Cashier’s vigilance saves pensioner’s life savings

 

The alertness and compassion of a building society cashier prevented an 86-year-old handing thousands of pounds to heartless conmen.

Joyce Boakye-Ansah’s quick thinking has been recognised with the presentation of a certificate of appreciation from Croydon Council’s trading standards team.

Asked what she thought of the sort of people who try to part the vulnerable from their life savings, Mrs Boakye-Ansah, who works in the Selsdon branch of Nationwide, said: “Oh, don’t get me started.

“How can they do that to somebody who’s 70, 80, 90 years old, who’s given so much through their life?

“I can’t say what I’d like to do to them; and I’m just glad we were able to help her.”

The story unfolded when, one afternoon in mid-March, the Selsdon resident entered the branch and asked to withdraw £15,000 in cash at Mrs Boakye-Ansah’s till.

Knowing the customer, and concerned by the unusually large sum, she asked what the money was for. The resident told her it was needed to pay two men who had told her urgent work needed to be carried out on her roof.

They were waiting at her home address while she went to get the money, having already taken £8,000 in cash from her.

Immediately suspicious, Mrs Boakye-Ansah told the branch manager, and the matter was reported to the council’s trading standards team, who, with the police, attended the branch.

The victim revealed that she had been cold-called earlier that morning by the men who told her that a weather-proof coating should be applied to the tiles of her roof. They intended to charge £21,000 for the work.

A subsequent report by a qualified surveyor concluded that no work was actually necessary on the victim’s roof, and although the roof is old, it “was in perfectly reasonable condition, with no significant defects”.

He also stated that, had the work proved necessary, a fair price – including cleaning and sealing of the whole roof, and scaffolding access – would have been no more than £3,640.

By the time TS officers and police got to the victim’s home, the men had left, possibly suspicious of the length of time she had been gone.

Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice

“Fortunately, these callous scammers, who’d intended to take advantage of a trusting resident, were prevented doing so by the vigilance that Mrs Boakye-Ansah exercised that day.

“She saved her customer much stress, upset and trauma, and has received a well-deserved certificate of appreciation for an outstanding contribution to crime prevention by protecting elderly and vulnerable customers of Nationwide Building Society from doorstep criminals and fraudsters.”

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