott, relying on financial support of relatives.

“This was all taken away by a single email,” she said.

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In 2016, millionaire Richard Mason was told he had the genetic lung disorder, cystic fibrosis, which among other things stops male sufferers from having children.

Mason protested that the diagnosis must be wrong because he had fathered twins, by then aged 19, and an older boy of 23. He said: “The consultant just told me I should have a conversation with my wife.”

By then, the former Kate Mason was his ex-wife, the pair having divorced in 2008.

Mason sued Kate and last week she agreed to hand back £250,000 of the £4 million she received as a divorce settlement, which included cash for private school fees.

Two of the three boys gave DNA samples which proved Mason was not their father but the older one refused. Mason still does not know the name of the boys’ father or fathers.

Mason married again but his lung capacity has been sharply reduced and he expects that eventually he will need an oxygen tank to breathe.

His ex-wife, who has a new partner, refused to comment.

* * *

Suppose you were to win big on the national lottery, what is the first thing you would do? Buy a luxury automobile or a multi-bedroom house, or both? Sign on for a cruise to the South Seas? Get drunk?

When Frances and Patrick Connolly won £115 million on the UK Euro Millions draw, the first thing they did was to make a list of 50 people with whom they would share the money.

Frances, aged 52, from Moira in Northern Ireland, said, “This is a massive sum of money and we want it to have a huge impact on the lives of other people we know and love.”

She said it would be shared among family friends and charitable causes.

Patrick Connolly said, “Money doesn’t bring you happiness. We already had happiness and were very blessed in life. I’ve got a wonderful wife, a wonderful family and wonderful friends, so this is the icing on the cake.”

* * *

As I mentioned last week, the New Year prompts a lot of unwelcome introspection about the course of life. Here’s how to know you’re getting older:

Your children begin to look middle-aged; your favourite part of the newspaper is “What Happened 25 Years Ago Today;” you stop looking forward to your birthday; a dripping tap causes unbearable pressure on the bladder; you regret all those temptations you resisted; you pretend you haven’t heard when your grandchildren offer to teach you about computers; the little old grey-haired lady you help across the road is your wife; you sink your teeth into a steak and they stay there; you begin to wonder if your house is haunted because every time you look in the mirror a crazy old man appears.

* * *

How dull life would be without a lawyer joke or two. So here are three: What did the lawyer name his daughter? Sue.

A good lawyer knows the law. A great lawyer knows the judge.

In the interrogation room, a man says, “I’m not saying a word without my lawyer present.” Says the policeman, “You are the lawyer.” “Exactly,” says the man, “so where is my present?”