Community rallies in support of OAP scam victim

June 10, 2019

An elderly Newry woman who was tricked into handing over hundreds of pounds to a man posing as a Housing Executive worker has been reimbursed through the goodwill of the local community, The Examiner has learned.

The incident came to light on Thursday when it was reported that a man purporting to be from the Housing Executive called to the pensioner’s home in Raymond Kelly Park on Wednesday, convincing her that there were tiles missing from her roof, leaving it in a dangerous condition and work to repair the damage would cost £300.  Believing the man to be genuine, the lady handed over the cash only to find that she had become the unwitting victim of a scam.

As news of the incident spread, local councillors voiced their disgust and called on the community to rally in support of the elderly victim.

Sinn Fein Councillor Liz Kimmins slammed those responsible, describing the robbery of the woman as “a disgrace”.

“This was a deliberate, disgraceful targeting of an elderly lady. A man called at this woman’s home in the Raymond Kelly Park locality to point out to her that she had tiles missing from the roof and it was in a dangerous condition. He convinced her to hand over £300 for repairs.

 “I would appeal to all to be vigilant and watch out for any type of suspicious behaviour. The police are appealing for anyone who has information in relation to this specific incident to contact them,” she added.

After visiting the victim and her family, Independent Councillor Gavin Malone went about setting up a GoFundMe account, encouraging the public to make any donation they can to help reimburse her loss and “to show her all our support”.

Revealing that the pensioner is “very badly shook up”, Councillor Malone said on Thursday: “I visited an 83-year-old lady this morning in Raymond Kelly park who had £300 stolen off her yesterday. Someone pretending to be from Housing Executive called and scammed this little old lady. Please give what you can to help this elderly lady. Please everyone watch out for your neighbours. This little lady is very badly shook up but the community will be rallying around to show her all our support.”

Posting on his Facebook account, he said: “I have received numerous messages from people this morning from all over about a little old lady having been scammed out of £300. The kindness of people knows no bounds.  I contacted family members this morning and a GoFundMe [account] has been set up.  Let’s show these people what our community is all about. We will always stand together.”

Donations duly flooded and in a matter of hours the initial target of £300 was surpassed with many who donated adding their good wishes that the lady will recover from her ordeal.  One donor to the appeal said: “I donated because this pensioner can’t afford to lose this money and if everyone gave a little hopefully she will get all her money back and maybe more. So mad at this happening and pray that the lady will eventually be able to settle in her own home”; while another added, “I hope this helps towards overcoming the hurt you’ve endured”.

The online appeal closed on Saturday, having raised more than £450, surpassing the initial target of £300.