The ‘devastating’ impact of online scams taking people’s money and how to get help if you’re caught out


*Clients’ experiences are shared by actors in the video

As online scams become increasingly sophisticated it can be hard to detect attempts at fraudulent activity. Some of the common ways in which offenders target their victims include posing as a love interest in a romance scam, impersonating well-known organizations such as banks and service providers and selling fake investment opportunities.

Aside from financial losses, falling victim to a scam is a difficult experience which can evoke feelings of shame, embarrassment and distrust. However, it’s not the fault of anyone who is duped and it is important to reach out for help.

Family-run law firm CEL Solicitors is on hand to help those who have experienced any form of scam, and can help people who have lost £3,000 or more to recover lost money through its no win, no fee claims process.

Here are some of the most common forms of scam along with stories of how CEL Solicitors has helped people affected.

Impersonation scams

Impersonation scams cost Brits millions of pounds each year, and involve scammers pretending to be trusted organizations such as banks, the police and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in order to con victims out of hard-earned cash.

One CEL Solicitors client – going by the name of Alexandru as they wish to remain anonymous – was targeted by scammers impersonating HMRC who told him he had an outstanding tax bill. They led Alexandru to believe that if he did not pay, it would result in him being summoned to court and court fees and fines could amount to as much as £90,000.

Falling victim to a scam can be a distressing experience

The fraudsters’ scare tactics led Alexandru to hand over thousands, and he only realized what had happened when he spoke to a family member. Thankfully, with the help of CEL Solicitors, Alexandru was able to get his money back plus eight per cent interest.

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Describing the experience, Alexandru said: “I was scammed when someone phoned me pretending to be from HMRC. I requested help from my bank, but I didn’t receive anything.

“I was in contact with CEL Solicitors, waiting and hoping for a miracle to happen, and it did. I got my money back with interest minus CEL Solicitors’ fee, which was so worth it as I wasn’t able to get anything back myself.”

romance scam

Some scammers are looking to take advantage of people seeking love online and, in some cases, have duped victims out of thousands of pounds.

Once these fraudsters have gained their victims’ trust, they will commonly ask for money for some form of emergency such as medical, travel or legal expenses.

After being contacted on Facebook by someone who lived overseas, an anonymous CEL Solicitors client being identified as Carol in this article lost £150,000 in a romance scam. After developing a connection under false pretenses, the man promised to visit the UK so they could meet in person before he began asking Carol for money, which he quickly started to add up.

Romance scammers often target their victims online

She explained: “The fraudster claimed he’d been arrested and needed cash to make bail. He also pleaded for financial help after saying he’d been left stranded in the wrong part of the country due to an airline error.

“Then came threats to take his own life because he was ‘tired of begging’. It’s devastating – you feel ashamed of what you have allowed to happen. These despicable people prey on those at their most vulnerable.”

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After contacting her bank, Carol was awarded just £50 as an apology. That’s when she turned to CEL Solicitors, which was not only able to recover the money from the scam but also the interest from the date it was lost, as well as compensation. Altogether, CEL Solicitors successfully recovered £179,000 from Carol’s bank.

She said: “The only way to get your money back is to get a solicitor. Getting this money back has given me options in life again.”

Investment scams

Scammers can present victims with what appears to be a genuine money making opportunity but, in reality, enables them to steal thousands of pounds. According to CEL Solicitors, common scams involve cryptocurrency, foreign exchange, unregulated products and high risk investments such as overseas property and hotels.

An anonymous CEL Solicitors client in his sixties, who is being identified as John in this article, was targeted by an investment scam which left him struggling to survive on Universal Credit after he lost around £30,000.

John wanted to invest in stocks and shares, but wasn’t sure where to start. He saw an advertisement on Facebook for a company that traded on behalf of its customers. Despite being initially cautious, John started investing small amounts at first and once he saw a return, he decided to invest £30,000.

It was only when he couldn’t access his money that John realized what had happened. He said: “We see-sawed between feelings of humiliation, embarrassment, anger and depression. We had no idea you could get money back from a scam. After speaking to the bank, we thought it was a lost cause.”

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CEL Solicitors made a financial complaint on behalf of John and his wife, as the firm believed the bank could have done more to protect the couple from fraud. Luckily the money was recovered, much to John’s relief from him.

He said: “When we received an offer to reclaim the money we lost, my wife and I openly wept.”

CEL Solicitors
A range of scams are being used to take people’s money online

No win, no fee

CEL Solicitors operates on a no win, no fee basis. Paul Hampson, managing director at CEL Solicitors, explained: “We believe in helping clients get affordable justice. Victims have often lost considerable sums of money, which means they can’t always afford legal fees. Scammers also often retarget victims by offering to help for an upfront fee – another ruse to scam more money.

“We help fraud clients on a “no win, no fee” basis, which means they have nothing to lose. If for any reason they are unsuccessful then they won’t pay us a penny.

“If successful, then the usual position is that we recover our costs from any money recovered. However, in addition to recovering money lost to scammers, we are also usually successful in securing 8% interest from the date the money was lost and compensation, which in higher value cases covers our costs. Any deductions are clearly explained at the start of the case.”

To find out more about how CEL Solicitors could help you, click here.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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