Pensioners fall victim to bogus lottery "win"
AN elderly couple were tricked into believing they had won £12,000 – but instead were conned out of £1,750.
Pensioners Michael and Jane Haigh have been left struggling financially since they were stung by the overseas scam.
The couple, of Shepherds Grove Road in Hammerwood, were fooled into parting with their hard-earned cash to release the "winnings" in November.
But after weeks of daring demands and persistent phone calls from people claiming they were from the "Euro World Lotto Corporation", the pair realised they had fallen victim to a cold-calling lottery fraud.
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Mrs Haigh, 69, said: "It was just awful. It was absolutely traumatic. Michael got phone calls for weeks afterwards. They absolutely hounded him.
"One day, he got this phone call out of the blue, saying he had won. He thought it must be right, because it was the same firm that he has used before.
"They gave him instructions to go down to the bank and get money out. They then said the money had not gone through and he had to do it again.This carried on going until we realised what was going on. It was just a nightmare from then on."
Mr Haigh, 70, had used the lottery firm, which no longer exists, more than a year ago, which led him to believe the fraudulent phone call was legitimate.
He explained: "They said I had won e14,000, or £12,000. I couldn't believe it at first. Then all the phone calls came. The problem was I had to pay them the VAT, which they said I would immediately get back with the winnings.
"I realise in retrospect that I was fooled, but being of an older generation I had tended to trust people more than I should, especially when the initial contact seemed bona fide.
"I thought it was worth going for, but I ended up losing £1,750.
"I don't feel bitter about it, because in one sense it's my own fault. But I feel betrayed by the people who are constantly telling me I'm a very lucky person. I feel it doesn't speak very highly of human nature.
"I'm left now picking up the pieces to restore my own bank balance."
Sussex Police has issued a warning following further reports of people in the area, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, being targeted by individuals claiming to be from foreign lotteries.
PC Kate Buckler said: "There might have been other victims. If you are contacted in this way about an alleged lottery win, please remember – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
"Keep your personal details and finances safe and never agree to any financial transaction over the phone with someone you don't know."