Widow Becomes Victim of Crypto Scam After Husband Dies
After losing her husband and brother to brain cancer, a widow was seduced online and scammed out of £53,000 ($60,400) with fake cryptocurrency investments.
Her building society (similar to a credit union) refused to pay her the amount but was forced to back down after she wrote a letter to a newspaper.
The unnamed 50-year-old single mother and widow told her story to the Telegraph, detailing her involvement in another crypto scheme. She admitted that she lost the large sum because of a man who claimed to be in love with her.
“Losing my husband to brain cancer was devastating, but the impact this scam had on me is even harder to overcome,” she wrote.
The Telegraph referred her story of an “underhanded scam” in “tragic circumstances” to the Financial Ombudsman Service after building society Nationwide refused to intervene. The ombudsman ruled in her favor and ordered Nationwide to reimburse the widow’s costs.
Widow invests in a crypto project
Last fall, a widow from the United Kingdom embarked on another quest for happiness. In 2019, her brother died of brain cancer, and in 2020, the same fate befell her husband.
She signed up on an online dating site and met a man she described as “caring”. After several video chats, she began to develop feelings for him.
Then, in November, the man said he was connected to a company’s expansion into crypto. He also told just been promoted to marketing director and as part of his job had to look for potential investors.
In December, he asked if she was open to investing.
He started convincing her by sending emails with fake signatures linked to real employees and investment companies to make them appear legitimate. It worked – she invested $2,300 in the crypto project and invested another $58,300 weeks later.
He then started ignoring her calls and messages, withdrew his plans to meet her, and removed her WhatsApp profile picture. She asked her friends for help – they knew immediately that she had been scammed.
The construction company refused to help
She approached the newspaper columnist after Nationwide refused to help her get her money back, saying:
“We intervened when the customer first made payments that were out of character and she was shown a specially prepared warning about this type of fraud before each transaction.”
However, according to the Telegraph columnist, this refusal is unjustified for several reasons:
- The savings and loan association knew of her husband’s death and her resulting vulnerability.
- Nationwide had only made a “suppressed” call to verify her transactions.
- The funds had been transferred to their crypto account, whereupon the company claimed there was no evidence of fraud.
Given the sophistication of the fraud and the woman’s unfortunate circumstances, Telegraph asked Nationwide to reimburse her. They refused because the widow should have “tried harder” to prevent fraud.
The newspaper then referred the same case to the Financial Ombudsman Service, a U.K. regulator with statutory powers to resolve disputes. The court ruled in favor of the widow and forced Nationwide to pay.
“Based on our preventative measures, we do not believe we should be held liable. However, the Financial Ombudsman Service has ruled in her favor and we accept that decision.”
Nationwide was required to pay her $53,500 plus 8% interest.