Only Fools And Horses star Sue Holderness has shared advice on how to protect yourself from scammers after revealing she was conned out of hundreds of pounds.
The 73-year-old actress, who played Boycie’s wife, Marlene, in the 1980s sitcom, was targeted on two occasions by fraudsters who hacked into her computer and then convinced her to pay them by pretending to “fix” her online security.
She is now supporting a campaign, Take Five To Stop Fraud, which provides advice to help people protect themselves from financial fraud.
Speaking on ITV’s Loose Women about the initiative, Holderness said: “I think its a very important message because every time you turn on the radio or the television, somebody is talking about the scam or the fraud that they have suffered, and it seems to be mostly over-65s.
“I fall very well into that category as I’m over 70. And they target us because we’re nervous of the internet and I suppose because we’ve got pensions and savings and so we’re the perfect people to have a go at.”
The actress said her experience was “terribly alarming” as she explained: “I was just on my computer, doing emails or something, and suddenly there was this loud alarm rather like an ambulance siren, ‘Emergency, you are being hacked. Touch none of your devices, phone this number’. Which I did without a second thought.
“I phoned the number and the noise is still going, it’s terribly frightening. And nothing I did would take the noise away and they say, ‘Alright I will take over your computer and sort this out’.”
She explained that she allowed them to take over the computer and watched them operate the machine before informing her that she would now be protected for a year and that it would be £68 for their service, which she paid immediately.
She said: “As soon as I ended the call, I knew that I’d made a mistake and I rang my bank and I said, ‘This is what’s happened to me and please when this £680, whatever it was, comes in would you (help). I think I’ve been scammed.’
“And they said of course you’ve been scammed. No question about it. He said the best thing you’ve done is contact us quickly, now contact action fraud.”
The actress revealed she had also had another experience when all of her contacts received a message saying she had lost her phone while in Russia and needed £2000 to get home, which three of her friends fell for and offered to send the money.
The Loose Women panel also discussed other common scams including someone pretending to be a distressed daughter who has lost their phone as well as how people can often be targeted on dating sites by fraudsters who pretend to be in love with the individual and ask them for money to get out of a difficult situation.
Reflecting on how to protect yourself against these cons, Holderness said the campaign’s advice is to stop and consider if something could be fraudulent before giving any information or payment and to challenge the individuals.
“If you think you’ve been scammed, don’t be embarrassed and think, ‘I am an idiot’, which is what we all think, ‘How stupid can I be?’”, she added.
“They’re very sophisticated these criminals. You’re not being stupid. They’re just terribly clever. It is their job to study you, to research you and to con you.”
Holderness also advised those who feel they may have fallen for a scam to protect themselves straight away by contacting their bank and action fraud.