Islander loses £18K to ‘Amazon Prime’ fraud

AN elderly Islander has had thousands of pounds stolen by a fraudster who pretended to work for Amazon Prime.

Mr Bastiman said It was 'lucky' his daughter was home that day to spot the scam, as he found the fraudster 'very plausible' Picture: Jo Alm
Mr Bastiman said It was 'lucky' his daughter was home that day to spot the scam, as he found the fraudster 'very plausible' Picture: Jo Alm

Eric Bastiman was tricked into giving up his bank details, which allowed the scammer to transfer £18,000 out of his account.

The theft happened when the fraudster phoned the 79-year-old, and said he was an Amazon employee who was dealing with Mr Bastiman’s Prime subscription renewal.

The man claimed that Mr Bastiman had mistakenly been charged £79 but that this would be refunded.

He then pretended to have accidentally reimbursed the Islander with thousands of pounds more than he was ‘owed’ and claimed that he would lose his job unless the error was rectified.

The fraudster persuaded Mr Bastiman to log in to his online banking, and – although it is not clear how – he gained access to the account.

Upon realising what was happening, Mr Bastiman’s daughter, Jo Alm, promptly shut the computer down – but not before several instant transfers of just under £5,000 each had been made.

Speaking to the JEP, Mr Bastiman said: ‘I now feel as if the phone is my enemy. Each time it rings, I think “oh no! Not again!”’

He added: ‘It’s lucky that my daughter was not well and was home that day because I found the man very plausible.

‘I didn’t want to believe her when she told me it was a scam, but they had taken two thirds of my savings and would have taken everything if she hadn’t stopped it.

‘Also, it meant that we could alert the bank immediately and that enabled their fraud team to recover some of the money.’

Ms Alm said a similar incident had occurred two years earlier, and that the situation could have been much worse if she hadn’t been there to stop it.

‘It really does have a big impact on people. The police called us and [dad] didn’t want to pick up at first because he wasn’t sure who was calling,’ she said.

At the time of writing, Mr Bastiman’s bank had managed to retrieve half of the money taken – and may be able to secure the rest – but Ms Alm believes more should be done to help prevent future scams from taking place.

‘I think awareness is a really big thing. Just getting the word out with leaflets through various charities like Age Concern could help. Elderly people do need reminding [of potential fraud] as they can be more vulnerable, and need to be aware of the different scams.’

She added: ‘It’s about reaching the people who are vulnerable [to online scams] because they are the ones being targeted.’

There are currently a number of agencies, including Jersey Post and the Jersey Financial Services Commission, that make up the Jersey Fraud Prevention Forum, which seeks to protect the public from investment frauds and scams.

However, Ms Alm said that friends and family should also remind their elderly relatives not to give out their bank details if someone phoned them, even if the reason sounded legitimate.

If Islanders think they have been targeted or have fallen victim to a scam, they can:

- Contact the States of Jersey Police on 01534 612 612.

- Visit the police headquarters in person.

- Email the Fraud Prevention Forum’s dedicated email address scams500@police.je.

- Send any scam mail to PO Box 500.

- Speak to a friend or family member.

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