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Charity which helped people with poverty and loneliness forced to close after being scammed

Charity which helped people with poverty and loneliness forced to close after being scammed

A charity set up to help people with poverty and loneliness has been forced to close after being scammed.

Conmen raked tens-of-thousands of pounds out of the the Bargoed Community Hub by pretending to be a worker from Amazon. One woman, called Margaret Lippard who is on the chair of trustees at Bargoed Community Hub, wants to warn people about the risk of sophisticated scams after she sadly lost substantial funds from her personal account.

The 81-year-old from Hengoed told WalesOnline that although she’s always been ‘weary’ of cold-callers, she felt immune until it happened to her.

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She said: “It gave them credibility. I thought I was completely immune to scams because when I get a cold call, I put the phone down straight away and I always tell my husband to not engage with them. I think it was because at the time I wasn’t very busy and this call wasn’t automated – I just got pulled in.”

The trustee revealed that the scammers were able to ‘hijack’ her computer, mobile and landline for three days after knowing the personal details in her account. During that time, she was unable to use her devices.

Margaret said after the three days were over, tens-of-thousands of pounds had been taken from her personal account. There was also £55,000 taken from the charity’s funds.

She continued: “They called on the landline, so tied that up. They then wanted me to keep my mobile phone open, so that was held up as well as my computer. I was essentially hijacked, I couldn’t get on the internet to check if anything they were telling me was true.”

The 81-year-old explained that although half the money bounced back automatically to her accounts from the recipient banks, the charity was still £27,500 short of cash. Sadly, this meant that the organisation had no option but to close.

Bargoed Community Hub was established 26 years ago to help both young and struggling families in the area. Over the years, they’ve provided drop-in sessions, provided advice, workshops a cafe and more.

During the Covid pandemic, the charity helped those struggling or in isolation by providing food. However, on Friday, April 29, the volunteers and locals helped by the charity met for the last time at the hub before it shut for good.

Margaret said that the hub was a way of opening up opportunities for people and meant people who were having problems could go in and find them. She said: “We had lots of people coming in and for some, it was the only place they go to. [Friday] was incredibly sad.”

Speaking about the day of the hub closing, Margaret spoke about one woman who turned up who they once helped when she was a teenager. She explained: “We had a 21-year-old who came in when she was 17.

“She was turned out of her home and didn’t have much support and she had a child. She came to us because she heard about the hub and [on Friday] she told us she can now stand on her own feet and she wants to stay and help.”

Although Margaret tried to get Lloyds Bank to reimburse the remaining £27,500 to the charity, they refused. The 81-year-old also said she was ‘concerned’ that the bank did not block suspicious activity in the account.

She said: “Lloyds absolutely refused to pay anymore, even though there was absolutely no attempt to verify or authenticate whether it was me making these payments. There was no realisation that this was absolutely extraordinary activity on this account, nothing at all the check or to verify the activity or reimburse the lost funds.”

Margaret reported the incident to Action Fraud but said that the line of inquiry could not be taken further and was advised to take her case to the Financial Ombudsman to see if it could order Lloyds Bank to reimburse her the money lost. WalesOnline approached the bank where a spokesman confirmed that Margaret would be reimbursed the full amount.

Despite the Bargoed Community Hub no longer existing as a charity, Margaret said that the reimbursed money would be passed down to people in the community who wish to carry on their hard work.

A Lloyds Bank spokesperson said: “We have a great deal of sympathy for Ms Lippard as the victim of a scam and, after a further review of her case, will be refunding the remainder of the funds she lost as we recognise we could have done more to stop the scam. Fraudsters are always looking for ways to trick people into transferring their money, so it is vital to remember that no official.”


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